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Parli cinese? (Italian) Do you speak Chinese?

刊登日期: 2013.01.27
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

It truly amazes me to read stories of missionaries going to foreign lands and have to first learn the native language before they could start sharing their faith. It was difficult for me just to learn Mandarin with my Cantonese background. I have an associate from India and even though he speaks English well he still has problems with American pronunciation, accents, idioms and cultural perceptions. Blessed Gabriel Allegro(雷永明神父) arrived Húnán(湖南)in 1931 when the Chinese spoken language was not even standardized. Most Chinese did not speak Mandarin. Most only spoke the local dialect like Beijing huà, Guangdong huà, Shànghăi huà, etc. Even Beijing Hua was different from Mandarin which was the language of the imperial court(京話)and the style of speaking was flowery and high brow (官腔), certainly not what we now call Pŭtōnghuà(普通話)

After learning how to speak whatever dialect Fr. Gabriel still had to learn to write Chinese. It is difficult for us, learning from an early age, to remember the strokes of words seldom used. I still have problems reading the Bible in Chinese. When I do, I usually have the English text close by to make sure I did not miss anything. That is why I am writing these columns in English. It would have taken too long to write them in Chinese, every week. I don’t mind sharing my thoughts and faith, in English. 

Such was Fr. Gabriel’s zeal for scripture and his burning desire for us Chinese to be able to read the Bible in our own language. He is truly “St. Jerome of China”(中國的聖師熱羅尼莫)

By the way, who gave Fr. Gabriel the name‘ 雷永明神父’ ? 

Blessed Gabriel Allegro, pray for us. 


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