How would Chinese language have developed if the Qing Dynasty had maintained power

I think some simplification of the written language would have occurred, much like in Japan with the Kyuujitai, but would they have done some things differently?

How would the spoken and written standards develop? The Qing Dynasty used a koiné as far as I know called "Guanhua" 官话 frequently called "Mandarin" in English. This standard was closer to Late Middle Chinese than modern Standard Chinese and preserved more initials and vowel distinctions.

How would vocabulary develop? Due to the reformist mindset of the Republican movements (CPC and Guomindang) the written and spoken varieties were largely merged. Would the Qing Dynasty have pushed for separate standards? Also, modern Chinese lacks honourifics besides the occasional use of "nin" 您 instead of "ni" 你. Would we see more formal vocabulary? Clear code switching?
 
If the Qing do not suffer a foreign occupation (which is likely, given the size of China) the likelihood of character reform remains low, to say the least.
 
If the Qing do not suffer a foreign occupation (which is likely, given the size of China) the likelihood of character reform remains low, to say the least.

Why? Japan never suffered a foreign occupation, yet still decided to reform. Not to mention Chinese uses hanzi much more than Japanese. That's also skipping over local support for reform which began under the Qing and continued into the republican era.
 

Evidential

Banned
How would the spoken and written standards develop? This would be hard to predict. China has always been in a political struggle, so every dynasty might have a slightly different political philosophy, and as you point out, the political environment changed constantly. It's true that the Qing Dynasty used the phonetic kangyin system to write Chinese characters (kangyin is a phonetic notation of Chinese), but this system is rather inconsistent, and not everybody would understand it (for example, if you want to use the roman alphabet in your writing).

Chinese vocabulary would have been mostly unchanged, because the political situation and political movements would not have allowed much change. If you want to learn more about the kangyin system, I suggest that you read the answers to this question. How would vocabulary develop? In the political climate of the Qing Dynasty, it is unlikely that they would have added a lot of new words. Most of the Chinese characters that are used today were in use in the Qing Dynasty. There was some development of words during the Cultural Revolution, but that was not due to an official edict from the government. How would "rude" terms develop? The Chinese language is a language of complexity, but that does not mean that it can not be simplified. Chinese words have been simplified a lot over the years, so that one can understand the meaning of a word even if it is long. If you read modern Chinese texts, you will find many expressions that are similar to rude terms.

The difference between rude and formal is that rude words are used in daily life, whereas formal words are used in formal communication. This does not mean that formal words have to be less rude. You can also use rude words in a formal setting. How would social norms develop? This would be similar to the development of language. Social norms will change with time, just like language. The Qing Dynasty in China was rather strict, whereas in modern times there is a strong emphasis on self-expression and individuality. Do you know the origins of rude words? The original rude words in Chinese are 惡话 (wu-shu) which mean "rude words" or 言辱语 (wen-shu-yin) which mean "rude speech". "惡话" were written as a word, but the word "惡" was not pronounced. The "惡" part meant that this was a speech, not a person. "言辱语" is a little different. "言" here means "word", but the word is a word of insults. The "言" here means "to speak rudely", "to insult". When people first started using "言辱语" they used "言辱" in the same way that we use "offensive". "言辱" is used to describe speech, not the speaker. A modern version of "言辱语" is 说坏话, which means "to say something that is bad". "话" here means "word". To sum up, the origins of rude words in Chinese are "rude words" and "rude speech". You can use these words as a rough equivalent to the English word "rude".
 
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How would the spoken and written standards develop? This would be hard to predict. China has always been in a political struggle, so every dynasty might have a slightly different political philosophy, and as you point out, the political environment changed constantly. It's true that the Qing Dynasty used the phonetic kangyin system to write Chinese characters (kangyin is a phonetic notation of Chinese), but this system is rather inconsistent, and not everybody would understand it (for example, if you want to use the roman alphabet in your writing).

