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The dream of a common language - Popularizing Putonghua in the People's Republic of China

Magnusson, Sebastian LU (2011) KINK11 20111
Chinese Studies
Abstract (Chinese)
现代普通话是新造的,但中国一直存在着通用语言的概念,这可以追溯到孔子时代的“雅言”。清代北京方言渐渐地开始占优势,从辛亥革命以来北方方言通过一系列语言规范化的决议并且得到了正式资格。现在普通话的定义来自于国务院1956年发布的指示,说普通话是以北方话为基础方言。根据近期官方统计能用普通话交流的人数占全国53%,在家里讲普通话的只占18%,很明显表示中国人的“家庭用语”依然是方言。
“推广普通话”不仅仅是一个口号,它是从1956年就一直在进行着的事业———国家推广全国通用的普通话,它被永远庄严地载入《中华人民共和国宪法》之中。在 2000年,它再一次通过《中华人民共和国国家通用语言文字法》引起全国的关注和进一步的推广。“推普”的主要地点是学校,在教室内推广普通话是 “推普”的首要工作。同时,国家运用“推普周”活动和普通话水平测试来普及普通话这个通用语言。普通话水平测试用的是同样的标准,这个测试是自愿参加的,但是对于想在电台、电视广播等方面工作的人来说,这个证书是必需的。尽管经过多年的努力,近期 统计仍表明“让全中国公民能用普通话交流”的这个理想尚未实现。教育部多次提到要在2050年前完成这个任务,不过显然这是个宏伟的目标。
“推广普通话”... (More)
现代普通话是新造的,但中国一直存在着通用语言的概念,这可以追溯到孔子时代的“雅言”。清代北京方言渐渐地开始占优势,从辛亥革命以来北方方言通过一系列语言规范化的决议并且得到了正式资格。现在普通话的定义来自于国务院1956年发布的指示,说普通话是以北方话为基础方言。根据近期官方统计能用普通话交流的人数占全国53%,在家里讲普通话的只占18%,很明显表示中国人的“家庭用语”依然是方言。
“推广普通话”不仅仅是一个口号,它是从1956年就一直在进行着的事业———国家推广全国通用的普通话,它被永远庄严地载入《中华人民共和国宪法》之中。在 2000年,它再一次通过《中华人民共和国国家通用语言文字法》引起全国的关注和进一步的推广。“推普”的主要地点是学校,在教室内推广普通话是 “推普”的首要工作。同时,国家运用“推普周”活动和普通话水平测试来普及普通话这个通用语言。普通话水平测试用的是同样的标准,这个测试是自愿参加的,但是对于想在电台、电视广播等方面工作的人来说,这个证书是必需的。尽管经过多年的努力,近期 统计仍表明“让全中国公民能用普通话交流”的这个理想尚未实现。教育部多次提到要在2050年前完成这个任务,不过显然这是个宏伟的目标。
“推广普通话” 潜在的受害者就是各地的方言。许多学校重拳出击,采取的政策虽然一方面有效地让学生们在很小的年纪就能熟练运用普通话,但是另一方面也抑制了他们运用本地方言的能力。最近关于上海的调查数据显示,虽然85%的学生在家里多多少少地会说上海话,但是只有37%的五年级小学生能够流利地用方言进行表达。不允许学生在学校时间运用方言显然对于学生熟练运用方言是非常有害的,但是支持的人认为这个政策对于普通话的推广是非常有必要的。在中国国内,尽管直接批评这些政策的人还不多,但是在中央允许的范围内,已经渐渐小心地开始公开讨论这种统一标准化到底是否存在问题。同时,一些政府当局 已经开始进行研究方言的现状,并努力地进行保护。比如在上海,政府组织人员去各地区研究并且对于不同口音进行了录音。对于中国来说,他们应该意识到在推广普通话的同时保护各种方言是完全可行的。 (Less)
Abstract
The idea of a common language has always existed in some form in China, from the ya yan of Confucius to the modern day mandarin – known as Putonghua. During the Qing dynasty the Beijing dialect slowly became dominant, and in the years following the Xinhai revolution this was made formal through a series of decisions aimed at standardizing the language. The current definition dates back to the 1956 decree by the State Council which declares that Putonghua is based on the Beijing dialect. According to recent official figures only 53% of the population can communicate in Putonghua, and only 18% speak Putonghua at home. It is clear that the many dialects of China are still the “home” language of most Chinese.
