Chinese as a lingua franca in greater China

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Abstract

This discussion provides current perspectives on the use of Chinese as a lingua franca among the Han peoples of greater China. As a national lingua franca, Mandarin Chinese or pǔtōnghuà is unsurpassed in terms of the number of speakers. It is however not yet widely spoken in many dialect areas of China. This is why the promotion of pǔtō nghuà among dialect speakers continues to be an important part of the language policy and planning of the People's Republic. In Taiwan, as a result of some four decades of hegemonic enforcement of the National Language Movement until 1987, an absolute majority of the Taiwanese can understand and speak Mandarin, but Southern Min continues to be commonly used in the southern parts of the island, partly because for many Taiwanese, language choice is closely bound up with national and ethnolinguistic identity. In the two special administrative regions of China, Hong Kong, and Macao, Cantonese continues to serve as a lingua franca among the Chinese there. It is the only dialect which has attained a level of prestige that rivals that of the standard national language, and which has evolved written forms of its own that are commonly used in informal genres of media discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-176
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Applied Linguistics
Volume26
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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