Chinese vocabulary would have been mostly unchanged, because the political situation and political movements would not have allowed much change. If you want to learn more about the kangyin system, I suggest that you read the answers to this question. How would vocabulary develop? In the political climate of the Qing Dynasty, it is unlikely that they would have added a lot of new words. Most of the Chinese characters that are used today were in use in the Qing Dynasty. There was some development of words during the Cultural Revolution, but that was not due to an official edict from the government. How would "rude" terms develop? The Chinese language is a language of complexity, but that does not mean that it can not be simplified. Chinese words have been simplified a lot over the years, so that one can understand the meaning of a word even if it is long. If you read modern Chinese texts, you will find many expressions that are similar to rude terms.

The difference between rude and formal is that rude words are used in daily life, whereas formal words are used in formal communication. This does not mean that formal words have to be less rude. You can also use rude words in a formal setting. How would social norms develop? This would be similar to the development of language. Social norms will change with time, just like language. The Qing Dynasty in China was rather strict, whereas in modern times there is a strong emphasis on self-expression and individuality. Do you know the origins of rude words? The original rude words in Chinese are 惡话 (wu-shu) which mean "rude words" or 言辱语 (wen-shu-yin) which mean "rude speech". "惡话" were written as a word, but the word "惡" was not pronounced. The "惡" part meant that this was a speech, not a person. "言辱语" is a little different. "言" here means "word", but the word is a word of insults. The "言" here means "to speak rudely", "to insult". When people first started using "言辱语" they used "言辱" in the same way that we use "offensive". "言辱" is used to describe speech, not the speaker. A modern version of "言辱语" is 说坏话, which means "to say something that is bad". "话" here means "word". To sum up, the origins of rude words in Chinese are "rude words" and "rude speech". You can use these words as a rough equivalent to the English word "rude".

Nice points and good example. When I mentioned vocabulary, I was referring to the dropping of older literary words in favour of more colloquial equivalents.

I like your idea about script (I'm assuming Kangyin is Manchu script?) PErhaps they re-standardise it into an official phonetic script for Chinese? Then it could be used as a unifying factor the way "国語" or "national language" (a standard language for the whole country) was in Japan and also China (普通话).

Then we'd have something like this across China to this day.

Manchu_chinese.jpg
 
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Haha fair point :p

I meant before Japan implemented character standardisation. The first round of simplifications was carried out after ww2 but they had been planned before afaik.
I live in Japan. character reforms happened but the actual reforms were pretty minimal. A lot Taiwanese characters are legible to me. The differences are minimal or not at all in most cases
I can real realtor in both 不動産
While mainland Chinese is difficult if not impossible for me to discern
 
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I live in Japan. character reforms happened but the actual reforms were pretty minimal. A lot Taiwanese characters are legible to me. The differences are minimal or not at all in most cases
I can real realtor in both 不動産
While mainland Chinese is difficult if not impossible for me to discern

I'm aware (I also live in Japan right now) that many forms are intelligible (a lot of the simplifications came from shorthand forms) but my question is more about the EXTENT of such reforms or the POLITICS of such reforms. The RoC / Taiwan has refused reforms largely due to the politics that surrounded simplification of the Chinese language. Simplification was undertaken by the Communist Party of China, which killed a lot of support for it in Taiwan.
 
I am not sure about the Chinese script. But what I am quite sure is that the Manchu and Khalka Scripts and languages would have survived. The Qing were adamant about respecting minority languages (somewhat ironically given their history) when they implemented the national curriculum in 1884.

Would that have an effect on the politics of language reform within Chinese?
 
I am not sure about the Chinese script. But what I am quite sure is that the Manchu and Khalka Scripts and languages would have survived. The Qing were adamant about respecting minority languages (somewhat ironically given their history) when they implemented the national curriculum in 1884.

Would that have an effect on the politics of language reform within Chinese?
I was thinking more about imposition of the Manchu script upon Chinese, perhaps in a role similar to what Pinyin and Zhuyin are to modern Chinese.

I think such an imposition (of course with a restandardisation considering differences between the two languages) could lead to improved literacy rates, but much hostility from traditionalist Chinese factions. Also, a simplification of characters could lead to more literacy but could weaken the "prestige" of the language. I guess it all depends on who is in charge, a modernising force or a traditionalist force.
 
