Howard W. French: Uniting China to Speak Mandarin, the One Official Language: Easier Said Than Done

From the New York Times:

As seen by many outsiders, China is a behemoth: the world’s most populous country with a galloping economy and a more or less unified culture. But if Putonghua – – is one of the world’s most heavily spoken languages, in many parts of China it is lost in the mazes of local dialects.

In recent years migrant labor, which has brought about huge population movements from the hinterlands to China’s prosperous eastern cities, has obliged millions of Chinese to learn more Mandarin, but by official estimates even today barely half of the population can speak the official dialect.

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