According to Xinhua, Chinese linguists are finishing up a huge database of spoken Chinese, and they’re going to use it as a basis for a new dictionary and grammar book of modern Chinese. This is good news! Using actual spoken speech as the source should produce a much more useful dictionary.
I’m a little disappointed that all the spoken Mandarin Chinese samples come from Beijing, though. Yes, I know Beijing is the standard, but wouldn’t real linguists want to get a larger sample? A descriptive sample for the whole country?
But then, maybe they had no choice in the matter. They probably had to act in the interests of the Chinese government. I have this bad habit of thinking of the interests of foreign students of Chinese, who won’t necessarily be living in Beijing when they go to China.
Via Language Log, which has more linguistic commentary on the issue.