Hu Shih

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The classical language, so long dead, can never be the medium of a living literature of a living nation; the future literature of China must be written in the living language of the people.

Hu Shih (Chinese: 胡適; 17 December 189124 February 1962) was a Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomat. Hu is recognized today as a key contributor to Chinese liberalism and language reform in his advocacy for the use of written vernacular Chinese.

Quotes[edit]

  • The original dispute was one of poetic diction... From an interest in the minor problem of poetic diction I was led to see that the problem was really one of a suitable medium for all branches of Chinese literature. The question now became: In what language shall the New China produce its future literature? My answer was: The classical language, so long dead, can never be the medium of a living literature of a living nation; the future literature of China must be written in the living language of the people. "No dead language can produce a living literature." And the living language I proposed as the only possible medium of the future literature of China, was the pei-hau, the vulgar tongue of the vast majority of the population, the language which, in the last 500 years, had produced the numerous novels read and loved by the people, though despised by the men of letters. I wanted this much despised vulgar tongue of the people and the novels to be elevated to the position of the national language of China, to the position enjoyed by all the modern national languages in Europe.
    • The Chinese Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934), p. 50

External links[edit]

  • Encyclopedic article on Hu Shih at Wikipedia