Hong Kong’s pride in Putonghua

Pride in the Mandarin language (Putonghua) in Hong Kong has risen from 18 percent in 1996 to 34 percent today, according to the results of a survey of survey conducted in October by the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for Communications Research.

The center surveyed a total of 1,013 people about their feelings of pride associated with various Chinese things. A five-point scale was used to record the answers, with 1 representing a complete lack of feeling of pride and 5 representing an intense feeling of pride. (1 f?n dàibi?o wánquán wú zìháo g?njué, 5 f?n dàibi?o y?u h?o qiángliè jì zìháo g?njué / 1???????????5????????????).

Percentage of pride was calculated as the sum of the percentages of respondents giving 4 or 5 points when asked about their feeling of pride towards a certain icon.

Here is the breakdown for the recent survey question on Mandarin:
Where 1 is a complete lack of pride and 5 is very strong pride, the responses in 2006 were as follows: 1: 25.4%; 2: 9.1%; 3: 30.0%; 4: 17.6%; 5: 14.4%; don't know/no answer: 1.4%;

And here is how pride in Mandarin has changed over time:
1996 18.6%, 1997 21.3%, 1998 19.9%, 1999 28.0%, 2002 25.2%, 2006 34.0%

Of course, if a response of 4 or 5 indicates pride, it may well be that 1 or 2 indicates a lack thereof, in which case those without pride in Mandarin (34.5%) still outnumber those with pride in it (34.0%).

Unfortunately, related questions on pride in Cantonese and English were not asked, so we don’t know how feelings about Mandarin stack up against those for the two other important languages of Hong Kong.

On the other hand, the survey covered other areas, which may be useful for purposes of comparison:

Almost half (48 per cent) of those questioned said they felt proud of the national flag and anthem of China compared to 30 and 39 per cent of those questions in a survey in 1996, one year before the former British colony became part of China again.

More than 28 per cent admitted pride in the China’s People’s Liberation Army compared to 10 per cent in 1996….

However, pride in Hong Kong remained higher with respondents grading their love for their home city at 7.52 on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to an average of 6.49 for China and only 2.91 for the Communist Party.

The Great Wall elicited some of the most positive feedback with 73 per cent saying it made them feel proud while the Chinese mainland security officials came out as being one of the most unpopular things in China, evoking pride in only 6 per cent of those questioned. (DPA)

I’d like to thank those at the Center for Communications Research for providing me with the data on Putonghua and answering various questions.

additional resource: Proud To Be Chinese – But Hongkongers Still Love Their City More, DPA, November 2006

smuggler learns importance of proper Pinyin

A 28-year-old Taiwanese woman has been arrested in Hong Kong on charges of drug smuggling. Customs officials there found that the woman, who had arrived from Cambodia, had 3 kg of heroin hidden inside preserved plums. (I have a hard time thinking of these as “prunes” because they are so different than the U.S. prunes I grew up with — or rather avoided as best I could as I was growing up.)

One of the things that alerted the suspicions of the officials was that the lettering on her seven packages of plums (chénpíméi, ???) read, in part, “Cnan.”

Y? míng 28 suì Táiw?n n?z?, ji?ng zh?ngzh?ng 3 g?ngj?n de h?iluòy?n cáng zài 300 du? k? chénpíméi l?, zh?nbèi yóu Ji?np?zhài yùnsòng dào Táiw?n fàn shòu, túzh?ng zài Xi?ng G?ng j?ch?ng bèi h?igu?n d?ngch?ng d?izhù, bèi j?y? zài Xi?ng G?ng k?nsh?usu?, wàny? zuìmíng chénglì, xiánfàn ji?ng miànduì 10 nián y?shàng de y?uq? túxíng.

