How many people in Sibu are able to read the Bible in the Foochow dialect?
When the pioneers arrived in Sibu the first Church service was conducted in Foochow and specifically in the Ming Ching sub dialect. And in fact almost all the 41 churches saw preaching in Foochow (both Ming Ching and Kutien and sometimes the City Foochow) for more than 50 years if I am not mistaken.
We used to hear fun stories of how Rev James Hoover and his dear wife Mary spoke Foochow with a very heavy accent. And sometimes mistakes were made because there were Kutien and Ming Ching people around. With three or four groups of different kinds of Foochow sub dialects miscommunication took place and they were quite humourous.
Dr. and Mrs. Coole as well as Mr and Mrs. Pilley all spoke perfect Foochow in the Foochow city dialect. Rev. McGraw who stayed in Sibu and later in Sitiawan spoke with a Hock Chiang accent which is what we know as City Foochow according to my Sitiawan friend.
Today Mandarin(Hua Yu) has taken over and the Foochow service is no longer a term which is even familiar to the Christians in Sibu. This is part of the political-socio-linguistic changes of a community I suppose.
Photo shows Sing Ang Tong's kindergarten Principal Wen Ting reading the Bible in Foochow being videoed.
The Yellow Picture Production Company was in Sibu to make a documentary about the Foochow dialect and other significant Foochow stories of Sibu.
You will be able to watch the TV documentary on Astro in the near future. So all of you who are fluent in Foochow or who are interested in the Foochow dialect you will get to see the Yellow Picture Production house's views on Sibu and the Foochow dialect .
(News and photos by Wong Meng Lei - http://mengleiwong.blogspot.com)