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Chinese Language Forums - Chinese Etymology Institute • View topic - Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby hantze » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:52 pm

I received an email from a friend. It discussed an debate on a claim of a group of professionals who formed their Hanzi Research Group in early 1986 with the focus of using scientific methods to explore the Hanzi system. They published numerous articles and books but was challenged by academics from all over the nation. A professor of Beijing Normal University openly accused their work as pseudoscience and "cheaters", and the 社科院 (China's highest authority on social science) has concluded that their works are pseudoscience.


The followings are some articles about this debate.

姚小平 2006 中国語言学界中的偽科学 http://www.yaoxiaoping.org/news/news_detail.asp?id=107

A 2009 article "社科院已经有结论,汉字是伪科学!" http://www.cchere.com/article/1704662

伍铁平 駁斥 汉字文化的部分言論外国語言文学 2009 第3期 206-209 http://www.cnki.net

叶韵 2004, 科学地看待汉字 http://blog.pjedu.com/more.asp?name=%D2 ... CF&id=1531


Can anyone tell me what this is all about?
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby david » Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:02 am

Don't understand!

社 科 院 (China's highest authority on social science) 已 经 有 结 论, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Can anyone explain this?
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby Tienzen » Sat Jul 02, 2011 1:03 pm

hantze wrote:I received an email from a friend. It discussed an debate on a claim of a group of professionals who formed their Hanzi Research Group in early 1986 with the focus of using scientific methods to explore the Hanzi system. They published numerous articles and books but was challenged by academics from all over the nation. A professor of Beijing Normal University openly accused their work as pseudoscience and "cheaters", and the 社科院 (China's highest authority on social science) has concluded that their works are pseudoscience.


Can anyone tell me what this is all about?




This issue was about Mr. 徐德江 claimed that the Chinese character system is more superior than the Western system with the following arguments.

1. 汉字比拼音文字容易学么? (Chinese characters are easier to learn than the English vocabulary.)
2. 学习汉字可以提高儿童的智商么? (Learning Chinese characters can improve children's IQ.)
3. 书法也能证明汉字优于拼音文字么? (Calligraphy being as an art is superior than the English words.)
4. etc.

Mr. 徐德江's works on this were viewed as pseudoscience. And, it is a pseudoscience indeed.



However, in the interview of David Moser by 姚小平 ( 姚小平 2006 中国語言学界中的偽科学 ), it gave the impression that the Chinese Character system itself is a pseudoscience, especially with the article "Why Chinese is so damn hard", written by Mr. Moser. They (姚小平 and Mr. Moser) are wrong. I have showed repeatedly that Chinese character system is the most logic system in the world.


Yet, 姚小平's article ( 姚小平 2006 中国語言学界中的偽科学 http://www.yaoxiaoping.org/news/news_detail.asp?id=107 ) is widely viewed in China, and this becomes the most troublesome problem on Chinese etymology.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby mariaC » Sat Jul 02, 2011 3:43 pm

Tienzen wrote:However, in the interview of David Moser by 姚小平 ( 姚小平 2006 中国語言学界中的偽科学 ), it gave the impression that the Chinese Character system itself is a pseudoscience, especially with the article "Why Chinese is so damn hard", written by Mr. Moser. They (姚小平 and Mr. Moser) are wrong. I have showed repeatedly that Chinese character system is the most logic system in the world.


Yet, 姚小平's article ( 姚小平 2006 中国語言学界中的偽科学 http://www.yaoxiaoping.org/news/news_detail.asp?id=107 ) is widely viewed in China, and this becomes the most troublesome problem on Chinese etymology.


David Moser belongs to a group led by Dr. John DeFrancis who viewed that Chinese character system is an inferior language in comparison to the Western languages. In Dr. DeFrancis' book "Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy", all good things what were said about Chinese language are fantasies and myths. A sample chapter of his book is available at Moser's site ( http://pinyin.info/index.html ).

The following is the key points on his home page.

"Most of what most people think they know about Chinese -- especially when it comes to Chinese characters -- is wrong. ...

