"Fantabulous"

Actually, it wasn't until about 150 years ago when literacy began to spread throughout the anglophone world that writing had much influence on the English language. Then you started to see acronyms like emcee and radar formed from their letters.

Nonetheless, the gist of what you say about English is true. To a large extent it's an "agglutinative" language, which permits the formation of new words by juxtaposing old ones. Crackhead, cable-ready, islamofascist, videogame.

Having or not having a phonetic alphabet (and the slapdash way we use ours it barely qualifies as "phonetic") has not had much influence on a language's development. Chinese is far richer than English by the measure of its word-building feature. It has borrowed a negligible number of foreign words and quite happily forms its own for everything from petroleum (stone-oil, the same as the foreign roots we borrowed) to computer (electric brain, a rather charming coinage).

You've been misinformed about Arabic and Korean, they both use alphabets, not characters. The Korean alphabet was invented just a few hundred years ago and it's one of the most perfectly phonetic writing systems in use. What you see as a character is actually two or three letters arranged in a square instead of a straight line. A little touch of iconoclasm there.

Japanese uses two completely different phonetic alphabets in addition to 5,000 Chinese characters.

Our Roman alphabet is not derived from the Sanskrit alphabet, which is an artifact of Indian civilization. Our Greco-Roman civilization is descended from Mesopotamian civilization (Sumer, Babylon, etc.) and our alphabet likewise traces back through Greek, Hebrew, Phoenician, and several iterations to the original writing systems of Mesopotamia.

Every civilization has to develop a writing system because when people stop living in villages where they all know each other, they have to start keeping records. Ours and the Indians' evolved into a phonetic script. That of the Chinese did not--yet. The Egyptians were well on their way, with phonetic elements in their hieroglyphics, until their entire civilization was obliterated by Muslims. Ditto for the Aztecs and marauding Christians, another monotheistic people with delusions of superiority who also destroyed the much younger Inca civilization which, as far as I know, had not really developed a sophisticated writing system yet.

The Angles and the Saxons were Germanic peoples descended from those who migrated into the main part of Europe from Scandinavia around 1,000BCE. The Germanic languages are on the Western branch of the Indo-European language family, along with Celtic, Romance (Latin), Greek, and a few others. It broke off probably about 1,500-2,000 years before that from the Eastern branch, which includes Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and a few others.

English is most closely related to Dutch and German, then Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, and then to the other Western Indo-European languages like Gaelic and Romanian. Its relationship to Russian, Lithuanian, and Sanskrit or its modern descendants like Hindi and Punjabi is much more distant.

Turkish, Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Saami ("Lapp"), Basque, Georgian, and several other languages of Europe are not descended from Indo-European.

A phoneme is a unit of sound and has no defined relationship to writing symbols, except for academic creations like the International Phonetic Alphabet. In some languages like Czech, great effort has been expended to enforce an almost perfect one-to-one correspondence between spoken sounds and written letters. Others like Spanish and German are a little looser, but it's usually possible to read a written word correctly and to spell a spoken word with about 95% accuracy. Swedish spelling is painful, French is hopeless and English is a certifiable disaster.
 
Fraggle Rocker said:
Chinese is far richer than English by the measure of its word-building feature. It has borrowed a negligible number of foreign words and quite happily forms its own for everything from petroleum (stone-oil, the same as the foreign roots we borrowed) to computer (electric brain, a rather charming coinage).
Chinese is a character text language phoneticized by Roman alphabetic symbols such as the Pinyin, Yale, or Wade-Giles system. You cannot form new characters in Chinese. You can combine them into dual characters but that's about it. It's a beautiful language but quite limited in its scope compared to English and German. This is why they have to constantly "borrow" Anglo-Saxon words and interject them into a scientific text. English and German are by far much richer than Chinese and most Chinese people will readily admit ths fact.

To be considered "literate" in Chinese, it is commonly said that you only need to know 2,000 characters. That is the equivalent to knowing 2,000 words in English. Most Chinese dictionaries contain 40,000 to 50,000 characters. Scholars say there are only about a total of 80,000 characters in Chinese, but many of these are ancient characters that are no longer used. Compare this to 76,000,000 words incorporated into Merrian-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. That's 2,000 times as many English words than Chinese characters in the average dictionary. English is by far much much richer of a language. In terms of word or symbolized meaning, this is an indisputable fact.
 