I'm aware (I also live in Japan right now) that many forms are intelligible (a lot of the simplifications came from shorthand forms) but my question is more about the EXTENT of such reforms or the POLITICS of such reforms. The RoC / Taiwan has refused reforms largely due to the politics that surrounded simplification of the Chinese language. Simplification was undertaken by the Communist Party of China, which killed a lot of support for it in Taiwan.
Think the main reasoning for Taiwan was stubbornness and not wanting to do what the commies were doing. Japan saw things like the Star under 気 and made it the x. That was pretty sensible
While the PRC had literally hundreds of millions that were illiterate and getting them towards literacy wasn’t t going to be easy so they went hard and imho over simplified their characters.
With a Republican mainland I think you’d have a reform and all that but it’s be similar to Japanese where it’d be simplified but not to the point of making it unrecognizable
 
I think some simplification of the written language would have occurred, much like in Japan with the Kyuujitai, but would they have done some things differently?

How would the spoken and written standards develop? The Qing Dynasty used a koiné as far as I know called "Guanhua" 官话 frequently called "Mandarin" in English. This standard was closer to Late Middle Chinese than modern Standard Chinese and preserved more initials and vowel distinctions.
Generally, it's usually a bad idea in linguistics to confuse spoken language with written language, and it's particularly true in the case of Chinese.

*On one hand, the traditional written language (文言, wényán) was a form of Old Chinese that had its own conventions and all that, nowadays called Literary Chinese or Classical Chinese. For most of the 20th century, when Westerners have their stereotypical views of Chinese, and especially Chinese characters, they are usually referring to Classical Chinese without realizing it. Classical Chinese was to Imperial China what Classical/Modern Standard Arabic was to the Arab world or, until the 18th century, Church Slavonic to Russians, or, until the 19th century, Latin for Western Europe. There was a form of Mandarin that tried to reflect the vernacular speech of the Ming and Qing dynasties (白話, báihuà), but until the formation of the ROC was largely limited to novels and other similar "low-brow" literature.

*On the other hand, there's the spoken language (what in linguistics has been gradually shifting to calling Sinitic instead of Chinese, a small change of wording that tried to better describe the speech varieties spoken in Greater China and the Chinatowns as if it was a language family) in all its diversity. Again, for most of the 20th century, Westerners generally have their stereotypical views of Chinese either based on Cantonese (or Taishanese in North America) and archaically-Romanized versions of Mandarin based on both the Nanjing dialect and the archaic speech of Beijing opera. This is when it gets tricky, because - among other things - the English word "Mandarin" refers to both Northern varieties of Chinese (hence "Modern Standard Mandarin" instead of "Standard Chinese" is preferred among linguists in recent years) and the language of the Qing court and administration. Now, it is true that it was called 官話/guānhuà, but in actuality it was not close to Late Middle Chinese; rather, the original basis of the language of the Ming and early Qing court and administration was actually the Nanjing dialect of Mandarin, which indeed preserved some vowel distinctions lost in the Beijing dialect (which increasingly became the base of the late Qing court and administration, although Nanjing-based literary pronunciations were still considered desirable) because Nanjing dialect was in contact with other Southern Chinese varieties, most notably Wu Chinese (aka Shanghaiese). This was also the target speech of baihua literature, but outside of the confines of the Qing court and Northern China, other Chinese varieties continued to evolve on their own.

A persistent trend here (and one that confuses speech and writing) is the coexistence of literary and colloquial pronunciations. Colloquial pronunciations refer to how people actually spoke, except when incorporating loanwords from other languages (which was becoming a thing around the late Qing, especially from Japanese and European languages) or using references from Classical Chinese, when literary pronunciations were used. These literary pronunciations often reflect prestigious speech from another city (for example, literary pronunciations in Taishanese tended to traditionally reflect Standard Cantonese, the prestigious speech of Guangzhou) or, indeed, reflecting distinct reflexes of Middle Chinese (the latter was especially true of Literary Southern Min, which was a highly-developed system shared on both sides of the Taiwan Strait until the Japanese colonization of Taiwan in 1898 and the formation of the PRC in 1949).

