Posts tagged ‘Mandarin Chinese’

15/12/2014

The Chinese Military’s Response to Unannounced Drones: Blow ‘Em Out of the Sky – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Earlier this year, a court in suburban Beijing said it was preparing to try employees of a Chinese drone company on charges of “negligently endangering public safety” after an unmanned aircraft disrupted commercial flights and led the air force to scramble helicopters in response.

The drone flight in question happened on Dec. 29, 2013, in the eastern Beijing suburb of Pinggu. Operated by employees of Beijing UAV Sci-Tech Co., the drone forced several commercial flights to alter their flight paths and caused others to be delayed. According to reports in October, the People’s Liberation Army dispatched helicopters to force the drone down.

In Sunday’s report, the People’s Liberation Army Daily said the drone was in fact shot out of the air.

The shooting came after an unidentified object showed up on military radar, according to the report. Air force commanders ordered several regiments to prepare for battle and dispatched six ground teams to the area where the object was detected. Minutes later, the air force identified the object as a small aircraft and immediately notified the Beijing Military Area Command, as well as the public security bureaus in Beijing and neighboring Hebei province.

A military helicopter was dispatched to investigate further. “The drone continued to ignore warnings and fly in the direction of  Beijing Capital Airport,” the newspaper said. “The Beijing Air Force commander made a firm decision: Avoid densely populated areas and use a shotgun to bring the target down.” (It wasn’t clear from the report what sort of weapon that would be, leaving China Real Time to wonder whether they used a shotgun-like weapon attached to the helicopter or whether a crewmember popped off a 12 gauge through an open window.)

After the helicopter opened fire, the drone fell. As the helicopter descended to check on the drone, it discovered the three operators next to a car. The trio and their car were immediately taken into custody, the newspaper said.

via The Chinese Military’s Response to Unannounced Drones: Blow ‘Em Out of the Sky – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

Advertisements
22/08/2013

Chinese forget how to write in digital age

The Times: “A televised contest that has become hugely popular in China has led to nationwide hand-wringing over the population’s increasing inability to write Chinese characters.

In 2003 Bijing earmarked $9m to improve Chinese language skills among teachers in Xinjiang region... they may have needed more

The rapid rise of computers and smartphones has left most young people barely able to write by hand, with many unable to recall the estimated 10,000 characters used in daily life without an electronic prompt.

The state broadcaster CCTV launched the Chinese Character Dictation Competition this month to improve the population’s handwriting amid fears that the country’s fiendishly complex writing system, a highly prized symbol of its ancient culture, is entering an inexorable decline.

While contestants on the show are school pupils, it was found that 70 per cent of adults in the audience were unable to recall how to portray the word for “toad”. Tests showed that fewer than half could write common Mandarin words such as “thick”.

Mastering the language’s estimated 50,000 pictograms takes children years of learning by rote. Yet the predictive text used on digital devices allows people to type characters simply by entering pinyin, the Romanised system of Chinese pronunciation, removing the necessity to remember how to write.“While the keyboard era has not affected other languages, relatively speaking, it has had a big impact on the handwriting of Chinese characters,” Guan Zhengwen, who designed and directs the show, said. “The impact of electronic technology on people’s writing habits is irreversible, there is nothing we can do about this trend.”

However, he added that he hoped to engage people with his mission to keep it alive as an art form, in line with centuries of the tradition of calligraphy.

Educated young Chinese freely admit forgetting how to write all but the most common Chinese words. “I usually write at a very slow pace,” Zang Xiaosong, 29, a newspaper journalist from Nanjing, said. “Most of the time, it seems the characters are somewhere in my head, it’s just that I can’t remember how to write them. Sometimes I use a computer to help me retrieve them.”

Hao Mingjian, the editor of a magazine devoted to Chinese characters, said: “The learning of Chinese characters is a lifelong process. If you stop using them for a long time, it is very likely you would forget them.””

via Chinese forget how to write in digital age | The Times.

05/11/2012

* Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?

BBC: “English has been the dominant global language for a century, but is it the language of the future? If Mandarin Chinese is to challenge English globally, then it first has to conquer its own backyard, South East Asia.

