Building a Chinese Dream: Language, Power and Hierarchy
Professor Linda Tsung, University of Sydney
5.30pm-7.00pm Thursday 1 September, 2016
Evan Williams Theatre (Room G03), Richard Berry Building, Monash Road, University of Melbourne
Admission is free, but places are limited so registration is essential
China is one of the most multilingual countries in the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China promotes the country as a harmonious and unified nation with 56 distinct ethnic groups who speak more than 400 languages. The government has not only legally recognised multilingualism but also publicly encouraged a climate in which the teaching and learning of a variety of languages can flourish. Unfortunately, however statistics show that nearly 20% of China’s minority languages are on the edge of extinction and another 40% are showing signs of endangerment. This talk aims to explore language practices, language in power and linguistic hierarchies in China at a time when President Xi Jinping is defining the national goal as the Chinese dream. The study is based on empirical research and a number of case studies in multilingual regions and provinces. The findings indicate that modern standard Chinese (Putonghua) continues to be a powerful factor in both consolidating and probing educational, cultural, social and political discourse, while social changes have created a linguistic hierarchy reflected in the use of languages among diversified ethnic groups, accelerating inequalities and widening tensions. China’s multilingualism faces under a great challenge: it is not static and its movement in one direction or another is a result of many influences which can be at a macro or micro level and may include political, economic and social factors.
Linda Tsung is Associate Professor in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. Her research interests are multilingualism, multilingual education, language policy and cultural identity in Australia and Greater China. She has published extensively on these topics. She is one of the Chief Investigators for the Australian Research Council funded project: “Maximizing the potential of Australia’s language resources: exploring and developing languages across sectors, schools and communities”. A/Professor Tsung has recently co-edited a book entitled Contemporary Chinese Discourses and Social Practice in China (Benjamins 2015) and the author of Language Power and Hierarchy: Multilingual Education in China (Bloomsbury 2014) and Minority languages, Education and Communities in China (Palgrave Macmillan 2009), which has received excellent reviews by scholars in Asia, the UK and the USA. Her co-edited book Teaching and Learning Chinese in Global Contexts (Continuum 2010) provides research leadership in the discipline of teaching Chinese as a second language globally.