I was thinking of linking to that thread, but since it only had one suggestion, I thought I might as well just type it out along with the one I read. However, I must credit your thread, Taffy, for spurring me onward with reading Chen’s book.
Will do…whenever I get around to ordering it…and then whenever I get around to reading it.
Chen’s book, as the title suggests, deals with the very recent history of the Chinese language in both written and spoken forms. In terms of detailed analysis, it goes as far back as the 18th century although most of the analysis centres around the first half of the 20th century. This is not too surprising since it was during that time that China was undergoing dramatic changes in every facet of its society, language policies included. The focus, of course, is on mainland China but the three other Chinese speaking regions – Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore - also get noticeable mentions at the end of each chapter. The discussion over writing reform was very balanced and did not tend to give away the author’s bias even though I tried looking for it. Thus, no rabid procolamations like “simplified characters are a form of bastardized writing and has ruined Chinese culture” or “characters are stupid and romanization is God’s gift to Chinese”. I did learn a few new things in the book although all in all, much of the book was simply a summary and a slightly deeper extension of things I already knew. However, it’s a decent enough of an introductory book for the interested student.