Museums in China: From Local Dialects to the Languages of the World

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Leading Researcher, Center for Cultural Studies
Affiliation: Institute of China and Contemporary Asia, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: 32, Nakhimovsky prospect, Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation
Journal nameProblemy Dalnego Vostoka
EditionIssue 6

A kind of “museum boom” across China arose in the summer of 2023 after the end of the pandemic and in the wake of the increased interest of the Chinese in their history, culture and ancient civilization. Museum visitors paid special attention to the local cultures, which are closely connected not only with the languages of the peoples of China, but mostly with the numerous Chinese dialects. As it was officially pointed out in 2017, any varieties of dialect cultures are to be protected, several large-scale surveys of these cultures, along with the surveys of numerous dialects, have been carried out in the recent years. The results of the surveys are represented in a series of scientific publications and on the websites used mostly by the linguists and ethnographers. On the one hand, dialects are generally perceived by the modern educated Chinese as an important symbol of their own identity. On their initiative, a new life of dialects has begun on the Internet. On the other hand, several museums with the audio and video dialect samples have appeared in different regions. The interest of the Chinese authorities, intellectuals and the general public, however, is not limited to the written and spoken diversity of China. The country’s first Museum of World Languages was established by the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Languages in 2019.

KeywordsMuseums in China, Chinese civilization, Chinese dialects, dialect museums, languages of the world
Publication date27.12.2023
Number of characters25930
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