China and U.S. study abroad programs: update

In one of my posts about a year ago, China and U.S. study abroad programs (Pinyin News, Nov. 23, 2008), I noted that China had become the fifth most popular destination for U.S. students in study abroad programs.

More recent data show that the China has remained in fifth place. In fact, the order in the top ten list has not changed, though the figures for each of the countries have increased.

Top 10 destinations for study abroad by U.S. students in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years
China shown as the fifth most popular destination for study abroad. The top destination is the U.K., followed by Italy, Spain, and France. See the link to my source material for the actual numbers.

Growth for China as a destination, however, remained strong, at 19.0 percent, while study abroad as a whole increased 8.5 percent. Top growth, however, belonged to India, followed by Austria, then China, and Ireland. If China continues to grow at such rates as a destination, it could knock France out of fourth place in a few years, which would be a dramatic development.

10 highest growth rates for destinations for study abroad by U.S. students (comparing the 2007-08 school year with the 2006-07 school year)

China now accounts for 5 percent of U.S. study abroad, which has helped Asia’s overall growth as a destination region.

Percent of study abroad performed in Asia, 1996-2007
chart showing percentage of study abroad in Asia flat at about 6% from 1996-2000, with growth increasing since 2003 to the present 11.1% for the 2007-08 school year

Some predictions for the next installment:

  • Economic woes are probably going to reduce the rate of study abroad, though that may benefit China, relatively speaking, as students opt for it over more expensive destinations like the U.K. and France.
  • Terrorism could affect India’s numbers, though I expect them to continue to increase dramatically over the long term.
  • And should China reevaluate its currency, that could slow its growth as a destination for U.S. students.

source: Open Doors Report 2009

A new look at early character forms

Cover of the book: 'Orthography of Early Chinese Writing'A review in a recent journal issue focusing on romanization led me to discover online the entire text of an interesting new book: Orthography of Early Chinese Writing: Evidence from Newly Excavated Manuscripts, by Imre Galambos.

This gives an idea of what the book covers:

Beside offering a more useful approach to both studying Warring States manuscripts and variant character forms in general, this study sheds new light on the development of the Chinese script, its transition into the clerical script stage, and the reality of the Qin reforms. The variability of Warring States character forms demonstrates that Chinese characters evolved not along a linear path that stretched from the oracle-bone inscriptions to the modern script but followed a complex process involving distinct cultures and languages. The “fuzziness” of the line of evolution with respect to the spoken languages and dialects of ancient China raises questions regarding the national identity of the Chinese script. A related issue is how far can one go back in time and say with certainty that the various scripts were not only the predecessors of the Chinese script but were in fact Chinese.

Some numbers for searches:

  • ISBN 963 463 811 2
  • ISSN 1787-7482

Pinyin with audio and Chinese characters: Fortress Besieged

cover of the book 'The Besieged City' (??)Sinolingua‘s terrific series of abridged editions of classic Chinese books includes one of my favorites, which may well be the finest novel written in Mandarin during the twentieth century: Qian Zhongshu’s Wéichéng (??/??), best known in English as Fortress Besieged but published by Sinolingua with the English title of The Besieged City.

I’m very pleased to announce that Pinyin.info now offers the first chapter of Sinolingua’s edition this book, along with an audio file of it being read aloud. This edition is in Mandarin, in word-parsed Hanyu Pinyin (with Chinese characters underneath) and has a few notes in English as well as mp3 files of the text being read aloud.

Here’s the download page: Wéichéng (??/??/).

I’ve often told people who plan to go to China and want me to recommend a book that will help them “understand” the country (as if!) they’re about to visit: “By all means, read the Analects of Confucius, the Dàodéj?ng, and the Zhu?ngz?; but know in advance that they’ll be about as relevent to your trip as reading the Gospels would be to someone from China who’s about to travel to the West for the first time. And don’t waste your time with crap like The Tao of the Chinese Boardroom’s Inner Art of Feng-shui or whatever. Read Fortress Besieged. It’s as good a start as just about anything — and a lot more fun to read.”

The novel is also available in a fine English translation.

Related reading:

screenshot of part of a paragraph of the PDF of this book

books bought in Beijing

cover of a book by Zhou YouguangI didn’t have any luck finding anything in Sin Wenz (L?d?nghuà X?n Wénzì / ??????), despite trips to several large used book stores. (Fortunately, the Internet is now providing some leads. Thanks, Brendan and Joel!) But I did find some other books to bring home.

