School Information System
Newsletter Sign Up |

Subscribe to this site via RSS: | Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

June 18, 2013

When words are not enough: The dying art of professional letter writing

Xenia Chan and Hedy Bok:

Professional letter writers were once a common sight on Hong Kong's streets, but today only a few survive. In the latest episode of our Uniquely Hong Kong series, we talk to Pun Tse-ching about the dying art
Pun Tse-ching, 73, performs a role which is dying out in Hong Kong. He is a professional Chinese letter writer.

As is that case with so many other industries, the rise of modern technology, coupled with higher rates of literacy, have led to a sharp fall in the number of letter writers.

Once they performed a vital role in Chinese society. During the 1950s, for example, they were needed because Hong Kong only had a literacy rate of about 60 per cent.

A professional letter writer or "se seun lou" (寫信佬) writes formal letters for customers in Chinese characters. These can include business letters or correspondence to family and friends abroad.Usually well-educated and highly literate, they were skilled in writing and performed the role of professional secretary. As well as writing letters, they also had to read letters to their customers.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 18, 2013 12:40 AM
Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas
Post a comment

Remember personal info?