Japanese and Korean are both character based languages that are then phonetized or are then transcribed to phonetic symbols. Japanese contains 50,000 characters - 10,000 in common use - known as Kana and Kanji. Japanese characters are also limited in scope and so they have borrowed Chinese characters to supplement the language.

Korean is a very "basic" and simple character text that was put together by one of their ancient rulers. To see a full example of this characters text go to: http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/eecearchive/digests/korean/katz99k/p2.gif

Sorry, I don't know how to post a .gif image.
 
I am sure we three (Fraggle, valich) discussed this a few months ago.
I agree with Fraggle more on the subject.

valich said:
Chinese is a character text language phoneticized by Roman alphabetic symbols such as the Pinyin, Yale, or Wade-Giles system.

True, this can be done.

valich said:
You cannot form new characters in Chinese.

Wrong. new characters are created. Of course, the rate is much slower than English or other alphabet-based language. The standardization of the Unicode set is the latest additional barrier.

valich said:
You can combine them into dual characters but that's about it. It's a beautiful language but quite limited in its scope compared to English and German. This is why they have to constantly "borrow" Anglo-Saxon words and interject them into a scientific text. English and German are by far much richer than Chinese and most Chinese people will readily admit ths fact.

Let me repeat, this is because scientistic terms are often coined first in English. Again, try attending a conference on Chinese Medicine, Martial Arts or Fung Shui and see the opposite happens.

valich said:
To be considered "literate" in Chinese, it is commonly said that you only need to know 2,000 characters. That is the equivalent to knowing 2,000 words in English.

Absolutely wrong. It is more equivalent to 2000 alphabets in English. Chinese words are built by chinese characters and it just happens that some simple words happens to be single-character. In modern chinese, there is a tendency to make single character word into two-character word for sounding better. E.g. Mouse 鼠->老鼠, Car 車->車輛/車子.
Another example, search engine of chinese web sites are based on chinese (composite) words. Searching done based on chinese characters will give you non-sense made up of random juxtaposition of chinese characters.

valich said:
Most Chinese dictionaries contain 40,000 to 50,000 characters. Scholars say there are only about a total of 80,000 characters in Chinese, but many of these are ancient characters that are no longer used. Compare this to 76,000,000 words incorporated into Merrian-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. That's 2,000 times as many English words than Chinese characters in the average dictionary.

It is like saying "There are 2,000 times as many Chinese characters than English alphabets."

You should compare it with a Chinese Word dictionary.
Last time I gave you the ISBN of some chinese word dictionaries upon your request and apparently you haven't paid any attention to them.

valich said:
English is by far much much richer of a language. In terms of word or symbolized meaning, this is an indisputable fact.

I agree to some extent. It is the de facto international language.
 
Show me an example of a new character created in Chinese?

I'm fairly fluent in Chinese, after living there for almost 15 years, so I have about twenty dictionaries to use to compare to my English dictionaries (English-Chinese, Chinese-English, Pinyin-Chinese, Pinyin-English, and Chinese-Pinyin). Which one do you want me to use to prove my point? Been there, done that.

PossumKing: 'Ginormous' is "giga" plus "enormous." Giga means one billion.

Character-based languages are basically dead languages. You can combine characters but you'll never get the richness that you can get from phoneme-based syllabic languages where you can combine single phoneme structures (prefixes, suffixes, consonants, and vowels) to get a much more condensed word and an entirely new one.
 
valich said:
Show me an example of a new character created in Chinese?

I have answered you on this before. I don't want to repeat.
See another government website regarding Chinese Language

http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr98-99/english/panels/itb/papers/it1101_5.htm

From this site,
The Information Technology Services Department and the Official Languages Agency work closely together to update the GCCS to take account of new characters developed.

valich said:
I'm fairly fluent in Chinese, after living there for almost 15 years, so I have about twenty dictionaries to use to compare to my English dictionaries (English-Chinese, Chinese-English, Pinyin-Chinese, Pinyin-English, and Chinese-Pinyin). Which one do you want me to use to prove my point? Been there, done that.

I don't know how to convince you but I am tried of your "after living there for almost 15 years" claim. It is nothing to me. You only know the tip of an iceberg of the Chinese language. Try to look up what is 詞語 and 成語 and learn.

