Ural federal university: UN Chinese Language Day

On April 20, the world celebrates the Day of the Chinese Language. This date was approved in 2010 by the UN Department of Public Information in memory of the legendary philosopher and historian Changjie, who is considered the inventor of Chinese hieroglyphic writing.

According to the latest statistics, Chinese is spoken by about 1.3 billion people around the world. Most of them live in China (or PRC), Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines, and other countries where Chinese communities are located. They are also Chinese communities in Russia, the United States, Australia and Asia. But somehow, there are practically no Chinese in South America and Africa.

We call this language Chinese, but many linguists distinguish this group of dialects as a separate branch. At the moment there are about 10 dialects, which differ mainly in vocabulary and phonetics. The differences are so substantial that many Chinese cannot understand each other. The most widespread dialect is North Chinese, commonly called Mandarin.

Chinese writing was in use as early as 4,000 years ago. The oldest “document” with hieroglyphs belongs to the XVII century BC. Already in the State of Shan-Yin “jiaguwen” were made – fortune-telling writings on the shells of turtles. The first hieroglyphs on the bones of animals in the area were found only in the XX century, so scientists are still studying this stage of the development of writing of the Shang dynasty.

The exact number of characters that exist today is unknown. According to various estimates, they range from 47 to 106 thousand, but most of them are no longer in use. Only 500 characters are enough to live in China and understand 80% of the text. In order to understand 99% of the text comfortably, it is enough to know 2400 characters.

At the moment 1855 students citizens of China study at Ural Federal University at all study levels: preparatory department, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate.

Moreover, on October 28, 2008 the first Confucius Institute in the Urals was opened at the A. M. Gorky Ural State University (Ural State University; currently the Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B. N. Yeltsin). In 2019, Confucius Institute at UrFU became the best among 535 similar institutions in more than 100 countries. Teachers from China work together with teachers from UrFU, who graduated the Department of Oriental Studies and Linguistics. Students study not only the Chinese language, but also the culture of the PRC, its history and current state. For 13 years, the Institute has given professional education to about nine thousand listeners and students.

“People studying Chinese at the Institute, see themselves getting involved in a joint Russian-Chinese business or look for opportunities to study in top Chinese universities. Some of our students study Chinese language for five to eight years. For a deeper immersion in the language environment, we try to create a special cultural atmosphere that enriches the inner world of each of our listeners,” emphasized Maria Guzikova, director of the Institute from the Russian side and director of UrFU Department of International Relations.

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