Did you know that today (April 20th) is Chinese Language Day? In 2010, the United Nations created language days for each of their six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Their goal is to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity.
Why April 20th?
This date is in honor of Cangjie. He is a legendary ancient Chinese figure who is credited for inventing Chinese script.
Research and discoveries have shown that Chinese language is one of the oldest written languages in the world (over 3,000 years old)! Chinese Language Usage There are over 1 billion Chinese speakers in the world. There are approximately 49,000 Chinese characters. You only need to know about 3,000 to read a newspaper.
There are two written forms of Chinese: Simplified and Traditional.
The Chinese government started to simplify written Chinese characters in the 1950s. They believed this would increase literacy rates which in turn would improve socio-economic conditions. While China has adopted Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese is far more commonly used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Mandarin and Cantonese, are both spoken dialects.
Mandarin is the dialect taught in Chinese schools, and is often used in local TV and radio media broadcasts. Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and Macau as well as the Guangdong province and other areas of Southern China.
Keep these facts in mind with your Chinese translation and interpretation projects. When looking to provide multilingual services for overseas Chinese speakers, there are a number of factors to consider. There is, of course, country of origin as well as what generation. Many older Chinese communities in the United States and the rest of the Western world, as well as Southeast Asia, speak Cantonese, while Mandarin is fast becoming the more prevalent dialect for new arrivals.
Hokkien is another dialect frequently spoken by overseas Chinese.
Today is the day to celebrate Chinese language and the significance of Chinese literature, poetry and language on world culture!