Keynote speaker: Richard VanNess Simmons

BEAL Forum 3. Plenary Session 3

Date: Monday, 22 October 2018
Time: 3:30 – 4:50 p.m.
Place: Mershon Center, Room 120
1501 Neil Avenue
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Professor Richard VanNess Simmons
Rutgers University

“Northern and Southern Variations on a Theme: Three Vivid Portrayals of the Mandarin Koinē of Early 19th Century China”

Abstract: This presentation examines the work of three scholars who described the Guānhuà koinē from the beginning of the 19th century for what they reveal about the interplay between Mandarin and local dialect in the urban linguistic milieu in late Qīng, especially with regard to Mandarin spoken in south China: Gāo Jìngtíng (fl. 1800-1810), Lǐ Rǔzhēn (c. 1763–1830), and Robert Morrison (1782-1834). Gāo Jìngtíng’s Zèngyīn cuōyào was the first indigenous textbook of Mandarin and contains many passages that provide fascinating glimpses of language use in urban areas along the corridors of travel between Guǎngzhōu and Běijīng. In his Lǐshì yīnjiàn and Jìng huā yuan, Lǐ Rǔzhēn reveals the flexible, adaptable attitude toward Mandarin varieties that prevailed in his day. Robert Morrison compiled his comprehensive Mandarin dictionary and grammar working entirely in Guǎngzhōu and Macau. Morrison works are witness to Mandarin’s prevalence and utility in China’s distant southern urban areas, far away from the metropolises of Nánjīng and Běijīng that gave Guānhuà its powerful linguistic luster.

Together, the three authors and their works reveal much about the history of Mandarin and of language attitudes in south China during the early years of the 1800’s. They are first-hand witnesses that allow us to sketch out an outline of the multilingual character of urban language use in late Qīng speech communities. We see therein the nature and utility of the Guānhuà koinē that served as the precursor of, and model for the development of China’s national language in the 20th century.

BEAL Forum logo - 250x250Bio: Dr. Richard VanNess Simmons is Professor of Chinese at Rutgers University, where he teaches Chinese language, linguistics, and literature. He received his Ph.D. in Chinese linguistics from the University of Washington, Seattle. His publications include Chinese Dialect Classifica­tion—A Comparative Approach to Harngjou, Old Jintarn, and Common Northern Wu (1999), Issues in Chinese Dialect Description and Classification (1999), Chinese Dialect Geography: Distinguishing Mandarin and Wu in Their Boundary Region (2006), Handbook for Lexicon Based Dialect Fieldwork (2006), Shanghainese Dictionary and Phrasebook (2011), and Studies in Chinese and Sino-Tibetan Linguistics: Dialect, Phonology, Transcription and Text (2014). His current research project is to compile a comprehensive history of Mandarin.

Free and Open to the Public

2018 BEAL Forum Organizing Committee
Seojin Yang and Lindsey Stirek (graduate student co-chairs)
Mineharu Nakayama, Marjorie K.M. Chan, and Zhiguo Xie (faculty co-chairs)

Institute for Chinese Studies, Institute for Japanese Studies

East Asian Studies Center; Graduate Association of Chinese Linguistics (GACL)l Graduate Students of East Asian Languages and Literatures (GREALL); Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures; Department of Linguistics, and other OSU units.

This event is sponsored in part by a Council on Student Affairs (CSA) Strategic Programming Grant, a grant from Confucius Institute Headquarters, and U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant for The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center.