The value in *knowing* Chinese Characters?

January 15, 2013, 04:24 AM posted in General Discussion

I use Chinese Characters a lot.

Reading and writing weixin messages and general emails. Reading weibo posts. Reading blogs and online Chinese news. Posting, in Chinese, on websites. Decipehering Chinese menus. Reading interesting magazine articles. 

But here's the thing, I don't *know* any Chinese Characters. 

When my girlfriend sends me a long weixin message, I just tap on it, click "Pleco Reader" (giving me the english translation of each word), and I read the message.

I type my reply using Google Pinyin input, copy it into pleco or mdbg (giving me the english translation of each word), correct any mistakes where I have inputted the wrong character, copy it into weixin, and send.

Same for email.

Weibo posts just get cut and pasted into mdbg, which then gives me both pinyin and English.

Same for blogs and online news.

When I am at a restaurant, I use Pleco OCR to "clarify" a menu item. If I still have no idea what is in "Grandma's hot and spicy, white cabbage, luncheon meat soup", then, I just ask the waiter what is in that dish, using the dish name that I just OCR'ed.

When my girlfriend puts a magazine article under my nose, I just put OCR over it, and then chat to hear about anything I don't understand.

What is the value in progressing beyond this?

I can speak and hear Chinese, very well. Most of my time is spent on improving this.

I see no value in *knowing* the Characters. 

Why do you choose to learn the characters?


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January 15, 2013, 04:33 AM

The value for me is not having to faff around with OCR or Google Translate every time. Admittedly I still need to run most of my Weibo messages through google translate, but it feels so good when I manage to read or write a whole sentence without doing so.

I quite enjoy character spotting when I'm out and about too. Some of them are quite interesting in the way that they are put together, and reveal a bit more about the underlying structure of the language than you can get from pinyin.

I treat new characters that I find like a mini game of charades:'s syllable.....sounds like {insert radical}.......related to {insert radical} topic.....

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January 15, 2013, 04:42 AM

I learn a lot faffing around on Pleco :)

请尽管批评我、指责我 ^_^ 但先还考虑我的目标是:说中文, 不是浪费时间

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January 15, 2013, 05:11 AM

I think written language is a valuable guide to spoken language.  I wouldn't like to be illiterate in my native language, or any other that I studied seriously.

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我同意所以我经常看书,比如最近我读了三重门(韩寒) (yes, laugh away)

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January 15, 2013, 05:30 AM

Even if you don't learn the characters, it's quite good to know the usual stroke order, because then if you see an unkown character, you can draw it on a smartphone to input it into a dictionary. That's quicker and more reliable than OCR.

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好的...但我觉得自己OCR很方便的方法,在线的时候"复制"和"粘贴"也比较方便 ^_^