Barbarians at the Gate

The Common Tongue (Part 2)1 min read

Dialect and nationalism in China, with guest Gina Anne Tam

An episode of Barbarians at the Gate

In this episode, Barbarians at the Gate returns to the contentious topic of language reform in China and the fate of fangyan, the various local speech forms referred to as “dialects.” Joining Jeremiah and David 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 earlier podcast on putonghua, they explore 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 a brief discussion of Chengdu rappers and the sociological implications of Sichuan dialect rap:

This is an episode of the Barbarians at the Gate podcast, syndicated with permission. Header: A Song era scroll depicting Khitans using eagles to hunt.