Mandarin Mayhem, Part II: Dialect and Nationalism in China

06.02.2020 - By Barbarians at the Gate

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Barbarians at the Gate returns to that ever-relevant and contentious topic, language reform in China and the fate of fangyan, the various local speech forms referred to as “dialects.”
Joining us on the podcast is Gina Anne Tam (, Assistant Professor in History at Trinity University, and the author of the recent book Dialect and Nationalism in China, 1860-1960 (  Picking up the threads of the recent podcast “Mandarin Mayhem”, we explore with Gina issues such as the central role of language unification in the task of nation building; the tension between the goal of national unity and preserving China’s rich cultural diversity as manifested in fangyan; the future survival of the many local speech forms in the face of China’s ongoing national Putonghua promotion policy; and even a brief discussion of Chengdu rappers and the sociological implications of Sichuan dialect rap.


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