华文、华语、汉文、汉语、普通话、国文、国语、中文、中国语、中语?

假如要是有“中语”这个说法,今天的博文就没有灵感了。

近日,《重庆日报》有云:以“快乐汉语、健康成长”为主题的第3届“汉语桥”世界中学生中文比赛将于10月16日至30日在重庆举行。届时,来自亚洲、美洲、欧洲、非洲和大洋洲35个国家的160名优秀中学生和领队教师将来渝参赛。

在下面,报道如此介绍汉语桥:

“汉语桥”中文比赛是中国国家汉办主办的一系列大型国际汉语赛事之一,目前已经开展的比赛有“汉语桥”世界大学生中文比赛、汉语桥”世界中学生中文比赛、“汉语桥”在华留学生中文比赛3项赛事。自2002年第一届“汉语桥”世界大学生中文比赛开赛以来,已成功举办了9 届“汉语桥”世界大学生中文比赛、2届“汉语桥”世界中学生中文比赛和2届“汉语桥”在华留学生中文比赛。来自世界70多个国家的近千名外国大中学生来华 参加了决赛,各国参与预赛活动的汉语学习者达10万余人。“汉语桥”世界中文比赛已成为各国汉语学习者学习中文、了解中国、体验中国文化的重要平台,在中国与世界各国青年中间架起了一座沟通心灵的桥梁。

我在翻译中早就注意到了这个问题。

假如有这么句话:Languages used at the conference: English, Russian, Chinese and Japanese

有人会翻译成:会议所用语言为英语、俄语、中文和日语。这个“文”字是不是有点扎眼呢?别人都是“语”,为什么只有 Chinese 是“文”呢?

在严格的用法当中,“语”和“文”是两个东西,合起来是“语言”。简单地说,语是用来“说”的,而“文”是用来写的。一个是口头的,一个是书面的。要知道,有的语言是没有文字的,也就是只有语,没有文。中间的差别不可谓不明显。一场会议,主要是大家聊聊天,讲讲话。因此,Chinese应该是也是“语”。推算下去,英语、俄语、中语……非常可惜,只有中文,没有“中语”!也不管是否“正确”,只好写成“中文”了。改成“汉语”总对了吧?可还是不搭,英、俄、日都是国家的名字,“汉”又不是我们现在的国号。

那就叫“华语”?也很可惜。这个名字虽然很好,但却只是海外华人才这么叫。而且,“中”和“华”还未完全统一。2008 年北京奥运会上,台湾派出的是“中华队”,大陆派出的是“中国队”:中华对决中国!着实很搞。

换成“国文”不对,换成“国语”不搭。总之,这个问题很难办。我也不想再继续观察这个复杂的问题。而且,即使我想观察,也未必能全面。我搜到马来西亚华语规范理事会网站上的一篇长文,专门讲这个问题。有兴趣的同志可以去看一下:《汉语、华语、中文、普通话与国语》

但我想思考一下同一个东西为什么会有这么多的称呼。

大概,是因为历史和世界太过复杂。这个让人纠结的问题恰好反映了这一现实。

对于汉语言,不同的人,在不同的时期,从不同的角度,都会有自己的叫法。

先从中国(你说我该不该包括台湾?烦。这是中国语言中事关“政治上是否正确”的一大烦心事)内部说起。一般说,我们有56个民族,汉族是其中一个。在“中国”就是天下、华夏大地就是“中土”的以汉族为中心的传统思维当中,汉族人当然会根据自己的政治、文化、历史经验来把我们的语言叫做“汉语言”,要么是汉语,要么是汉文。

可能有的同学会想,为什么偏偏是“汉”,不是“秦”,也不是“唐”呢?中国在秦代第一次统一,但第一次成为一个自觉的民族却是在汉代发生的事情。而唐则是后来的后来的后来的事情。

两汉前后绵延四百多年,许许多多的“第一次”都是这个时期发生的。第一次确立自己的大一统意识形态(罢黜百家,独尊儒术),第一次韬光养晦几十年,后来击败劲敌(匈奴,“明犯强汉者,虽远必诛!”),第一次确立令四海臣服的文化(汇集荆楚、齐鲁、中原、关中、北方、巴蜀、吴越、岭南而成的大一统汉文化)。有人把那时的中国比作一个青年,第一次觉得自己长大了,世界就在自己脚下。他觉得自己是猛虎,路,想跑多远跑多远;他觉得自己是鸿鹄,天空,想飞多高飞多高:

