U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 09-07-2016, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Brazil
166 posts, read 107,096 times
Reputation: 199

Advertisements

What is your opinion on Chinese characters? To be truly fluent, one must be familiar with over a thousand characters. Besides they leave room to ambiguity.

Some can be really more difficult to write such as:

"flourish" (zheng):



"biang" (a kind of noodle):



"taito" ("the appearance of a dragon in flight"):



The number of characters is truly large...

Quote:
Number of characters in Chinese dictionaries
YearName of dictionaryNumber of characters
100 Shuowen Jiezi9,353
543? Yupian12,158
601 Qieyun16,917
997 Longkan Shoujian26,430
1011 Guangyun26,194
1039 Jiyun53,525
1615 Zihui33,179
1675 Zhengzitong33,440
1716 Kangxi Zidian47,035
1916 Zhonghua Da Zidian48,000
1989 Hanyu Da Zidian54,678
1994 Zhonghua Zihai85,568
2004 Yitizi Zidian106,230[71]

Number of Chinese characters in non-Chinese dictionaries
YearCountry Name of dictionary Number of characters
2003JapanDai Kan-Wa jiten50,000+
2008South KoreaHan-Han Dae Sajeon53,667
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_character
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 09-07-2016, 06:24 PM
 
6,465 posts, read 4,063,729 times
Reputation: 16667
First of all, those crazy-complicated characters are not in common use.

I like Chinese characters. I have not studied Chinese, but I learned over 1500 characters when I studied Japanese, and I did not find them terribly difficult. People vary greatly in this regard, though. Some struggle a lot to remember them.

Chinese characters are ideally suited for Chinese in a number of respects. In the first place, every meaningful unit of the language can be represented by a single character. In other words, there are no words in Chinese like "brought," which fuses meaning (to bring) and tense (past) into a single word. Every element is a discrete syllable and tied to a specific character. Characters would not work well in English (just as they did not work well in Japanese or Korean and had to be supplemented with a phonetic script), but they are perfect for Chinese.

In addition, there is a very large number of homophones (words with the same pronunciation, but different meanings) in Chinese. In the spoken language there are various means of disambiguating the homophones, but in the literary language, meaning is conveyed chiefly through the specific character which is used. Many writings which would be unintelligible if read aloud are easily understood on sight. In fact, the use of Chinese characters results in less ambiguity than an alphabetic script.

Thirdly, though the pronunciation of Chinese has changed greatly over hundreds and thousands of years, the characters have changed little (leaving aside the modern simplified script...) As a result, people who speak such different dialects that they can not easily communicate in speech can communicate through writing. In addition, modern people can read ancient Chinese classics in their original form with little difficulty. This does not happen in English, in which spellings and pronunciations have changed so much that literature more than about five hundred years old has to be "translated" into modern English in order to be understood.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Brazil
166 posts, read 107,096 times
Reputation: 199
This is the opinion of XVI century missionary Joćo Rodrigues, he wrote a pioneer grammar of the Japanese language ("Arte da lķngua do Japćo"):

Quote:
They take a generic letter and to this they add another, forming from the two letters one that expresses one of the species contained in such-and-such a genus. Thus every kind of tree and wooden thing connected with it is expressed by the letter 'wood' or 'tree', along with another. This combination of some letters with others has built up a skilful and scientific etymology of words, their meanings, properties, and emphasis, for not only can be seen in the letter the meaning of the thing but also the etymology of the word. These letters are quite admirable not only in all the respects that we have mentioned but also in their elegance and position one after another. Thus to learn these letters is also to learn at the same time natural and moral sciences and the art of rhetoric, for these are contained in the letters along with their many other properties.

This has so greatly quickened the wits of these nations using these letters here at the end of the world, where the people are out of contact with, and have no knowledge of other world sages, that is seems we should attribute the sharp wits of the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans to the exercise of these letters. The system also develops quite remarkably a retentive memory of things, as the letters are signs expressing the things in an almost natural way. If someone forgets, the mere sight of the letter reminds him of its meaning and significance when he sees the combination of one figure with another.
Joćo Rodrigues
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 06:57 PM
 
6,465 posts, read 4,063,729 times
Reputation: 16667
What Rodrigues didn't mention is that in very many of the characters which are a combination of others (such as "tree" + some other element), the second element is a phonetic clue. As I mentioned, there are many homophones in Chinese. So in order to distinguish them in writing and make them easier to remember, they combined one part which gave a clue to the meaning ("wood," "water," "metal," "person", etc.) with another part which had a pronunciation similar to the new word.

