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Mark Zuckerberg Delights Tsinghua Audience by Speaking Exclusively in Putonghua

Posted: 10/23/2014 2:31 pm

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaMark Zuckerberg’s visit to Tsinghua University yesterday revealed some important announcements, but it wasn’t what he said so much as the way he said it that has delighted Chinese audiences.

The founder and CEO of Facebook spoke exclusively in Putonghua at a sit-down interview in front of Tsinghua students. For 29 minutes, Zuckerberg spoke fluent Chinese and smoothly answered questions despite having a hard English accent and with difficultly getting his tones correct.

Zuckerberg received a round of applause by beginning the talk with “大家好” (hello, everybody), and continued to astound the awestruck crowd by continuing in Chinese. The only English spoken during the talk was by the host when he introduced Zuckerberg.

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaZuckerberg announced some of his plans, such as the hiring of about 20 Chinese nationals to work abroad, something that has happened annually for awhile. But Zuckerberg usually fielded much simpler questions, all pertaining to China.

When answering “Why did you learn Chinese?”, Zuckerberg said that his wife Priscilla Chan is Chinese, a statement that drew a large round of applause from the audience. He explained that her grandmother only speaks Chinese, and he wanted a way to converse with her.

Besides saying he wanted to learn more about Chinese culture, Zuckerberg said that Chinese is a difficult language to learn, and that he wanted a challenge. To this, the host said, ”Today, let’s all challenge Mark.”

zuckerberg speaking chinese at tsinghuaZuckerberg had earlier met Chen Jining, the principal of Tsinghua, had and held talks about cultivating talent and opportunities to work together. Zuckerberg has agreed to serve as an advisor at Tsinghua.

Zuckerberg has been learning Putonghua since at least 2010.

Here is video so you can hear Zuckerberg’s Putonghua for yourself:

Photos: screencaps from QQ

  • pppq

    “Zuckerberg had earlier met Chen Jining, the principal of Tsinghua, had and held talks about cultivating talent and opportunities to work together.” Universities don’t have principals, Chuck.

    • charlesliu

      I wouldn’t disrespect Mr Chen with anything but the proper translation of his title.

      Other university heads are referred to as “director” or even “head”, but Mr Chen was referred to as a principal in the report.

      • pppq

        If you don’t want to disrespect Mr. Chen, then you should use the correct translation of his title. Mr. Chen is the president of Tsinghua University; if he were a principal, he would be the head of high school attached to Tsinghua.

        Chinese has a single term, 校长, for the head of a school. Any school. However, English has several terms. ‘Principal’ is used for the head of a primary or secondary school. (‘Head Master’ is more common in British English.) On the other hand, the head of a college or a university is a president. Here is the Wikipedia article on Tsinghua University, which clearly lists Mr. Chen as its president:

        This is a common situation in translation where the translator slavishly sets up a 1:1 correspondence between Chinese and English terms. However, if I were to call Taipei the 首都 of Taiwan, and not 省会, it would cause problems, regardless if both 首都 and 省会 translate as ‘capital’ in English!

        Please consult a standard dictionary on the matter, and don’t hide behind silly pretence.

        P.S. Are you now the only writer at the Nanfang?

        • charlesliu

          “P.S. Are you now the only writer at the Nanfang?”

          Only if you’re the only commentator.

          • pppq

            Too proud to admit you’re wrong…

          • Southernortherner

            so…would you like to write for the nanfang?

          • pppq

            Hahaha, I wish…

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  • jaw

    Not bad. Couldn’t listen to it all, but at least he tries. Better than 80% of the Jews in China. Not a fan of bookface whatsoever, but I’ve heard Zuckerhamburger is actually a pretty intelligent guy.

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