在汉代,华夏民族刚刚经历了创造力勃发的轴心时代。他像一个十七八岁的少年,有着无限的好奇心和无穷的自信心。春秋战国的百家争鸣,积累了一切它所需要的智慧。同时,他又刚刚走出血与火相涤荡的上古时代,保持着原始的野性和活力。如今四海一统、民生恢复,这个精力旺盛的年轻民族终于摆脱了内部的自相杀伐,内求巩固,外求扩张。中华大地的面貌从此发生了永久的改变,亚洲的格局为之一新,余波一直冲击到遥远的西方世界。正如高祖在《鸿鹄歌》中所唱:“鸿鹄高飞,一举千里。羽翮已就,横绝四海。”

我们这10几亿人 “汉”的名号,这样看来不是白来的,而是自己努力得来的。

其实,它更是别人赋予的。在我们“内求巩固,外求扩张”之后,就与外界有了交流。被击败的匈奴,逃跑的闻风丧胆,留下的“心悦臣服”。“围观”的“国际友人”无不胆战心惊、顶礼膜拜。汉族人认识了自己,别人何尝不也认识了汉族人呢?从此有了汉族、汉语和汉文。

历史的车轮一刻不会停歇。到了清代,虽然在汉族看来,华夏由异族统治,但清仍然是一个大一统的王朝,中华民族融合早已完成。到了“五族共和”的中华民国,中华第一次成为了现代政治意义上的“国家”,汉语成了各族人民的“国语”,汉文成了大家的“国文”。到了人民共和国,国语有了新的名字“普通话”。我一时查不到“中文”这个说法从什么时候开始有的,根据我合乎逻辑的思考,也应该是 1949 年之后的事情。

于是,在与中国以外的地方和人(包括海外华人、深受汉文化影响的日本、韩国、朝鲜、越南和华人聚集的东南亚各国)打交道的过程中,我们的国语——汉语在他们看来就是中国语(他们忘了中国有多少种语言)、中文(他们忘了中国有多少种文字,不知道有多少种语言没有文字)、华文(他们忘了曾经还有东夷西戎,南蛮北狄)、华语(他们忘了中国各地有多少种“话”)。

我觉得,虽然有的时候从不同的角度来看“汉”不是这种语言“最好”的名字,但却是它最原本、最“正确”的名字:汉语、汉文、汉字。一如英语到了世界任何一个地方,在历史中的任何一个时候,都是英吉利人的语言,虽然它早走出了英伦一隅。

16 thoughts on “华文、华语、汉文、汉语、普通话、国文、国语、中文、中国语、中语?

  1. 我觉得华语就是华语,不管是谁说的 – 中国人(普通话),台湾人(国语),海外华人(“华人”也不是一个完全确定的概念)。
    CRI 所广播的华语可以说是普通话,但又是华语。中国人,外国人说普通话可以说都说华语言,就是跟学过日语的欧洲人,美国人,等说日语。
    不管怎么样,“华语”肯定比“中文正确。假如要保持”中文“这两此,应该把“日语”,“英语”,“俄语”也应该成为“日文,英文,俄文。English,Japanese,Russian 都可以speak,又可以write。
    当然也可以说”汉语“ – ”华语“,”汉语“都有这个汉族的背景。还可以说”普通话“,写”中文“。
    当然,我觉得假如有某种”普通话“,那就应该是英文,拉丁文,或者世界语。

    1. 你可能不太清楚,汉语言中是明确区分“语”(用来说)和“文”(用来写)的。二者泾渭分明,如果混淆起来,则在逻辑上、技术上非常不严密。“普通话”、“国语”、“华语”只是从不同的角度描述同一个东西的不同方面。

      “普通话”特指现代标准汉语,它与汉语的各方言不同。它描述的是同一个语言内的标准形式,与各个方言相对应(上海话、广东话、东北话等)。

      “国语”是指一个国家的法定语言,与这个国家的不同语言相对应。在中国其它语言可以是朝鲜语、蒙古语等。

      “华语”是从世界各种语言的角度来描述“汉语”而来的一个说法,与英日俄德等语言不同。

      问题是,普通话和国语不是一种语言自己的名字,只是中国内部对通用语“现代标准汉语”的叫法,每个国家都有自己的“普通话”和“国语”;而华语是从外部的角度特指“现代标准汉语”,但中国除了汉语,还有很多其他语言。中国人一般不把自己的语言叫华语,只有老外或者从老外的角度才这么叫。

  2. 假如某语言的文字比它口语古老的可能性很大,我觉得应该可以”说某文”。假如口语比文字古老,只可以某语,但不可以某文。中文的文字应该比普通话,国语,等标准”中语”古老,是不是比各种方言古老?

