I am fully cognizant of the fact that the proposals set forth in this article have potential political implications. It is for this reason that I wish to state most emphatically that my suggestions apply only to English usage. There are also Malayo-Polynesian languages such as Kaoshan, Austroasiatic languages such as Benglong, Blang, & Va of the Mon-Khmer group & Gin of the Vietnamese group as well as Indo-European languages including Tajik of the Iranian group & Russian of the Slavic group. As reflections of a historically shifting political entity called PRC, these languages too are "Chinese", but no one would claim that they are Sinitic.

 

 If we call Swedish & German or Marathi & Bengali separate languages, then I believe that we have no choice but to refer to Mandarin & Cantonese as two different languages. At the very least, if diplomatic or other considerations prevent us from making such an overt statement, we should refer to the major fangyan as "forms" or "varieties" of Chinese instead of as "dialects". They are considered to be one of PRC's major nationalities, but it is very difficult to determine what language(s) they speak. Is it a dialect of northwest Mandarin with an overlay of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, & perchance a smattering of Russian & other borrowings? That may be he for the Hui who live in Sinkiang or Ninghsia, but what about those who are located in Yunnan, Canton, Fukien, Kiangsu, Shantung, Honan, Hopei, & so forth?

 

If Chinese scholars wish to classify them as fangyan ("topolects"), that is their prerogative, & Western linguists should not interfere. So long as fangyan & "dialect" are decoupled, there is no reason that the proposed English usage should cause any disturbance among speakers of Chinese language(s). Unless the notion of dialect is somehow separated from politics, ethnicity, culture, & other non-linguistic factors, the classification of the languages & peoples of PRC can never be made fully compatible with work that is done for other parts of the world. Take the language of the Hui Muslims, for example. PRC's linguistic richness if justly celebrated. Aside from the a lot of Sino-Tibetan languages we examined earlier in this article, there are Turkic languages (Kazakh, Kirghiz, Salar, Tatar, Uighur, Uzbek, Yugur),Mongol languages (Bonan, Daur, Dongxiang, Mongol, Tu) , Tungus-Manchu (Ewenki, Hezhen, Manchu, Orogen, Sibo), & Korean --all from the Altaic family. I am making no claim about how the Chinese government or Chinese scholars should classify the a lot of languages & dialects of their country. My only plea is for consistency in English linguistic usage.