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Charm and Influence of the Chinese Language

Speech by Chinese Ambassador Ye Hao

(From Chinese Embassy in the republic of albania)

2012/02/29

Since it started to reform and open up to the outside world 30 years ago, China has seen its national strength grow markedly, Chinese people's livelihood and its international status improving considerably. In 2009, China's export overtook that of Germany and became the largest in the world. In 2010, China's GDP surpassed that of Japan and it became the second largest economy. In the past 10 years, China contributed 20% to the growth of world economy, more than any other country in the world. It has maintained growth during the recent financial crisis and Euro debt crisis, propelling world economic development.

Along with China's development and rising international status, there has been a rise worldwide in the interest to learn Chinese. Since the first one established in South Korea in 2004, more than 350 Confucius Institutes and over 500 Confucius classrooms have been set up in 105 countries and regions over the world, with over 40 million people learning Chinese. In Europe alone there are 117 institutes, more than any other continent. Now Confucius Institute is the place to study Chinese and get to know the Chinese culture. It is a bridge friendship and collaboration between the Chinese people and peoples of the world. In countries like Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Republic of Korea, Chinese is offered as one of the foreign languages taught in colleague. Bulgaria and Serbia have introduced Chinese in high school.

By learning Chinese, you will find its charm.

First, it is a language with the largest number of people using it as mother tongue. In China's mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Singapore, Chinese is an official language. It is also one of the six working languages of the UN. One in fifth of the people on our planet speaks Chinese.

Second, it is a scientific language. It is first and foremost concise. There are over a million words in English but all of them can be expressed with only 4000 Chinese hieroglyphs. A same sentence in Chinese is the shortest. Secondly it is logic, basis for its conciseness. For example, the word order of a sentence in Chinese is like this: subject comes first, then the verb and the object comes in the end. It accords with logical thinking. Moreover, words have only one form, with no plural form, no gender, no present or past tense. Linguists even consider Chinese at the highest level of language development.

Third, it is the oldest yet most stable language in the world. It is old. It is also very stable and inheritable because Chinese hieroglyphs are not written according to alphabet. Phonetic languages change with time. It is possible that descendants do not understand what are used by their predecessors. Chinese is written with hieroglyphs, not according to spoken language. For this reason, modern Chinese can understand articles written 2000 years ago by Confucius. Chinese students can read poems written by poet Qu Yuan, who also lived 2000 years ago. In contrast people in modern days have difficulty in understanding Shakespeare's masterpieces.

Fourth, it is a language of philosophy. The Chinese hieroglyphs have many ideographic elements, which means that words are formed from their meaning. For example, the hieroglyph "trust" is composed of the hieroglyph "person" and the hieroglyph "word", meaning that a person is trustworthy if he keeps his words and does what he has promised; the hieroglyph "pleasure" is composed of the hieroglyph "donate", meaning that a person is happy by donating to others. There are advice and philosophy in Chinese.

Fifth, it is an artistic language. It is expressed first in its hand writing. The Chinese words come from hieroglyphs, which are drawings in nature and gradually evolve into art. The simplicity of the hieroglyphs, the elegance of inscriptions in bronze, the grace of the beautiful writings on seal, the modesty of the official writings in the Han Dynasty, the straightness of the standard writings, the unrestrained cursive writing, fast writing, all show perfectly wisdom and beauty of the Chinese language. It is unique throughout the world. It is expressed in such a way that the Chinese hieroglyphs have a quadrate shape, thus creating a special kind of poetry by coordinating pronunciation with meaning. English poems rhyme, but it cannot combine pronunciation with meaning. Because of the quadrate character of the Chinese hieroglyphs, the form of Chinese poetry is much more neat and special. Chinese poetry has five or seven hieroglyphs in each line. One may not know Chinese hieroglyphs, but it does not stop him from appreciating the beauty of Chinese poetry with its neat and clean form.

Is Chinese difficult? Maybe. But I think Albanians are talented in learning foreign languages. Many Albanians speak three or four languages. There are also Albanians who can speak Chinese, but most of them are senior in age.

Today it is important to learn Chinese.

First, the need to attract foreign investments. Chinese companies are investing abroad, but in the case of Albania they are facing the language barriers. There are few qualified interpreters. Second, the need to attract Chinese tourists. Chinese tourists help local economy. Albania is rich in touristic resources but there are few Chinese language tour guides and tourist information in Chinese. Third, the need to know China's development. China has spent only 30 years to achieve its current development, whereas it took western counties over 100 years in the same process. Albania is seeking to join the EU. It needs modernization within a short period of time, similar to the situation in China. China's experience can be drawn.

As China's strength and the relations between China and Albania grow, people who can speak Chinese will be popular in job market. In China the saying goes, the more you learn the better. I am convinced that the language you learn today will be a tool for you in future. This year, an important work of the Embassy is to establish the first Confucius Institute in Albania, to enable more people to understand the Chinese language and culture.

In conclusion, I would like to sincerely wish you success in learning Chinese, becoming a bridge between Albania and China and build your beautiful country, so as to realizing your dreams in life. Thank you!

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