When I last visited Beijing I purchased a copy of a recent book by Zhao Hong (赵宏）at the Wangfujing bookshop: “Exploring Language Culture/语言文化探索”. Zhao Hong is an assistant professor in the Foreign Language Institute of the East China University of Science and Technology (华东理工大学外国语学院), based in Shanghai.
Zhao Hong clearly has a deep love for the Chinese language in all its forms, and her book contains a variety of essays on different aspects of the language. She has drawn on a wide range of materials to describe the history of Chinese over the past century in particular, as well as current issues relating to language study. Her book includes many quotes from Chinese and foreign linguists and is a good introduction to more detailed material in various fields of Chinese linguistics.
Key chapters include:
汉语拼音化运动/The Movement to Replace Chinese Characters with Alphabetic Script
文言的落寞/The Loneliness of Classical Chinese
汉语是难学的语言吗?/Is Chinese a Difficult Language to Learn?
翻译的可能与无能/What Can be Translated and What Cannot
英汉语中的外来语/Foreign Words Taken Into English and Chinese
外语教育的思考/Thoughts on Foreign Language Education
语言研究的中国传统/Traditional Language Study in China
The English versions of the chapter titles are my own translation; they read much better in Chinese.
At the end of each chapter Zhao Hong sets out a series of discussion topics for readers, most of whom would be Chinese university students. These are generally based on quotations from Chinese linguists who have written about the various chapter areas.
As an enthusiastic student of Chinese, I found Zhao Hong’s chapter ‘Is Chinese a Difficult Language to Learn?’ particularly interesting. I am preparing a separate post on that which I will shortly publish.