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Linguistic Research in China – Review and Outlook

The foreign students should know some relevant knowledge about the linguistic when they learn Chinese in China. In this essay, we will learn some viewpoints about the linguistic research in China held by Zhao Shikai, a famous professor and linguist.

The point of the development of the 20th century linguistics we should pay attention to is the process from the description on the structure of language to the demand of the explanation on the language structure. Learners who study Chinese in China should know that description is the basic but it is not enough.

Another important point is that the linguistic study attaches great importance both to the research of individuality and the universality of Language. The force of the traditional linguistic research has been always great. Teachers in qualified Mandarin program will tell you that the phonology and the critic interpretation of ancient texts have great importance with a large proportion. And the linguistic theories in foreign countries also introduced into China by different approaches.

In the early of the 20th century, the theme of the annual meeting held by the United States Language Institute was “To Study Language in the Context of Time, Space and Society”, marking a new period of the linguistic research. Foreigners who come to China to learn Mandarin may be familiar with the linguist Chomsky. At that time, his generative linguistics was in high tide but some linguists still put forward that theory. It means that the trend of the linguistic development will never end.

Therefore, the linguistics in the 21st century will continue to develop under the basis of that of the 20th century. When you study in China, teachers will tell you that with the new development of science and technology, linguistics will be the emergence of new ideas and new patterns. There are people trying to seek the origin and development by using gene and new issues continue to appear and to attract people‘s attention.

Accordingly, we can get two conclusions. The first one is that the linguistics has become the comprehensive study with multidisciplinary. When you learn to speak Chinese in Chinese language school, you will see that the links between different disciplines become more closely. The language information processing needs the cooperation of people and computer.

Another obvious point we can conclude is that new disciplines will continue to emerge. Teachers in Chinese school in China may tell you that the development of the pragmatics, text linguistics and the discourse analysis in the second half of the 20th century showed that the classification of traditional disciplines couldn’t meet the needs of linguistic development. The separation of the phonetics and phonology also illustrate this point.

Our thoughts must be continuously updated as the time processing. In order to adapt to the development of linguistic science, our language teaching should make appropriate adjustments. For this reason, Mr. Zhao has the following three suggestions for linguists as well as the students who learn Mandarin in China.

In the future, departments of Chinese language should step further cooperation with departments of foreign languages. It would be better to strengthen cooperation between the ethnic language departments. Nowadays, the academic activities of the departments of Chinese language are hardly related to that of the foreign languages departments, saying nothing of that of the ethnic languages departments.

What’s more, the school curricula should be set to link with the development of the linguistics. During the process of learning Mandarin Chinese in Chinese language school, learners may find that some courses there no longer meet the needs of the contemporary linguistics. On the contrary, some required courses are not set. Relevant departments should pay attention to this issue and take measures to improve it.

The last but not the least recommendation is that the Tsinghua University and Peking University should establish the linguistics school, which has been demanded by many scholars for many years. This issue is often talked while you learn Chinese language in China. As the first-class universities in the world, how can even Tsinghua University and Peking University have no linguistics school? In fact, the pattern of Chinese language branch and foreign language branch is unable to meet the needs of the development of linguistics.

There are many problems in China’s linguistics research. China’s linguistics research should have a good prospect if we can follow the suggestions mentioned above.

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