(Elocution) Invention in the Past: Qing Dynasty English Elocution

If PinYing had been developed in China during the Song Dynasty, how it might have helped to solve different linguistic and cultural problems during the colonial expansion of Victorian era England?

While the Imperial Examination System existed through to the beginning of the 20th century, the rise of England as a colonial power in Asia would have ushered in major changes to English in China. The same invention of Pinying would now come to solve very different problems. Could Pinying have provided a stable bridge upon which to teach the Queens English in the Qing Dynasty and into the 20th century? How would the cultural norms of the Victorian period have effected English in China at this time?

This is the octagon navigational graphic for the Elocution room.

Image Credits


Victorian Elocution
The elocution movement in Victorian England led to exacting standards for pronunciation through body posture as English became a dominant global language. The interactive zoetropes--early forms of animation---that were part of this room showed some of those movements as well as mouth positions for pronouncing certain English sounds.

Elocution Backdrop
Images from a Victorian Era elocution manual paired with an English/Pinying poem written curator by Dr. Jonathan Stalling. As English became a global language correct body movements were taught as part of upper class education for public speaking.

Large Zoetrope
Large zoetropes were first created using another new technology--the bicycle. A rotating bicycle wheel could provide the speed required to create the allusion of movement for the animation.

Tabletop Zoetrope
English vowels (in this case /oo/ as in “hoot” and /ah/ as in /hot/ can be described in terms of mouth position (rounded/un-rounded etc). Pinying could have used the rime-table tradition to teach these vowels by employing the Chinese characters /乌/ and /啊/ to represent the same vowel shapes. While zoetropes such as these could be used to show similarity between standardized English and Chinese vowels.

Tabletop Zoetrope
The English vowels /ee/ as in “he” could have been taught by employing Zoetropes to animate the standard mouth positions associated with this vowel. Zoetropes could have been used in China during this period to suggest a link between Victorian high-technology (animation) and language standardization.