I acquired lots of books by Zhou Youguang, not all of which focus primarily on linguistics:

Other than the Zhou Youguang books, here are my favorite finds of the trip, as they are for the most part in correctly word-parsed Hanyu Pinyin (with Hanzi underneath), along with a few notes in English:

I’ll soon be posting more about the above books with Pinyin, so watch this site for updates. Really, this is gonna be good.

Although this collection of Y.R. Chao says it’s volume 15, it’s actually two books:

  • Zhào Yuánrèn quánjí, dì 15 juàn (??????15?)

Some more titles:

  • Measured Words: The Development of Objective Language Testing, by Bernard Spolsky
  • P?t?nghuà shu?píng cèshì shísh? g?ngyào (???????????). Now with the great smell of beer! Sorry, Brendan, I owe you one — more than one, actually.

The following I bought because Yin Binyong, the scholar primarily responsible for Hanyu Pinyin’s orthography, is the author of these titles from Sinolingua’s series of Bóg?t?ngj?n xué Hàny? cóngsh? (“Gems of the Chinese Language through the Ages” (their translation)), all of which are in Mandarin (Hanzi) and English, with Pinyin only for the sayings being illustrated:

cover of 'Chinese-English Dictionary of Polyphonic Characters' (?????????)cover of 'Putonghua shuiping ceshi shishi gangyao' (???????????)cover of 'Xinhua pinxie cidian'

Other:

And finally:

Of course I already have that one — more than one copy, in fact. But it’s always good to have more than one spare when it comes to one of the two most important books on Pinyin orthography. I really need to follow up on my requests to use excerpts from this book, as it is the only major title missing from my list of romanization-related books (though it’s in Mandarin only).

sign in a Beijing bookstore reading 'Education Theury' [sic]

InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion: the Beijing trip

To my relief, I saw very little in the way of the orthography-killing cancer that is InTerCaPiTaLiZaTion while I was in Beijing.

The worst offender I spotted was the cover to Q?yè y? xíngzhèng j?gu?n chángjiàn yìngyòngwén xi?zuò dàquán (???????????????? / ????????????????), which to me just screams out “UGly NightMare”. But at least the word parsing is right, which is more than can be said for many uses of Pinyin in China.

intercapped_book_title

Note that the image is flipped:
detail from the above photo, showing how the title on a book spine is mirrored

More troubling, because it is on official signage, is the use of intercaps on some station guides above the doors of subway cars.

Route Map Of Bei Jing Subway Line 5
The capitalization of “Of” demonstrates that the bro-ken and InTerCaPiTaLized “Bei Jing” is probably due more to standard sloppiness than design. At least I certainly hope no one did that on purpose.

Fortunately, that usage isn’t found throughout the subway system, as this photo from a map of another line shows.
Route Map of Beijing Subway Line2

Reports of what style is to be found on other Beijing subway lines — especially the newest ones — would be welcome.

And Randy spotted this one:
'BeiJing Vikings Football' in black letters on a red van door, with Hanzi

But that appears to be a one-off, since the Beijing Vikings don’t use that style on their Web site or elsewhere that I noticed.

v for ü

Typing the letter v to produce ü is pretty standard in most Pinyin-related software — the letter v not being used in Pinyin except for loan words, and the letter ü not being found on traditional qwerty keyboards.

Here’s an official sign not far from Tian’anmen Square in Beijing that provides an example of an unconverted v.

official directional sign reading '?????? ZHINVQIAODONGHEYAN' in white letters against a blue background

Of course there’s the usual word-parsing trouble as well, which can indeed be tricky in some cases (but not so much that everythingneedstobewrittensolidlikethis).

This should be “Zh?n? Qiáo d?ng héyán” (?????? / ?????? / Weaver Girl’s Bridge, east bank) or perhaps “Zhinü Qiao Dong Heyan” or “ZHINÜ QIAO DONG HEYAN”.

Some people might not think this is worth categorizing as a problem. My position, however, is that government has an obligation to write things properly on its official signage. (If this were on some ad hoc sign put up privately it would still be interesting but less problematic.) So, if anyone’s OK with the V, would you also be OK with, say, “??????”?

OTOH, as mistakes go, at least v remains distinct, unlike when ü gets incorrectly written as u, which is so common in Taiwan that I don’t recall ever having seen a ü on official signage. (Pinyin has the following distinct pairs: and nu, and lu; nüe (rare) and lüe are also used but not nue or lue since the latter two sounds are not used in modern standard Mandarin.