Voices of Home 鄉音無改
Wherever they resettled, the Teochew migrants in the 19th and 20th centuries carried with them their rich language and traditions that are rooted to an ancient past. The Teochew speech is spoken with variations in accent in different districts of the region. The local distinctions were important identity markers that allowed the Teochews living abroad to identify and connect instinctively with fellow kinsmen, with whom they built unbreakable emotional bonds.
The letters of the overseas Teochews to their families were written in accordance to expressions exclusive to the Teochew language. Feeling and deep concern for loved ones at home crowded the spaces between the lines of Chinese characters. Home and family were valued above all in the traditional Teochew value system.The beauty and richness of the Teochew language is embodied in the Teochew Letters.
This section features the reading of seven letters in the dialects spoken in the respective districts where they were received, namely Chao’an, Chenghai, Raoping, Jieyang，Chaoyang, Swatow (Shantou) and Jiexi.
在華僑寄回家的批信中, 也多采用以潮語方式表達, 字裡行間洋溢著對家鄉的思念和對親人的牽掛, 無不體現出潮州僑胞傳統的愛國愛鄉愛家的親情。
Thêng-Hái (Chenghai) 澄海
In this letter (probably dated before 1935), a man living in Siam reported his well-being to his parents-in-law in Chenghai.He also enclosed ten silver dollars for their use, and promised to remit a larger amount when he has more income.
這是一位女婿從泰國寫給岳父母的信(約在1935年之前)。他在信中向岳父母報平安,並寄回光銀(大銀)10元給他們使用, 承諾如果有厚利入手, 就會多寄一點。
Tiê-Yêⁿ (Chao'yang) 潮陽
This is a letter (probably dated before 1935) written by a man living in Siam to his parents-in-law in Chaoyang. He disclosed that he had married a foreign woman in the Second Lunar Month and had also sent 110 silver dollars to his wife back home for household expenses.With regards to plans to purchase a house, he requested his parents-in-law to write to him the details, and he would remit the money accordingly.
這是一封移居泰國的女婿寫給岳父母的信 (約在1935年之前)。他表示自己已在2月份新娶了一個外洋女子, 並寄回大銀110元給家中的老婆作家用。而對於岳父母說的買房子之事, 他讓他們把詳細的情況寫明白寄給他, 他會寄錢回家購買。
Kik-Yêⁿ (Jieyang) 揭陽
This letter, dated 1977, was sent by a woman in Singapore to her younger sister in Jieyang.She had sent a sum of 210 Hong Kong dollars. Besides 40 dollars meant for the sister, she wrote specific instructions of how the remaining sum was to be distributed amongst various relatives and friends.
這是一個姐姐從新加坡寄給妹妹的信(1977年)。她寄回了港幣210元,並在信中詳細地解說了這筆錢應該怎麼應用: 40元自己使用, 餘下的按照信中數額分別交予各親戚朋友。
Jiôu-Phêng (Raoping) 饒平
This is a return mail (dated circa late 1940s) from a wife to her husband. She acknowledged receipt of his remittance of 500,000 National Currency dollars. Citing the cost of rice at over 200,000 National Currency dollars per picul as an example, she expressed difficulty to carry out his instructions for thrift in the management of fengshui matters (i.e. the building of a family grave).Because of the lack of money, building could only begin at the end of the Sixth Lunar Month (at the beginning of harvest). At the end of the letter, she stated her hopes for him to make more income, so that more money could be sent to home.
這是一個妻子寫給丈夫的回批(大約上個世紀40年代晚期)。她表示已經接到丈夫匯來的50萬元國幣, 而對於丈夫囑託的要勤儉辦理風水(建造墳墓)之事。她說最近物價很高,像穀子每擔就要20余萬元,寄來的錢實在不夠, 因此要等到6月冬(即早稻)收成之後才可以動工。在信的最後,她希望丈夫能有厚利入手, 給家中多寄一點錢。
Swatow (Shantou) 汕頭
This 1958 letter came from a man in Singapore to his son in Swatow. The man complained that age was catching up with him, and he was starting to have problems with his health. Because of heavy financial burdens faced by the family overseas, he could not afford to remit more than the 50 Hong Kong dollars sent.The man instructed the son that should the family require more money in the meanwhile, he should sell off items in house to make ends meet. The father promised to send more money when he has them.
這是一位在外洋的父親寫給兒子的信(1958年)。他自怨年老體衰,經常有些小毛病, 外洋家中負擔又大, 所以沒辦法給兒子寄回太多錢(50港幣)。他囑咐兒子如果錢真的不夠用,就先變賣家中的一些東西,等到他有厚利入手, 就寄多一點錢回去。
Kik-sai (Jiexi) 揭西
In this 1949 return letter, a man acknowledged receipt of 50 Hong Kong dollars from his parents-in-law abroad. He complained of high cost of living in the land of Tang (i.e. China) and bemoaned that the next harvest was due only in the Third and Fourth Lunar Months of the following year.The son-in-law asked after his parents-in-law and stated his wish for a family reunion soon. He reported all three members of the family iat home to be well, and the young child was now able to laugh and play.
(Note: This letter is read in the Hakka language. During the Qing dynasty many Hakka people resettled in the Teochew region, including Jiexi as well as the former counties of Fengshun and Dabu.)
這是一封女婿寫給岳父母的回信(1949年),信中提到他已接到岳父母寄來的港幣50元。男子感歎唐山(中國)生活非常困難,物價很高,田裡種的東西又要到明年3、4月才能收成。他表示很掛念岳父母, 不知他們在外洋的生活怎麼樣, 何時家人才能團聚。唐山家中3人都身體平安, 小孩子會笑會玩,非常可愛。
Tiê-An (Chao'an) 潮安
This letter was sent in July 1958 by a woman in Singapore to her parents in Chao’an. The writer reported back home the situations of her siblings abroad. Her younger brother was helping out with the elder brother in his business, while the third younger brother had ended his business but without suffering much loss. In addition her second sister-in-law had given birth to a son. She enclosed also a remittance of 20 Hong Kong dollars for the parents.
這是一位女士從新加坡寫給她在潮安的父母的信(1958年7月)。她給父母寄回20元港幣, 並在信中陳述了各兄弟姐妹在外洋的近況:弟弟現在在幫哥哥料理生意, 三弟生意收盤但虧損不多, 二嫂剛生了一個男孩。