Chinese is one of the oldest still-spoken languages in the world. But when technologies arrived like telegraphy and computing, designed with the Roman alphabet in mind, if Chinese wanted to be able to participate then it had to choose between adapting, or paying a heavy price. And sometimes both were inevitable. Jing Tsu, author of Kingdom of Characters: the Language Revolution that Made China Modern, recounts how Chinese contended with obstacles like alphabetisation, Romanisation and standardisation.
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