Let me use Fraggle's example. Do you really think there is no Chinese word for "Computer" because it is rendered as "電腦", a two-character word?
Do you find your "only 2000-chinese words for an literate" stupid?
 
The word for father is "vater" in German, "pater" in Latin, and "pitr" in Sanskrit. The words candy, jungle, cheetah, orange, punch, and sugar are all Sanskrit in origin.

The majority of English words are taken from foreign languages with only about one sixth coming from Old English. The Indo-European family includes German; Indo-Iranian languages, including Hindi and Sanskrit; Slavic; Baltic; Celtic; and Greek and Latin.

An alphabet is a complete standardized set of letters that represents a phoneme of a spoken language and is the most concise way of representing a "meaning" of something that we have in the world. No other system comes close.
 
The concept of a "word" is not the same in a totally agglutinative language like Chinese. It's true that every syllable has a root meaning and that a good many of them are used as "words," such as pronouns, numbers, familiar animals, and simple activities. But look in a Chinese dictionary and you'll see that the vast majority of "words" are built up of two or more syllables. Take those two thousand basic morphemes (BTW, that would be the equivalent of a fifth- or sixth-grade education here; high school is 5,000) and combine them into two-syllable "words" and suddenly you've got four million. Or eight billion three-syllable words. That's as rich as any language and it's the same mechanism: combine existing morphemes in new ways.

I know I've had this discussion here with someone. The use of English words is limited to well-educated Chinese people who have studied English or have been exposed to it in other ways. The average Chinese person who does not often deal with foreigners is simply incapable of pronouncing the sounds of the English language well enough to use the words precisely. Final consonants (except N and NG) flummox them, they add a vowel the same way Spanish speakers insert an E before the SP in "e-Spanish." Consonant clusters are impossible, they just insert extra vowels. A final consonant cluster, as in a common medical word like "cervix" is utterly impossible--oh and so is the V. It would come out something like ser-bi-kuh-suh.

Of course doctors can use English words because they've had to learn English to keep up with the advances in their profession.

The Koreans use a phonetic alphabet. You're mistaken. They write their names in Chinese and use a sprinkling of other Chinese words, but all those "characters" you're seeing are combinations of two or three letters in a square. We don't perceive them as letters because they're not arranged in a straight line. Here's a website that explains the alphabet and its history.

http://thinkzone.wlonk.com/Language/Korean.htm

It's easy to spot Korean because it has circles.
 
You'r not showing me any new characters? "詞語 and 成語"? And? Am I supposed to not know these characters? Yes, I often use computers in China "dian nau" "電腦." And? What are you trying to say? Look at the so simple meaning of these two characters "electric brain." These are not new characters?

Am I conversing with a red herring?

The website given entitled "Chinese Language Interface" describes how they are inputting "new characters" into their "BIG-5 coding scheme" in Hong Kongy from the 60,000 existent characters. It does not say anything about "creating" new Chinese characters that were never in existence before. New meanings are created from combining existing characters not by creating new characters.

Again, show me a NEW Chinese character. You can't do it. All they can do is combine the existing ones. It's a dead language. You can only combine characters to a certain extent until they get too unmanageably long. Too long to be practical to use. I think I'm being very clear here?

That is why English and other Indo-European phonetic alphabety languages are so much richer. Youy can create new words instaly, such as "ginormous."

Quite frankly, after mastering the Chinese language in Taiwan and Mainland China I became too bored with its limitations in communication and that's one of the main reasons I returned to the states. The most enlightening conversations that I was having in China were with my students who were mastering English. I kind've got very tired of hearing, "Ni hao ma?" "Ni chi fan le mei you?" "Ni de gou yao bu yao ren?" "你好吗?你吃米了没有? 你的狗咬不咬人?" every place I went?

Show me any Chinese dictionary that lists the following English words:
radioimmunoelectrophoresis
psychoneuroendocrinological
osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous
aequeosalinocalcalinoceraceoaluminosocupreovitriolic

You'd have to list fifteen seperate Chinese characters and you still wouldn't come up with the same meaning.
 