Now, if somehow the Qing dynasty maintained power with a post-1900 POD, how would spoken and written Sinitic develop over time? Let's just say it would be very complicated.
*The Qing court, around 1909-1910, was starting to develop a national language standard (國語/guóyû) based on the court speech, but the Xinhai Revolution scuttled plans to carry those plans any further - not to mention hampering plans to reconstruct China's educational system after the abolition in 1905 of the Imperial examinations (which formed part of the base of increasing the number of people who learned the Confucian classics, and hence of people able to fluently read and write in Classical Chinese). That paved the way for the formation of Modern Written Chinese (which, although notionally based on Mandarin speech and especially a continuation of the traditional baihua of the Ming and Qing dynasties, also contained within it a lot of translation-ese from European languages and a considerable amount of influence from Wu Chinese), but it could have evolved differently.
*It could be possible to have a similar language situation (if European languages are discounted) to modern India, where other southern Chinese varieties could be promoted to standard languages and co-exist with Standard Mandarin (much like how Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, etc. coexist with Hindi-Urdu). That would be a big boon for Cantonese and Hokkien, the two major non-Mandarin varieties of Sinitic which were more than capable of having standard languages based on the speech of Guangzhou and Amoy, respectively, but it also could provide a positive impact for Teochew, Hakka, (Old) Xiang, and several others. Thus, at least a few myths about Chinese writing could be shattered, especially if regional calligraphic styles are adopted (i.e. for Cantonese) and/or each standard written language selectively simplifies characters differently and/or different variant characters are adopted.
*At the same time, it could be possible to come up with a different evolution of Standard Mandarin, based on the 1909 edict that the Imperial court speech was the national language of the country. It was certainly possible, on the written side, to modernize Literary Chinese to accommodate baihua within a Classical Chinese-oriented writing system (for the most part, Hu Shih's guidelines about literature reform could be just as helpful with modernized wenyan as it would to later Modern Written Chinese IOTL), alongside its accommodation of Japanese and European loanwords. That should help cut down some of the translation-ese that is a hallmark of OTL Modern Written Chinese; to some degree, this could also be used by other non-Mandarin standard Sinitic varieties as a base from which to develop standard written languages of their own. Standard Mandarin pronunciation could therefore be sharply divided in its literary and colloquial pronunciation, based on historic factors:
>Literary pronunciation (i.e. loanwords and Classical Chinese, among a few other things) could come close to OTL Old National Pronunciation; while its ad-hoc and artificial nature would make it sound a bit weird (particularly the three additional initials, which did not exist in Nanjing dialect but they do in regional Mandarin, such as in Sichuan), it does come the closest to what during the Qing dynasty people considered to be desirable Nanjing-based literary pronunciations
>Colloquial pronunciation, by contrast, would be more similar to what we know IOTL today as Standard Mandarin pronunciation, with the only real colloquial dialect to make it to the standard language could be the full voicing of <b, d, g> /p, t, k/ to [b, d, g] (plus a few others like <j> (Pinyin: <zh>/<j>) /ʈ͡ʂ/ [ʈ͡ʂ]-[t͡ɕ], for example, which can go straight to [d͡ʐ]-[d͡ʑ] instead of actual dialectal [j]), especially in unstressed syllables but could be possible in stressed syllables as well.

I could go on, but I have other prior commitments I need to address, so I'll leave it there. But even here, that should give some idea of what I'm thinking it could go.

Also, modern Chinese lacks honourifics besides the occasional use of "nin" 您 instead of "ni" 你. Would we see more formal vocabulary?
Only if retains Classical Chinese as the main language and/or borrowing honorifics from Japanese (which, considering a lot of those borrowing happened during the Meiji period, would be definitely understandable why Chinese people would borrow from Japanese to address lexical gaps).
 
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