Languages & Cultures of East Asia

Trad 101, Sections 18-19-20-21   Fall 2000

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Lecture Outline, 10/18/00 - Dialects and Minority Languages in China

Chinese Dialects and Minority Languages

**Chinese Dialects
---7 major groups: Mandarin, Wu, Gan, Xiang, Hakka, Yue, Min
---Mandarin: 71.5% (679 million), Wu: 8.5% (80 million), Yue: 5% (47.5 million)
(showing the linguistic map)

*Yue (Cantonese)
---spoken in Hong Kong, Guangdong province (Canton)
---large number settled in the US, 86% of Chinese-Americans trace their ancestry to Guangdong

(dialect demo)

But also in China...

**Non-Chinese Ethnic and Linguistic Groups:
eg. Tibetans, Mongols, Kazakhs, Uighurs, Koreans, Russians, Manchus, etc.
(some personal stories)

---The PRC government recognizes 56 ethinic, religious, linguistic groups.
Majority: Han, traditionally known as "Chinese", greater number than the other 55
combined (about 92% of the population)
(show some pictures of selected minorities)

---67 million non-Han people (about 7-8%) .

---two interpretations of Chinese
a) wide: citizenship
b) narrow: ethnicity

*Reason for the attention minority receives:
(show ethnic minority map)
a) Lands they occupy
over half of the country's total land area
b) their condition is essential for the image that PRC wants the world to have of them

*Privileges they enjoy:
a) school admission (like affirmative action policies) (my story)
b) exception to the birth control policy
c) encouraged to preserve their own languages

*Government prides itself on the treatment they give to the minorities, but limitations on how much autonomy they can have
---modernization means less local color
---to get ahead, one needs to know the Han languages

*Classification of the minorities
---began after 1959
---Soviet ethnographers
---when first began, no one agreed on how many minorities there are

*Most basic questions: what counts as a nationality? How does a name get on the official list?
---general guideline:
     common language
     common territory
     economic ties
     psychological factors

---unable to give a hard and fast guideline for carrying out these criteria

---not self-claimed

---decision difficult and arbitrary

**Problem encountered:
a) linguistic factors most important, but not always a clear indicator
b) the degree of assimilation into another group
c) some decisions were politically motivated
--- Hui (Muslims) classified by religion (some personal stories)
     food: no pork
     traditional Hui names: (ma): from Muhammad
                                           (hei): from Chinese name Zhu 'red', but Zhu 'pig'

**linguistic areas in China
---people in North China and people in South China: nothing in common
---different languages
---different ways of life
---different places in history
---North: nomads of inner Asia, the Great Wall (show map)
---South: settled long before the Han people,
may have taught the Han people rice culture