    1. 还真没从你这个角度想过这个问题!

      我一直都觉得文字是在语言发展到比较成熟之后才会出现的。好比一个优秀的作家或者一个普通人,他学会说话,再学会怎么写字。

      兄台知道哪个民族的人先发明了文字,后发明的语言?

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    1. This statement taken from Wikipedia might prove to some extent that the website is not contributed to by true professionals and can be used as an alternative for information only and at your own risk.

      It depends on how Standard German is defined. If it means no Germans spoke as the written language was on paper, then no people speak their Standard or de facto Standard Language because they always speak a variant that is is differnt in one way or the other from their country’s TV/radio hosts and hosteses.

      (Sorry, your comment was wrongly identified as spam and I’m replying to it only after I’ve quoted EB’s entry in my reply to your other comment.)

    1. It couldn’t be true. Let me post EB’s German Language entry here:

      German language

      Introduction
      German Deutsch

      official language of both Germany and Austria and one of the three official languages of Switzerland. German belongs to the West Germanic group of the Indo-European language family, along with English, Frisian, and Netherlandic (Dutch, Flemish).

      The recorded history of Germanic languages begins with their speakers’ first contact with the Romans, in the 1st century BC. At that time and for several centuries thereafter, there was only a single “Germanic” language, with little more than minor dialect differences. Only after about the 6th century AD can one speak of a “German” (i.e., High German) language.

      German is an inflected language with four cases for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative), three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter), and strong and weak verbs. Altogether German is the native language of more than 90 million speakers and thus probably ranks sixth in number of native speakers among the languages of the world (after Chinese, English, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, and Russian). German is widely studied as a foreign language and is one of the main cultural languages of the Western world.

      As a written language German is quite uniform; it differs in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland no more than written English does in the United States and the British Commonwealth. As a spoken language, however, German exists in many dialects, most of which belong to either the High German or Low German dialectal groups. The main difference between High and Low German is in the sound system, especially in the consonants. High German, the language of the southern highlands of Germany, is the official written language. See also Germanic languages.

      High German (Hochdeutsch).

      Old High German, a group of dialects for which there was no standard literary language, was spoken until about 1100 in the highlands of southern Germany. During Middle High German times (after 1100), a standard language based on the Upper German dialects (Alemannic and Bavarian) in the southernmost part of the German speech area began to arise. Middle High German was the language of an extensive literature that includes the early 13th-century epic Nibelungenlied.

      Modern standard High German is descended from the Middle High German dialects and is spoken in the central and southern highlands of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. It is used as the language of administration, higher education, literature, and the mass media in the Low German speech area as well. Standard High German is based on, but not identical with, the Middle German dialect used by Martin Luther in his 16th-century translation of the Bible. Within the modern High German speech area, Middle and Upper German dialect groups are differentiated, the latter group including Austro-Bavarian, Alemannic (Swiss German), and High Franconian.

      Low German (Plattdeutsch, or Niederdeutsch).

      Low German, with no single modern literary standard, is the spoken language of the lowlands of northern Germany. It developed from Old Saxon and the Middle Low German speech of the citizens of the Hanseatic League. The language supplied the Scandinavian languages with many loanwords, but, with the decline of the league, Low German declined as well.

      Although the numerous Low German dialects are still spoken in the homes of northern Germany and a small amount of literature is written in them, no standard Low German literary or administrative language exists.

      Other major dialects.

      Alemannic dialects, which developed in the southwestern part of the Germanic speech area, differ considerably in sound system and grammar from standard High German. These dialects are spoken in Switzerland, western Austria, Swabia, and Liechtenstein and in the Alsace region of France. Yiddish, the language of the Ashkenazic Jews (Jews whose ancestors lived in Germany in the European Middle Ages), also developed from High German.

      As Standard Chinese is, Standard German is also a chosen form of the German language that exists in different speeches/dialects. One of the few known outright written languages is Sanskrit (dead in the sense that it no longer evolves because no one speak it). I can find one extreme exception, a language reborn – the Hebrew language.

  4. This statement taken from Wikipedia might prove to some extent that the website is not contributed to by true professionals and can be used as an alternative for information only and at your own risk.

