International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

An Alternative Architectural Strategy to Preserve the Living Heritage and Identity of Penang Hokkien Language in Malaysia
Teh Chee Jye, Dr. Lim Yong Long

This paper investigated the significance of Penang Hokkien language in Malaysia and the need to promote and preserve it. Hokkien (福建人fújiànrén) is the largest Chinese dialect spoken among Chinese groups in Malaysia, who are also the earliest Chinese group to settle in Malaysia. It is also the principal language of Penang Chinese. The ancestors of Hokkiens are mostly originated from Fujian province of China, who came to Penang for trading and livelihood. The Chinese dialect left over in the state is the evidence of the past. However, Penang Hokkien is a variant of Minnan (the caller of Hokkien in origin i.e. Fujian) due to the assimilation with the local culture. Today, most of the Penang Hokkien speakers are not literate Hokkien but instead read and write in standard (Mandarin) Chinese, English or Malay. Dialect is considered as one of the intangible heritage which is one of the fragile items in the heritage conservation due to the demographic change time to time. Hence, the effort should be made to preserve the Hokkien’s dialect to deliver it to the next generation so that the knowledge of past history from the ancestors will be hold. This study searched for an architectural solution that can revitalize the faded history and the culture of the Hokkien people in Malaysia. After extensive literature review, three strategies were proposed. A knowledge and education centre was seen to be the hardware, which can be the adobe of the two intangible software. The first of them could be using Romantic Classicism to bring back the memories, while the second could be to derive an architectural language which is contemporary yet responsive to tradition. Together they could be the key to promote the revival of Hokkien culture in Malaysia as a whole.

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