Author: Cheng, Lai-ming
Title: The vernacularization of standard Baihuawen during the period of 1917-1955
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 1999
Subject: Chinese language -- Modern Chinese, 1919-
Chinese language -- Variation -- History -- 20th century
Chinese language -- History -- 20th century
Linguistic change -- History -- 20th century
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: v, 91 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
Abstract: This is a case study that attempts to investigate the socio-cultural dynamics that underpin a particular form of language change, namely, deliberate language change from the perspective of language planning. The case studied is the vernacularization of the linguistic standard of the Chinese language that gained national attention in 1917 and was largely consolidated in 1955. The language reforms in China have caught the attention of students of language planning. However, most of this attention has been focused on promotion of Putonghua (Common Speech), simplification of Hanzi (the logographs) and their romanization. Somehow, the vernacularization of the linguistic standard (i.e. the replacement of the literary language (Wenyan) by the Northern Vernacular (Baihua) as the standard) has not been investigated in depth, be it overseas or in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. In case of the latter, a probable cause of this lack of interest could be that the two protagonists of this major reform -- Hu Shi (胡適) and Chen Duxiu (陳獨秀) -- were politically sensitive figures in the respective regimes in the past. Therefore, this investigation is a first attempt to provide a systematic, synoptic documentation of the case within a language planning framework. It is believed that this investigation provides a valuable and rare opportunity for us to have a more precise understanding of (1) how language problems are constituted and defined; (2) what triggers deliberate language change; (3) the interplay between socio-historical factors and various actors that bring forth this change and (4) the construction, selection and elaboration of linguistic norms in the process of consolidating the changes. The study will show how major socio-cultural shifts could undermine a stable language situation (namely a classical diglossia), how a few individuals could define the agenda for linguistic reforms and how for these sorts of reforms their consolidation ultimately requires the support of the government.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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