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Chinese Language Forums - Chinese Etymology Institute • View topic - Phonetics

Phonetics

Phonetics

Postby Ling » Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:09 am

The study of Chinese characters usually involves an explanation of the fact that many phonetic elements of characters do not represent exactly the same sound that the character is known by. Frequently the explanation entails a scenario to cover the means whereby phonetics only agree with the final part of the name-sound of the character. At the same time, however, directions are often given the student on how to distinguish the phonetic element in a character because that will identify the other part, the radical or semantic element, and that will help the student to understand the meaning of the character more easily. Following this background the student is then presented with whatever method of teaching phonetics is employed.

I went through this ritual and came out mystified. Chinese calligraphy is a detailed art whose talented writers cover a huge continent but all have maintained the same language for thousands of years. The changes have been few and due to technique or tools and quickly transformed the whole country, when they occurred. Yet I am led to believe that the 'natural' variation in speech between the north and the south eroded the "once consistent" set of phonetic elements of the language into the hodge-podge that its phonetics represent today. What motivated a person in the north, for example, to change one of the word pronunciations to the southern one when all the other people in the north still used the old name for something and how did it catch on to the extent that we see today ? Why would the person who spent his life making the dictionary of dictionaries select a Kunming name for a thing if the dictionary was for the Beijing elite and they all used the Beijing word for the thing ?

It was beyond me. So I decided to download a set of commonly-used characters to check their phonetic elements and see if any kind of pattern or inspiration might result. The first results added something new. In the hundred, most-frequently used characters a student will see in common-everyday Chinese, more than three-quarters of them do not have a phonetic element. Words such as 年nián year, 百bǎi one hundred and 此cǐ this, have phonetics, but 好hǎo good, 等děng wait, and 就 jiù at once, do not. Next I took a page out of the list at the five hundredth level of frequency of use. There were fifty-five characters. More than one third did not have a phonetic element. Over half did not have an initial or final (b or u for bu, for example) that agreed with the name-sound of the character, (i.e. neither part of the phonetic agreed or else the word did not have a phonetic). Three quarters of the phonetic elements did not agree with both the initial and the final part of the phonetic. So, it appears that up to the level of the five hundred most frequently used words in Chinese, the student who looks for phonetic assistance in each character will get it for one in four words on the average. (This check, by the way, took advantage of any of the multiple phonetics for characters. Although how a student is to know there is more than one and which one to use when is not clear.)

Five hundred characters with only one correct phonetic in four was enough statistics for me. I decided to do some reading and try to come up with a better idea of how phonetics might actually have come into being. Thus, before the Shang dynasty, scholars used a rebus (4 representing 'for', for example), a 'sound-alike' character for a character they could not express. One example is the stalks and ears of wheat (present day 'lái') for the verb 'to come'. Note, this was effective only as long as the wheat and verb had the same 'name' (which was not lái in the Shang dynasty) and this rebus procedure produced many 'phonetic', stand-alone characters in the ancient literature for modern scholars to ponder over. Then, during the Qin years and Han dynasty, I learned, there was a herculean effort to standardize the language and make it more easily understood by everyone. One thing was to add semantic classifiers (radicals, titles for groups of characters) to words to help to distinguish their written meaning. 鹅é goose was 我, which might have led to some difficulties in sentence comprehension. So, 鸟niǎo bird was added to help clear up the species involved. This semantic classifier cleared up the meaning but it also produced the question, "If niǎo is the semantic, what do we call the original é part now ?" The answer was to call it the phonetic because it was the previous name of the bird.

