A petition is being circulated by Stanford students and alumni regarding the Cantonese language program at the Stanford Language Center. I’m forwarding it along as a Stanford alum and Cantonese speaker, but the petition itself is an interesting read for scholars. You can read the arguments for Cantonese and sign the petition at: https://tinyurl.com/save-cantonese-at-stanford
Latest coverage by the Stanford Daily: https://www.stanforddaily.com/2021/01/11/thousands-petition-stanford-to-save-cantonese-program-renew-sole-lecturers-contract/
Christopher K. Tong
Petition: “Scholars for the Rights to Learn and Use Mongolian Language in the PRC”
A petition is being circulated to address the elimination of Mongolian-medium language education in the PRC and subsequent ongoing state violence. The text of the petition summarizes the situation and includes links. Please share and circulate!
fwd by Magnus Fiskesjö <email@example.com>
Source: BBC News (9/11/20)
Investigation into US professor sparks debate over Chinese word
By Kerry Allen, BBC Monitoring
Professor Patton has stepped back from his post since his 20 August seminar. Image Twitter.
A US university investigation into one of its professors has ignited a debate over the use of a seemingly innocuous Chinese word.
Professor Greg Patton at the University of Southern California (USC) was telling students in a communications lecture last month about filler, or pause words, such as ‘err’, ‘umm’ or ‘you know’ in English.
Footage of his lecture, which has now gone viral, shows Prof Patton saying: “In China, the common pause word is ‘that, that, that’. So in China, it might be na-ge, na-ge, na-ge.” Continue reading
Source: NYT (8/31/20)
Curbs on Mongolian Language Teaching Prompt Large Protests in China
“Mongolian is our mother language,” the students shouted. Rights activists say the demonstrations are the biggest in the northern region since 2011.
Checking temperatures at a school in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in northern China where Beijing is seeking to reduce the teaching of Mongolian in favor of Chinese. Credit…Costfoto/Barcroft Media, via Getty Images
Thousands of ethnic Mongolians in northern China have gathered outside schools to protest a new policy that would reduce the teaching of their language in favor of Chinese, according to rights groups, a rare display of mass discontent in the border region.
The demonstrations, which began late last week, are focused on an education policy announced this summer, which calls for Chinese to gradually replace Mongolian as the language of instruction in three subjects in elementary and middle schools around the Inner Mongolia region.
For many ethnic Mongolians, who see their language as one of the last surviving markers of their distinct cultural identity, the policy was a step too far.
“We Mongolians are a great race as well,” Dagula, a 39-year-old mother of two, said in a telephone interview from her home in Xilinhot, a city in Inner Mongolia. “If we accept teaching in Chinese, our Mongolian language will really die out.” Continue reading
Source: China Media Project (8/3/20)
A DIPLOMATIC BOW TO XI JINPING
by David Bandurski
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Image by the Austrian Foreign Ministry, available at Flickr.com under CC license.
China faces a growing list of setbacks internationally that might suggest its turn in diplomacy away from a more “cautious and passive” approach in favour of active assertiveness is backfiring. Nevertheless, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi (王毅), declares in the latest edition of the official Seeking Truth journal that his country’s new model of diplomacy is not just an unqualified success but an historically significant contribution to international relations.
In the florid language of a true devotee, Wang credits Xi Jinping with “the vision and sagacity of a great strategist” in sussing out the complexities facing the world, and crafting “comprehensive” long-term solutions in a tidy package now to be called “Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.”
But reading Wang’s language in Seeking Truth in order to better understand the substance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy would be to miss the point. Wang’s article, which we must assume is the full text, or very nearly the full text, of his speech last month to commemorate the opening of a new “Research Center on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy,” is really not about China and its relations with the rest of the world so much as grandiose visions of Xi Jinping and his seemingly unassailable position at the “core” of power. Continue reading
Source: Bruce-Humes.com (8/1/20)
Contemporary Fiction from China: Must it Be Penned in Mandarin?
By Bruce Humes
A few years back I posted a piece entitled A Resounding “Yes” to Mother-tongue Literature — but for Whom and about What?
In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to potential readers who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others.
In my essay, I posed this question: Who is going to write in their native language — or read what is written for that matter — if they cannot receive a decent education in it?
