atans1

What the PAP doesn’t tell us about Mandarin

In Uncategorized on 16/10/2016 at 4:37 am

I came across a fascinating article on Mandarin that exposes popular myths (propogated and spread) by among others the PAP and the CCP, about Mandarin

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21708731-mandarin-becoming-worlds-most-commonly-spoken-language-it-contentious-home-let-not

(Registration required)

Here’s a summary with extracts

There’s Mandarin and there’s dialects

When a republic was declared in 1912, there was no common spoken language in China. Yes, imperial officials had communicated in a tongue used by the elites in Beijing. But the rest of the vast country was linguistically fractured. Experts today identify half a dozen mutually unintelligible language groups spoken by Han Chinese, along with hundreds of dialects. (And that is before considering the languages of Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongols and many other non-Han peoples.) The lack of a common tongue has always seemed to threaten the daunting project of nation-building. Even to refer to different Chinese “languages” remains taboo—they must be “dialects”, or risk undermining the hallowed notion of “one China”.

It’s an ancient language — it’s not

The first committee to create a standard Chinese was convened in 1913. Many meetings later the choice fell on the Beijing vernacular as the basis. After they seized power in 1949, Mao and his fellow guerrillas (despite hailing from far-flung regions) retained this form, calling it putonghua, or “common language”. His enemies in Taiwan did so too, even though the island’s own dialects are very different from Beijing’s. Faraway Singapore adopted it as one of its “mother tongues”. My emphasis.

PRC Chinese speak it properly: they don’t

The education ministry says that 30% of the population in 2014, or roughly 400m, still could not speak standardised Mandarin, while only a tenth of those who could spoke it properly.

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