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Chinese Languages

From a Pew report on Chinese Internet use ( here’s the PDF):

Finally, the particular case of Chinese language presents an opportunity for an unprecedented
linguistic situation. The Chinese diaspora, with about two-thirds of its population living in mainland
China and about one third spread around the rest of the world, includes speakers of Mandarin,
Cantonese, and many, many other Chinese dialects. The languages are mutually unintelligible in
their oral forms, but are virtually identical in their written form. That is, speakers of Cantonese and
Mandarin cannot understand each others’ spoken language, but they can read each others’
written language. The internet, by offering a shared use of the common written system, makes it
possible for all the far-flung speakers of a multitude of Chinese dialects to communicate with each
other through their written language. The internet would offer an unprecedented vehicle for
people with different native languages to communicate with each other thus creating a new,
coherent, virtual community among the now disparate Chinese diaspora.

I totally forgot that various dialects can all read the same language.  See also James Fallows on China’s Internet firewall.

(Speaking of which, watching the Oscars today, i hear the statistic that over a billion people are watching the Oscar ceremonies. I realize that these awards are rebroadcast in most English speaking countries and even in non-speaking English countries, but I suspect that in many countries the event is shown  a day later in 30 or 60 minute excerpts (and they certainly don’t care about Jon Stewart’s lame jokes). Even if they are shown, that doesn’t mean people are actually watching them; it just means that the show is on some channel at some time.  They are a guilty pleasure for me.

Speaking of guilty pleasures, I watched the pilot episode of Pushing Daisies, still my favorite show on TV (that and How I met your Mother). More cinematic than anything I’ve been watching.

This week will be maddening. I’m trying to edit a video short and prepare for SXSW and preparing to make another movie next week.

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