Mandarin-English dictionary

In Malaysia’s southernmost city of Johor Bahru, the desire to speak good English has driven some children to make a remarkable two-hour journey to school every day.

Nine-year-old Aw Yee Han hops on a yellow mini van at 04:30. His passport is tucked inside a small pouch hung around his neck.

This makes it easier for him to show it to immigration officials when he reaches the Malaysian border.

His school is located on the other side, in Singapore, where unlike in Malaysia, English is the main language.

It’s not your typical school run, but his mother, Shirley Chua thinks it’s worth it.

“Science and maths are all written in English so it’s essential for my son to be fluent in the language,” she says.

Continue reading the main story

Robert Lane Greene

Author of You Are What You Speak

The assumption that Mandarin will grow with China’s economic rise may be flawed. Consider Japan which, after spectacular post-war economic growth, became the world’s second-biggest economy. The Japanese language saw no comparable rise in power and prestige.

The same may prove true of Mandarin. The character-based writing system requires years of hard work for even native speakers to learn, and poses a formidable obstacle to foreigners. In Asia, where China’s influence is thousands of years old, this may pose less of a problem. But in the West, even dedicated students labour for years before they can confidently read a text of normal difficulty on a random topic.

Finally, many languages in Asia, Africa and the Amazon use “tones” (rising, falling, flat or dipping pitch contours) to distinguish different words. For speakers of tonal languages (like Vietnamese) learning the tones of Mandarin poses no particular difficulty. But speakers of non-tonal languages struggle to learn tones in adulthood – just ask any adult Mandarin-learner for their funniest story about using a word with the wrong tone.

An estimated 15,000 students from southern Johor state make the same bus journey across the border every day. It may seem like a drastic measure, but some parents don’t trust the education system in Malaysia – they worry that the value of English is declining in the country.

Since independence from the British in 1957, the country has phased out schools that teach in English. By the early 1980s, most students were learning in the national language of Malay.

As a result, analysts say Malaysian graduates became less employable in the IT sector.

“We’ve seen a drastic reduction in the standard of English in our country, not just among the students but I think among the teachers as well,” says political commentator Ong Kian Ming.

Those who believe that English is important for their children’s future either send their kids to expensive private schools or to Singapore, where the government has been credited as being far-sighted for adopting the language of its former colonial master.

Nearly three-quarters of the population in Singapore are ethnic Chinese but English is one of the national languages and very widely-spoken.

Many believe that this has helped the city state earn the title of being the easiest place to do business, by the World Bank.

Continue reading the main story

Lost in translation

Up to 7,000 different languages are estimated to be spoken around the world

Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French are world’s most widely spoken languages, according to UNESCO

Languages are grouped into families that share a common ancestry

English is related to German and Dutch, and all are part of Indo-European family of languages

Also includes French, Spanish and Italian, which come from Latin

2,200 of the world’s languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has 260

Source: BBC Languages

Read more about languages of the world

However, the dominance of English is now being challenged by the rise of China in Singapore.

The Singapore Chinese Chamber Institute of Business has added Chinese classes for business use in recent years.

Students are being taught in Mandarin rather than the Hokkien dialect spoken by the older Chinese immigrants.

These courses have proved popular, ever since the government began providing subsidies for Singaporeans to learn Chinese in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

“The government pushed to provide them with an opportunity to upgrade themselves so as to prepare themselves for the economic upturn,” says chamber spokesperson Alwyn Chia.

Some businesses are already desperate for Chinese speakers.

Lee Han Shih, who runs a multimedia company, says English is becoming less important to him financially because he is taking western clients to do business in China.

“So obviously you need to learn English but you also need to know Chinese,” says Mr Lee.

As China’s economic power grows, Mr Lee believes that Mandarin will overtake English. In fact, he has already been seeing hints of this.

“The decline of the English language probably follows the decline of the US dollar.

“If the renminbi is becoming the next reserve currency then you have to learn Chinese.”

More and more, he says, places like Brazil and China are doing business in the renminbi, not the US dollar, so there is less of a need to use English.”

via BBC News – Is English or Mandarin the language of the future?.

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India