Contemporary Fiction from China: Must it Be Penned in Mandarin?

Aug 23, 2020 Update: Bainuu, the only Mongolian-language social media application available in China, which hosted about 400,000 Southern Mongolians users, reportedly shut down by Chinese authorities. 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 … Continue reading Contemporary Fiction from China: Must it Be Penned in Mandarin?

Korean Script in Mainstream China Media: Kosher at last?

For the first time ever --- I've been watching such announcements for at least 5 years --- official Chinese media has used an indigenous language other than Mandarin to publicize the winners of a major literary prize for writing in a minority language. In this case, the China Writers Association has issued a Chinese press … Continue reading Korean Script in Mainstream China Media: Kosher at last?

Language Policies Impede Tibetan Literacy in Tibetan Majority Regions

In Tibetans Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China, Edward Wong explores how recent changes to China's language policy in areas populated mainly by speakers of Tibetan are --- intentionally, it appears --- making it much more difficult for many students to attain basic literacy in their mother tongue: When officials forced an informal school … Continue reading Language Policies Impede Tibetan Literacy in Tibetan Majority Regions

Baidu Encyclopedia First? Uyghur Author’s Name Noted in Uyghur Script

An entry I read today in Baidu Encyclopedia (百度百科), a domestic site which serves as a (politically correct) Wikipedia for mainland Chinese — the latter is often firewalled — may signal a change in the policy of referring to members of minority ethnicities by Chinese name only. Qurbanjan Semet, author/photographer of the recently launched I … Continue reading Baidu Encyclopedia First? Uyghur Author’s Name Noted in Uyghur Script

Compiling New 150,000-entry Tibetan Dictionary: Any Role for the Tibetan Diaspora?

Xinhua reports that the first 3 volumes of a new all-Tibetan dictionary will be published within 2015, with another 27 to be gradually launched through the end of 2018 (新版《藏文大辞典》). The aim seems to be to create the Tibetan equivalent of the much respected《辞海》(Cihai), the large-scale dictionary and encyclopedia of the Chinese language. Anyone who follows the … Continue reading Compiling New 150,000-entry Tibetan Dictionary: Any Role for the Tibetan Diaspora?

Bilingual Han Cadres: Coming Soon to Tibet Autonomous Region?

In Han Cadres Required to Learn Tibetan Language, the Global Times reports that Xi Jinping and company are getting serious about implementing the “bilingual policy” (藏、汉双语方针) that was legislated in Tibet way back in 1987: Mastery of the Tibetan language will become a requirement for non-native cadres in China's Tibet Autonomous Region. All seven prefecture-level … Continue reading Bilingual Han Cadres: Coming Soon to Tibet Autonomous Region?

China’s Ethnic-themed Fiction: Mongolian Author Raises the Bar with Call for Bilingual Skills

Xi Jinping’s recent media blitz reminds China’s propaganda workers that — as Chairman Mao told us back at the 1942 Yan’an Forum — art should serve politics. No ifs, ands or buts, Comrades. To ensure the message gets across to the 55 ethnic minorities that weren’t born Han, “learn from Chairman Xi” study sessions targeting … Continue reading China’s Ethnic-themed Fiction: Mongolian Author Raises the Bar with Call for Bilingual Skills

Annual Fund: Xinjiang Spending to Inspire Translation, Writing in non-Han Languages

In 新疆双翻工程 (Xinjiang Two-way Translation Project), Kyrgyz female translator Saina Yiersibaike (赛娜·伊尔斯拜克) introduces a well-funded project based in multi-ethnic Xinjiang. A few factoids from the article: 2011: Project founded by the Xinjiang government to stimulate mother-tongue writing in languages spoken in Xinjiang other than Mandarin + translation between those languages and Mandarin. US$1.63m: Annual budget. … Continue reading Annual Fund: Xinjiang Spending to Inspire Translation, Writing in non-Han Languages

Tungusic Twilight: Languages of Reindeer-herding Evenki and China’s Last Dynasty Threatened with Extinction

The mid-term outlook for the five main Tungusic tongues of the People’s Republic — Manchu, Xibe, Evenki, Elunchun and Hezhen — is frankly bleak, at least insofar as classifying as “living languages.” Such is the impression one gets from China’s linguistic experts who spoke at the “Academic Conference: Tungusic Language & Culture Under Threat,” held … Continue reading Tungusic Twilight: Languages of Reindeer-herding Evenki and China’s Last Dynasty Threatened with Extinction

Tungusic Languages Under Threat: Statistics, Research Projects, Strategies for Protection

Following a conference on the dire straits of Tungusic languages in China — virtually all of which are under threat — four very informative articles have just appeared on the Institute of Ethnic Literature site.  Since they are in Chinese, I hope to summarize the best parts later, but for now, I site some basic … Continue reading Tungusic Languages Under Threat: Statistics, Research Projects, Strategies for Protection