For most people, the first title to acquire is probably The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy, by John DeFrancis. This book has done more than any other to dispel misunderstandings about Chinese, especially those concerning Chinese characters, including the Ideographic Myth, the Universality Myth, the Emulatability Myth, the Monosyllabic Myth, the Indispensability Myth, and the Successfulness Myth. I very much hope many of this site's visitors will seek out and read this work ..."
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby kenny » Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:50 pm

mariaC wrote:David Moser belongs to a group led by Dr. John DeFrancis who viewed that Chinese character system is an inferior language in comparison to the Western languages. In Dr. DeFrancis' book "Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy", all good things what were said about Chinese language are fantasies and myths. A sample chapter of his book is available at Moser's site ( http://pinyin.info/index.html ).


This is a big group, and its objective is to show that Chinese character system is much inferior to the Western languages.

In the Foreword of the book, Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning (written by J. Marshall Unger, Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University), Victor H. Mair wrote,
"There is probably no subject on earth concerning which more misinformation is purveyed and more misunderstandings circulated than Chinese characters (漢字, Chinese hanzi, Japanese kanji, Korean hanja) or sinograms.
...

In this informative and entertaining book, once and for all, J. Marshall Unger thoroughly demolishes the notion that Chinese characters directly convey meaning without any reference to specific languages and cultural contexts. To do so, he unleashes an amazing array of weapons, ranging from the perceptions of a famous comedian, the techniques of specialists in memorization, the secrets of shorthand, the mysteries of probability, computer science, and artificial intelligence, to the profundities of philosophy. With a razor-sharp mind and deft pen, he exposes the self-contradictory folly of those who would assert some sort of independent, transcendental status for Chinese characters. Anyone who reads this book from beginning to end--parts of it are easy and fun, others are challenging and demanding--will surely come to the same conclusion as the author: in reality, there is no such thing as an ideogram." This passage is available at http://pinyin.info/readings/ideogram.html

Obvious they do not give a damn about Gong’s system.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby r.green » Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:00 am

kenny wrote:
This is a big group, and its objective is to show that Chinese character system is much inferior to the Western languages.


Obvious they do not give a damn about Gong’s system.


We should understand their view first. The following is an abridged "Introduction" for his book, Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning.

Unger's Introduction wrote:Not so very long ago, when psychiatrists expected patients to free associate ‘‘mouse’’ with ‘‘trap’’ rather than ‘‘pad,’’ the word ‘‘inscrutable’’ was often heard in colloquial English followed by ‘‘Oriental.’’ The phrase ‘‘inscrutable Oriental’’ had yet to become an embarrassing cliché.
...

Over the years, I have come to know hundreds of aspiring learners from just about every part of the world. Wherever I go, I am sure to find a knot of bright-eyed enthusiasts fascinated by those inscrutable Chinese characters, some so intensely that they lose sight of virtually all other aspects of the Japanese language.
...

But the lure of kanji [Chinese characters used in Japanese] also has an aesthetic aspect that often leads to an infatuation with the tastes of East Asian calligraphy. The kind of people who find formal gardens oppressive or museum galleries crammed with treasures too overwhelming to enjoy may discover a new world of understatement and elegance in the casual asymmetries and quiet palette of brush writing and ink drawing.

In extreme cases, the attachment becomes an obsession: the enthusiast begins to perceive a grand pattern underlying all the characters, evidently unnoticed even by generations of East Asians themselves.

Like a chess player memorizing openings, he commits each new character to memory as if taking a steroid for the brain or stashing away a new found pearl of wisdom in some inner lockbox of intellectual wealth. Sooner or later, almost every student of an East Asian language falls prey to such feelings or knows a fellow student who has done so.

This book is for them—not to discourage their efforts or lessen their enjoyment of the great forest of kanji, but to enhance both by placing the forest in a larger, sunnier landscape.
...

Each chapter takes up a different aspect of the lore of the so-called ideogram and raises questions that will, I hope, transform mere enchantment into deeper understanding.

