Everyone knows China is going through an industrial revolution right now. In developed countries such as the U.S., this took place in the late 19th century. The ratio between the number of rural and urban residents basically swapped because industrialization freed the bulk of the population from having to work in the fields to produce food for all. This phenomenon is occurring in China right now with her massive GDP growth in the last three decades. Despite the hundreds of millions of people having moved to urban areas, the number of Chinese citizens residing in the rural areas is still staggering – 750 million. If the final ratio is similar to other developed countries (which is likely), the scale of this population movement in the coming decades is mind-numbing. Imagine one billion people on the move in only a few decades!
A lot of Chinese people are going to be missing their prairies, farms, and villages. This song, titled, “父亲的草原母亲的河” (“Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River”), performed by 布仁巴雅尔 (Buren Bayaer), a Mongolian Chinese singer, readily resonates with the hundreds of millions of Chinese who have moved in the last three decades. It will continue to resonate for decades to come.
Equally, many “mother tongues” are going to be lost too, as the song laments. This phenomenon is easy to explain. In the U.S., many Americans who are descendants of immigrants usually loose the ability to speak their ancestors languages within one or two generations in favor of the official language, English. China has hundreds of dialects and thousands of accents. As they all converge in urban areas, they will predominantly speak the official dialect.
Many Chinese citizens visiting their parents at their old homes during the Chinese New Year will have this feeling.
The uploaded video, translation, and further info are courtesy of YallMeanMVP over at Youtube.com. According to YallMeanMVP, “the lyrics are adopted from a beautiful poem “Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River”(父亲的草原母亲的河), written by the renowned contemporary Mongolian Chinese writer/poetess 席慕容(Xi Murong).” (YallMeanMVP’s channel has a nice collection of Chinese videos and I recommend heading over for a look.)
YallMeanMVP: much thanks to yuluns for providing the translation:
Father’s Prairie, Mother’s River
Lyrics/Poem: Xi Murong
Father used to describe the fragrance of the prairie
A scent that followed him to the edges of the world
Mother always spoke of the turbulence of the river
Raging through the Mongolian steppes, my distant home
Now that I finally come to see this great land
Tears rain down my face as I stand on these fragrant prairies
The river sings of the prayers of the forefathers
Blessing the prodigal son to find his way home
Ah, father’s prairie
Ah, mother’s river
Though I can no longer express them in my mother tongue
Please accept my feelings of sorrow and joy
I, too, am a son of the steppes
There is a song in my heart
It sings of my father’s prairie and my mother’s river