This accounts nicely for the beginning of the process. Another example, 纠 jiū 'twisted together', takes the topic a bit further. The original character in the Shang dynasty was 丩jiū 'twisted together'. In the Qin years a semantic classifier was added to it, 糸mì threads, but, at the same time another character was using 丩.It was 收shōu collect. So, later on, when the phonetics were considered a system of sounds that had been added to the language, 丩, a phonetic, was seen to have two pronunciations, i.e. jiū and shōu. Next, another kind of problem. 去qù to go, was a slightly different shape in Shang and Zhou dynasties but it is still recognizable as the same character as the modern one. Its lower element was listed as a semantic element or radical hundreds of years after its origin. This, naturally, made its upper element 土 tǔ earth, a phonetic but several characters already had that element in their structure, and many of them ended, coincidently in 'u'. (杜dù sweet pear tree,肚dǔ stomach, 牡mǔ ox). Many other characters, however, have another element in the character as the phonetic, 赦shè pardon, 地dì ground floor, 均jūn equal, 坒bì connected,埔pǔ plain. So the student would not know which element was the effective phonetic if the student was looking for 'phonetic' guidance for the pronunciation of characters from the characters themselves.

There is one more factor that I learned that adds to the confusing state of phonetics. Hài was a well-known character in the Shang dynasty. It was a pig and it serves as one of the Twelve Earthly Branches. Its name varied from hài, to hó, to hú, to kaī and kō and so did its phonetic when a semantic classifier was added. Now, all these cases that I have mentioned occurred before the Qin and the Han made their changes to the language. All of the problems I have mentioned, therefore, passed straight through their otherwise comprehensive assault on the language, and weights and measures et al., et al. While on the subject of the Qin, et al., it may be pointed out that they were consummate 'Legalists'. For them, the meaning of the language would have been extremely important while its sound was merely rhetoric at best. The Han, it may be remembered, rewrote the classical books from memory that the Qin had burnt. They reverently reproduced every word from the original. No one changed them to correct their phonetic errors because we are using the same characters, still unchanged, today.

On this basis, then, I postulate that there never was a phonetic system for Chinese that would allow a person to look at a character and know how to pronounce it. The word 'phonetic' as it applies to Chinese characters simply refers to the part of a character that is not its semantic or radical element.

References. Frequency Statistics: Da,Jun 1998 Chinese Text complement http://lingua.mtsu.edu/chinesecomputer/oldversion Phonetics: Chinese Characters Dr.L Wieger Dover Pubs 1965, Analysis of Chinese Characters GD Wilder & JH Ingram Dover Books 1974, Chinese Characters R Harbaugh Yale U Press 1998, Chinese Characters Classification Wikipedia. Etymology: The Composition of Common Chinese Characters Xie Guanghou Peking U Press 1996, Tracing the Roots of Chinese Characters Li Leyi Beijing Lang & Cult U Press 1994, Evolutionary Illustration of Chinese Characters Li Leyi Beijing Lang & Cult U Press 2000, The Origin of Chinese Characters Wang Hongyuan Sinolingua 1993.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby hantze » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:29 am

Ling wrote:..., however, directions are often given the student on how to distinguish the phonetic element in a character because that will identify the other part, the radical or semantic element, and that will help the student to understand the meaning of the character more easily. Following this background the student is then presented with whatever method of teaching phonetics is employed.


No one in Taiwan nor in China learns the pronunciation of characters by learning the phonetic element of that character. The pronunciation of every character is taught as a standalone sound with the help of either 注 音 (Zhu-yin) or Pin-yin. In Taiwan, the 部 首 (leading radical of a word) is taught for helping to know the form of characters while the 部 首 does not act as a source of the semantic information for characters. The meaning of a character is assigned and is taught without the concern of the word structure.

As far as I know, only Tienzen Gong developed a new system with two claims.

1) Every character has an explicit or an implicit sound tag.
2) The meaning of every word can be read out from the internal structure of characters.

Is your article discussing about Gong’s system?
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Re: Phonetics

Postby yijing » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:50 am

Ling wrote:... It was beyond me. So I decided to download a set of commonly-used characters to check their phonetic elements and see if any kind of pattern or inspiration might result. The first results added something new. In the hundred, most-frequently used characters a student will see in common-everyday Chinese, more than three-quarters of them do not have a phonetic element. Words such as 年nián year, 百bǎi one hundred and 此cǐ this, have phonetics, but 好hǎo good, 等děng wait, and 就 jiù at once, do not. Next I took a page out of the list at the five hundredth level of frequency of use. There were fifty-five characters. More than one third did not have a phonetic element. ...


What do you mean about “phonetic element”?

