Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

What’s the world’s most popular language?

My eldest son Adam is in Beijing, in his second year of Mandarin language immersion at Renmin University. We’re proud that midway through his second year, he scored sufficiently high on the HSK exam that he qualified to be admitted to the classes with native Chinese speakers. (We haven’t set an expectation that he even needs to pass those classes — this is really about education and not certification — so he’s taken the outrageous step of signing up for third year courses in the social sciences, because he dislikes the first-year Chinese style of learning by rote).

In some respects, this immersion is to make up for heritage language training that doesn’t work well for Canadian-born children, but I guess there was an intuitive reason for his immersion, as I discovered on an Wired article from April 2006:

Mandarin Chinese is already the most popular first language on the planet, beating out English by 500 million speakers. And it’s the second-most-common language on the Internet.

Strangely enough, the idea of speaking Mandarin doesn’t scare me half as much as the prospect of having to type in internationalized domain names into browsers someday as Chinese characters.

The Wired article continues with a description of primary and secondary schools in the United States where Mandarin is being offered. Since I studied French in high school between grades 6 to 12, I have a pretty good idea of the level of fluency that could be attained in a second language when the educational resources are properly marshalled. (I’m not uncomfortable reading the other language on cereal boxes, and can get the gist of random conversations when people passing on the street otherwise might think that they’re speaking in secret code).

It’s not just language, though, it’s also culture. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some interesting conversations with Adam — who will continue his undergrad studies in material science (engineering) program at the University of Toronto this fall — on topics that I know a lot about: Karl Marx, Adam Smith, capitalism. The funniest conversation recently was about game theory: it seems that in the west, we discuss the prisoners’ dilemma, but in China, there’s more emphasis on three monks, no water. The idea of criminality doesn’t enter the Chinese version.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • RSS qoto.org/@daviding (Mastodon)

    • daviding: The #GlobalBusinessN April 8, 2020
      The #GlobalBusinessNetwork has been temporarily reformed including #PeterSchwartz and #StewartBrand in a report released by #PunitRenjen at #Deloitte and #Salesforce. https://discuss.openlearning.cc/t/a-world-remade-by-covid-19-scenarios-as-the-passing-storm-good-company-sunrise-in-the-east-lone-wolves/107.
    • daviding: A young man stares o April 5, 2020
      A young man stares out a window and the caption reads “Bus windows: the ultimate philosophy school.” writes #MarkKingwell All the canonical philosophers of boredom have believed that boredom was eventually edifying – a painful experience that, like mortality itself, educates and enhances the mind. Because we’re all addicts of our own desires for stimulation, […]
    • daviding: Provocative statemen February 1, 2020
      Provocative statement by Canadian automobile reviewer. > There isn’t now and likely never will be enough electricity available worldwide to replace all the petroleum for the vehicles we currently drive.> And given that at least in Canada, only 11 per cent of fossil fuel emissions come from passenger vehicles (that’s not from some climate-change-denying website […]
    • daviding: Lecture on "Are Syst January 23, 2020
      Lecture on "Are Systems Changes Different from System + Change?" at #OCADU_SFI #SystemicDesign master's, web video and digital audio now at http://coevolving.com/blogs/index.php/archive/are-systems-changes-different-from-system-change/ . Lecture of 1h18m covered 37 of 55 slides, all online for #SystemsChange #SystemsThinking #theoryofchange
    • daviding: The 2019-2020 fires January 5, 2020
      The 2019-2020 fires in Australia are associated with a slow history of human activity. > Three hours north, in Sydney, the air quality was worse than in Jakarta. [....] > There is no doubt that the fires are growing more ferocious. Even without the changing climate, it would be inevitable; 250 years of land mismanagement […]
  • RSS on IngBrief

    • Plans as resources for action (Suchman, 1988)
      Two ways of thinking about practice put (i) “plans as determinants of action”, and (ii) “plans as resources for action”. The latter has become a convention, particularly through research into Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW). While the more durable explanation appears the Suchman (1987) book (specifically section “8.2 Plans as […]
    • The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago
      Does “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago and the second best time is now” date back further than 1988? It is time to look long and hard at the value of the urban forest and create the broad-based efforts — in research, funding and citizen participation — needed to improve […]
    • 2019/11/05 13:15 “Barriers to Data Science Adoption: Why Existing Frameworks Aren’t Working”, Workshop at CASCON-Evoke, Markham, Ontario
      Workshop led by @RohanAlexander and @prof_lyons at #CASCONxEvoke on "Barriers to Data Science Adoption: Why Existing Frameworks Aren't Working". For discussion purposes the challenges are grouped within three themes: regulatory; investment; and workforce.
    • Own opinion, but not facts
      “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts” by #DanielPatrickMoynihan is predated on @Freakonomics by #BernardMBaruch 1950 “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts”. Source: “There Are Opinions, And Then There Are Facts” | Fred Shapiro […]
    • R programming is from S, influenced by APL
      History of data science tools has evolved to #rstats of the 1990s, from the S-Language at Bell Labs in the 1970s, and the
    • Bullshit, Politics, and the Democratic Power of Satire | Paul Babbitt | 2013
      Satire can be an antidote, says Prof. #PaulBabbitt @muleriders , to #bullshit (c.f. rhetoric; hypocrisy; crocodile tears; propaganda; intellectual dishonesty; politeness, etiquette and civility; commonsense and conventional wisdom; symbolic votes; platitudes and valence issues).
  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • RSS on daviding.com

    • 2020/03 Moments March 2020
      The month started with a hectic coincidence of events as both a teacher and student at two universities, abruptly shifting to low gear with government directives for social distancing.
    • 2020/02 Moments February 2020
      Winter has discouraged enjoying the outside, so more occasions for friend and family inside.
    • 2020/01 Moments January 2020
      Back to school, teaching and learning at 2 universities.
    • 2019/12 Moments December 2019
      First half of December in finishing up course assignments and preparing for exams; second half on 11-day family vacation in Mexico City.
    • 2019/11 Moments November 2019
      Wrapped up paperwork on closing out family buildings in Gravenhurst, returned to classes and technical conferences in usual pattern of learning.
    • 2019/10 Moments October 2019
      Tightly scheduled weekdays at Ryerson Chang School, weekends in Gravenhurst clearing out family building as we're leaving the town permanently.
  • RSS on Media Queue

  • Meta

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
    Theme modified from DevDmBootstrap4 by Danny Machal