You are here

ASIAN 211 A: Languages and Cultures of China

Face of young child with traditional clothing
Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
* *
NL in lavender field
Nathan Loggins

Syllabus Description:

The Course Syllabus is as stated below.  Click here for a downloadable pdf.


ASIAN 211 Languages and Cultures of China:   Autumn 2020 Syllabus

Although the Han Chinese ethnicity makes up the vast majority of its immense population, China is also home to dozens of culturally distinct peoples speaking over 100 different languages.  Some of these ethnic groups, like the Tibetans, Uyghur and Zhuang, number in the millions, while others reside in only a handful of villages.  Their social histories have ranged from mutual influence and integration, to in some cases ongoing conflict and forced assimilation. In this course we will explore the languages and cultures of the many peoples of China, gaining an understanding of their wide range of demographic and ethnic diversity, and investigating some of the complex issues of national, ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identity that have arisen from the interactions of these peoples throughout China’s long history.  This course does not require any prior knowledge of China or Chinese languages; there are no prerequisites.


Class                   T / Th  1:30-3:20, US Pacific Time via Zoom

Instructor            Nathan Loggins                                          
                                     office hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3:30-4:30, or by appointment

Text                    Invisible China: A Journey through Ethnic Borderlands by Colin Legerton and Jacob Rawson. 2009. Chicago Review Press.

                           The book is available as an ebook through the UW library system. Other readings are available on Canvas as pdfs.


Grading              Grades will be based on the following requirements.

        • Participation                                         5%
          • Homework assignments            25%
          • Midterm examination                  20%
          • Essays                                                    25%
          • Final examination                          25%

Readings             Assigned reading must be completed before class (see the schedule below).

Responses        You will download Reading Response sheets from Canvas, complete them, and bring them to class to use as a reference during discussion. They are part of your Participation grade.

Participation        You are expected to be present and prepared to participate fully in class discussions.

Homework          Several exercises will be assigned during the quarter to help you learn the course material. Homework is to be turned in by the end of the day on the due date.

Papers                There will be several brief writing assignments asking you to respond to material from class readings and lectures.

Exams                 For both the midterm and the final there will be no make-up exams given without prior arrangement with the instructor.

Late Policy          Assignments that are up to one class meeting late will lose 10% credit, and up to two meetings late 20% credit. Late assignments will not be accepted after two class meetings without prior approval from the instructor.

Additional Information for all UW students and courses

 Religious Accommodations

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form available at:


  Students in the class are expected to show interpersonal respect at all times, not only to their peers in class, but to any groups of people who may be mentioned within the context of class discussion.  Please be respectful of the views expressed by your classmates, even when you wish to engage in critical discussion, wherein individuals’ opinions may be in disagreement.

 Disability Resources

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.


Student Conduct

The University takes academic integrity very seriously, as do I. Behaving with integrity is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. If you’re uncertain about whether something is academic misconduct, don’t hesitate to ask me.

Acts of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to:

  • Cheating (working collaboratively on quizzes/exams and discussion submissions, sharing answers and previewing quizzes/exams)
  • Plagiarism (representing the work of others as your own without giving appropriate credit to the original author(s)–for more information on plagiarism and how to avoid it, see
  • Unauthorized collaboration (working with each other on assignments)

Concerns about these or other behaviors prohibited by the Student Conduct Code will be referred for investigation and adjudication by the College of Arts & Sciences.

Students found to have engaged in academic misconduct may receive a zero on the assignment (or other possible outcome).

For more information, see


Campus Safety

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime – no matter where you work or study – to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

Jurisdiction of Countries Other than the US

  Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.

If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.

If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.


Course Calendar for ASIAN 211 AUT 2020

All Assignments are due on Sunday of the given week, by 11:59 PM on Canvas.  All readings marked REQ should ideally be read by class time, so as to generate questions and discussion during lecture.  Readings marked SUGG are highly suggested!  Please read as many Invisible China chapters as you can, to give our guest a warm welcome.


Thurs., Oct. 1st

Introductions and Course Objectives


Tues., Oct. 6th

Language Families and Historical Linguistics

REQ: Invisible China:  Introduction
SUGG: John Hermann, Decentering Chinese History
(Supplementary:  Toops 1999, Geography Introduction)

Thurs., Oct. 8th

Chinese fangyan, Part One

REQ: Ramsey, Languages of China (Chapter 6: Today’s Dialects) 1st ½ only (to p. 98 Yue)
REQ: Chen, Ping 1999. Modern Chinese (Chapter 4:  The Standard and Dialects)

HW #1:  Maps and Pinyin


Tues, Oct. 13th

Chinese fangyan

Lau 2005, The Murder of a Dialect
Ramsey, Languages of China (Chapter 6: Today’s Dialects) 2nd ½ (from p. 98 Yue)