What system are you using to determine that the words (年nián year, 百bǎi one hundred and 此cǐ this) have phonetic parts? What is the phonetic element “set” you are using for your analysis? You should list out the entire set or give the reference on that set’s whereabouts. Without a base set, we will not know what you are talking about. Why are the words (好hǎo good, 等děng wait, and 就 jiù at once) having no phonetic parts? What is the base and system you are using for this conclusion?

If you are talking about Gong’s system, his system has three parts about the phonetics. There are about 500 sound modules, but Gong only listed 300 of them in his book. Every character has an explicit or an implicit sound tag. There are a total of 250 four-tones in Chinese phonetics.

Now, you have made a challenge on Gong’s system by saying that those words (好hǎo good, 等děng wait, and 就 jiù at once) have no phonetic tags. Gong should give an answer on this.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby kenny » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:40 pm

Ling wrote:... Words such as 年nián year, 百bǎi one hundred and 此cǐ this, have phonetics, ...


On this basis, then, I postulate that there never was a phonetic system for Chinese that would allow a person to look at a character and know how to pronounce it. The word 'phonetic' as it applies to Chinese characters simply refers to the part of a character that is not its semantic or radical element.


You showed that there are three examples having phonetics. If you mean that these three allow a student to know how to pronounce them by looking at their word forms, then there is a subset that works for you.

In general, the validity of a conclusion is wholly depending on its premise. As you did not state a clearly defined premise in this article, it is very difficult to make a judgment on your conclusion.

If your premise does not accept a sub-system, you can argue for your conclusion based on that premise. But, that type of premise is generally not accepted in logic. There are many subsystems in numbers, the nature number, the rational number, the real number and the imaginary number. Every subsystem is always a genuine system.

Thus, your conclusion that “… there never was a phonetic system … that would allow a person to look at a character and know how to pronounce it …” is contradictory to your own examples. You have showed that there is a subsystem.

Your statement that “The word 'phonetic' as it applies to Chinese characters simply refers to the part of a character that is not its semantic or radical element …” is seemingly quite different from Gong’s definition. As far as I know, the phonetic parts do play some semantic roles in Gong’s system. I will let Gong discuss this himself if he chooses to.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby votusa » Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:30 am

Ling wrote: ...
More than one third did not have a phonetic element. Over half did not have an initial or final (b or u for bu, for example) that agreed with the name-sound of the character, (i.e. neither part of the phonetic agreed or else the word did not have a phonetic). Three quarters of the phonetic elements did not agree with both the initial and the final part of the phonetic.



What is your definition on “phonetic element”? Your examples “ 好 hǎo good, 等 děng wait, and 就 jiù at once) do have phonetic element. Gong could explain these.

What are your rules for checking out the agreement between the phonetic element and its phonetic?
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Re: Phonetics

Postby papabear » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:12 am

Ling wrote: Thus, before the Shang dynasty, scholars used a rebus (4 representing 'for', for example), a 'sound-alike' character for a character they could not express.

This is one of the key principle for 假 借 (borrowing).

Ling wrote: One example is the stalks and ears of wheat (present day 'lái') for the verb 'to come'. Note, this was effective only as long as the wheat and verb had the same 'name' (which was not lái in the Shang dynasty) and ...


Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Although many scholars do take this view, this is John DeFrancis’ ignorance in particular (see his chapter at http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html ).

來 is a word root which represents the waving “motion’ of the wheat in the wheat field. It is not wheat which is written as 麥 , composed of 來 over a root which means “working slowly”. Thus, 麥 is a thing working slowly in a field with the 來 motion. Then, 麵 (flour) is 麥 + 面 (face), which could mean that a 麥 product which can be put on face.

If you study Gong’s system, you will know the DeFrancis’ ignorance from the truth right the way.


Ling wrote:Then, during the Qin years and Han dynasty, I learned, there was a herculean effort to standardize the language and make it more easily understood by everyone. One thing was to add semantic classifiers (radicals, titles for groups of characters) to words to help to distinguish their written meaning. 鹅é goose was 我, which might have led to some difficulties in sentence comprehension. So, 鸟niǎo bird was added to help clear up the species involved. This semantic classifier cleared up the meaning but it also produced the question, "If niǎo is the semantic, what do we call the original é part now ?" The answer was to call it the phonetic because it was the previous name of the bird.


