MEITS Blog


The Linguistic and Ideological Complexities of the ‘Chinese’ Language

by Hui (Annette) Zhao

United Nations’ Chinese Language Day falls on 20 April, and is one of the six UN language days, celebrating multilingualism and the use of six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). Here, I want to talk about the term ‘Chinese’, a ‘simple’ term packed with linguistic and ideological complexities.

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A Revolution of Languages, One Hundred Years On

by Rory Finnin

One hundred years ago, Europe was the site of a revolution of languages without precedent in scale and speed in modern history. In a matter of mere months in 1917-18, a host of languages side-lined and often suppressed in the Russian Empire – Armenian, Azerbaijani, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian – suddenly became vehicles for the formal declaration of sovereignty over swathes of territory.

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Could languages help young women break the glass ceiling?

by Lisa-Maria Müller

The gender pay gap is persistent and while the number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies is at an all-time high, according to the 2017 list released by Fortune magazine, it still only amounts to 32, or 6.4%. But young women might have an ace up their sleeves ...

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Minoritised languages on the internet

by Merryn Davies-Deacon

Today, 21 February, is International Mother Language Day. Since 1999, this day has been an occasion to celebrate multilingualism, and especially the smaller “mother” languages that people may speak in home settings but may be less able to use in public or administrative contexts.

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Dipping a toe into language standards and variation in multilingual China

by Nicola McLelland

I’m an intermediate learner of Chinese, something I’ve been doing very slowly in my “spare” time over the past few years. Last year, I scraped a pass at Level 4 of the official government-sponsored Chinese language tests (HSK), which means - to quote the official Hanban website - that I “can converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and are able to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.” That might even be true, as long as by “conversing” you mean that I mainly listen.

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Est-ce qu’il y a anybody out there (there…there…)? Tackling the “echo chamber” in public engagement

by Angela Gayton

As we kick off a new year of the MEITS project, it seems worthwhile to reflect on our public engagement activities throughout 2017, to ensure we’re thinking carefully about who, of the public, we’re engaging with exactly.

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‘Don’t speak to me in our language, when you pick me up from school’

by Dina Mehmedbegovic

Today, 18th December is the UN Day of Migrants. On this day in 1990 UN signed the International Migrant Convention protecting the rights of migrants and their families. It took another 13 years for the Convention to reach the threshold needed for its implementation – acceptance by 20 countries. Its main aim is to protect human rights of currently around 250 million people identified as migrants world-wide. Not many are aware of this date and not many are aware that UNESCO rights of children include a right to education in mother tongue/home language.

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Stories of Multilingualism

by Dieuwerke (Dee) Rutgers

Naturally, the question of what it means to be multilingual is one I receive frequently in my work as a researcher on the MEITS project. In the simplest terms, being multilingual can perhaps be defined as ‘being able to speak or use more than one language’.

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