Chinese Language Day 2018 — April 20

More than one billion people speak Chinese language as their first language — that’s more than any other population in the world! UNESCO (part of the United Nations) first created Chinese Language Day in 2010 to celebrate Chinese as one of the six official languages of the United Nations. We’ve enjoyed it every year since then on April 20. The day also celebrates Cangjie, who invented Chinese characters about 5,000 years ago. Legend says that when Cangjie finished, the gods rained grain upon the earth.

Chinese Language Day - History

November 12, 2010
Chinese Language Day is celebrated

The first Chinese Language Day is celebrated.

1982
Mandarin is named the National Language

Mandarin becomes the national language (Guoyu) of the People's Republic of China.

1913
Mandarin becomes the standard language

Mandarin becomes the standard language (Huayu) of China.

2650 BC
Chinese is written for the first time

Canjie invents the written Chinese language.

Chinese Language Day Activities

1. Learn some Chinese!
To say, "Thank you" you say, "xiexie." Written phonetically it's like "she-ye she-ye." Just say it all together like one word. Easy right? Now you know some Chinese language! You'll impress your friends with your worldly knowledge.

2. Visit a Chinese restaurant
Most everyone has a favorite Chinese dish, but if you don't, try Peking Duck. You will never taste anything else like it. Then, at the end of your meal with taste buds in nirvana, you can prove you're a citizen of the world by telling your server: "xiexie."

3. Watch a Chinese movie
You're in luck. Some of the most visually stunning movies in the world come from China. Maybe start with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." After realizing how beautiful the Mandarin language sounds and how great Chinese movies are, you'll have a whole new genre with thousands of films to explore.

Why We Love Chinese Language Day

A. We can say thank you to China
It's the day we get to say, xiexie (thank you) for the wonderful stuff China has brought us. Like spaghetti? It came from Italy, but the noodles (the critical part) originated in China. We can thank China for inventing paper. Who could live without it? Like Earl Grey tea? Captain Picard did. Despite the name, the tea originated in the Chinese Imperial court. Xiexie, China!

B. China has many spoken languages
In the United States we speak one language. Even with one we don't always understand each other — right y'all? China can claim 11 languages—lumping together related ones—with Mandarin as the national language. Adding to that, the Chinese speak more than 1,500 different dialects. You gotta be pretty smart to keep up with it all.

C. The stars speak Chinese
Chinese movie stars rock, and they speak Chinese. Jackie Chan is arguably the world's funniest stuntman and Jet Li is the world's most famous martial artist. Michelle Yeoh was a gorgeous and deadly Bond girl. Zhang Ziyi has starred in some of the world's greatest movies. The facts bear the truth: some of the world's coolest people speak Chinese.

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