November 4th, 2007

(no subject)

Something I like about the Chinese approach to their own language is that it resembles America's approach to English - and differs from the French (or Japanese) attitude about their respective languages. The French and Japanese, in my experience and in general, are prideful about the special elegance of their language, and the unlikelihood that outsiders can communicate effectively in it, let alone elegantly.

Americans are much more utilitarian in their view toward English: they've heard a million versions of it within their own borders (Brooklyn, Alabama, Little Havana, Nigerian emigrants, etc) and expect that everyone should give it a stab. Something roughly similar applies in China. People have heard a million versions of Chinese; often the regional variations make it hard for people to understand each other; but they expect that outsiders should make a stab. So, try we do.
True enough. Even I've heard lots of versions of Chinese, and I haven't even spent that much time there.