Wrong, wrong, wrong again. You must learned this wrong idea from the book (The Columbia History of the World, ISBN 0-88029-004-8) which was discredited in Gong’s article “PreBabel (Chinese)" (see http://www.prebabel.info/bab015.htm ).
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Re: Phonetics

Postby hantze » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:05 pm

Ling wrote:This accounts nicely for the beginning of the process. Another example, 纠 jiū 'twisted together', takes the topic a bit further. The original character in the Shang dynasty was 丩jiū 'twisted together'. In the Qin years a semantic classifier was added to it, 糸mì threads, but, at the same time another character was using 丩.It was 收shōu collect. So, later on, when the phonetics were considered a system of sounds that had been added to the language, 丩, a phonetic, was seen to have two pronunciations, i.e. jiū and shōu.


All your questions and objections show the fact of why other models are wrong. In Gong’s system, all roots are silent in their composing words although they themselves can have sounds, especially when they become standalone words. Yet, their own sounds (as standalone words) will not play any part in their descendant words. The sound roots (sound modules) in Gong’s system are always composed words.

Ling wrote:Next, another kind of problem. 去qù to go, was a slightly different shape in Shang and Zhou dynasties but it is still recognizable as the same character as the modern one. Its lower element was listed as a semantic element or radical hundreds of years after its origin. This, naturally, made its upper element 土 tǔ earth, a phonetic but several characters already had that element in their structure, and many of them ended, coincidently in 'u'. (杜dù sweet pear tree,肚dǔ stomach, 牡mǔ ox). Many other characters, however, have another element in the character as the phonetic, 赦shè pardon, 地dì ground floor, 均jūn equal, 坒bì connected,埔pǔ plain. So the student would not know which element was the effective phonetic if the student was looking for 'phonetic' guidance for the pronunciation of characters from the characters themselves.


Again, if you don’t know the correct etymology, there is no chance for you to get the right answer. The bottom radical of 去 is not a root in the word 私 or 公 (which means self-ability, such as in the word 能 ). It is a mutation for the root of “cooking pan”, such as in the words 函, 凶, 皿, etc.. The top radical of 去 is not 土 (earth) which will never be on top of any word. When 土 is on top of a word, it is a mutation from the word 大, such as, 赤 (as 大 火), 賣 (as 大 買, reseller must buy in big quantity), etc..

So, the word 去 is 大 over cooking pan. When a person takes up the big cooking pan, he is ready to travel.

The phonetic part of the language is much more difficult than the etymology. If you do not know the etymology, there is no chance for you to know the phonetic parts.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:03 pm

Hantze.
I wrote as clearly as possible that the phonetic element is often provided a student in order to distinguish it from the radical, meaning part and then I said, "Whatever method of teaching phonetics is employed". I never mentioned a "system with two claims as explained by 1) and 2), and the article stands on its own merits. It does not mention Dr. Gong's system.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:17 pm

Yijing,
Phonetic means, "speech sounds or pronunciation" and element is "a constituent or component or part" of a character.
The system I used to determine which words have phonetic parts was to look them up in the references cited under Phonetics at the end of the article. As I noted in Hantze's reply, the article stands on its own merits. It does not mention Dr. Gong's system.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:31 pm

kenny,
Thank you for the dissertation. Your idea of a "clearly-defined" premise if it is based on three examples having a significant role in the vocabulary of the Chinese language, kenny, would be a little bit too nit-picking for me (or most of the rest of the real world).
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:38 pm

votusa,
Phonetic means speech sounds or pronunciation and element is a constituent, component or part - of a character.
The "rules for checking out the agreement between a phonetic element and its phonetic" are to look in a book of phonetic examples, such as are listed under Phonetics at the end of the article.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:49 pm

Thank you papabear,
I was delighted with the denunciation of the Western proponent of grammar for China. And sir, it is your board and you can tell me I'm wrong. But it seems we still have simply two points of view. This you're wrong and all them books are too, an' it's only usn's what know the true way, has a certain ring to it. (?) How sir, if you thinkit worthwhile would you suggest a bridge might be built.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Tienzen » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:01 pm

Kenny’s point is very important for this discussion as it is about logic. However, the following statement from Ling is the key issue about the phonetic of Chinese written system.


