The Chinese Typewriter: A History of Technolinguistic Modernity in the Face of Global Banking Crisis
The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press) is a book by Thomas S. Mullaney that explores the fascinating and complex history of Chinese writing and its encounters with various technologies, from Morse code and Braille to typewriters and computers. The book traces how Chinese characters, which are neither alphabetic nor syllabic, resisted and adapted to the presumed alphabetic universalism of modern communication systems, and how they eventually prevailed as the linguistic substrate of the vibrant world of Chinese information technology.
But what relevance does this book have for the current global banking crisis that has shaken the financial world in the past few weeks How does the Chinese typewriter relate to the collapse of major banks such as Credit Suisse, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, and the emergency measures taken by central banks and regulators to prevent a systemic meltdown How does the history of Chinese writing and technology inform our understanding of the global economy and its challenges
In this article, we will argue that The Chinese Typewriter: A History offers a valuable perspective on the global banking crisis by highlighting the importance of technolinguistic modernity, or the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently across languages, cultures and borders in a rapidly changing world. We will show how the Chinese typewriter, as a symbol of technolinguistic modernity, represents both a challenge and an opportunity for China and the world in dealing with the banking crisis and its aftermath.
The Challenge of Technolinguistic Modernity
One of the main challenges posed by the global banking crisis is the lack of effective communication and coordination among financial institutions, regulators and customers across different countries and regions. The banking crisis exposed the fragility and vulnerability of the global financial system, which relies on complex networks of transactions, contracts and trust that span multiple jurisdictions and legal systems. The crisis also revealed the gaps and mismatches between different regulatory frameworks, standards and practices that govern the banking sector in different parts of the world.
These communication and coordination problems are not new, but they have been exacerbated by the increasing globalization and digitalization of finance in recent decades. As Mullaney shows in his book, the history of Chinese writing and technology is also a history of communication and coordination problems across languages, cultures and borders. For example, he describes how Chinese telegraph operators had to devise ingenious ways to transmit Chinese characters using Morse code, which was designed for alphabetic languages. He also recounts how Chinese typewriter inventors had to overcome enormous technical difficulties to create a workable machine that could accommodate thousands of characters on a limited keyboard space.
These examples illustrate how technolinguistic modernity is not a given, but a goal that requires constant innovation, adaptation and negotiation. The Chinese typewriter, as a product of technolinguistic modernity, embodies both the challenge and the achievement of creating a communication system that can bridge linguistic and cultural differences in a changing world. The global banking crisis, as a symptom of technolinguistic modernity, reflects both the failure and the necessity of establishing a communication system that can foster trust and cooperation in a complex world.
The Opportunity of Technolinguistic Modernity
Another way to look at the global banking crisis is as an opportunity for technolinguistic modernity, or a chance to improve and enhance communication and coordination among financial actors, regulators and customers across different countries and regions. The banking crisis has prompted various responses and initiatives from governments, central banks, international organizations and private sector actors to address the immediate problems and prevent future ones. These responses and initiatives include providing liquidity support, strengthening regulatory oversight, enhancing information disclosure, promoting financial inclusion and innovation, fostering international cooperation and dialogue, etc.
These responses and initiatives also require technolinguistic modernity, or the ability to communicate effectively
and efficiently across languages, cultures and borders in a rapidly changing world. The Chinese typewriter,
as a symbol of technolinguistic modernity, represents both an opportunity