Daniel Halliday
Apr 20 · Last update 4 mo. ago.

Does local culture suffer in China due to the national language being Mandarin?

Chinese Language Day - 20th April Chinese languages represent a diverse language family with some variant being spoken by around 1.2 billion people or around 16% of the world’s population. There are between 7 and 13 distinct language families in China depending on how they are classified, with all families and some languages of the same family being mutually unintelligible. However Modern Standard Mandarin Chinese (Pǔtōnghuà/Guóyǔ/Huáyǔ), based on the Beijing dialect, functions as a national language for both China and Taiwan, is one of four official languages of Singapore and one of six official languages of the United Nations (who commemorate it every April 20th). However does the use of Mandarin Chinese as a national language have an effect on the widespread localised languages and cultures of the country? un.org/zh/events/chineselanguageday/english.shtml
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Simplified Chinese characters may have a negative effect on local and Chinese literary culture as a whole
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No, not language, but government policy does
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Positive – any multilingualism is beneficial to an individuals health
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China’s multi-lingual nature could put off tourists
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No, it helps unify China
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Yes – Some local languages are suffering
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Simplified Chinese characters may have a negative effect on local and Chinese literary culture as a whole

Diglossia is a term used to describe the use of two languages in a society side by side, a common everyday vernacular language (a lower – “L” variety) and a more formal (or high – “H” variety) which could be used to describe the relation of Mandarin as the official and literary standard, while local dialects are used for everyday communication in China. Some linguists have indicated this divide of prestige in some languages can help to solidify social hierarchies and strengthen inequality between social classes in the society linguistically. What’s more there is another linguistic debate dividing Chinese linguists and literally dividing Chinese speakers internationally, with many arguing the use of Modern Simplified Chinese may not have led to the intended uptake in literacy rates and instead be harmful to the character and beauty of the written language.

link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-03521-5_4 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diglossia#Sociolinguistics scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/hong-kong/article/2150255/traditional-or-simplified-debate-chinese

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 19
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No, not language, but government policy does

It is not language that is a threat to the diversity of Chinese culture but the Chinese government, human rights abuses in regions such as Xinjiang and Tibet are a direct threat to not only cultural diversity in China but to the rights and lives of millions of Chinese citizens in such regions. There has been a long history of strained relations between the Uighur population of Xinjiang and the majority Han Chinese, and China’s government have responded to outbreaks of terrorism and violence in 2009 in Xinjiang province with a particularly heavy hand. Many mosques have been closed or destroyed, while images of Xi Jinping has been hung in mosques despite this being religiously offensive, some Halal products have been banned, beards and veils have been banned, and the Uighur language has been banned in schools. The communist party have encouraging neighbours to spy on each other, even having communist party members paired with households in order to solidify a spying campaign, and a millions people are currently thought to be in prisons/concentration camps that the Chinese government claim are re-educations centres. Some have described the extent of such actions as a cultural genocide.

youtube.com/watch?v=GRBcP5BrffI

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 19
Created

Positive – any multilingualism is beneficial to an individuals health

Keeping the mind active has long been thought to be a method to deter age-related degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that multilingualism has been proven to have a positive effect on an individual’s brain and development, studies carried out at Toronto’s York University have shown that the brain of bilingual patients suffering with Alzheimer’s functions better and for longer even after contracting the illness. Likewise a study from the Nizam Institute of Medical Science Hyderabad in India, a highly multilingual country, demonstrated that on average those who spoke more than one language were able to delay Alzheimer’s Disease, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia by around 4.5 years.

livescience.com/12917-learning-language-bilingual-protects-alzheimers.html alzheimers.net/speaking-two-languages-delays-dementia

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 19
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China’s multi-lingual nature could put off tourists

Although Mandarin is the dominant language in the country, China’s vast range of official and indigenous languages, composed of 302 different languages stemming from at least 11 language families, make this country one of the potentially harshest language barriers for tourists and foreign travellers. Language barriers are thought to still be deterring many tourists from countries like Japan, and China should strive to make it as easy as possible to exploit this potentially huge market. It is thought to be difficult for foreigners and tourists to learn to navigate a country with a low level of services available to them in either their language or a common lingua franca, and for countries with multiple languages like China this hurdle becomes a bigger one.

yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/cost-language-barrier-still-keeping-tourists-away skift.com/2015/05/05/small-tourist-destinations-still-struggle-with-big-language-barriers en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_China

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 19
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No, it helps unify China

Mandarin as a language functions as a unifying force for a Chinese identity across the country and somewhat internationally, helping to integrate and bring togetherness to Greater China. China is a very diverse country with many differing cultures, ethnicities, cuisines and even history. Although Mandarin functions as a national language it is not even a case of being linked to the majority culture or ethnicity with Han Chinese people speaking a variety of languages in the country, however Mandarin allows such diverse cultures over such a large country to communicate, coexist, and share in a common history of China.

quora.com/How-did-China-become-so-ethnically-homogeneous

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Daniel Halliday
May 28
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Yes – Some local languages are suffering

Even though Mandarin dialects represent the majority of language used in China, both statistically and geographically, Mandarin is also actively leading to language decline in certain areas and this is not being helped by government policy of both Mainland and Taiwanese governments. In Taiwan both major parties have increasingly failed to support minority and indigenous languages which are declining compared to Mandarin. Mandarin is however directly being used as a language or a tool of oppression in Xinjiang province of Mainland China, where the police and authorities are replace the Uighur language with Mandarin in the education system to achieve cultural homogenisation of the region.

thenation.com/article/china-xinjiang-uighur-oppression newbloommag.net/2016/08/13/mandarin-problem-taiwan

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 21
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