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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents an overview of Han Chinese lingua francas in Greater China. The national lingua franca is called Putonghua in mainland China and Guoyu in Taiwan. Both must compete with regional lingua francas in the “dialect” areas. After clarifying the meanings of the terms yuyan ‘language’ and fangyan ‘dialect, the chapter briefly elucidates the tensions between Putonghua and the regional dialects. The Putonghua promotion campaign has been an important language policy goal in New China since the 1950s but has met with problems in the dialect areas, as well as in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao, where Chinese continues to be written in traditional Chinese characters. Cantonese is by far the most prestigious Chinese dialect, and its role as a regional lingua franca in the Pearl River Delta remains unchallenged. There is also some evidence that Putonghua is developing as an international lingua franca.

Keywords: Han Chinese, dialect, lingua franca, language policy, Putonghua

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