    This is too blanket a verdict – I know two professionals who contribute to Wikipedia in their fields. Also, the only thing in the Wikipedia line about standard German one could object to is that it refers to standard German as a language – after all, it’s me, not them, who suggests that this could make the written German language older than the spoken language(s) or dialects.

    There is certainly a risk in referring to a Wikipedia entry – but the orthodox foundation that an established encyclopedia seems to offer is slippery in its own ways. A sovereign country like the Netherlands will find it easier to define its national language as its own, rather than as a mere dialect. I can’t easily tell if the dialect or language I spoke before learning standard German is closer to Dutch, or to standard German – all I know is that most linguists would count my first language (or dialect) as a dialect. The swiss Language Movement argues that Alemanic is as close to – or remote from – German as is Dutch. Therefore, one could argue that Dutch is nothing more than one of the “multiple centers” of the German language – if that wouldn’t lead to big brawl within the European Union. Or one might argue that what is lightly counted as a German dialect is in fact a language in its own right.

    The answer to the question if something spoken is a language or a dialect lies not only in linguistics, but also in issues of culture, identity and politics. The fact that the encyclopedia you quote from is the Encyclopedia Britannica in itself contains politics. It was apparently first published in Edinburgh in 1771, and though [in the 20th century] ownership of the Britannica had passed to two Americans, Horace Hooper and Walter Jackson, the strength and confidence of much of its writing marked the high point of Edwardian optimism and perhaps of the British Empire itself.

    I’m not married to the idea that standard German is a language of its own – but linguistics isn’t free from value-judgemental influence. Especially in this field, and in the one of (genetic) determinism, I believe that Wikipedia is as good an (initial) source of information as is a printed encyclopedia (even if the constant changes made to Wikipedia may make it less accountable for the stuff it said a day earlier).

    1. This statement taken from Wikipedia might prove to some extent that the website is not contributed to by true professionals and can be used as an alternative for information only and at your own risk.

      Sorry. This is a very wrong statement to make. The website should get the credit for professional contribution it receives. I should have said that the website is not contributed to all by true professionals. When I want more up-to-date encyclopedic information, I check Wikipedia. When I want more authoritative information, I check my Encyclopedia Britannica.

      The EB’s entry does not offer much historical background for Standard German. After some online researching, standard German now impresses me as a very young language. The Germans were a late comer compared with other European peoples in terms of becoming modern countries. The German language was only standardized in the people’s self-conscious efforts to build a united Germany. My feeling is that part of Germany’s history can be simplified as: the Germans wanted to build a common state and a common language and then they did it in one hundred years. If they did not build the state and the language, they might be as Balkanized as the Peninsular is today. When they wanted a common language, they first made the common written language. Then, every German moved closer to that language and speaks it.

      It’s very different from standard Chinese in that the latter, in variants, is spoken by more than two thirds of the population in linguistically northern China and has a writing system well established for more than two thousand years. Though standard Chinese is based in the North, but, if my memory serves me right, more literary works have been produced by people in the South than those by people in the North. It might be because the Chinese language is not alphabetic. People can argue that Chinese people in the north and south speak different languages. But they use the same written language. So, people in the south are in no disadvantaged position as to producing literary works that can be appreciated by all the Chinese people. An average well educated Chinese person can read literary works by ancient Chinese who lived, for example, 200, 500, 1,000 or 1500 years ago, without needing a dictionary.

      I read through EB’s entries for China, Taiwan, Tibet, and Mao Zedong. My judgment is that they are written by insiders with balanced views. For example, in the Tibet entry, the contributors made the region seem as a non-Zhongguo region as possible without denying its close association with and/or being part of Zhongguo ruled by the Manchu, Nationalists, and Communists. The contributors completely black out the history of the region ruled under the Republic of China. The Republic is precisely the reason why it’s now part of China. Considering the entry was co-authored by a Dalai Lama’s representative to the Indian Government, the entry is balanced enough.

      My idea is that everything can go electronic nowadays, but the most important things are all in paper and ink (though my EB is software; I cannot afford the luxury of a print set).

  5. I can Fichte mumbling in the heaven of philosophers, “couldn’t have said it better myself” ;). Not being Fichte myself, I have some reservations. Bit in a hurry right now, but I’ll be back with more…

    1. German has made the German nation in the same way that the Chinese language, particularly the written language, has made the Chinese nation. Just imagine the Chinese people use different alphabets to spell their speech sounds!

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