Chi­nese Lan­guage Day fes­tiv­i­ties at UN

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

UNITED NA­TIONS — “If you can speak Chi­nese and can write Chi­nese char­ac­ters, you can get to know China bet­ter,” Stephen A. Or­lins, an ex­pert on US-China re­la­tions, said on Thurs­day.

Join­ing UN staff mem­bers cel­e­brat­ing the Chi­nese Lan­guage Day, Or­lins, who is pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee on US-China Re­la­tions, made the re­marks in Chi­nese at the UN head­quar­ters in New York.

The UN Chi­nese Lan­guage Day has been ob­served an­nu­ally on April 20 since 2010 to cel­e­brate the lan­guage’s over­all con­tri­bu­tion to the world and to en­cour­age more peo­ple to take it up.

This year’s cel­e­bra­tion in­cludes a cal­lig­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tion by Pang Zhonghua, a well-known pi­o­neer of hard­nib cal­lig­ra­phy in China, mar­tial arts per­for­mances and a show­case of cul­tural cus­toms of the Qiang eth­nic group mainly liv­ing in China’s south­west­ern prov­ince of Sichuan.

The event also pro­vided UN staff mem­bers with an op­por­tu­nity to try Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy with tra­di­tional brush, ink and pa­per.

Mar­tijn Dal­hui­jsen, a UN staff mem­ber who has been learn­ing Chi­nese for four years, wrote the two char­ac­ters of the word “China” on a piece of xuan pa­per, a spe­cially made soft pa­per used for paint­ing and cal­lig­ra­phy.

Dal­hui­jsen, who is from the Nether­lands, said he has learned tra­di­tional Chi­nese cal­lig­ra­phy through the UN’s Chi­nese lan­guage pro­gram, and gained a bet­ter un­der- stand­ing of Chi­nese cul­ture in the process.

When he be­gan learn­ing cal­lig­ra­phy, he rushed to write with brush and ink, but his teacher taught him to calm down and med­i­tate for a while be­fore start­ing to write, Dal­hui­jsen re­called.

With “peace in (the) heart,” the char­ac­ters can be writ­ten more beau­ti­fully, he said.

“I have learned much bet­ter to ap­pre­ci­ate both the mean­ing and the et­y­mol­ogy of the char­ac­ters,” Dal­hui­jsen said of the im­por­tance of writ­ing Chi­nese in the cor­rect stroke or­der.

The cho­sen date for the Chi­nese Lan­guage Day is re­lated to a le­gend of Chi­nese char­ac­ters, too.

Ev­ery year, the cel­e­bra­tion is held roughly at the same time in April around guyu, which lit­er­ally means “rain of mil­let,” re­fer­ring to the sixth of the 24 so­lar terms cre­ated by an­cient Chi­nese to carry out agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties. Chi­nese peo­ple cel­e­brate the day in honor of Cang Jie, a myth­i­cal fig­ure who is pre­sumed to have in­vented Chi­nese char­ac­ters about 5,000 years ago.

Le­gend has it that when Cang Jie cre­ated the char­ac­ters, the deities and ghosts cried and it rained mil­lets.

Nowa­days, the Chi­nese lan­guage is the most spo­ken lan­guage around the world. More than 1 bil­lion peo­ple speak it as their mother tongue, which means one per­son in six in the world com­mu­ni­cates us­ing Chi­nese.


Guests en­joy a cal­lig­ra­phy show at United Na­tions Chi­nese Lan­guage Day cel­e­bra­tion in Geneva, Switzer­land, on April 19.

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