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Writers: Protecting Chinese Imperative

Prominent Chinese writers are appealing to the whole nation to be aware of the threat posed by the overwhelming globalization on the beautiful Chinese language, and to brace for challenging times ahead.

A forum, with the theme "Literature and Humanistic Care" organized by Tongji University, attracted a contingent of renowned writers in Shanghai last weekend. Literary minds in attendance urged all Chinese people never to forget the beauty of their mother tongue.

The writers from all over China included minds such Kuang-Chung Yu, Mo Yan, Su Tong and Ma Yuan. They unanimously believe that Chinese literature should be revitalized, especially facing the challenges posed by globalization.

Kuang-Chung Yu, a renowned poet and writer from Taiwan Province, pointed out that China and all the other Chinese-speaking communities around the world are inevitably confronted with the impact of globalization, and "the impact of globalization is that of westernization."

These masters also warned that Chinese people should have a cautious enthusiasm about learning English. While learning another language, they should never forget the Chinese language.

"English, after all, is only a tool to know the world... However, Chinese is the root where we grow from, and Chinese is the origin for our literature," Yu said.

He said jokingly: "if your Chinese girlfriend changed her name to Mary, it would be very weird for you to send her a Song-Dynasty poem."

When referring to the topic when a Chinese writer can win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is a complex for most Chinese, Yu said that the Chinese people should not take the Prize too seriously.

"Literature has no borders, but language does have," Yu said.

Yu pointed out that since 1900, the majority of participants winning the Prize have been westerners, and by using their native language, it is much easier for these Western writers to win the Prize. In contrast, the works of Asian writers need to be translated and much of a work's essence can be lost in the translation.

(China Daily May 27, 2004)

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