The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chinese Language in Modern China

I've posted previously about the Chinese language. Here is another you might find interesting. Below is an excerpt from an article about the evolution of the Chinese language in modern China. It's a very interesting read. If you click here, you can read the whole article.

The Chinese Language, Ever Evolving

(Credit: Princeton University Art Museum) Detail of a Ming Dynasty scroll by Zhu Yunming in the cursive script.

The Times recently published an article about China’s effort to manage the vast number of characters in the Chinese language. A government computer database, designed to recognize people’s names on identity cards, is programmed to read about 32,000 of the roughly 55,000 Chinese characters, cutting out the more “obscure” characters.

This is not the first attempt to modernize a sprawling and ancient language. The most ambitious effort was the introduction of a simplified system of writing in the 1950s. As part of the Communist Party’s campaign to reduce illiteracy, simplified characters were promoted as the common written language, replacing many traditional characters.

More than five decades later, simplified characters remain the standard writing system of China, while Chinese elsewhere — especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong — continue to use traditional characters.

We asked several experts to explain the roots of this shift, and how it might affect the future course of the written language.


walt said...

Nice scene from "Hero" on your previous post.

From what I've read, the Communists did the same sort of thing with all the martial arts that they propose to do with their language, simplifying and organizing "official" styles. Personally, I resist this sort of thing -- not that that influences anything!

Something about phrases like "...a pragmatic and forward-looking modern drive..." that makes me nervous. I am not a very modern man.

Rick said...

I don't like the over organization either in martial arts. I don't much like organizations. I like the one teacher, one school model.