Essay on Language Reform in Modern China

2292 Words Sep 9th, 2013 10 Pages
1. What have been the major issues in language reform in modern China? How have these related to wider political and social changes such as the rise of nationalism, the communist revolution, etc.? Give concrete examples to justify your opinion ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Introduction
The Chinese language has changed significantly since the Qing Dynasty. Language is closely linked to social aspects of a society, and China is not an exception. During the last three hundred years China has gotten rid of its dynasty and changed to a communist state. These political changes led to major reforms in the Chinese language, and the three most important ones have been reforms towards a new modern written- and spoken
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As Sang Bing explains it “But in order to unify the spoken and written languages, the former must itself be unified: people must make the same sound before using the same word……. It would cause estrangement, if not division, if everyone wrote phonetically what he spoke” (Bing, 2013). China’s vernacular language would therefore be pointless if it was not for the changes made to guoyo in the same period.
Script reform
Many scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century blamed the slow growth and backwardness of China, on the Chinese language. They believed that Chinese, due to its logographic writing, caused illiteracy and an overall less educated population (Chen, 1994). It was believed it was too difficult to master reading and writing it, and that in order to modernize China, the traditional logographic writing had to be replaced with Latin letters (Bing, 2013). This idea has later been questioned by arguing that illiteracy is result of the failure of the education system and not the language (Bing, 2013). Getting rid of Chinese characters had been the goal for language reformers since the late Qing, but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, new steps were taken towards the Romanization of the Chinese written language (Bing, 2013). Language reformers believed that the best way to promote the national language was to globalize it, and the only way to do this was by adopting Latin

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