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Missionary Linguistics

(3,634 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
1. Introduction: What Is Missionary Linguistics? When Catholic missionary work began to expand after the 15th century, missionaries of different orders were confronted with the task of learning the languages of their new surroundings. This entailed the analysis of unknown sounds, words, and sentences, and the conversion of speech sounds into a transcription system using the letters of the Roman alphabet. The encounters of missionaries with until then unknown languages resulted in a huge body of lingui…
Date: 2017-03-02

Chinese as a Foreign Language, Linguistics and Pedagogy

(7,815 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
The systematic study of foreign language acquisition involves a multidisciplinary approach of which linguistics is but one component, along with psychology, neuroscience, social science, cultural studies, computer science, and other fields. This article foregrounds linguistic issues involved in the teaching and learning of Chinese by non-native learners. For the sake of brevity, some limitations and generalizations are inevitable. First, non-native learners in this article are understood as Western learners. Questions surrounding heritage learners, i.e., ethnic…
Date: 2017-03-02

Táiwān/PRC Divide and the Linguistic Consequences

(2,057 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
The political division of Táiwān and China dates back to 1895, when Táiwān became a colony of Japan. In 1949, four years after the end of World War II and Japanese colonial rule in Táiwān, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded and the government of its predecessor, the Republic of China (ROC), was relocated to Táiwān. Thus, except for the four years between 1945 and 1949, both sides of the Táiwān Strait have been under separate political rule for more than a century. 1. Language Planning and Standards The political division has had various consequences on the formation of …
Date: 2017-03-02

Slang

(3,761 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
1. Features and Definitions  In an oft-quoted definition of "slang", Dumas and Lighter (1978:14–15) formulated four criteria; any expression meeting at least two of these can be identified as slang: 1. Its presence will markedly lower, at least for the moment, the dignity of formal or serious speech or writing; 2. Its use implies the user’s special familiarity either with the referent or with that less status-ful or less responsible class of people who have such special familiarity and use the term; 3. It is a tabooed term in ordinary discourse with persons of higher so…
Date: 2017-03-02

Dialect Dictionaries

(3,002 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
1. Introduction "Dialect dictionary", according to a general definition, refers to a “type of reference work containing information about one or more dialects of a language” (Hartmann and James 1998:38). If we accept this broad definition, the history of Chinese dialect lexicography is as old as the history of Chinese lexicography. However, a dictionary containing dialect expressions is not necessarily a dialect dictionary in the stricter sense. This is especially true when a Western notion of "dialect" is applied to the Sinitic context: since fāngyán 方言 in Chinese can refer to…
Date: 2017-03-02

Táiwān: Language Situation

(3,013 words)

Author(s): Henning KLÖTER
1. Introduction Located off the eastern coast of China and covering an area slightly smaller than the Netherlands and slightly larger than the US State of Maryland, the island of Táiwān is home to some 23 million people speaking Sinitic and non-Sinitic languages. Together with the People’s Republic of China and Singapore (Singapore: Language Situation), Táiwān is one of three political entities with Mandarin as an, or the, official language. Formerly a gateway for Chinese immigrants and largely-ne…
Date: 2017-03-02