In this context, “mother-tongue” referred to indigenous languages other than Mandarin. This topic may be of interest to Paper Republicans who perceive “Chinese literature” as encompassing writing in Tibetan, Uyghur, Mongolian, as well as oral literature (口述文学) for peoples who do not have a script widely used in the PRC, such as the Evenki, Zhuang and many others. Continue reading
Source: The Hill (7/29/20)
China is replacing languages of ethnic minorities with Mandarin
BY JIANLI YANG AND LIANCHAO HAN, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS
© Getty Images
China has been carrying out propaganda that it cares for its minority communities, putting forth this perspective at various international forums, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council and the council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group, and in white papers issued periodically.
In its September 2019 white paper, “Seeking Happiness for People: 70 Years of Progress on Human Rights in China,” Beijing claimed that it has effectively guaranteed ethnic minority rights in administering state affairs, with representation of all 55 ethnic minority groups in the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
It also claimed that it fully protects the freedom of ethnic minorities to use and develop their spoken and written languages, and that the state protects by law the legitimate use of spoken and written languages of ethnic minorities in the areas of administration and judiciary, press and publishing, radio, film and television, and culture and education. China claims to have established a database for the endangered languages of ethnic minority groups, and has initiated a program for protecting China’s language resources. Continue reading
MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Shuheng (Diana) Zhang’s review of Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958, by Yurou Zhong. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/shuheng-zhang/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk Denton, editor
Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958
By Yurou Zhong
Reviewed by Shuheng (Diana) Zhang
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright April, 2020)
Yurou Zhong’s Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916-1958 is a noteworthy study of a monumental contestation that took place roughly during the first half of the twentieth century between advocates of Chinese logographs and proponents of various phonocentric efforts “to eliminate Chinese characters and implement a Chinese alphabet” (p. 1). Below, I have structured this review of Zhong’s book around a parsing of its title, which provides an efficient way to approach the book’s main foci/contents and to evaluate the author’s achievements.
While the key term, “grammatology,” may not be known to many readers, it is fairly clear what Yurou Zhong means by it: the science of writing (p. 4). But this is “Chinese grammatology,” which we might think of as “grammatology with Chinese characteristics.” And what would that be? It is grammatology that focuses on the special features and nature of the Chinese writing system that are all too often overlooked in universal schemes of the history of writing and the history of linguistics. That is to say, Zhong wishes to take grammatology seriously, but not at the expense of ignoring the stark differences between phonetic scripts and Chinese characters. In the end, she aims to find a new path that combines phoneticism and logography as the vital embodiment of yǔwén 語文, which is how Chinese language textbooks and classes are denominated in China today. Continue reading
The 5th Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL-5). organized at The Ohio State University, will be held as a synchronous webinar conference on April 18 (Saturday evening) and April 19 (Sunday morning), Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Registration is free and open to the public.
WICL-5 Website: https://u.osu.edu/wicl/wicl-5/
WICL-5 Program: https://u.osu.edu/wicl/wicl-5/program/
WICL-5 Online Registration: https://u.osu.edu/wicl/wicl-5/registration/
See you all virtually at WICL-5!
WICL-5 | WICL
New: WICL-5 as an online webinar conference! The 5th Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL-5) will take place in April 2020, to be hosted by The Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. In the interest of keeping everyone safe, the originally-planned on-site event will be replaced with a virtual, online event.
Marjorie Chan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am happy to announce the recent publication of my book and to provide a discount code (see below) for anyone interested in purchasing it:
Yurou Zhong. Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019.
Today, Chinese characters are described as a national treasure, the core of the nation’s civilizational identity. Yet for nearly half of the twentieth century, reformers waged war on the Chinese script. They declared it an archaic hindrance to modernization, portraying the ancient system of writing as a roadblock to literacy and therefore science and democracy. Movements spanning the political spectrum proposed abandonment of characters and alphabetization of Chinese writing, although in the end the Communist Party opted for character simplification. Continue reading
In an October 11 (The Myth of Political Brainwashing ) reply to my recent piece on the genealogy of “brainwashing,” Professor Magnus Fiskesjö of Cornell takes issue with my critique of the term’s Cold War misappropriation. He asks, in particular, “if you don’t like the term ‘brainwashing,’ then what will you call the violent conversion therapy currently practiced on hundreds of thousands of concentration camp detainees in Xinjiang?”
