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New survey reveals deterioration of national Chinese language skills

By Mo Ting (Global Times)

09:02, January 11, 2012

A China Youth Daily survey showed Tuesday that more than 80 percent of participants felt the overall level of Chinese spoken in the country had dropped, with 45 percent viewing this fall as serious.

The current level of Chinese used by native speakers may have suffered from the rise of computer-based communications and the overwhelming use of Web slang. The survey showed that 72.9 percent of participants thought writing skills had declined due to computers, and 67 percent thought the popularity of Web language had weakened standard Chinese usage.

Wang Dongcheng, an expert on Chinese language at China Youth University for Political Sciences, told the Global Times that the growth of non-standard terms through the Internet was to be expected in a changing society.

Wang described the emergence of a Web language as backlash against a stereotyped official language long-immersed in political ideology. "But insufficient cultural appreciation has made this new way of speaking vulgar," he added.

According to the survey, 57.7 percent of participants felt that current Chinese language education in school lacked aesthetic appreciation and focused too much on exams.

Wang said that the appreciation of traditional Chinese language and culture should be emphasized in schools.

"A mature nation should be confident and proud of its culture, and should also be open enough to face social change and globalization," Wang said, "To be open-minded requires confidence in our own culture."

According to Wang, high-quality education of the Chinese language can help slow down the influence of vulgar slang.

At the end of last year, a pilot Chinese proficiency test designated for native Chinese speakers was held in several cities, with the purpose of enhancing the language level of Chinese people.

Only 26.1 percent of those surveyed were optimistic about the test's impact on improving Chinese people's native language ability.

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