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Visiting Chinese Scholar Presents on Chinese Linguistics

On February 16, 2010, Gao Qian – a visiting Chinese scholar from the English Department at Nanjing University – presented an introductory lecture on Chinese linguistics to students in Dr. Sylvia Bagley's EDU 253 (Language Competence and Education) course.

Gao Qian began his lecture by showing pictures of his childhood in China, and providing some basic information on life in his country. Next, he introduced students to the basic linguistic elements of Mandarin Chinese, focusing on the major differences between Mandarin and English. Students learned that, unlike English, Chinese does not have inflectional endings to indicate plurals or verb tense; instead, meaning depends on the context of individual words (or symbols) within a sentence. Gao spoke about the four tones in Chinese, and how pronouncing the same word in different ways can imply very different meanings. Students had a chance to try speaking some words and simple sentences in Mandarin, which was quite a challenge! However, Gao reassured the class that learning Chinese isn't as difficult as it seems, and that the most important thing is to use words in context so people understand what you're trying to say.

At the end of his lecture, Gao answered general questions about both Chinese language and culture.

Gao Qian was a participant in the Bridging Cultures: US/China program, directed by Nancy Pine, PhD He was the eighth visiting scholar to come to the Mount. We look forward to welcoming next year's Chinese scholar!

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