29 Feb 2004
John over at Zero Dispance recently linked to a CNN story about the likely decline of the global importance of English and ascendancy of local languages. One language highlighted was Mandarin Chinese.
None of this really surprises me. Aside from just loving the language, practical matters such as future importance in the world market also motivated my academic pursuit of Chinese. So the message of the article doesn’t come as a shock to me.
What did catch my attention was the ugly graphic included in the story. I mean, come on! It’s just dumb. A red box with han zi (“Chinese characters”) written in it. A black background with a fuzzy character tree, clearly taken from zhongwen.com (they call their tree system 字普 — zipu). Random characters reading “speak Chinese” and “individual character,” and a generous helping of just the word CHINESE in English slopped about, along with a “stylish” gray transparent stripe. Weak. What’s most disappointing, though, is that if you click on FAQ at the top of the zhongwen.com homepage, you’re already at the page where everything for the graphic was lifted from. Look at the entry for 字 and the zi pu. It’s all there.
Western media, devoid of imagination, indirectly stealing from Chinese in its news. How ironic.