World Chinese Day

Apr 20, 2024 | News | 0 comments

World Chinese Day is celebrated on April 20th, every year by the United Nation as an attempt celebrate multilingualism and diversity. Being one of the six official languages used in UN, Chinese is spoken by 1.13 Million speakers worldwide which makes Chinese, second highest in the widely spoken languages in the world. Moreover , Chinese is considered to be one of the oldest languages in the world which has number of dialects such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. Among the variations, Mandarin Chinese is the most prominently used variation of Chinese Language which is famous world-wide. 

The day of celebration was chosen based on the celebration by Chinese people who pay tribute to Canjie. Canjie was a Chinese historian in ancient China and believed to be the inventor of Chinese characters. Luonan County in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province is known as the birthplace of Chinese characters and every year the locals hold rituals to commemorate the inventor of Chinese characters. According to the legends, Canjie had four eyes which helped him to view the world differently than other people and to detect truths from lies. Since he was a record keeper and a historian for empire, the emperor ordered him to seek a method to record informationwhich was unavailable at the time due to not having a written system. One of the legend states that Canjie, in order to clear his mind, journeyed through the wilderness where he gainedinspiration from the patterns and objects of nature such as trees, animals, buildings and objects in the sky. He then translated these patterns into logograms which then becomes the Chinese writing system all over China. Even now, Chinese has various dialects and variations, Chinese characters remain constant and has traces of its first versions of characters. 

History of Chinese Language dates back to six thousand years and had gone through revisions through out the history. Chinese characters are quite unique as its development occurred by the considering the shapes of the meaning it stands for. Moreover, these characters also deeply connected to the Chinese culture where change of dynasties and religious and philosophical ideas from Confucianism and Buddhism in later times influenced its development. The evolution of Chinese characters can be divided in to several eras which provides archaeological evidences such as neolithic era, Oracle Bone Script(writings on bones of animals or shells of turtles), bronze writings(writings on bronze vessels), Seal script( simplification of characters to maintain a standard writing system according to the order of the first emperor of China Qin Shihuang in 200 B.C) , clerical script(further simplification of characters ), and in the last stage the simplified Chinese was developed. Throughout centuries, Chinese characters were simplifies for the ease of use for all the people from different educational backgrounds and social statues. 

Though there are more than fifty thousand Chinese characters in Chinese language, a native level speaker is often able to recognize 8000-10000 characters which are used by people in day-to-day  conversations as well as in literature. This indeed shows the complexity of Chinese language which is often remains unnoticed. However, even today, the Traditional Chinese which are known to be difficult than the simplified Chinese, are used for educational purposes as well as used by Taiwanese people(They speak Mandarin though they use traditional Chinese for writing). With the wide spreading of Chinese language, professionals expect Chinese gain more power as a language in the world of business by 2050 and has potential to be a lingua franca with its growing number of speakers.

World Chinese Day reminds the world not only about the presence of the rich language that has shaped along its culture and history but also it reminds the power of language which transcend boundaries of its birthplace and bring people from diverse cultures together while encouraging people to learn about other cultures through the novel perspective offered by the language. 

Written by: Rtr. Venuri Wedage

Graphic design by: Rtr. Sathmi Dinanja


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