Though the pronunciations have changed over time, they are often still very similar. Here are examples of Chinese loanwords in Japanese (since I don't know Chinese):

方 "direction," pronounced hoo. This is used as the phonetic element in each of the following characters:

boo"to spin thread" (the previous character combined with one meaning "thread")
hoo "to ask" (with an element meaning "word")
hoo "fragrant" (with an element meaning "plants")
boo "to obstruct" (with an element meaning "woman" [!])
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 07:02 PM
 
Location: Brazil
166 posts, read 107,096 times
Reputation: 199
Leibniz take on Chinese characters:

Quote:
The advantage of Chinese characters, of which Leibniz had learned in German libraries and through correspondence with Jesuit missionaries, over the Latin alphabet was its provision of “a system of signs that directly represent things (or, rather, ideas) and not words, in such a way that each nation could read them and translate them into its own language” (Couturat writing about Leibniz’s ideas in La Logique de Leibniz).

Leibniz later dropped the idea of using Chinese as the foundation for a universal language based on the reasoning that “their pictures […] are not reduced to a fixed alphabet… with the result that a tremendous strain on the memory is necessary, which is the contrary of what we propose”. (Leibniz, On the Art of Combination).
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_ba0c1ad501018d40.html

Quote:
The Dutch mathematician and linguist Golius (Jakob Gohl, +1596 to +1667) placed the Chinese language in a systematic and philosophical as well as a religious context: 'The artificiality of their language means that it was invented at one point in time by a skillful person in order to establish verbal communication between the number of different nations who live in that large country which we call China, although it has to be said that this language might be changed now through long usage'.

Leibniz was thoroughly fascinated by accounts such as these. His feelings are summarised by his dictum 'If God had taught man a language, that language would have been like Chinese.' But what particularly aroused his philosophical interest was the nature of the Chinese characters. Leibniz's enthusiasm is clear, as when he writes to La Croze in +1707:

'This enquiry seems to me to be all the more important since I imagine that if we were able to discover the key to the Chinese characters, we would have found something which could serve for the analysis of thought'.

Leibniz believes he would have something to contribute:

'It does appear that if we Europeans were well enough informed about Chinese literature, then the aid of logic, critical thinking, mathematics, and our way of expressing ourselves which is more explicit than theirs, would make us discover in these Chinese monuments of such remote antiquity many things unknown to the modern Chinese and even to their later interpreters no matter how classical one takes them to be'.

Leibniz expresses here a feeling of European Besserwisserei or analytical superiority, which has remained important in Western attitudes to the Chinese language. Leibniz's intensive analytical efforts did lead to a dear conclusion. The Chinese characters, for all their intrinsic interest, did not after all supply a suitable model for his philosophical alphabet of human thought, alphabetum cogitationum humanarum or characteristica universalis:

'If we understood the characters of the Chinese I think we would find some more connections (with a characteristica un.iversalis), but at bottom these characters are undoubtedly far removed from such an analysis of thought which is the essence of my plan'.
http://www.biblio.nhat-nam.ru/SCC-7-1.pdf
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Taipei
6,773 posts, read 5,114,752 times
Reputation: 4555
Traditional characters are nice and cool, simplified characters are fug.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 08:22 PM
 
1,424 posts, read 734,340 times
Reputation: 508
Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
What Rodrigues didn't mention is that in very many of the characters which are a combination of others (such as "tree" + some other element), the second element is a phonetic clue. As I mentioned, there are many homophones in Chinese. So in order to distinguish them in writing and make them easier to remember, they combined one part which gave a clue to the meaning ("wood," "water," "metal," "person", etc.) with another part which had a pronunciation similar to the new word.

Though the pronunciations have changed over time, they are often still very similar. Here are examples of Chinese loanwords in Japanese (since I don't know Chinese):

方 "direction," pronounced hoo. This is used as the phonetic element in each of the following characters:

boo"to spin thread" (the previous character combined with one meaning "thread")
hoo "to ask" (with an element meaning "word")
hoo "fragrant" (with an element meaning "plants")
boo "to obstruct" (with an element meaning "woman" [!])
They are fang in Chinese, in different tones.

Chinese characters with a -ng sound all have a long vowel in Japanese. The "f" sound in Mandarin is mostly corresponding to h, p or b in Japanese.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 08:24 PM
 
Location: Out in the Badlands
10,425 posts, read 8,777,659 times
Reputation: 7734
Que Sera, Sera
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 08:24 PM
 
1,424 posts, read 734,340 times
Reputation: 508
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
Traditional characters are nice and cool, simplified characters are fug.
Simplified ones look almost the same as traditional ones to foreigners. They are just adopted from 行书 and 草书 for the most part.
I do not like some of the simplified characters but I do not think those who do not speak Chinese can see much difference at all.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-07-2016, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Taipei
6,773 posts, read 5,114,752 times
Reputation: 4555
Quote:
Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
Simplified ones look almost the same as traditional ones to foreigners. They are just adopted from 行书 and 草书 for the most part.
I do not like some of the simplified characters but I do not think those who do not speak Chinese can see much difference at all.
Well if they've never learned it, of course they can't tell the difference.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top