Language

What is “the Chinese Language”?

There are certain things that everybody “knows” about Chinese. There’s something called “Mandarin” but most people don’t speak it. There are lots of dialects but they all write the same. They changed the name of the capital and now it’s called bayzhing. Shanghai seems to have had a lot of Germans because they have something called a “boont”. And my talkee velly chop chop. The key to understanding the Chinese language is to realise that China has been more linguistically conservative than any other country. Right up to the beginning of the twentieth century Chinese was written the same as…

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