Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Interesting Comment on Speaking Chinese

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 10, 2011

This comment is quite telling. It was written around the end of the 19th century, but I think it still goes today.
from The Civilization of China (Herbert Allen Giles)
If a foreigner can speak Chinese intelligibly, his character as a barbarian begins to be perceptibly modified; and if to the knack of speech he adds a tolerable acquaintance with the sacred characters which form the written language, he becomes transfigured, as one in whom the influence of the holy men of old is beginning to prevail over savagery and ignorance.

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