Offers an overview and discussion of the languages and people of China. This book focuses on Putonghua (Common Speech) which is the most wide spread varieties of the Chinese languages. It also provides discussions on other major dialects related to Putonghua.
This book gives an overview of the languages and peoples of China from an evolutionary perspective, beginning with the earliest examples of Chinese civilization, such as the oracle bone inscriptions and the Book of Poetry, both dating back over 3,000 years. The focus of this book is on Putonghua (i.e., Common Speech), which is also called Mandarin, Hanyu, or Huayu. Putonghua is distinguished by lexical tones when spoken, and by sinograms when written; it is used by more people than any other language in the world. Putonghua is described in a comparative framework in this book, considering other dialects of Chinese, such as those spoken in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as minority languages which belong to other linguistic groups, mainly Tibeto-Burman, Altaic, and Austric. Many of these minority languages are disappearing rapidly, together with the diverse ethnic cultures they embody, an unfortunate by-product of world wide globalization.
Table of contents:
Evolutionary Foundations; Physical Setting; The Earliest Peoples; Spoken Languages; Putonghua - A Language for All; Written Languages; Language and Cognition.