Ling wrote: Yet I am led to believe that the 'natural' variation in speech between the north and the south eroded the "once consistent" set of phonetic elements of the language into the hodge-podge that its phonetics represent today.


No, absolute not. The natural variation in speech between north and south or the natural evolution of speech will absolutely not change the phonetic “structure” of Chinese written system.

For example, the word 鳳, 從 「鳥」, 「風」 聲. This sentence says that the word 鳳 has the leading radical of 鳥 (bird) with the sound tag as 風 (wind). Regardless of how the pronunciation of 風 changes, the word 鳳 will have 風 as the sound tag forever.

In the book of 說 文 (So-wen), it lists 9,353 characters. The entire book uses the same formula,

the word “A” having leading radical “B” with “C” as the sound tag, and it means “C”.

For the Northern folk (N-man), the sound tag “C” has an audio signature on a recorder as X-wave. For the Southern folk (S-man), the same sound tag “C” can have an audio signature on a recorder as Y-wave. For Japanese (J-man), the sound tag “C” can have J-wave. For Korean (K-man), the sound tag “C” can have K-wave. And, X-wave, Y-wave, J-wave or the K-wave can be complete different, complete unintelligible among them. Yet, the word A which has the sound tag C will never change. For N-man, the word A has X-wave sound while it has Y-wave for the S-man.

That is, the sound tag of Chinese written system is not associated with the audio at all. The variation or evolution in speech will not change the phonetic structure of Chinese written system. If X-wave is changed to X1-wave for the sound tag C, the word A is still having the sound tag C while people speaks X-wave might not be understood by those who speaks X1-wave. But, there will be no confusion about the word form, the word sound (which sound tag it follows) and the word meaning for the word A.

The phonetic structure of Chinese written system will not be changed by any change in speech.


Ling wrote:On this basis, then, I postulate that there never was a phonetic system for Chinese that would allow a person to look at a character and know how to pronounce it.


In 說 文 (So-wen), it lists 9,353 characters. The sound tag for every one of those 9,363 words is identified. With 說 文, how to pronounce a word (listed in it) is clearly shown to anyone who reads it. After thousand years of variation and evolution in speech, we still can know how a word should be pronounced with a single glance of So-wen's description. And, this is a big enough system.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:54 pm

Tienzen,
To cut to the chase, in "Phonetics", the Forum's position is that, "The sound tag of Chinese written is not associated with audio". Since logic has been mentioned in this regard, sir, I would like to make a change to the statement, in terms I have already identified, (i.e. phonetic element - speech sounds or pronunciation; constituent component or part). So, the restatement is," The phonetic element of Chinese written (language) is not associated with phonetics". I find that bizarre, if it is the position of this forum.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Tienzen » Thu Aug 04, 2011 10:25 pm

Ling wrote: So, the restatement is," The phonetic element of Chinese written (language) is not associated with phonetics".



Hello, Ling. It is nice to discuss this issue here. Your article helps a great deal of getting my position out on this very important issue, the phonetics of Chinese written language.

My exact position on it is "The phonetic element of Chinese written (language) is not associated with any particular set of audio sounds." The phonetic relations among words are not changed if the sound roots change into a different set of audio sounds.

Yours wording will cause a paradox as the common understanding on the meaning of the second "phonetics" is different from my intended statement.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:47 pm

Thank you Tienzen,

"The phonetic element of Chinese written language is not associated with any particular set of audio sounds".
Thus, a phonetic element may have any of the Chinese word pronunciations, no matter how the phonetic element may be pronounced as a stand-alone word or part of another character. (True or false)

The phonetic relations among words are not changed if the sound roots change into a different set of audio sounds.
Thus, there is (based on that word relations) another means of pronouncing Chinese characters apart from the elements that are listed as 'phonetic' in scholastic etymologies such as my references above. (True or false)

Please clear up my confusion on this before continuing, sir, but So-wen lists a sufficient number of pronunciations (of common-usage ?) words that no other reference is necessary or it is only one step in your system of word pronunciations ?