Note: the entire article is available at http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/unger-intro.pdf


Obviously, his purpose is to demolish the notion that Chinese characters directly convey meanings ..., the central point of Gong's system.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby david » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:41 pm

r.green wrote:
We should understand their view first.

Unger's Introduction wrote:

In extreme cases, the attachment becomes an obsession: the enthusiast begins to perceive a grand pattern underlying all the characters, evidently unnoticed even by generations of East Asians themselves.




I got Unger's view.

For Westerners, most of them who learn kanji [Chinese characters used in Japanese] begin to perceive a grand pattern underlying all the characters.

This is viewed by Unger as illusions or hallucinations, as those grand patterns are unnoticed even by generations of East Asians themselves (both Chinese and Japanese).

So, Unger has a mission to demolish the notion that Chinese characters directly convey meanings, as it is only the hallucinations of Westerners, not known by either Chinese or Japanese themselves.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby votusa » Sun Jul 03, 2011 4:24 pm

david wrote:So, Unger has a mission to demolish the notion that Chinese characters directly convey meanings, as it is only the hallucinations of Westerners, not known by either Chinese or Japanese themselves.


The central supporting argument for the book Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning is the following paragraphs.

Unger's website wrote:Try this "thought experiment": suppose a couple really smart little green guys from outer space showed up one night in a suburb of Tokyo, just like in a Japanese science-fiction movie. Would they instantly understand all those store-front Chinese characters as soon as they saw them? (Hint: look at the cover. [The jpg of the cover is available at http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/ung ... eogram.htm ])

It's pretty obvious that cousins of E.T. would be as clueless about Chinese characters as you would be staring at street signs in Baghdad (unless, of course, you happen to be literate in Arabic). But that hasn't stopped generations of writers who really ought to know better from insisting that Chinese characters somehow convey meaning to brains through some mysterious process completely detached from language. Think about it: every normal human being naturally acquires a language just by going through infancy in the presence of normal, talking adults. It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability to evolve. Yet somehow, within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever! Something is obviously wrong with this story, and Ideogram explains what.

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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby hantze » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:53 am

votusa wrote:The central supporting argument for the book Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning is the following paragraphs.
Unger's website wrote:Try this "thought experiment": suppose a couple really smart little green guys from outer space showed up one night in a suburb of Tokyo, just like in a Japanese science-fiction movie. Would they instantly understand all those store-front Chinese characters as soon as they saw them? (Hint: look at the cover. [The jpg of the cover is available at http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/ung ... eogram.htm ])

It's pretty obvious that cousins of E.T. would be as clueless about Chinese characters ...


Dr. Unger has redefined the term “ideograph” which must be readily understood by the uninstructed, that is, intuitively without any knowledge, such as a new born infant. In the American Heritage Dictionary, @, #, $, %, &, *, {, ] are ideograms. Can any of those ET green guys instantly understand all those ideograms as soon as they saw them? Those American Heritage ideographs can be known only with certain culture or knowledge stimuli. Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong.

Unger's website wrote:It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability to evolve. Yet somehow, within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever! Something is obviously wrong with this story, and Ideogram explains what.


There are two statements and one conclusion in the above passage.

Statement A: It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability (acquires a language) to evolve.

Statement B: Within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever.

Conclusion: If A is true, then B is false.

The above logic can be read in three ways.

1. It took hundreds of thousands of years for A, then B cannot be done in a few centuries. However, a system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever is still possible if the length of time is also hundreds of thousands of years.

2. It took hundreds of thousands of years for A, then a system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever is impossible.

3. It took hundreds of thousands of years for A, then a system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages is possible only if with reference to human speech.

There is no way to know which one of the three above is the intended statement by the author. Thus, the above passage is meaningless in logic. Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong again.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby david » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:12 am

hantze wrote:
Unger's website wrote:It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability to evolve. Yet somehow, within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever! Something is obviously wrong with this story, and Ideogram explains what.


There are two statements and one conclusion in the above passage.

Statement A: It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability (acquires a language) to evolve.

Statement B: Within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever.

Conclusion: If A is true, then B is false.


