NY Times article: Promoting Chinese language overseas
Thread poster: Csaba Ban

Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
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Jan 15, 2006

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/11/international/asia/11china.html

The same article appeared in Spanish translation in La Nacion (Argentina):

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/exterior/nota.asp?nota_id=772518&origen=premium


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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A very interesting article... Jan 15, 2006

...but not surprising considering the phenomenal rate at which China is growing, both economically and militarily. It is legitimate for it to expect to weild soft power commensurate with its standing in the current world order.

It is a welcome move from the point of view of language professionals like us, for if more people understand more languages and cultures at first hand, there would be less room for misunderstandings and friction.

I remember when I was a boy and was grappling with the nuances of English, I had found the British Council Libraries in Lucknow and the American Library in Delhi of immense help in accessing costly reference books and literary texts.

If a Confusius Centre opens up somewhere near where I live, I am sure I will not hesitate to take advantage of it to learn the rudiments of Chinese language.

There has been an ancient relationship between China and India and the two have exchanged cultural influences quite extensively. The biggest cultural export to China from India was of course Buddhism...


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Mark Xiang
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Chinese public media says that there is an increasing need for Chinese learning around the world. Jan 15, 2006

I think foreigners' opinions and observations are more objective and convincing. Our peers who translate from Chinese into English should have more to say. If this situation is true, they should be the early birds who should have benefited or will benefit from it.

Mark


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xxxPuicz  Identity Verified
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Exporting Chinese Jan 15, 2006

Not a bad idea! The more languages people know, the better qualified they will be to know what's going on.
Thanks for the information Csaba.
Mike


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
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some thoughts Jan 16, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:

...if more people understand more languages and cultures at first hand, there would be less room for misunderstandings and friction.


Yes, this is a widespread beleif, but a very naive one. Let me just cite you a few counter-examples.

In the 1770's, both sides of the Atlantic spoke the same language, yet they were at war with each other.

In the 1990's, almost all peoples of ex-Yugoslavia spoke esentially the same language, yet they fought a cruel war with each other.

Not to mention the uncountable number of civil wars throughout space and time...

Language is only one aspect of a country's or a power's identity: there are so much more that are equally, if not more, important than language. Religion, ideology, economic interests, etc.


I could write volumes (well, at least columns) about why I am fascinated by China's growth. I have travelled the breadth and width of this vast country and made some effort to learn the basics of the language - and I am still keen on spending more time on learning Chinese.

Many people around the world are frightened by the rate of China's growth. Yet, the Middle Kingdom is only in the process of regaining its proper weight in the World. Throughout the history and also today, China's population has been roughly 20% of world population. For most of its history, its economic output exceeded 20% of global production, until about the 18th century, when various European powers (and later: the U.S.) started to weigh far more than their respective populations.

Two hundred years ago, Napoleon envisaged that "China is a sleeping giant. When it will wake up, it will shake the world."


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Angus Woo
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Csaba is just telling the truth Jan 16, 2006

Csaba Ban wrote:
Language is only one aspect of a country's or a power's identity: there are so much more that are equally, if not more, important than language. Religion, ideology, economic interests, etc.

I could write volumes (well, at least columns) about why I am fascinated by China's growth. I have travelled the breadth and width of this vast country and made some effort to learn the basics of the language - and I am still keen on spending more time on learning Chinese.

Many people around the world are frightened by the rate of China's growth. Yet, the Middle Kingdom is only in the process of regaining its proper weight in the World. Throughout the history and also today, China's population has been roughly 20% of world population. For most of its history, its economic output exceeded 20% of global production, until about the 18th century, when various European powers (and later: the U.S.) started to weigh far more than their respective populations.

Two hundred years ago, Napoleon envisaged that "China is a sleeping giant. When it will wake up, it will shake the world."

The fact that I am a Chinese sometimes makes some people feel uneasy when I say China is just doing what it has to do. Nonetheless, what has to be said has to be said.

In fact, Csaba has just spoken the truth. There are so many people intentionally or unintentionally try to ignore the mere fact that China has to take care of its 1.3 billion people which is exactly what any administration should do --- to strive for the betterment of the governed. If an administration has almost 20% of the world population on its tail craving a better life, then that administration ¨C unless it's out of its mind ¨C better just listen and act accordingly.

So let's be reasonable and fair. Don't you think that 20% of the world population deserves 20% of every thing is above all nothing more than reasonable? At least I do think so. Anyone who says NO, those Chinks don't deserve that is, in my eyes, a racist. Remember how the holocaust happened? Yes, I know the holocaust is an extreme case. But the logic behind is still the same. There is only a razor-thin difference between a nation wide massacre and a slow suffocation of taking away the chance of making their lives better.

It just doesn't make any sense. What's wrong with the prospect of China becoming the world's factory? People around the world in the end would enjoy cheaper goods and better services which are, as matter of the fact, the very objectives of international trade. There are millions of peasants living in China which is equivalent to the population of many European countries are now making less than 300 US dollars per year per person. If indeed that all people are created equal, then those uneducated and destitute peasants do have a right to ask for a better life. And the government should do whatever in its capacity to make sure people get what they really want. The Chinese people don't want to invade anyone, at least I personally don't know anyone who does; they just want a better life. What's wrong with that?

I have met some of those destitute peasants myself while I was traveling in China. Trust me, their living conditions are just outrageous.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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Soft power has nothing to do with aggression Jan 16, 2006

Csaba Ban wrote:

Yes, this is a widespread beleif, but a very naive one...


Well, we are talking here about soft power which is subtle manipulation of other's perception about you, and refurbishing the image so that others view you in a more dignified and respectable light. A kind of image branding.

Centuries of colonialism, Hollywood movies and pulp fiction have portrayed the Chinese and the Oriental as inscrutable, villianious, devious and what not. You would like to recall Edward Said's essay on "Orientalism" to fully understand how the West played the game of imperialism on the intellectual turf.

Now that colonialism has been beaten back and the former colonies are getting back on their feet, it is necessary to clean up the intellectual falsifications that formed the bedrock of colonialsm.

If the Chinese are doing it with Confusian Centres, other countries like India are depending more on their IT professionals and BPO centres. What is wrong in that?

It is all a matter of changing other's perceptions about oneself, and so long it is done in a peaceable way and so long as it corrects historical errors, it is perfectly legitimate.

[Edited at 2006-01-16 15:52]

[Edited at 2006-01-16 15:53]


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NY Times article: Promoting Chinese language overseas

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