Now, sir, if I'm not asking for the moon on this, I think it should clearly identify your position for me and others.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Tienzen » Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:03 pm

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to clarify my position.

Ling wrote:Thus, a phonetic element may have any of the Chinese word pronunciations, no matter how the phonetic element may be pronounced as a stand-alone word or part of another character. (True or false)


Absolutely false.
In China, there are, at least, eight major different local languages which in term are having some dialects of their own. My definition of "particular set of audio sounds" represents one of those languages or dialects. While the sound roots (such as, 風, 我, 就) can have many different pronunciations depending on which dialect pronounces them, the phonetic relations among words will not change in any given "set". For example, the word 鳳 will always carry the 風 sound (Which is different in different set or dialect), the word 鵝 carry the 我 sound (whatever it sounds), 鷲 carry the 就 sound (which again depends on the dialect), etc..

Please read the article of David Crystal. He wrote, "Because there has long been a single method for writing Chinese, and a common literary and cultural history, a tradition has grown up of referring to, the eight main varieties of speech in China as dialects'. But in fact they are as different from each other (mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary) as French or Spanish is from Italian, the dialects of the south-east being linguistically the furthest apart. The mutual unintelligibility of the varieties is the main ground for referring to them as separate languages. However, it must also be recognized that each variety consists of a large number of dialects, many of which may themselves be referred to as languages. (Available at http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phal ... nlng2.html )"


Ling wrote:The phonetic relations among words are not changed if the sound roots change into a different set of audio sounds.
Thus, there is (based on that word relations) another means of pronouncing Chinese characters apart from the elements that are listed as 'phonetic' in scholastic etymologies such as my references above. (True or false)


True.
If your references are based on Mandarin, they might not mention the pronunciations of that word in a different dialect. There are two points about your references.

1. Most of the authors of your references are ignorant about Chinese etymology although they are prominent Sinologists in the West. One example is Dr. R Harbaugh. There are sickening errors in every his etymology chart in his website (Zhongwen.com), and it was discussed at this forum, available at asking-questions/how-about-the-zhongwen-com-t40.html
As they don't give a damn about being ignorant, and you don't give a damn about spending your precious time to learn from them, then so be it.

2. Many of those references are introductory material, and thus they are not all encompassing. For just learning the language, those books are still quite useful.


Yet, there is another very complicated issue, the “a-homonyms”, the word with identical word form which pronounces differently. For example, the word 好 has, at least, eight different pronunciations, as 皓, as 消, as 耗, as 吼, as 配, as 詬, as 好 (呼 皓 切). This case is different from the above discussion. One word has many different sounds in the same "set", the same dialect. Most people in China know only about two different sounds for the word 好, not eight. This is a very complicated issue, and I will not go into it any further here.

Ling wrote:Please clear up my confusion on this before continuing, sir, but So-wen lists a sufficient number of pronunciations (of common-usage ?) words that no other reference is necessary or it is only one step in your system of word pronunciations ?


We need about 3,000 commonly used words to be able to read the current Chinese newspaper. So-wen encompasses all of them.

No info outside of So-wen is needed for knowing the way of how a word (listed in it) should be pronounced.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Ling » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:47 pm

Tienzen, I'm sorry but I would like to try again on the false response question.
Is this true ?
If one takes only Mandarin as a single set, the sound associated with a written word's phonetic element does not influence the pronunciation of the word containing the phonetic element. The word could have any pronunciation within the set.

I do thank you, however, for allowing me to air my position and for the time and consideration of the forum and the insights I have received. My next step is to try and study so wen jie zi. I imagine it is in Chinese, but it must have a system for presenting its characters. I am particularly interested in its position on those characters listed as being without phonetic elements in that 3000 I downloaded, especially if the pronunciations are reasonably correct.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby votusa » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:33 am

Ling wrote:If one takes only Mandarin as a single set, the sound associated with a written word's phonetic element does not influence the pronunciation of the word containing the phonetic element. The word could have any pronunciation within the set.


