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What does it mean to be fluent in Mandarin?

March 20, 2013

Does it Matter if Jon Huntsman is ‘Fluent’ in Mandarin Chinese?

November 2nd, 2011 by Chris Livaccari

Jon Huntsman (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Jon Huntsman (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Jon Huntsman, former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China — and current Republican candidate for president — is at the center of a discussion that reveals our assumptions about language perhaps better than any other: the idea of “fluency.”

In an interview with Stephen Colbert, Huntsman, often referred to as a “fluent” speaker of Mandarin Chinese, drew headlines when he used Mandarin to jokingly ask Colbert to be his running mate in the election. While his remark was not completely unintelligible to a Chinese speaker, it was not particularly grammatical by most standards (and he clearly misplaced the word “vice” in his sentence).Some commentators then jumped in to debate whether or not Huntsman was actually “fluent” in Chinese, perhaps ultimately missing the real point of the matter.

Please read more here.

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