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There are 873 million speakers of Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and diaspora communities throughout the world. Written Chinese, which consists of characters, can be dated back to fourteenth century BC. Most recently, changes in characters took place in the 1950's and 1960's, when "simplified" characters, with reduced strokes, were introduced in mainland China to boost literacy. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other areas have continued to use the older "traditional" characters. There are many outstanding contemporary Chinese authors, including Lu Xun, a twentieth century short story writer and Ba Jin, a twentieth century writer known his novels Family, and the Love Trilogy of Fog, Rain and Lightning.
It is possible to major in Asian Cultures and Languages with a Chinese specialization or minor in Chinese.