Nonsense.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby Tienzen » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:45 am

Ling wrote: The word could have any pronunciation within the set.


I do not truly understand what you mean here. If you mean that a word with a sound tag can have “any” pronunciation for it, the answer is no. However, as a sound root (module) can have many different sounds {as a-homonym, such as the word 好 having eight different sounds, as 皓, as 消, as 耗, as 吼, as 配, as 淘, as 詬, as 好 (呼 皓 切) } even in the same “set” (dialect), the words with that sound module can pronounce differently depending on which sound of the sound module that it takes. When a word has chosen one of the sounds it uses from its sound root, it will not change anymore.
Note: “a-homonym” (破 音) is a concept not common to Western languages. It is “a” word (or character) having many different ways of pronunciation.

So, the rules are as follow:
1. Sound modules are sound roots. There is no further reduction in phonetics under sound modules while they are composed words in word form. There are about 500 sound modules in Chinese phonetic systems.

2. A sound module can have a span of sounds, more than one audio signature. Yet, one of them is the default sound.

3. When a word root becomes a standalone word, it can have its own sound. But, this word root will not become sound module (root).

4. Any word which is not a sound module nor a word root, it will always carry a sound tag either explicitly or implicitly.

5. There are very complex rules to determine which sound from a span of that sound module that a word will take. I discussed this in my book(s), and I will not go in into it here.

Let me try to make this issue easier with the following points.
a. Every illiterate Chinese has about 5,000 speaking words in their speech universe. Every those speaking words has a sound (which will not change in those illiterates’ lifetime) and a meaning. Of course, they all have written forms too although not known by those illiterates. I will call this illiterate sound of a word as the default sound for that word.

b. Most of Chinese college graduates know about 5,000 written words. Every those words has the sound the same as its corresponding speaking word uttered by those illiterates. In fact, “every” those words has different sounds in addition to the default sound. Some of those non-default sounds are known by the educated, but not all of them. For example, most of Chinese people know only two of the eight sounds for the word 好, 好 (呼 皓 切) and 皓.

c. In 說 文 (So-wen) , over 9,000 words, the sound tag of each word is clearly identified. Yet, over 99.99% of Chinese college graduates did not read So-wen and have no ability to comprehend it. So, most of those Chinese college graduates do not know that “every” Chinese word carries a sound tag.

In an analogy, there are classic physics and quantum physics. In classic physics, a particle has only “one” energy state for the energy it carries. In quantum physics, a particle has many energy states with the energy that it carries. Yet, every quantum particle is still having a ground state (the default state). The phonetic of Chinese word system is a quantum-like system. Its ground state is used in daily life. Its high energy states are often beyond the common folk.

This quantum phonetic system is very complex. Any further discussion will begin to give out free lessons on this new Chinese etymology. This issue will end here.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby papabear » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:28 am

Ling wrote:Thank you papabear,
And sir, it is your board and you can tell me I'm wrong.


This is not my board. This is a board for everyone to view, and any member can post his view here.

Ling wrote: But it seems we still have simply two points of view. This you're wrong and all them books are too, an' it's only usn's what know the true way, has a certain ring to it. (?)


There are always different views. All my life I was very proud of my knowledge on Chinese language until I read Gong's system. I was not wrong but ignorant. As a Chinese, I will be sorry to go to heaven without even truly know the truth about my mother tongue. Now, I am liberated from that worry. But, I was never worried when I did not know the truth. How wonderful the ignorance can do the wonderful thing, keeping out all worries!

There is another Chinese-forums http://www.chinese-forums.com/
Did you try your idea there?


Ling wrote:How sir, if you think it worthwhile would you suggest a bridge might be built.


Our exchange of ideas here is already a great bridge.
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Re: Phonetics

Postby carolgreen702 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:42 pm

Every character has an explicit or an implicit sound tag.
The meaning of every word can be read out from the internal structure of characters.

Is your article discussing about Gong’s system?
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