Department of Modern Chinese Language
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BNU has a long history and distinguished tradition in teaching and studying modern Chinese, and has made great achievements in this area. In the 1920s, Li Jinxi pioneered modern Chinese teaching in national universities of China by setting up Chinese Grammar courses at BNU. In 1924, Li published New Mandarin Chinese Grammar, which was of landmark significance for Chinese linguists. This book represented the highest level of modern Chinese grammar research at that time, and demonstrated to the world BNU’s leading position in modern Chinese teaching and research in China. Since that time, BNU's Modern Chinese discipline has taken the lead in China.

In May 2003, the former Teaching and Research Office of Modern Chinese and Teaching and Research Office of Ancient Chinese were merged into the Department of Chinese Philology. In September 2008, it was divided into two parts, and the Department of Modern Chinese Language was officially established. Professor Diao Yanbin is the first and current director of the Department. Currently, the Department offers three doctoral degree programs (History of Modern Chinese, Modern Chinese Vocabulary and Modern Chinese Grammar), and three master’s degree programs (Modern Chinese Dialect Pronunciation, Characters and Vocabulary, and Grammar Rhetoric). The Department now has seven in-service teachers, all of whom have received doctoral degrees and five have postdoctoral work experience. Among them, there are three professors (Diao Yanbin, Sun Yinxin, Li Jinxia), one associate professor (Xu Xiaoying) and three lecturers (Hong Shuang, Nie Daxin and Cao Mengxue).

In 2014, the Global Chinese Comparative Research Center of Beijing Normal University was established based on the Department for the purpose of studying global Chinese and relevant issues. In 2015, the Department of Modern Chinese Language founded the Chinese-English bilingual academic journal Global Chinese in collaboration with De Gruyter, a long-standing high-end academic press in Germany. Eight issues have been released so far, which has great impact at home and abroad. It is also an important achievement of the Go Out policy of national universities and colleges. It is now striving to enter the SSCI journal index.

The main research interests of the Department are as follows:

I. Research on the History of Modern Chinese and Relevant Issues

Professor Diao Yanbin is the pioneer of research in this field. He was the first in China to put forward the concept “History of Modern Chinese” and has long engaged in relevant studies. The research focus mainly includes examining and studying the formation and development of modern Chinese in the past one century by using the view points and methods of Chinese language history research, which involves various aspects such as phonetics, vocabulary, grammar and rhetoric. Since 2009, the Department has started to offer the doctoral degree program of “History of Modern Chinese”. It is the only department that offers this program among national universities.

II. Research on Global Chinese and Relevant Issues

This is another topic that Professor Diao Yanbin has explored early on and has great impact in academia. Other members such as Professor Sun Yinxin and Associate Professor Xu Xiaoying are also involved in the research. The research of the Chinese language has extended from both sides of the Taiwan Straits, to Cross-straits Four Regions and finally to the entire world, indicating not only expansion of research scope, but also promotion of research level and quality. The Global Chinese Comparative Research Center of Beijing Normal University and the international academic journal Global Chinese are becoming new features of the Department of Modern Chinese Language and occupying new heights in the country.

III. Research on Lexicology and Relevant Issues

Led by Professor Sun Yinxin, the research focuses on the vocabulary, word-building, semantics, dictionaries and related issues of modern Chinese language, especially vocabulary and dictionaries. The Department has made great progress in studying morphemes and motivation of word-building.

IV. Research on Grammar and Relevant Issues

The research is led by Professor Li Jinxia, and core participants include Lecturer Hong Shuang. It focuses on the research thinking and method of functional grammar and generative grammar. For functional grammar, the researchers probe into issues such as using verbs as attributive, distinction between words and phrases as well as complex sentences based on the functional grammar theory. For generative grammar, they focus on investigating and analyzing the syntactic structure of Chinese language, and studying morphology-syntax interface, the restrictive correlation between syntactic structure and prosodic structure and the syntax-semantics interface of Chinese language.

V. Research on Phonetics and Relevant Issues

The research is led by Associate Professor Xu Xiaoying, and core participants include Lecturer Cao Mengxue. It mainly focuses on sociolinguistics, emotional speech information processing, tone and accent in speech synthesis, monitoring and feedback of mispronunciation in Mandarin, phonetic problems in Putonghua Proficiency Test, phonetic perception, dialect pronunciation, etc.

The Department of Modern Chinese Language has produced fruitful research achievements, among which published monographs include the series of Research on Li Jinxi’s Linguistic Thinking (four books) and a set of three books recording the achievements of projects of National Social Science Fund of China undertaken by the Department of Modern Chinese Language, the School of Chinese Language and Literature, Beijing Normal University (more works will be constantly added). Others works include Development and Reform of Chinese Language in Mainland China in the New Era, Research on Modern Chinese Grammar of Early Days, Differences and Integration: Comparison of Language Application Across the Taiwan Strait, Grammar Research of Sanchao Beimeng Huibian, Research on Dummy Verbs in Modern Chinese, The History of Modern Chinese, Introduction to the History of Modern Chinese, Research on Language in the Cultural Revolution Period, Research on Modern Chinese Morphemes, Research on Using Verbs As Attribute in Modern Chinese, and Language Policy and Speech Community: A Sociolinguistic Study of the Fujian Community in Singapore.

At present, the major project of National Social Science Fund of China “Data Platform Construction and Research of the Development and Evolution of Chinese Language in the Past 100 Years” led by Professor Diao Yanbin is under way. Besides, the Department has built the Modern Chinese Speech Lab, maintained by Associate Professor Xu Xiaoying, in order to provide resources for academic research.

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