In 1909, the Qing government founded a Commitee for the Establishment and Research of a National Language (Guoyu biancha weiyuanhui 國語編查委員會), and two years later a Conference for [General] Education in China (Zhongguo jiaoyu huiyi 中國教育會議) was held, which was reestablished after the foundation of the Republic in 1911. The first task of this conference was to determine the correct phonetic range and system of the National language. In 1913 a Conference for the Unification of Pronunciation (duyin tongyi hui 讀音統一會) was held which fixed the correct pronunciation of characters in the national language.
Confucian philosophers, often scolded as conservative, were by no means inclined to the classical language. The Zhuzi yulei 朱子語類, a collection of discourses by Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200), is written in vernacular language, at least partially. The creation of a lot of new terms in technology during the Song, Yuan 元 (1279-1368) and also the Ming periods, is due to the growing economy that stimulated a lot of inventions.
The names Maikenxi 麥肯錫 for McKinsey, Maidanglao 麥當勞 for McDonald's, or Guchi 古馳 for Gucci are pure transcriptions, without any associations neither related to the business nor arousing any feelings towards the product or service or in general. The contrary is the literal translation of the company's name, like Weiruan 微軟 "Small soft" for Microsoft.
The written language has become frozen from the Tang and Song periods on (but was, of course, also influenced by the vernacular language, as can be seen in the writings of Han Yu 韓愈, 768-824, or Zhu Xi), while there were important changes in lexicon and grammar of the spoken language. The difference became even greater until the end of the imperial period. While texts, even that of the first newspapers, were written in Classical Chinese, the vernacular language was very different from the written language. After the May Fourth Movement the vernacular language (Mandarin) was also used for literature, newspapers and for official publications. The Classical Chinese has nevertheless still a deep influence on the written language of Mandarin. Many texts of the late 19th century were already written in a mixed style that is often hard to understand. The mixed style is still in use in many newspapers in Taiwan, Hong Kong and in the Chinese overseas communities.
In 1949, the People's Republic adopted the Guoyu as the national language yet changed the name to Putonghua 普通話. The Guoyu used in Taiwan and the Putonghua used in the People's Republic are basically identical, barring some exceptions. In the past 60 years there occurred, nevertheless, changes in the tone pitches of words and the pronunciation of some characters, and the two language have partially a different lexicon (like the word for "bicylce", jiaotache 腳踏車 in Taiwan, but zixingche 自行車 in the PRC, or "taxi", which is jichengche 計程車 in Taiwan but chuzuqiche 出租汽車 in the PRC).
Peng Q., Lu S., Shi Yx.., Pan Y., Linsakul P., Shi Yw., Chernov AV., Qiu J., Chai X., Wang P., Ji Y., Li Y.-S., Strongin AY., Verkhusha VV., Belmonte JCI, Ren B., Wang Y.L., Chien S., and Wang Y. (2018) Coordinated Histone Modifications and Chromatin Reorganization in A Single Cell Revealed by FRET Biosensors, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 115(50):E11681-E11690
In different dialects the same words may have a different tone pitch. The tone pitches of many words modern Chinese have even changed in the past 100 years. Mandarin knowns 21 consonants and 36 finals, making a theoretical pool of 756 sounds, multiplied with the number of tones, a pool of 3,024 different syllables. This is indeed not very much, and in practice, not all consonant initials are combined with all finals. [ga] 噶, [kʰə] 可, [xωan] 喚, for instance, all bear "dark" vowels, yet [dʝi] 幾, [tɕʰiɛn] 前, [ɕyɛ] 學, all have "light" vowels. In fact, there are only about 1,200 syllables used. This means that there is a tremendous amount of homophones (tongyinci 同音詞) in modern Chinese, like shùmù 樹木 "tree" and shùmù 數目 "number".
In consequence of the globalization, but also at earlier points of time, the Chinese language has accepted many foreign words. Yet the problem is that the Chinese script is made for the Chinese language, one character expressing one syllable and one distinctive idea (or word). Foreign loanwords could therefore only expressed by using characters that have already a distinctive meaning. This original meaning was to be neglected. Among the first foreign words coming to China were Buddhist terms of the language Sanskrit (fanyu 梵語, both the Middle Chinese and the modern pronunciation are rendered):
The village finances are kept in the village. In Huaxi’s case, there are three different forms of distribution. One is the “communist” part, which is distribution according to one’s need. So it provides the villager with basic subsistence fees. They also have what they call the “socialist” part of distribution, which means that you have to work in the village, at a factory or in a service area, in order to get paid. That’s a salary. The third part is called the “capitalist” part. That’s the dividend based on factory shares and village shares that you own. Not every villager has that.
The Mandarin language is written with Chinese characters (zi 字 or hanzi 漢字). Chinese characters are not pictures, but ideas of meanings (an ideographic script), and in many cases a quite complicated method to write sounds. About two thirds of the Chinese characters include a phonetic component. Each character stands for one syllable, and not necessarily for one word. The same character might have several different pronunciations, depending on the meaning. Yet a character can also have different meanings without being pronounced in a different way. This ambiguity in pronunciation and meaning is in first place valid for the Classical Chinese, where much more characters are expressing single words. In modern Mandarin, where most words are bisyllabic, it is not so easily possible to confound different pronunciations or different meanings.
The split between sociology and communication has had consequences for scholars in both fields. As these traditions moved further from each other, sociologists concerned with local ecologies, place, and “neighborhood effects” have generally neglected the role of media and variation in access to communication technology. Researchers who have focused on media, information, and communication ... [Show full abstract]Read more
In Mandarin, most verbs and nouns are disyllabic. Words longer than two syllables are therefore often abbreviated to two syllables, like Zhonggong 中共 for Zhongguo gongchandang 中國共產黨 "Communist Party of China", Chuanzhen 川震 for Sichuan dizhen 四川地震 "the earthquake of Sichuan", or Shengushi 深股市 for Shenzhen gufen shichang 深圳股份市場 "the stock market of Shenzhen". Place names are likely to be abbreviated, and there are some special words for Chinese cities and provinces (Chuan 川 is Sichuan 四川, yet Jin 晉 is Shanxi, and Hu 滬 is Shanghai), but also foreign countries (Mei 美 is the US).
Huiyuan (Chinese: 慧遠; Wade–Giles: Hui-yüan; 334–416 AD) was a Chinese Buddhist teacher who founded Donglin Temple on Mount Lushan in Jiangxi province and wrote the text On Why Monks Do Not Bow Down Before Kings in 404 AD. He was born in Shanxi province but after a long life of Buddhist teaching he wound up in Jiangxi province, where he died in 416. Although he was born in the north, he moved south to live within the bounds of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.