Literary Chinese — the Latin of East Asia
New Zealand Chinese Language Week (23-29 September 2018) is a Kiwi-led initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to discover Chinese language and culture.
- Date: Tuesday, 25 September, 2018
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Free. No booking required.
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon
- Contact Details:
Celebrating Chinese Language Week
This talk, one of three, as part of celebrations for Chinese Language Week, explores the common heritage of literacy in Chinese beyond the Chinese-speaking world with which it is usually associated, and considers the various factors that led to its eventual abandonment and replacement by vernacular “national” languages.
Phan Boi Chau and his 'Letter from Abroad written in Blood'
In 1907 the Vietnamese anti-colonialist thinker Phan Boi Chau, then resident in Japan, wrote his famous Letter from Abroad written in Blood, a call for the Vietnamese people to unite and expel the French colonial powers from their country.
What is perhaps most remarkable about this exhortation to national awakening is that it was not written in the national language (Vietnamese), but instead composed in what we are now accustomed to refer to as Literary Chinese.
In the context of the times, Phan’s preference for Literary Chinese was not at all remarkable; until the early twentieth century, Literary Chinese was widely used as a vehicle for intellectual discussions, poetry, novels, and for the daily business of state administration, not only in China but also more widely throughout East Asia in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and had been so for over a millennium.
About the speaker
Catherine Churchman is a lecturer in Asian Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and a fluent speaker of many languages, including various Chinese dialects.