MEITS Blog


A Fieldwork trip to Multilingual Hohhot, Inner Mongolia

by Jiaye Wu

When the cold winter is well over, I have come to visit 呼和浩特 (Hohhot) in May for my PhD project which investigates the under-researched history of teaching and learning Mandarin Chinese as a second language to Mongolian minority groups in China since 1900. Hohot is the capital of North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. 

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“Hey, I’m a trilingual. What are you?”

by Yanyu Guo

Leo is a three-year-old boy who has lived in Hong Kong since he was born. When meeting a new friend, he usually proudly introduced himself as a trilingual and wondered if the kid standing in front of him could also speak different languages. Leo’s parents initially adopted a ‘one parent-one language’ policy in which the mother spoke to the child in Cantonese and the father in Mandarin.

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To have your cake and speak it too

by Harper Staples

The 5th of February may have passed you by unnoticed this year, but if you ever happen to be in Finland around this date, you definitely can’t miss it. In Finland, the 5th February is Runeberginpäivä, (Swe. Runebergsdagen) or Runeberg’s day, a celebration of the birth of the Finnish poet J. L. Runeberg, who penned the lyrics to the country’s national anthem.

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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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