CELEBRATE CHINESE LANGUAGE DAY
Did you know that the Chinese Language has its very own special day?
Spoken by more than a billion people, Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, and ever growing in popularity as a second language to learn. Mandarin being the standard form of Chinese language and most prominently used. The United Nations (UN) recognised Chinese as one of the world’s six key official languages in 1946, but it wasn’t till 1973 when the UN adopted it as one it’s working languages. As part of the UN’s efforts to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity of the six official languages, April 20th was chosen as Chinese language day and was first observed in 2010 and has been celebrated ever since.
APRIL 20th: THE LEGEND OF CANGJIE AND THE INVENTION OF CHINESE CHARACTERS
Why was April 20th chosen as Chinese Language Day you may ask?
Well, firstly it’s important to know that April 20th is the start of the sixth of twenty four solar terms, in China called ‘Guyu’ and this literally means ‘grain rain’ / ‘rain of millet’. And this day was in particularly chosen as a tribute to Cangjie, a legendary cultural icon of ancient China. In Chinese mythology Cangjie was one of the prestigious official historians of the Yellow Emperor ‘Huangdi’ and was legend says Cangjie had four eyes and four pupils. It was Cangjie’s great duty and task to collect and record important information and daily details. To do his duty well, Cangjie invented what we now know as Chinese Characters to keep written record of everything. Depending on which version you know Cangjie embarked on an adventure into the wilderness, into nature, in which he started seeing patterns of life, trees, animals, buildings etc, and he translated the patterns into logograms, which eventually evolved into modern characters. An alternate version tells of Cangjie being inspired by the lines on tortoise shells. Once the writing system was developed the deities cried and the sky rained heavily with grain. This is why Guyu was named after Cangjie’s story and why Chinese Language day is a tribute to this classic legend.
HOW CAN YOU CELEBRATE CHINESE LANGUAGE DAY?
Watch a Chinese Movie
Listen to a Chinese Song and sing along
Eat out at a local Chinese Restaurant and say ‘ni hao’
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Zhōngwén rì - 中文日 - Chinese Language Day
Qìngzhù - 庆祝 - to celebrate
Hànzì - 汉字 - Chinese characters
Chuánshuō - 传说 - Legend, myth
Gǔyǔ - 谷雨 - Grain rain / Rain of millet / 6th solar term of 24
Cāngjié - 仓颉 - Cangjie, one of the Yellow Emperor’s official historian and creator of Chinese characters
Huángdì - 黄帝 - Yellow Emperor
Fāmíng - 发明 - to invent