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It is true Sally Yeh, the singer still cannot read Chinese writing?

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From what I know about Sally Yeh(???), at age 4 she immigrated to and grew up in Canada before returning back to Taiwan at 18 years old to enter the Chinese entertainment business.

I also know she was not able to read Chinese characters and had to utilize Mandarin romanizations to help her read Chinese words to sing songs. She then relocated to Hong Kong and had to learn Cantonese with the support of romanizations again to help her learn to speak Cantonese and sing the songs in Cantonese.

However, I recently came across her 2012 concert, and she admitted that when she checks her weibo page, she does not know how to read Chinese and has someone read it for her. Here is the link below.

Between, 20:38-21:43 is when she mentions it. I feel like she is maybe exaggerating and maybe she means to say she is not too good at understanding the whole content. I think she should have been able to pick up some basic words here and there with being in the Chinese speaking country for so very long.

Here is her early 1990s special edition video.

Between 6:25-6:40, she noticed the grass radical on her name is gone and writes it back in. So I am assuming she has some basic reading Chinese and cannot be totally illiterate being that she has been in the Chinese speaking country for so long.

I understand up until today she still has to utilize romanizations to help her read lyrics in Cantonese and Mandarin, but with being in the Chinese entertainment for so long, I assume she would have managed to learn some Chinese basics by now, even if she is not too great at reading the written Chinese.

In addition, since she was one of the earliest grown up overseas Chinese celebrity to appear in the Chinese entertainment and to not know how to read Chinese during the late 1970s-early 1980s and I assuming back in those days the Chinese entertainment people would have looked down upon those who did not know how to read written Chinese, especially if they are Chinese descent person themselves like Sally Yeh.

I would have assumed there would have been a lot of pressure on her to at least learn some basics with the support of her managers and circle of friends and utilizing romanizations even if she was not going to be super fluent. Especially, back in the old days in Taiwan where she first started, it was not really an international place like Hong Kong, so it is not like she could have been able to get by with only just English.

She then came over to Hong Kong around 1982 or 1984 and learned Cantonese and stayed more with the Hong Kong entertainment since then. She also had to utilize Cantonese romanizations to not only learn to speak the language, but also to sing the Cantonese songs.

I am assuming when they gave her the romanizations to read Mandarin and Cantonese lyrics, I assume the actual Chinese characters would have been typed along with it and after a while, she should have been able to read a decent amount of basics if not very fluently. Unless they did not include the actual written characters along with the romanizations.

For the first 15 years of Sally Yeh's career from throughout the 1980s until the mid 1990s, there were almost no other overseas Chinese celebrity in the Chinese entertainment and she was the only super famous one. So I assume, she would have felt a little bit out of place with not knowing the Chinese writing system and would have at least managed to learn some basics, if not very fluently.

It was not until the mid 1990s when more of the overseas Chinese, often many lack the Chinese literacy skills started appearing in the Hong Kong entertainment in such a large influx that later on it became more acceptable that they did not have to learn any Chinese words and the managers have decided to not bother to take so much time to make both the written and romanizations together and only just give them the romanizations to sing out the songs. In addition, the overseas Chinese are often looked up upon more, especially in this day and age since there are too many of them now, so the managers figure they do not need to be under pressure to learn written Chinese.

Although overseas Chinese have always been looked up upon by Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland Chinese people, but when it comes to the overseas Chinese not knowing the Chinese culture too well and being very low to no proficiency in Chinese writing, they will look down upon it and thinking back when Sally first appeared in the Chinese entertainment, I can imagine others might have been telling her how she does not know the Chinese writing system and the Chinese culture too well and she would have been under pressure to learn at least some of the writing system and educate herself better on her own Chinese culture.

Here are a few links mentioning that she still cannot read Chinese.

Does anyone know if Sally Yeh really cannot read Chinese at all, or maybe the information and Sally herself is exaggerating and maybe is trying to say her reading level is basic at most?

However, she speaks Mandarin and Cantonese very good. Her Cantonese is so much better than a lot of the other Mandarin speaking celebrities in Hong Kong that learned to speak Cantonese.
Date: Dec 30, 2016   


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