Characters will be changed!
Just found the following link in the Skritter forum:
Which is based on:
changyeAugust 20, 2009, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the interesting articles. Actually there is a similar argument in Japan too. After all, it's merely a matter of a character style/type, but not a matter of a character itself. One thing I don't understand is an excuse for these very slight alterations.
In the ‘pre-computer era’, printing factories employed copper moulds, and slight differences could barely be discerned with the human eye. After entering the ‘age of computers’, the full problem of inconsistences in characters was revealed.
I think it's exactly the opposite. People usually don't care about such trivial inconsistencies among characters printed on paper, let alone ones displayed on the computer screen. At least, I can't tell the difference even if I use a magnifier, hehe.
I believe that calligraphers have no interest in this issue.
oranginaAugust 23, 2009, 07:56 AM
I agree much of this is futile, there really is no sense counting words. But it is fun in a nerdy way. But I also think that the reason many english speakers can't figure out what an unfamiliar term means is a matter of training. My Mom was a bit unconventional in this. When my sisters and I wanted to know what a word meant we had to figure out what the root word was by identifying prefixes and suffixes, and figure out the meaning based on the pieces. Only failing that we looked up the word in the dictionary. With experience you get better at it. And based on the little word counting game, I would guess the chinese language is more conducive to teaching the pieces of words, even if the writing takes longer to master. Maybe that is why I resist learning Spanish even though it would be eminently practical. I know it isn't the same as english but it doesn't feel like it. I love english, but that doesn't mean I want to learn it all over. With chinese, I am learning something entirely new. Much better.
I haven't read The Language Instinct, but I love Pinker's Words and Rules (or as a friend affectionately calls it The Brain Hurt Book.)
user26513August 22, 2009, 10:38 AM
Would it just make sense revert to traditional characters give more and more people are using computers. Would it not?
Then again , in Taiwan I am surprised to see just how many people use various simplified versions of so characters. Although people defend the used of the traditional set for finding meaning in the characters, it seems that most are not able to say much about one character or another!
RJAugust 22, 2009, 01:11 PM
Ah how complex the system is. They even need a state agency just to keep track of all the issues. It strikes me first, how long it takes children to learn to read (not to mention me). In the US I could have read an adult book at the age of 7, in China I would expect that I would have been in high school before I could have made that claim. So much more energy put in to get the same thing out (communication). From a purely pragmatic standpoint wouldnt it make sense to get rid of characters all together? Develop an alphabet, or switch the official language to english?
changyeAugust 23, 2009, 06:54 AM
FYI, the largest Chinese dictionary in China is 《汉语大词典》, and it contains about 375,000 words and 23,000 reference characters. The largest Chinese-Japanese dictionary is 《大汉和辞典》, edited and published in Japan, lists about 530,000 words and more than 50,000 reference Chinese characters.
I'm not sure how many words average Chinese people usually know, but one thing is clear. There is not much point in comparing Chinese with English (and most other languages), because once you learn a few thousand Chinese characters, you can often easily infer the meaning of words that are new to you.
For example, probably there are not many American (lower grades) elementary students who know what "ophthalmology" and "paleotology" indicate, but it's relatively easy for Chinese children to guess the meaning of "眼科" and "古生物学", which consist of basic Chinese characters. This trick often works well, but not always.
I know that English words also contain some linguistic clues, such as prefix and suffix mainly originated in Greek and Latin, but it seems to me that Chinese characters can work more effectively and directly as clues for guessing meanings of words than (relatively difficult and abstract) prefix and suffix in English words.
henningAugust 23, 2009, 07:11 AM
your comparison is not fair - you need to contrast those Latinisms with 成语 and other relicts of 古文. Only modern Chinese science terms are simpler. At the first glance. Once you have learned enough Latinisms they become more obvious, too, even if you haven't learned Latin.
Regarding the "how many words": In his book "The language instinct", S. Pinker makes the point that it is futile to try to count "how many words" a speaker knows. What do you count as a word? And I think that in Chinese the problem becomes even more salient: You have the character with its individual meaning like 社 (that is itsself puzzeled together of meaningful components), the word 社会, a word composition 社会主义, etc.
The "you can infer the meaning" is the trick. There are compositions and compositions of compositions, there are variations, there is word play.
changyeAugust 23, 2009, 07:30 AM
Unlike Latinism, all the Chinese children, like it or not, equally learn basic Chinese characters at school that can be used as clues for guessing the meanings.
changyeAugust 23, 2009, 07:42 AM
S. Pinker makes the point that it is futile to try to count "how many words" a speaker knows. What do you count as a word?
I agree with this statement. With regard to this "how many words do you know" problem, Chinese is very different from other languages. How about English and German? Do you think you can put both sister languages in the same arena when talking about this problem. I hear that word-formation in German is a little different from that in English.
changyeAugust 23, 2009, 02:34 AM
Chinese elementary schoolers learn about 3,000 Chinese characters in six years, and Japanese elementary kids learn only 1,000 Kanji characters, thankfully. I hear that educated Chinese natives recognize more than 6,000 characters, while probably about 3,000 in Japan.
The point is that the concept/definition of a character (logogram) in Chinese are very different from those of a character in most other languages. In short, one Chinese character is almost equal to, for example, one English word, which has sound, meaning, and history.
In China, a character is called "字", and a word is "词", accordingly, a Chinese dictionary is "汉语词典" and a Chinese character dictionary is "汉语字典", but there is no clear line between 字 and 词. I believe "character dictionaries" are not so pupular in Western countries.... hehe.