Thurs., Oct. 15th

Chinese fangyan / Chinese Writing

REQ:  Chen Ping, Modern Chinese (Chapter 5: Development and Promotion of Mod. Written Chinese)
SUGG: Robert Ramsey, Languages of China (Chapter 8:  Chinese Writing Today)

RR #1 Ramsey on Chinese dialects
HW #2  Chinese fangyan



Tues., Oct. 20th

Han Language and Identity

REQ: Tsung 2014, Introduction to Language Power and Hierarchy
REQ:  Ngai, Made in China 2005: (excerpt pages 126-131)
SUGG: Murphey 2017, Chapter 3 (Historical Context): (excerpt pages: 39-44)
SUGG: Lau 2005, Hakka in Hong Kong:  The Murder of a Dialect

Thurs., Oct. 22nd

Ancient Demographics and Kingdoms

REQ:  Ramsey 1987: Chapter 9, The Chinese and their Neighbors

RR #2: Ngai
HW #3:  Population Data



Tues., Oct. 27th

Review for Midterm

Start looking at Baranovic 2020 for Nov. 3rd, as it is kind of long (REQ.)

Thurs., Oct. 29th

Mid-Term Exam

No readings (see above)




Tues., Nov. 3rd

Minzu in Context

REQ: Invisible China, Chapter 6: The Naxi
REQ:  Baranovic 2010:  Others No More
SUGG:  Mullaney 2011, Coming to Terms with the Nation: Introduction

Thurs., Nov. 5th

Manchu Gues Lecture (Prof. Matthew Mosca, UW History)

REQ:  Ramsey 1987, Manchu (pages 216-229; you can skim 218-224)
REQ:  Invisible China Chapter 1: The Northeast
SUGG: Invisible China Chapter 2: Koreans

RR #3:  Baranovic


Tues., Nov. 10th

The Northeast and Inner Mongolia

REQ: Bulag: Linguistic Anxiety
SUGG:  Invisible China Chapter 3:  Mongolians
SUGG: Ramsey, Mongolian (p. 202-212)
SUGG:  Tsung 2014:  Chapter 3: Inner Mongolia

Thurs., Nov. 12th

Muslims in China Day One:  The Hui and other groups

REQ:  Turnbull 2014—Islamic Authenticity
REQ:  Invisible China Chapter 8:  Dongxiang (Santa)
SUGG: Zavyalova 2019: Sino-Islamic Linguistics (4 pages from Encyclopedia)

HW #4:  Minzu Languages



Tues., Nov. 17th

Muslims in China Day Two:  Recent History in Xinjiang

REQ: Tsung 2014: Chapter 4 Bilingual and Trilingual in Xinjiang
REQ:  Invisible China Chapter 10:  Uyghurs

Thurs., Nov. 19th


REQ:  Roche 2014:  The Vitality of Tibet’s Minority Languages
REQ:  Invisible China Chapter 9: Tibetans
SUGG: Tournadre Nicolas, "The dynamics of Tibetan-Chinese Bilingualism: current situation and future prospects" in China perspective, Hong Kong, n°45, 2003

RR#4:  Return to Tsung Intro



Tues., Nov. 24th

The Southwest

REQ:  Tsung 2014: Chapter 6: Multilingualism in Yunnan
REQ:  Invisible China Chapters 7:  The Mosuo

Thurs., Nov. 26th

Thanksgiving Holiday
No Class !!:D

No Readings!

Writing #2 Barry Sautman or TBA



Tues. Dec 1st

Minority Language Writing Systems

REQ for HW:  Bradley, Language Policy for the Yi
SUGG:  Ramsey, 1987 (pages 266-270 on Naxi Script)

Thurs., Dec. 3rd

Gues Appearance by Invisible China suthor Jacob Rawson

Any other chapters of Invisible China that interst you!  (Bring questions to class.)

RR #5 Bradley Language Policy for Yi
HW #5 Writing Systems



Tues., Dec. 8th

Languages in Contact

SUGG:  Sun, Chinese 2006: (excerpt: pages 132-141)        
SUGG:  Chirkova 2007: Between Tibetan and Chinese

Thurs., Dec. 10th

Review for Final Exam

No Readings

Writing #3:  Language Policy


Final Exam:   Friday, December 18th, 2:30-4:20:      

The final exam will likely be held as a Canvas Quiz, though the exact details regarding the format and date/time may possibly change.  Updates will be announced to the class far in advance of the exam date.

Catalog Description: 
Provides a general survey of the languages and language-families in China, emphasizing the rich linguistic diversity found there today. Languages compared with English, from linguistic and cultural perspectives, to demonstrate not only characteristics but also mutual dependence throughout their development.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
September 27, 2021 - 2:51am