Fraggle Rocker said:
The concept of a "word" is not the same in a totally agglutinative language like Chinese. It's true that every syllable has a root meaning and that a good many of them are used as "words," such as pronouns, numbers, familiar animals, and simple activities. But look in a Chinese dictionary and you'll see that the vast majority of "words" are built up of two or more syllables. Take those two thousand basic morphemes (BTW, that would be the equivalent of a fifth- or sixth-grade education here; high school is 5,000) and combine them into two-syllable "words" and suddenly you've got four million. Or eight billion three-syllable words. That's as rich as any language and it's the same mechanism: combine existing morphemes in new ways.
Every syllable in Chinese does NOT have a root meaning: this is why there are so many different Chinese languages (sometimes confusingly called dialects). The only thing that ties all of the various phonetically different Chinese languages together are the written characters, and these are limited to about 60,000. 2,000 to be considered literate enough to read a newspaper.

A syllable is a unit of spoken language and this does not apply to Chinese because Chinese is a character-based language. Each single character can be combined with another, but that's it. You don't combine syllables in Chinese to get different words and different word meanings like we do in English or other Indo-European languages. Our language is phonetically based with symbols that can be rearranged to form new syllabic meanings. This cannot happen with Chinese. There's a big difference here.

We can create an entirely new word in English, unrelated to any other word, by combining a totaly unique set of consonants and vowels. This cannot be done with Chinese. Likewise, as in the above example of "ginormous," we can create an entirely new word based on parts of an original word. This also cannot be done with Chinese. This new word "ginormous," means "a huge amount, like a billion" - an entirely new word created instantly.

Again, 76 million English words were available to the editors of the Merrian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary to produce a dictionary containing 15 and a half million entries. No other language in the world, except for German, comes close to this richness. This is 2,000 times greater than the amount of the largest text of a Chinese character dictionary in use today.

Yes, I admit that I was in wrong to state that Korean is a character language but I did so because most people in the world call it that. Korean characters are phonetic symbols; although, like Japanese, they borrow Chinese characters to use. I guess it comes with the territory. After all, they're all neighbors and need to communicate with one another.
 
valich,

valich said:
You'r not showing me any new characters? "詞語 and 成語"? And? Am I supposed to not know these characters? Yes, I often use computers in China "dian nau" "電腦." And? What are you trying to say? Look at the so simple meaning of these two characters "electric brain." These are not new characters?

Am I conversing with a red herring?

The website given entitled "Chinese Language Interface" describes how they are inputting "new characters" into their "BIG-5 coding scheme" in Hong Kongy from the 60,000 existent characters. It does not say anything about "creating" new Chinese characters that were never in existence before. New meanings are created from combining existing characters not by creating new characters.

Again, show me a NEW Chinese character. You can't do it. All they can do is combine the existing ones. It's a dead language. You can only combine characters to a certain extent until they get too unmanageably long. Too long to be practical to use. I think I'm being very clear here?

That is why English and other Indo-European phonetic alphabety languages are so much richer. Youy can create new words instaly, such as "ginormous."

Quite frankly, after mastering the Chinese language in Taiwan and Mainland China I became too bored with its limitations in communication and that's one of the main reasons I returned to the states. The most enlightening conversations that I was having in China were with my students who were mastering English. I kind've got very tired of hearing, "Ni hao ma?" "Ni chi fan le mei you?" "Ni de gou yao bu yao ren?" "你好吗?你吃米了没有? 你的狗咬不咬人?" every place I went?

Show me any Chinese dictionary that lists the following English words:
radioimmunoelectrophoresis
psychoneuroendocrinological
osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous
aequeosalinocalcalinoceraceoaluminosocupreovitriolic

You'd have to list fifteen seperate Chinese characters and you still wouldn't come up with the same meaning.

It says "take account of new characters developed." What do think the new characters developed are?

From a site in China:
http://www.people.com.cn/BIG5/paper39/1533/248335.html

"例如,去年,國家頒布了新的化學名稱,使用的漢字都是新造的"

This translates to: For example, in last year, the state released new chemical names using newly created chinese characters.


Taiwan site:
http://www.taiwanese-oki.idv.tw/t02.htm

part (4) Newly created characters.

Wiki:
http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/本字

新造字:新造漢字,多為「口」字旁。

This translates to:
Newly created characters: newly created chinese characters, most of them with the character stem "口".

Example [口的], [口既]

Enough?

The "dian nau" example is to show how wrong it is to claim "To be considered "literate" in Chinese, it is commonly said that you only need to know 2,000 characters. That is the equivalent to knowing 2,000 words in English."