There is no logic connection between the Statement A and the Statement B. Each statment can be verified independently. The author is obviously ignorant about logic.

The statement B has two parts, statement C + a qualifier.

The statement C: A completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages can be constructed.

Qualifier of B: "...without any reference to human speech whatsoever".

The statement C can be independently verified, and it was verified by Gong's system. Please visit "Chinese Language & Etymology blog" at http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspot.com/

Unger's statement B is the statement C plus a qualifier "...without any reference to human speech whatsoever". His statement B is either a result of being ignorant of logic or an intention of playing the word game. In all cases, Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby Tienzen » Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:35 pm

hantze wrote:
votusa wrote:The central supporting argument for the book Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning is the following paragraphs.
Unger's website wrote:Try this "thought experiment": suppose a couple really smart little green guys from outer space showed up one night in a suburb of Tokyo, just like in a Japanese science-fiction movie. Would they instantly understand all those store-front Chinese characters as soon as they saw them? (Hint: look at the cover. [The jpg of the cover is available at http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/ung ... eogram.htm ])

It's pretty obvious that cousins of E.T. would be as clueless about Chinese characters ...


Dr. Unger has redefined the term “ideograph” which must be readily understood by the uninstructed, that is, intuitively without any knowledge, such as a new born infant. In the American Heritage Dictionary, @, #, $, %, &, *, {, ] are ideograms. Can any of those ET green guys instantly understand all those ideograms as soon as they saw them? Those American Heritage ideographs can be known only with certain culture or knowledge stimuli. Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong.


Every statement or premise can be either right or wrong. Being wrong for a statement is no big deal.

However, this "smart little green guys" statement goes way beyond being wrong. It is stupid.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby mariaC » Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:53 am

Tienzen wrote:
hantze wrote:
Dr. Unger has redefined the term “ideograph” which must be readily understood by the uninstructed, that is, intuitively without any knowledge, such as a new born infant. In the American Heritage Dictionary, @, #, $, %, &, *, {, ] are ideograms. Can any of those ET green guys instantly understand all those ideograms as soon as they saw them? Those American Heritage ideographs can be known only with certain culture or knowledge stimuli. Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong.


Every statement or premise can be either right or wrong. Being wrong for a statement is no big deal.

However, this "smart little green guys" statement goes way beyond being wrong. It is stupid.


Agree 100%.

Did you contact Unger on this issue? If not, you should. Here are his home page and email.

J. Marshall Unger (Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University)

http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/unger26/default.htm

unger.26@osu.edu
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby Tienzen » Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:06 pm

mariaC wrote:
Tienzen wrote:
hantze wrote:
Dr. Unger has redefined the term “ideograph” which must be readily understood by the uninstructed, that is, intuitively without any knowledge, such as a new born infant. In the American Heritage Dictionary, @, #, $, %, &, *, {, ] are ideograms. Can any of those ET green guys instantly understand all those ideograms as soon as they saw them? Those American Heritage ideographs can be known only with certain culture or knowledge stimuli. Dr. J. Marshall Unger is wrong.


Every statement or premise can be either right or wrong. Being wrong for a statement is no big deal.

However, this "smart little green guys" statement goes way beyond being wrong. It is stupid.


Agree 100%.

Did you contact Unger on this issue? If not, you should. Here are his home page and email.

J. Marshall Unger (Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, The Ohio State University)

http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/unger26/default.htm

unger.26@osu.edu



I did send him an email on Feb 22, 2011. The following is the copy of that email. Of course, I did not receive a reply. If anyone is interested in contact him on this issue, please let me (us) know about his reply (if any).



Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 10:00 PM
subject: About your book, Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning
mailed-by gmail.com

Dear Dr. J. Marshall Unger:

One of my student in China send me a link to a web page (about your
book, Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning).

I would like to send you a link http://www.prebabel.info/bab015.htm
and am looking forward to your comment.

Yours,
Tienzen Gong
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby kenny » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:38 am

We have reviewed two articles of Unger's and have concluded that those articles are wrong and ignorant. Those two articles are available at urls below.

