[Not Your Father’s Chinese]It's Not Ok

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 感悟爱情 点击:

  The government’s first annual report on the evolution of the Chinese language contains some surprises
  
  The Chinese people are proud of their language, which they consider the most essential part of their civilization of 5,000 years.
  The charm of the language includes its ideographic writing system, in which the structure of the characters is directly related to their meaning, and the four-tone system in pinyin, the most common romanization system for Chinese, which endows the language with rhythmic beauty. For thousands of years, the Chinese language has been the incarnation of the nation’s unique mentality and the carrier of its long history.
  In May, the Ministry of Education and the National Language Work Committee under the State Council, China’s cabinet, jointly issued a paper titled “The Living Conditions of the Chinese Language (2005),” providing data on how Chinese characters are being used, what the most frequently used words are and how many characters one must know in order to read books and newspapers. The conclusion of the report, the first of its kind in the Chinese history, is that the language environment in China, in general, is healthy and harmonious.
  The report may bring good news for those learning Chinese as a foreign language. Despite the huge differences from Western alphabetic languages, Chinese is not difficult to learn.
  Li Yuming, an official from the Ministry of Education in charge of language administration, said, “Many people believe Chinese is a very complicated language. Actually, the Chinese language is among the easiest languages to learn.” His assertion is upheld by data in the report.
  Knowledge of the 581 most commonly used characters can cover 80 percent of daily conversation. To read 90 percent of the Chinese publications requires knowledge of only a bit more than 900 characters, while reading 99 percent of the Chinese publications needs 2,315 characters.
  But real life requires more knowledge of the language than reading books and newspapers. An expert with the National Language Work Committee said the fact that 900 characters cover 90 percent of publications only indicates that the frequency of use of these characters in the media is high; some colloquial phrases used in daily life rarely appear in books or newspapers.
  
  Changing vocabulary
  
  According to Li, the survey on the use of Chinese characters looked at words that have appeared 732 million times in 890,000 texts from 15 newspapers, 13 television stations and three types of online media.
  Of the 8,225 Chinese characters covered by the survey, between 400 and 500 characters have never appeared in a dictionary before. Meanwhile, compared with an official vocabulary of modern Chinese language issued in 1988, some 244 new characters were found by the survey, which indicates a considerable change in the Chinese vocabulary.
  The survey allocated resources for a separate study of 60,000 text documents from the bulletin board websites of seven Chinese universities. The report summarized the features of language use on the Internet and listed the top 100 most frequently used words. Surprisingly, these documents cover almost 10,000 Chinese characters, more than the total number in the surveyed print media.
  Generally, Internet language is more casual and creative in absorbing numbers, foreign languages and emoticons, symbols that are used to indicate emotions.
  For example, Chinese people use GG or gg, the abbreviation of the pinyin word “gege,” meaning elder brother. People use 88 to replace “bye-bye” since the pronunciation of eight in Chinese is somewhat similar to “bye.” And BB is used to refer to baby or babe.
  Chinese netizens are also savvy about using emoticons, especially when chatting online. Experts state that Internet language, teeming with creative variants, is good at showcasing people’s unique personalities and imaginations. The high speed of its evolution shows that people’s daily communications are more and more reliant on the Internet.
  The Ministry of Education and the National Language Work Committee have announced plans to make the issuance of a language report an annual practice. Zhao Qinping, Vice Minister of Education, explained that, given the fact that the evolution of any language is an important segment of social life, close monitoring of the trend has become an important task for any modern country.
  An annual survey thus would be useful in offering references for related studies and the government’s formulation of language standards. For example, the latest survey, which found that a significant portion of the Chinese vocabulary of 1988 is passé, has provided a useful reference for restructuring standards.
  The survey also studies the competence of textbooks in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. In the two textbooks studied during the survey, 31 of the 1,847 Chinese characters are outside the list of the 3,500 most frequently used characters.

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