Chinese is a dead language, yet, it has the most native speakers and the number of people learning mandarin is growing. Believe what you want to believe, I don't care.

btw,
"Ni chi fan le mei you?" "你吃米了没有?"
This should "你吃飯了没有?" 米 is raw. 飯 is cooked rice.
Yeah, you mastered the Chinese language. :)
 
Let me return to the fantabulous topic.

Two words by Scott Adams

Confusopoly

a combination of confusion and monopoly (or rather oligopoly) defined as "a group of companies with similar products who intentionally confuse customers instead of competing on price".

Examples of industries in which confusopolies exist (according to Adams) include telephone service, insurance, mortgage loans, banking, and financial services.

Induhvidual

The conscious misspelling of individual as induhvidual is a pejorative term for people who are not in the DNRC (Dogbert's New Ruling Class).

From Wiki
 
Let me correct myself. That was a dumb thing for me to say that I mastered Chinese. I just came home from a social gathering yesterday and had a few too many. When I come home I get bored and try to see what's new on sciforum or the tv, which I seldom watch anyways.

I first said above that I am "fairly fluent in Chinese...and that the most enlightening conversations I had were with my students who were mastering English." I never said that I "mastered" Chinese. To me it is a difficult language to learn: I tried to learn as much as I could on a daily basis.

"你吃米了没有?" This should "你吃飯了没有?" 米 is raw. 飯 is cooked rice."

Yes, very sorry. I typed in the wrong word. I really don't put a lot of time and effort into these postings unless I feel that its worthwhile, and you can clearly see this in the many more English mistakes that I made as I hastily typed. I cut my finger the other day and the bandage catches on the keys.

As far as the difference between "詞語 and 成語," I'm sure you know that from 1956 to the early 60's the communist Chinese government simplified many of the complex Traditional Chinese characters to make the languages more communicable to the whole population and more easily understood by the masses. They simplified 2235 characters. Traditional Chinese is still used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. There's nothing to "learn" by this and it is irrelevant to the point.

melodicbard said:
From a site in China:
http://www.people.com.cn/BIG5/paper39/1533/248335.html

"例如,去年,國家頒布了新的化學名稱,使用的漢字都是新造的"

This translates to: For example, in last year, the state released new chemical names using newly created chinese characters.

Taiwan site:
http://www.taiwanese-oki.idv.tw/t02.htm

part (4) Newly created characters.

Wiki:
http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/本字
These are very interesting papers. Thanks.

The first paper mainly deals with complaints by the scientific community about the limited ability to enter Chinese characters fonts - the "Chinese data comprehensive management problem (中文數據全面管理的問題)" - and the desire to enter all of the 60,000 Chinese characters. Although I do see where it says that "last year, the country has promulgated new chemistry names and that the Chinese characters are newly made" (去年,國家頒布了新的化學名稱,使用的漢字都是新造的.). I wish they gave some examples of these newly made characters, or do they just mean newly formed composites of existing characters, which of course are always necessarily done to represent new chemical and scientific names. Then again, maybe they are recombining existing radicals. It doesn't say.

The second "Taiwan paper" is very interesting but I have to admit that I don't quite understand it all because I don't speak Taiwanese. I don't know the two additional intonations: " ' and _ ". There are no new characters given but they describe how they create new characters with the "pictophonetics according to the six categories of intonation (多依六書之形聲)." Again, they are combining two existing characters to eliminate the ambiquity that results from the tonal intonations of various homophones.
 
valich said:
Every syllable in Chinese does NOT have a root meaning
Yes it does. I gather that you have not studied the Chinese language at a sufficientlly advanced academic level to get into this, at least not the written language. It's something they throw into beginning classes for foreign adults because it helps us make a little sense out of it. Pick any character and look it up in a dictionary by the radical-and-strokes indexing method. You'll find a list of compound words that start with this syllable/character, but at the top of the list will be the single syllable/character by itself, with a definition. Sometimes it will be an archaic meaning that's no longer in vernacular usage, but it has a meaning. In most of the compound words that meaning will show through, as "lightning" for dian in all the compound words about electricity. We use the Greek word elektros which means the same thing; the Chinese don't have to borrow a foreign word because they've already got a convenient one-syllable word for it. Dian is a lot easier to pronounce than "electronic," which is typical of Chinese. The average Chinese sentence contains fewer syllables than its English translation, which means the language is generally spoken a bit slower than most languages to get the same information transfer rate, and therefore is easier for a foreigner to parse than, say, Italian or Russian. We struggle to keep up by such means as shortening "electronic" to "e-".

