Chinese language

Chinese language

Chinese minority languages face extinction
China’s minority languages face the threat of extinction, a new study has found. A WordFinder study, based on UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, has found that 25 ethnic minority languages in China are now being pushed to the brink of extinction. One language, known as Fuyu Kyrgyz, can be traced back to central Siberia three centuries ago, but is now only spoken by 10 elderly residents of Fuyu County, in China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province, the study found. Li Jinfang, an ethnic minority language researcher from Beijing’s Minzu University of China, believed China’s urbanization and rapidly developing economy had contributed to the decline, with people finding it more
5 celebrities that can join Meryl Streep and wow with Chinese language skills
Lauded for her acting, Meryl Streep has revealed another talent – speaking Chinese. Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, earlier this month, the Hollywood legend was coaxed to recite the famous Chinese poem, “The Deer Range”, which she learned in 2011. While the 71-year-old did not get the tone of some of the characters correct, her recitation led to widespread praise from social media users in China who were shocked she remembered it.  Many applauded her ability to master what is not an easy language. “I went with [cellist] Yo-Yo Ma to Beijing for a cultural exchange concert in the Bird’s Nest stadium,” Streep explained to the host. “I was going to [recite] it first in English,
Chinese buzzwords reveal unease and aimlessness
The top buzzwords in China for 2020 reflected the coronavirus fatigue and general sense of aimlessness that have plagued this pandemic-addled year. Some trending terms also touched on social stagnation and wealth inequality. Selected by Yaowen Jiaozi, a magazine that promotes the Chinese language, the top buzzwords included “sacred beasts,” “new wave” and “Versaille literature.”  One word was particularly insightful: “Involution,” which describes the lack of advances in agrarian societies when agricultural labor intensity increases but the output per person does not. The term went viral in China in the second half of 2020 when it was used to describe a student at Tsinghua University, China’
China’s trying to promote a national language. Not everyone is pleased
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. China has been promoting the use of Mandarin as the country’s official language for decades, but this official push for “linguistic unity” has proved difficult in the vast country. China’s 1.4 billion residents speak hundreds of mutually unintelligible languages and dialects. National figures show that some 270 million people, or about one in five people, do not speak Mandarin. The official efforts to promote Mandarin have met resistance in regions with large ethnic minority populations who fear losing their culture and language. In August 2020, a governm
Mongolians fear loss of languages as China pushes Mandarin
China’s new language policy for schools in Inner Mongolia sparked rare protests and class boycotts in the region as locals fear the rules will suffocate their culture. Some parents have been threatened with layoffs, fines, and their children’s expulsion from school if they refuse to send their kids back to school. 
The rise and rise of China’s national language
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Mandarin Chinese has more native speakers than any other language in the world, thanks to China’s large population and a government campaign to get every citizen to speak the national language. Mandarin boasts over 920 million native speakers and an additional 200 million second-language speakers, making it the second most widely spoken language in the world, according to Ethnologue. The global influence of the language has risen along with the country’s profile. In 2013, Former British Prime Minister David Cameron called on schoolchildren to learn Mandar
Why Andrew Yang’s name sounds weird to Chinese speakers
How do you pronounce the surname of the US presidential candidate Andrew Yang? Does it rhyme with “gang,” as in “Yang Gang”?  While this pronunciation may be intuitive to Americans – it’s how the Democratic hopeful says his name – it might sound a little off to Chinese ears. In the video above, we explain the difference between how Mandarin speakers pronounce the popular Chinese last name and how most Americans say it.
China’s 2022 Olympic mascots have unusual names
This article was updated on Sep 19, 2019 to include comment from the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Ever been stumped by how to say Xi Jinping? You’re not alone, and China’s Olympic organizers have acknowledged recognized the problem. The organizers chose an unconventional way to name their new 2022 Olympic mascots: a panda and an anthropomorphic lantern.  Instead of using Pinyin, the romanized spelling system used by more than 1 billion Mandarin speakers, both mascots have names spelled in ways that make it easier for non-Chinese speakers to pronounce.  Follow #BingDwenDwen and #ShueyRhonRhon on their adventures! See you in #Beijing2022! pic.t
Why almost everyone calls their dad ‘papa’ (it’s not always been that way)
No matter what language you speak, chances are you know what “mama” and “papa” mean when you hear those words. They are “māma” and “bàba” in Mandarin, “mama” and “tata” in Bosnian, “maman” and “papa” in French, and “nana” and “tata” in Fijian. Some linguists say that with rare exceptions, those words for mother and father need no translation across language families and cultures because they’re the easiest sounds to make for a baby. When you learned to say the vowel sound in “ma,” all you needed to do was to open your mouth and make noise. And “m”, “p” and “b” are consonants you can sound without having to move your tongue. But as ubiquitous as “mama” and “papa” and their variations are, Chi
US-China trade talks are at the stage where people haggle over every word
As negotiators from the United States and China grow closer to clinching a deal to end the trade war, both sides will be wary of the complications that can arise from issues of language, interpretation and translation during negotiations. While both sides are negotiating in their native tongues with the help of simultaneous translation, the subsequent text will be translated into both English and Chinese. These translations will then be “scrubbed” by lawyers and technical translators in an effort to reach a final text that both sides are happy with. But history shows that this is rarely straightforward. Ambiguity is hard to avoid in international trade deals, while experienced negotiators ha