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date: 20 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Language reform in China since the final years of the 19th century consisted of three major components: replacement of the traditional standard written style based on Old Chinese with one based on contemporaneous Northern Mandarin, establishment of a national spoken standard and its promotion across the country marked by great dialectal diversity, and reform of the country’ logographic writing system to facilitate mass literacy. This chapter presents a succinct account of the major underlying motivations, proposals, official policies, and measures as well as outcomes in the reform of the Chinese language over more than a century toward these goals. It also discusses how historical, social, political, and linguistic factors have interacted in ways that have led to the current situation with the form and use of the Chinese language.

Keywords: national spoken standard, reform, mass literacy, language reform, policies

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