In some compounds the etymology is a stretch, like dong-xi, literally "east-west," for "thing," but scholars trace these compounds back to the earliest writings and say they ultimately make as much sense as some of our own bizarre word origins.

this is why there are so many different Chinese languages (sometimes confusingly called dialects). The only thing that ties all of the various phonetically different Chinese languages together are the written characters, and these are limited to about 60,000. 2,000 to be considered literate enough to read a newspaper.
Yes, and if the average word is constructed by agglutinating two roots, which is a conservative estimate, you've got a potential vocabulary of 4,000,000 compound words.

A syllable is a unit of spoken language and this does not apply to Chinese because Chinese is a character-based language.
No language is categorized by its writing system because they all evolved for thousands of years before writing was invented. Chinese is a synthetic, agglutinative language based on one-syllable root words. Each character was devised to transcribe a single one-syllable root word, so there is an exact one-to-one mapping between root words in speech and writing.
Each single character can be combined with another, but that's it.
"That's it"??? With only the 2,000 characters they learn in grade school, that gives them a possible four million compounds!
You don't combine syllables in Chinese to get different words and different word meanings like we do in English or other Indo-European languages.
I don't know why you keep saying this. That is exactly what they do in Chinese, which is the reason it's so adaptable. Ji-qi, "fuel engine" = "motor"; jiao-ta-che, "leg stroke vehicle" = "bicycle." Hence, ji-qi-jiao-ta-che, "motorcycle."

Take a look at that same dictionary and under many of those characters you'll find compounds of five or more root syllables. This is a living language. They coin new words constantly, just like we do. The difference is that they build them out of the roots in their own language instead of mining Greek and Latin like we do.
Our language is phonetically based with symbols that can be rearranged to form new syllabic meanings. This cannot happen with Chinese. There's a big difference here.
All languages are phonetically based, as I explained earlier. No language is based upon the peculiarities of its written form. Only in the past 150 years has English begun to create words based upon writing, such as SOX for Sarbanes-Oxley, because that's when a sufficient portion of the population could read and write to be able to understand the coinage.
We can create an entirely new word in English, unrelated to any other word, by combining a totally unique set of consonants and vowels.
That's true in theory, but it's hardly ever done in practice. Most words of that type were originally trademarks like Kodak, Nylon, and Aspirin, created precisely because they had no meaning and could legally be trademarked.
This cannot be done with Chinese. Likewise, as in the above example of "ginormous," we can create an entirely new word based on parts of an original word. This also cannot be done with Chinese. This new word "ginormous," means "a huge amount, like a billion" - an entirely new word created instantly.
What a strange thing to say. Almost every word in Chinese was formed that way. It's an agglutinative language and that's what "agglutinative" means. Indo-European was an inflected language and its descendants are still struggling to throw off that paradigm. Admittedly English has, in my opinion at least, progressed farther down that path than any of its relatives, but it's still got a long way to get to where Chinese was three thousand years ago when Anglo-Saxon's ancestor proto-Germanic was a slave to case, tense, mood, and number and left us with a pathetic set of about 25 prepositions to express all possible relationships.
Again, 76 million English words were available to the editors of the Merrian-Webster Collegiate Dictionary to produce a dictionary containing 15 and a half million entries. No other language in the world, except for German, comes close to this richness. This is 2,000 times greater than the amount of the largest text of a Chinese character dictionary in use today.
And again, you're just not reading your Chinese dictionary correctly. My Fenn Five Thousand, which is a dictionary for high school and foreign students, lists--I would say--an average of ten compounds under every root. That's fifty thousand "words." If you pull up a dictionary for scholars with 25 or 30 thousand roots and fifty compounds per root, you've got more than a million words. Pull up the entire set of 75 thousand, or whatever it is, with all the compounds, and you've matched English.

I don't normally diss English quite so badly except when somebody tries to claim that it's superior to Chinese. It has its advantages and its beauty and in many practical ways it's superior to most other languages during a Paradigm Shift into a new era of civilization like we're living through now. But Chinese is its equal if not superior and it's no accident that these are the two civilizations that are leading the way into the new era.

