[Marxism] Written Chinese (was: Schoolmarm grammar)

X Y whdgm66 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 6 01:25:46 MST 2013

On Fri, 4 Jan 2013 19:36:08 DW wrote:
>So one language, two different ways of writing the exact same spoken
>word. Just the opposite in China where it's same written word in
>Cantonese and Mandarin but two distinct spoken languages.

This is not actually true.  The written standard, known as "Baihua" is
based on Mandarin (and the more formal the register, the more
Classical or Literary Chinese is interspersed within).  Cantonese (and
other non-Mandarin) speakers must in essence learn Mandarin to read
and write in this standardized form.  Written Cantonese (or other
non-Mandarin varieties of Chinese) is lexically and grammatically
different from the written Baihua standard.  My highly-literate
parents, who were educated in Taiwan using Mandarin (which is in turn
different from their native "dialects" - but that's another story), do
not speak or understand Cantonese, and when they read the "life" and
"entertainment" sections of Hong Kong newspapers, or Cantonese-based
subtitles in movies, they are often completely baffled.  Whereas the
political, economic and "hard news" sections of the newspaper are in
the standard Baihua, which they can read without problems.

(also note the slightly modified usage of the word "vernacular" in this context)

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