Tui guang putong hua –... (More)
The idea of a common language has always existed in some form in China, from the ya yan of Confucius to the modern day mandarin – known as Putonghua. During the Qing dynasty the Beijing dialect slowly became dominant, and in the years following the Xinhai revolution this was made formal through a series of decisions aimed at standardizing the language. The current definition dates back to the 1956 decree by the State Council which declares that Putonghua is based on the Beijing dialect. According to recent official figures only 53% of the population can communicate in Putonghua, and only 18% speak Putonghua at home. It is clear that the many dialects of China are still the “home” language of most Chinese.
Tui guang putong hua – popularize the common language - is not merely a campaign, it is an effort that has been going on since 1956, and the perpetuity of this effort is enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which says simply that the state “popularizes Putonghua”. It recently drew further support from the 2000 Language Law. The main element of the effort to promote Putonghua is the schools, where the language enjoys an unthreatened status. The state further uses the Putonghua promotion week and the Putonghua Proficiency Test to further the goal of the common language. The test makes language proficiency measurable and is a requirement for work in fields like radio broadcasting and television. Despite efforts, recent figures show the goal of uniting China under one language is far from achieved. The Ministry of Education has on several occasions mentioned 2050 as the year when Putonghua is to be spoken by all Chinese. It is an ambitious target.
The potential victim of Putonghua promotion is the many dialects spoken all over China. Heavy-handed school policies that effectively ban dialects in the classroom supposedly ensure that students become fluent in Putonghua from an early age, but also inhibit development of their mother tongue. Recent figures from Shanghai show that while 85% of students speak the dialect at home to some extent, only 37% of fifth graders can communicate in it. Not allowing dialects spoken during school hours is bound to have a detrimental effect on the dialect proficiency of the students, but supporters argue it is a necessary tool of Putonghua popularization. Critical voices from inside China have been few. Nevertheless a debate on the cost of standardization is carefully taking place, within the limits of what the central government will allow. The authorities do carry out research on the situation of some dialects, and make efforts to preserve them. This can be seen in the Shanghai city government’s year-long project to map the Shanghainese dialect. The desirable path for China is a compromise where Putonghua popularization is not done at the expense of dialects and regional identity. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Magnusson, Sebastian LU
supervisor
organization
course
KINK11 20111
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Putonghua, mandarin, popularization, 推广普通话, 推普, language politics, Shanghainese, 上海话
language
English
id
2173016
date added to LUP
2011-10-20 09:56:43
date last changed
2011-10-20 09:56:43
@misc{2173016,
  abstract     = {The idea of a common language has always existed in some form in China, from the ya yan of Confucius to the modern day mandarin – known as Putonghua. During the Qing dynasty the Beijing dialect slowly became dominant, and in the years following the Xinhai revolution this was made formal through a series of decisions aimed at standardizing the language. The current definition dates back to the 1956 decree by the State Council which declares that Putonghua is based on the Beijing dialect. According to recent official figures only 53% of the population can communicate in Putonghua, and only 18% speak Putonghua at home. It is clear that the many dialects of China are still the “home” language of most Chinese.
	Tui guang putong hua – popularize the common language - is not merely a campaign, it is an effort that has been going on since 1956, and the perpetuity of this effort is enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which says simply that the state “popularizes Putonghua”. It recently drew further support from the 2000 Language Law. The main element of the effort to promote Putonghua is the schools, where the language enjoys an unthreatened status. The state further uses the Putonghua promotion week and the Putonghua Proficiency Test to further the goal of the common language. The test makes language proficiency measurable and is a requirement for work in fields like radio broadcasting and television. Despite efforts, recent figures show the goal of uniting China under one language is far from achieved. The Ministry of Education has on several occasions mentioned 2050 as the year when Putonghua is to be spoken by all Chinese. It is an ambitious target. 
	The potential victim of Putonghua promotion is the many dialects spoken all over China. Heavy-handed school policies that effectively ban dialects in the classroom supposedly ensure that students become fluent in Putonghua from an early age, but also inhibit development of their mother tongue. Recent figures from Shanghai show that while 85% of students speak the dialect at home to some extent, only 37% of fifth graders can communicate in it. Not allowing dialects spoken during school hours is bound to have a detrimental effect on the dialect proficiency of the students, but supporters argue it is a necessary tool of Putonghua popularization. Critical voices from inside China have been few. Nevertheless a debate on the cost of standardization is carefully taking place, within the limits of what the central government will allow. The authorities do carry out research on the situation of some dialects, and make efforts to preserve them. This can be seen in the Shanghai city government’s year-long project to map the Shanghainese dialect. The desirable path for China is a compromise where Putonghua popularization is not done at the expense of dialects and regional identity.},
  author       = {Magnusson, Sebastian},
  keyword      = {Putonghua,mandarin,popularization,推广普通话,推普,language politics,Shanghainese,上海话},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The dream of a common language - Popularizing Putonghua in the People's Republic of China},
  year         = {2011},
}