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A Billion Voices
A Billion Voices

A Billion Voices

China's Search for a Common Language

Penguin Specials


96 Pages, 4.5 x 7

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $9.95 (US $9.95) (CA $12.95)

Publication Date: October 2016

ISBN 9780734399595

Rights: US & CA

Penguin Random House Australia (Oct 2016)
Penguin Australia

Sorry, this item is temporarily out of stock


The remarkable history of the push for a common Chinese language

Mandarin, Guoyu or Putonghua? "Chinese" is a language known by many names, and China is a country home to many languages. Since the turn of the century linguists and politicians have been on a mission to create a common language for China. From the radical intellectuals of the May Fourth Movement, to leaders such as Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao Zedong, all fought to push the boundaries of language reform. Now, internet users take the Chinese language in new and unpredictable directions. David Moser tells the remarkable story of China's language unification agenda and its controversial relationship with modern politics, challenging our ideas of what it means to speak Chinese.


"Moser's love of this language, the product of decades of committee meetings and infighting, shines through in his lively narration of Putonghua's coalescence." —Los Angeles Review of Books

"Mr. Moser presents a history of what is properly called Putonghua . . . with a clear, concise and often amusing introduction to the limits of its spoken and written forms." —Wall Street Journal

Author Biography

David Moser is Academic Director of CET Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University.