Yes, I admit that I was in wrong to state that Korean is a character language but I did so because most people in the world call it that. Korean characters are phonetic symbols; although, like Japanese, they borrow Chinese characters to use. I guess it comes with the territory. After all, they're all neighbors and need to communicate with one another.
It's purely because of the territory. Both Korea and Japan were culturally "colonized" by Buddhist monks from China. Just as most European languages were first transcribed into writing by Christian monks using either the Latin or Cyrillic (heavily modified Greek) alphabet, the languages of China's neighbors were first written down with Chinese characters because that was the toolset the monks had. As they say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
 
Fraggle Rocker said:
Yes it does. I gather that you have not studied the Chinese language at a sufficientlly advanced academic level to get into this, at least not the written language. It's something they throw into beginning classes for foreign adults because it helps us make a little sense out of it. Pick any character and look it up in a dictionary by the radical-and-strokes indexing method.
Yes, I'm well familiar with radical and stroke indexing methods and these are used to teach people the Chinese language, but the language itself is character-based. Chinese characters are derived from pictograph forms in Nature. The Chinese language is based on these pictographs, not on phonetic symbols. This is why there are so many different phonetic dialects in Chinese that are all pronounced differently: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Hakka, Shang-Hai dialect. Phonetically, all these Chinese languages are mutually unintelligeable.
 
Fraggle Rocker said:
No language is categorized by its writing system because they all evolved for thousands of years before writing was invented. Chinese is a synthetic, agglutinative language based on one-syllable root words. Each character was devised to transcribe a single one-syllable root word, so there is an exact one-to-one mapping between root words in speech and writing.
Again, see above. Chinese, as well as many other languages, are based upon what the eye sees in Nature: pictograms, not phonetics. Many Chinese dictionaries are indexed and catagorized by the radicals. Why do you keep using Pinyin? Because you can say it in English that way. There is no exact one-to-one correspondence between the radicals, or the characters, in "speech and writing." A speaker who pronounces a character in Mandarin Chinese cannot understand the Taiwanese speaker who pronounces the same character cannot understand the Cantonese speaker who, etc, etc.

There are eight phonetically different major groups of Chinese: Putonghua (Mandarin), Taiwanese, Gan, Kejia (Hakka), Min, Wu, Xiang and Yue (Cantonese). Further, even just say Hakka alone has dozens of regional phonetic spoken variations: Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, and Taiwan. It is more customary to refer to regions, and even "cities of speech" when talking about the spoken Chinese language than to phonetically refer to it as a whole. In principle, every county in China has its own "form of speech" and there are over 8,000 counties in China. Dozens - maybe hundreds - of these are phonetically mutually unintelligeable. It is only the "written" characters that unite China. Chinese is a character-based language, not phonetically based, and there is no one-to-one correspondence between speech and writing.

Mandarin has 4 tones, Cantonese has 6 or 9 depending how strict your pronunciation is, and Taiwanese has 7: all mutually unintelligible.
 
melodicbard said:
The Wikepidea article in Chinese talks about the "original base form" of a character and how it led to the "hundreds of branches" according to the dialect, and the problems that arise in using homophones. Apparently they offer a solution (假借字) where the character is "replaced by a near sounding character which may written without the character" (以近音字代替无字可写的辞语).

continued below:
 
The Wikepidea article states:

"Chinese Mix Collection to Use: The full text taken in the Chinese character as the main body does not have the refined language as the character may have when written using Roman characters" (汉罗混用:全文以汉字为主体,无字可写的辞语利用罗马字). Languages scholars often inquire about the dialect's original form of a character, but because its position with the character lacks binding force, instead creates various confusion. (部分语言学者常探寻方言本字,但其主张的用字由于缺乏约束力,反而造成各家混乱)Taiwanese: Newly made characters: safe-guarding the foundation (wei2 ji1) of the hundred branches are in the free encyclopedia network. (新造字:维基百科是网络顶一本自由百科全书)."

I'm assuming that this Taiwanese "free encyclopedia network" contains forms of the original characters, as is stated above, before they evolved into the "hundred branches"? I’m not sure what this means. Do you translate something different out of this?
 
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