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Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 19:30

Putonghua: the Search for a Common Language in Modern China

David Moser, Academic Director at CET Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University and Author of A Billion Voices

Luxembourg Embassy Residence
Dongcheng District, 21 Nei Wu Bu Jie

卢森堡大使住宅东城区内务部街21号

BIS events are open to foreign passport holders only.
All BIS events are off-the-record.
Photography, filming and recording are not permitted.

Non-members welcome for a single lecture fee of RMB 60;
students with valid ID RMB 30. 

Membership desk open 7:00 pm for 7:30 pm lecture,
no reservations necessary.

For inquiries on the day of the event, from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm, please call 1324 151 4978.

Is there such a thing as "the Chinese language"?  Mandarin, Guoyu or Putonghua? 'Chinese' is a language known by many names, and China is a country home to many languages. Since the turn of the twentieth century linguists and politicians were on a mission to create a common language for China. From the radical intellectuals of the May Fourth Movement, to leaders such as Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, all fought linguistic wars to push the boundaries of language reform. In the process, many Chinese intellectuals wanted to abolish Chinese and replace it with Esperanto, and Chairman Mao almost eradicated Chinese characters themselves. This talk traces the remarkable story of China's language unification agenda and its controversial relationship with modern politics, challenging our conceptions of what it means to speak and be Chinese.

 

David Moser holds a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Chinese Studies from the University of Michigan, with a major in Chinese Linguistics and Philosophy. He has been based in Beijing for over 25 years, active in academic and media circles.

Moser was a visiting scholar at Peking University in 1987-89, and a visiting professor for five years at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, where he taught courses in Translation Theory and Psycholinguistics. He is currently Academic Director at CET Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University, an overseas study program for U.S. college students, where he teaches courses in Chinese history and politics.

He appears often on BBC radio as a commentator on the daily program Business Matters, and is also a frequent China analyst on Al Jazeera television. He has worked at China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing as a program advisor, translator, and host, and continues to be active on Chinese television as a commentator in both Chinese and English on news shows such as CCTV Dialogue and World Insight.

Moser is also co-host of the Sinica Podcast, an influential China current affairs podcast widely listened to by journalists and China watchers throughout the world. Moser is author of the book A Billion Voices: China's Search for a Common Language, published by Penguin in October 2016.