Language debate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 November, 2003, 12:00am

Natasha Rogai ('Linguistic tide', November 17) and Hugh Tyrwhitt-Drake ('Linguistic tyranny', November 19) are wrong to have claimed that no one nowadays in Hong Kong would pronounce the word 'year' in Cantonese as nin. Such a pronunciation is, as far as I can observe, still very much prevalent in the local Cantonese-speaking community.

The difference between 'n' and 'l' in the pronunciation of certain Cantonese words is actually one of the salient features of the language, being used to differentiate between many different words.

If these two have really never encountered the word 'year' spoken correctly in Cantonese as nin, I suggest that they tune into the local television and radio stations during Chinese New Year. They will hear it said hundreds of times during the festive period.

RAYMOND WONG, Happy Valley

Controlling beggars

I refer to the article headlined 'Shanghai may bring in beggar-free zones' (November 20).

Beggar-free zones are not the answer. This measure cannot solve the root of the problem in Shanghai, but will only shift beggars to another area. The local government should encourage beggars to learn a special skill to make a living.

We are fortunate that beggar problems are not serious in Hong Kong. However, the government should continue to aim at having a city without beggars.


Ignored offences

In the letter headlined 'Speeding drivers' (November 22), the correspondent says I forgot 'the most important' offence, 'which is driving too fast.'

I did not forget: my letter was about traffic offences that are, or appear to be, largely ignored by the police. Speeding is a problem that the police do tackle, and in a high-profile manner.

The reply rightly points out that even driving at or below the speed limit is, in many cases, too fast. However, this is not an offence that can be dealt with by fixed penalties. My immediate concern is to see a high-profile police campaign, along the lines of current speed traps, against all the definable offences that I listed.