Over 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese in the world, with the vast majority speaking Mandarin Chinese, making it the most-spoken native language today. Impressive, right? This ancient language has a reputation for being one of the most complex to learn, not only because of its characters and pronunciation, but also because there are more than 200 dialects, and some of them are so diverse that they could almost be considered an independent language in their own right.
In addition to Mandarin (the official language of the People’s Republic of China, also widely spoken in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore), some other common forms of Chinese are Cantonese, Wu, and Hongkongese.
In 2010, the UNESCO established April 20 as the date to celebrate Chinese Language Day, seeking to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity all over the world. In honor of this superb event, let’s explore Chinese Language Day together and some of the ways to celebrate it!
Why April 20?
The Chinese language was born thousands of years ago, with its origins credited to Cangjie, one of the fist historians to record Chinese characters. Chinese Language Day, then, was allocated by the United Nations to be celebrated on April 20 to honor him. The legend states that the day Cangjie invented the Chinese characters, the deities cried millet. The celebration of Guyu (rain of millet) typically occurs on or near April 20th, and so the date was chosen for Chinese Language Day. Each year, the United Nations works with organizations around the world to arrange workshops and activities to honor not only the language but also Chinese culture and traditions.
The aim of this celebration is to educate people about the history of Chinese (an official language of the UN since 1946) and to promote the acquisition of the language. To do this, the UN offices in Geneva, Bangkok, Nairobi, and Vienna host exhibitions, lectures, and online campaigns to encourage people around the world to learn about the language, and to even try to learn a few words and characters in the process. Here you can find their full program of activities for 2020!
How to Celebrate Chinese Language Day
The purpose of the event is to encourage people around to embrace the language, so you can join in the Chinese Language Day celebrations by learning some Chinese! Not only will this a fun and interesting challenge, but there are a lot of benefits to learning Chinese:
- Make your CV stand out! As the second-largest economy in the world, China is one of the USA’s largest trading partners. Consequently, companies and professional organizations around the world are looking to hire people who can speak the language, so they can begin or expand their operations in China and the surrounding nations.
- Take part in the many cultural activities that take place in your area. Communities of Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese speakers live in almost every country in the world, and learning the language is a great way to integrate with them and discover their traditions and festivities. For example, the Chinese New Year is celebrated all over the world, not just in China. Plus, an understanding of the language will allow you to explore renowned Chinese novels, short stories, poetry, film, TV, and music, many of which have not been translated into other languages.
- Travel and explore. When the world goes back to normal, you may want to travel to China to explore the fascinating culture first-hand. If so, then learning Mandarin Chinese is essential: less than 1% of the population speak English. Even if you’re just a beginner and your speaking skills are limited to a few phrases, locals will appreciate the effort and make you feel welcomed as a result.
If you’ve ever considered learning Chinese, now is the time to start. Take part in the celebrations (virtually, this year) and start to discover this enthralling language. You’ll broaden your professional horizons, learn to communicate with over a billion people worldwide, and gain a deeper understanding of one of the world’s most ancient cultures.
Inspired to learn Chinese? Contact us and we will prepare personalized lessons with native-speaking tutors, so you become fluent in a short time!