Xiánfàn shì y? wèi cóng Ji?np?zhài dào Xi?ng G?ng de 28 suì Táiw?n n?z?, jìhuà ji?ng dúp?n yùnsòng dào Táiw?n fàn shòu, zh?ngzh?ng 3 g?ngj?n de h?iluòy?n jiàzhí 560 wàn yuán, qi?omiào de cáng zài 300 du? k? chénpíméi l?, k?shì y?nwèi b?ozhu?ng shang “chénpíméi” de Y?ngwénzì p?ncuò le, y?nq? Xi?ng G?ng h?igu?n de huáiyí, ji?f? zhè q?yùn dú àn.

Xi?ng G?ng h?igu?n ji?nd? L? Zh?ngróng bi?oshì, xiánfàn b? chénpíméi zh?ngji?n de hé[tao] w? ch?lai sh?ucáng h?iluòy?ng, dànshì yóuyú chénpíméi Y?ngwén p?ny?n shì Chan, fàndú jítuán p?nchéng cnan, z?odào h?igu?n rényuán huáiyí dàib?.

Mùqián zhè wèi Táiw?n xiánfàn bèi Xi?ng G?ng j?ngf?ng y? fànyùn w?ixi?n yàowù zuì, j?y? zài Xi?ng G?ng de k?nsh?usu?, 4 yuè 24 rì ji?ng zài Xi?ng G?ng f?yuàn ji?shòu sh?nxùn, wàny? zuìmíng chénglì, xiánfàn ji?ngyào miànduì 10 nián y?shàng de y?uq? túxíng.

sources:

US students abroad

The Institute of International Education has released its 2005 “Open Doors” report on U.S. students studying abroad.

The top twenty destinations for study abroad by U.S. students during the 2003-04 school year were, in declining order, Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Mexico, Germany, Ireland, China, Costa Rica, Japan, Austria, New Zealand, Cuba, Chile, Greece, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Russia, and the Netherlands.

Britain was by far the leader, with 32,237 U.S. students. China was ninth, with 4,737.

Fear of SARS resulted in numbers for parts of East Asia dropping off for the spring and summer of 2003, so the 90 percent increase for China is not so much a dramatic increase as a return to pre-crisis levels.

In 2003/04, overall U.S. study abroad in Asia (13,213) increased by 36%, with American student numbers in China exceeding pre-SARS levels (4,737, up 90%), and increases in students going to Japan, (3,707, up 7%), Korea (879, up 19%), Hong Kong (487, up 6%), and Taiwan (195, up 32%). However, even with all of these increases, only 7% of all Americans studying abroad selected Asia for their overseas academic experience.

I don’t know how those numbers are reached. Taiwan certainly has more than 192 Americans studying here. Perhaps the figures are related to official university-level study-abroad programs.

Nonetheless, the figures do represent an increase, especially for places such as China, where many are studying Mandarin. Indeed, being in an environment where the target language is spoken is especially important, given how many Mandarin-learning programs (in both the West and Asia) are badly imbalanced toward memorizing Chinese characters rather than learning the language itself. So environment is especially important for those wishing to learn Mandarin.

For what it’s worth, I’ve lived in both China and Taiwan, and I recommend Taiwan.

Mandarin pop/rock lyrics in Pinyin

Lately I’ve been adding the lyrics to some songs, including titles by Cui Jian, Faye Wong, Wu Bai and China Blue, and Jay Chou.

I haven’t included Chinese characters. Keep in mind that songs are meant to be heard, not read. Also, tones generally disappear when words are sung. Thus, these songs should be considerably easier to understand when read in Pinyin transcriptions than when listened to alone. (It’s the same with other languages, too, of course.) If you find you’re having trouble, liànxí, liànxí.

HK Putonghua and Pinyin test

The Examinations & Assessment Authority released today the results of the September Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers. Some 29% of English teachers have acquired the basic requirement in writing, with 43% and 64% of candidates attaining the basic requirement in English speaking and listening.

For Putonghua papers, 43% of teacher candidates attained the basic requirement in listening and recognition, 63% in Pinyin and 42% in speaking.

It’s interesting that people do so much better in Pinyin than in not only listening and recognition but also speaking. Moreover, compare those with the figures for English. Hmm.

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