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Kingdom of characters : the language revolution that made China modern  Cover Image Book Book

Kingdom of characters : the language revolution that made China modern / Jing Tsu.

Tsu, Jing, (author.).


"After a meteoric rise, China today is one of the world's most powerful nations. Just a century ago, it was a crumbling empire, with literacy reserved for the elite few. In Kingdom of Characters, Jing Tsu argues that China's greatest and most daunting challenge was a linguistic one. Just as important as China's technological and industrial advances and political maneuvers was the century-long fight to make the Chinese language--with its many dialects and complex character-based script--accessible to the modern world of global trade and digital technology. Kingdom of Characters follows the bold and cunning innovators who adapted the Chinese language to a world defined by the West and its alphabet: the exiled reformer who risked a death sentence to advocate for Mandarin as a national language, the Chinese Muslim poet who laid the groundwork for Chairman Mao's phonetic writing system, the imprisoned computer engineer who devised input codes for Chinese characters on the lid of a tea cup, among others. Without the advances they enabled, China might never have become the dominating force we know today. The revolution of the Chinese script is just as breathtaking as China's transformation into a capitalist juggernaut, in large part because those linguistic innovations literally enabled China's reinvention. With larger-than-life characters and an unexpected perspective on the major events of China's tumultuous twentieth century, Tsu reveals how language is both a technology to be perfected and a subtle yet potent power to be exercised and expanded"-- Provided by publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780735214729
  • ISBN: 0735214727
  • Physical Description: xix, 314 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2022.

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 283-304) and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
A Mandarin in revolution (1900) -- Chinese typewriters and America (1912) -- Tipping the scale of telegraphy (1925) -- The librarian's card catalog (1938) -- When "Peking" became "Beijing" (1958) -- Entering into the computer (1979) -- The digital sinosphere (2020).
Subject: Chinese characters > History > 20th century.
Chinese language > Writing > History > 20th century.
Chinese language > Modern Chinese, 1919-
Chinois (Langue) > Caractères > Histoire > 20e siècle.
Chinois (Langue) > Écriture > Histoire > 20e siècle.
Chinois (Langue) > 1919- (Chinois moderne)
Chinese characters.
Chinese language > Modern Chinese.
Chinese language > Writing.
Genre: History.

Available copies

  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Library System. (Show)
  • 1 of 1 copy available at Homer Public Library.


  • 0 current holds with 1 total copy.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Homer Public Library 495.111 TSU (Text) 000164331 Nonfiction Available -

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