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Visiting Chinese Scholar Presents on Chinese Linguistics(1)

On Tuesday, February 10, Liu Jiantao – a visiting Chinese scholar from the English Department at Nanjing University – presented a fascinating lecture on Chinese linguistics to students in Dr. Sylvia Bagley's EDU 253 (Language Competence and Education) course.

Liu Jiantao introduced students to the basic elements of Mandarin Chinese, including pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. Students learned that Chinese is a tonal language, which means that words can be pronounced with one of four distinct tones. Liu Jiantao explained that Chinese characters, which are derived from pictures, are non-phonetic – which means it's very difficult to tell how a word is pronounced simply by looking at it. Students were interested to learn that the characters in Chinese can be written either horizontally (left to right, or right to left) or vertically – but only from top to bottom, not bottom to top!

Liu Jiantao also spoke to the class about difficulties Chinese students may encounter when learning English. For instance, Chinese students may struggle with correct pronunciation of words in English, since they are used to a tonal language. In addition, because Chinese verbs are not inflected – that is, they do not possess suffixes such as -ing or -ed – Chinese students may have a difficult time learning correct verb tenses in English.

At the end of her lecture, Liu Jiantao answered general questions about both Chinese language and culture.

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

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