崇謙堂村 / Sung4 Him1 Tong4 Cyun1 / Cung2 Kiam1 Tang2 Cun1

A long long time ago, when I was studying linguistics and Asian languages in Paris, I was introduced to a researcher who had written his PhD about the dialect spoken in a Hakka village called Sung Him Tong. He gave me a copy of his PhD dissertation, which I probably have somewhere up in storage in Kwaichung or wherever it is that my stuff is stored.

Back then I wasn’t interested in Cantonese, and other non-mainstream Chinese languages. I was immersed in Middle Chinese and other dead languages, and had little time for the languages spoken by live people. I was twenty-something and allowed to be foolish. Anyway, I chucked the dissertation in my library, where it accumulated dust. The only impression I kept was that this man must’ve been very determined to live in a Hakka village for 6 months or more, just to study their dialect. The image I had of Hakka villages was that of round, multy-storey wooden houses shared by several families in the boondocks of Mainland China.

Except it’s not in the boondocks… Well, at least not in the middle of nowhere in Mailand China, but a canon-shot away from Fanling KCR/MTR station. It looks like nowhere as shiny and modern as say Central 🙂 see some nice pics here, but even 20 years ago, it must’ve been less of a hardship than living in Shenzhen today…

Anyway for some strange reason I got a blast from the past — I was looking up some references about the Hakka language, and a bibliographical reference to that PhD dissertation came up — and I thought that I should look up that place, 20 years after receiving the dissertation… Better late than never, right? I felt some kind of disappointment — here I was, as a kid, imagining that dude slumming it in the mountains with the indigenous population, whereas he was probably commuting every day on a 小巴… My hero’s a commuter. Sigh…

So I poked around a bit — since this place is near 沙頭閣, a place I really want to visit — and hk-place is always a good start when you’re looking for info and piccies about forgotten places in HK. There’s lots of not so ancient buildings, but there seems to be a bunch of 圍村, home to the 鄧 family, and cousins to the people who live in 錦田 (and thus 吉慶圍 I suppose). The two pictures here (click to see the originals), show the contrast that you can find in such HK villages. Concrete and stone walls. This is something that I enjoy quite a bit. This village is definitely on my list of things to visit in 2011!

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