An academic based in an Australian university claims there is “no barrier” in preventing the Chinese language from becoming a “global language” like English.
In a statement, Dr. Jeffrey Gil, from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, said universal literacy was not required for a global language status.
“There is a flawed assumption that all learners of Chinese must learn to read and write to a native-like level — although this does not reflect the global use of English,” he claimed. “People learn as much English as is required for their purposes, and the same would apply if Chinese was a global language.”
Gil is author of the book Soft Power and the Worldwide Promotion of Chinese Language Learning: The Confucius Institute Project (published by Multilingual Matters), which examines China’s soft-power efforts to promote Chinese as a global language.
He teaches English as a second language at Flinders University’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. His article titled “Will a character based writing system stop Chinese becoming a global language? A review and reconsideration of the debate” was published in the Journal Global Chinese.
Gil pointed out that computers and mobile phones could convert the Chinese phonetic alphabet or Pinyin, into certain Chinese characters.
With hundreds of millions of Mandarin Chinese speakers in China and the world, Gil has also claimed that the language was previously used in other countries outside China.
“There is a historical precedent for the adoption of characters outside China, with a long-standing use of written Chinese for scholarly and official purposes in Korea, Japan and Vietnam,” he was quoted as saying. “This occurred due to China’s status as the most powerful country in the region, if not the world, and demonstrates that people in any country will learn and use characters if there is sufficient reason to do so.”
He had also debunked a viewpoint that Chinese could not be embraced as a global language.
“The inconsistencies and irregularities of English’s writing system show that linguistic properties alone do not determine whether a language becomes global,” Gil claimed. “I conclude that a character-based writing system will not prevent Chinese attaining global language status.”
The Chinese language, particularly, Mandarin, has 1.3 billion native speakers worldwide, particularly China, which is the world’s most populated country.