At several points in his reply, Dr. Fiskesjö seems to imply, inaccurately, that my tracing of the origins of the Chinese term xinao was intended as a commentary on current events—specifically, as some kind of defense of ongoing Chinese state practices in Xinjiang and elsewhere. “I would have thought that it should be impossible,” he writes, “for any scholar … to touch on this topic of brainwashing today without touching on these dramatic current developments.” This leads into a subsequent charge of “intellectual dishonesty.”
In this brief response, I will not dwell on the question whether it is fair to raise such weighty charges over a piece focusing on the origins of a Chinese word, written under space constraints, and beginning with events in Hunan in the 1890s, solely because it does not go on to extensively discuss 21st century events in Xinjiang that many describe by using that word. Continue reading
The Ryan Mitchell paper is very nostalgic, very bilateral, and rather ivory tower. Xinao, yes. Heard about it, read about it before. Interesting. But this article sounds like a kind of old-school liberal scholarship that has long existed in the West in the Cold War. And in Hong Kong. Removed from the reality of places where there is no academic freedom. Could he have written this in Taiwan nowadays, without someone telling him how it was under Chiang Kaishek? Scientific doesn’t mean nice and neutral, never did. Science wasn’t something better before the Cold War. Not at all. Remember race. Most science on race. Or Scientific Communism. A somewhat discredited term in Central and Eastern Europe. Some still use it, of course. Nothing wrong with Marx. Something tedious about ivory towers. Re-centering, oh god. In love with his idea of China or the East through the ages. Is he still writing in Hong Kong now? Sorry, I know this is very rambling, not very polite and so on. Has anyone looked when the word brain-washing came up in other languages? In Russian, for example. Did Orwell know it? It’s a classical modern scholarship thing to bring up a word, a term, a phenomenon, to declare it Western, Euro-centric, then de-construct it with non-Western facts. In China it works the other way around, ever since the times of the reformers around Liang Qichao Mitchell mentions, and earlier. Marx was very close to the political reality of his time. He wanted that very much. I suspect Mitchell doesn’t. I understand the impulse. But reality has overtaken Hong Kong, hasn’t it?
Martin Winter <email@example.com>
Language has history, and I thought Ryan Mitchell did an important and illuminating job of exploring the history of the term “brain washing.” To read the term only through current experience, deplorable as that experience may be, is exactly the error Mitchell is hoping to correct.
Ron Janssen < firstname.lastname@example.org>
It’s eerie to have this article, which argues brainwashing is a pointless Cold War term only bounded about for political purposes and with no analytical purchase either on the past or on today, with no reference at all to the recent waves of forced-confession spectacles which are the results of months of “brainwashing” (exchange with another word if you don’t like it), surely the polar opposite of “individuals’ active attempts to re-examine their own ideas,” — whether or not that was an original sense of this word xinao, as the article says it was.
Worse, if you don’t like the term “brainwashing,” then what will you call the violent conversion therapy currently practiced on hundreds of thousands of concentration camp detainees in Xinjiang?
Even if Mitchell is right that “the term is used frequently by ideologues of all stripes to define the opinions of those whom they disagree with as the result of external mind control rather than an independent thought process,” how is it remotely possible to even write on this topic without touching on the massive campaign forcing people at gunpoint, in the Xinjiang camps, to regurgitate CCP dogma and then denounce themselves and deny their identity day out and day in — as copiously documented by numerous witnesses — surely a full-throated contemporary revival of Maoist CCP torture-brainwashing? Continue reading
Source: Made in China (10/8/19)
China and the Political Myth of ‘Brainwashing’
By Ryan Mitchell
‘Investigative Study of Brain Essence’, article and diagrams in the Zhixin Bao, 1897. Source: 全国报刊索引 database.
‘Brainwashing’ is a ubiquitous word, a basic part of the vocabulary in various languages around the world. In fact, the allegation is used so frequently in modern discourse that we might be puzzled as to how political arguments ever got by without its striking, pejorative imagery. It is de rigueur to describe those with different viewpoints as incapable of independent thought—instead, for example, Mainland Chinese citizens must have been ‘brainwashed’ into fervent nationalism, or, alternatively, Hong Kong protesters must have been ‘brainwashed’ by Western media or governments. Though it was the English word that became globalised from the middle of the twentieth century, writers on the topic have long claimed, with varying degrees of certainty, that it was in turn a calque of a preexisting Chinese term: xinao (洗脑), literally ‘to wash the brain’. Continue reading