Unger's website for his book "Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning" ( http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/ung ... eogram.htm )

"Introduction" of his book, "Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning" ( http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/unger-intro.pdf )

Unger teaches Japanese. He might not know Chinese language at all.

mariaC wrote:
David Moser belongs to a group led by Dr. John DeFrancis who viewed that Chinese character system is an inferior language in comparison to the Western languages. In Dr. DeFrancis' book "Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy", all good things what were said about Chinese language are fantasies and myths. A sample chapter of his book is available at Moser's site ( http://pinyin.info/index.html ).



Dr. John DeFrancis was the leader of this group. We should analyze his article "The Ideographic Myth" ( http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html ), a chapter of his book "The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy". The idea that Chinese character system is filled with myths and fantasies was originated from DeFrancis.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby hantze » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:10 pm

kenny wrote:Unger teaches Japanese. He might not know Chinese language at all.


After reading Unger's two articles, Dr. J. Marshall Unger is obviously ignorant about Chinese language.


kenny wrote:Dr. John DeFrancis was the leader of this group. We should analyze his article "The Ideographic Myth" ( http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html ), a chapter of his book "The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy". The idea that Chinese character system is filled with myths and fantasies was originated from DeFrancis.


Before I learned Gong's new Chinese etymology, Defrancis' article could be very convincing although I was Chinese language teacher for over 30 years in Taiwan. Now, knowing Gong's work, John Defrancis' article becomes a joke, completely ignorance.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby kenny » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:03 pm

hantze wrote:
kenny wrote:Dr. John DeFrancis was the leader of this group. We should analyze his article "The Ideographic Myth" ( http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html ), a chapter of his book "The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy". The idea that Chinese character system is filled with myths and fantasies was originated from DeFrancis.


Before I learned Gong's new Chinese etymology, Defrancis' article could be very convincing although I was Chinese language teacher for over 30 years in Taiwan. Now, knowing Gong's work, John Defrancis' article becomes a joke, completely ignorance.


John DeFrancis ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_DeFrancis ) was an American linguist, sinologist, author of Chinese language textbooks, lexicographer of Chinese dictionaries, and Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In the 1960s, he wrote a 12-volume series of Mandarin Chinese textbooks and readers published by Yale University Press (popularly known as the "DeFrancis series"), which were widely used in Chinese as a foreign language classes for decades, and his textbooks are said to have had a "tremendous impact" on Chinese teaching in the West. He served Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society from 1950 to 1955 and the Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association from 1966 to 1978.


As one of the greatest Sinologist in the West, DeFrancis could not be put down by a statement of yours. You should show the fallacies of his article with a scholastic argument in order to gain any support on your view.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby hantze » Fri Jul 08, 2011 4:48 pm

kenny wrote:As one of the greatest Sinologist in the West, DeFrancis could not be put down by a statement of yours. You should show the fallacies of his article with a scholastic argument in order to gain any support on your view.


The entire article of Dr. John DeFrancis is nonsense. I will discuss only the introduction of that article ( http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html ) which is quoted below.

DeFrancis wrote:The concept of ideographic writing is a most seductive notion. There is great appeal in the concept of written symbols conveying their message directly to our minds, thus bypassing the restrictive intermediary of speech. And it seems so plausible. Surely ideas immediately pop into our minds when we see a road sign, a death's head label on a bottle of medicine, a number on a clock. Aren't Chinese characters a sophisticated system of symbols that similarly convey meaning without regard to sound? Aren't they an ideographic system of writing?

The answer to these questions is no. Chinese characters are a phonetic, not an ideographic, system of writing, as I have attempted to show in the preceding pages. Here I would go further: There never has been, and never can be, such a thing as an ideographic system of writing. ...


The above passage has four points.

Point 1: A concept of written symbols conveying their message directly

Point 2: The restrictive intermediary of speech

Point 3: Some symbols, a road sign, a death's head label on a bottle of medicine, a number on a clock

Point 4: There never has been, and never can be, such a thing as an ideographic system of writing.


His point 3 hints that those symbols are ideographs, and they immediately pop into our minds. For a number on a clock to mean time, one must know three ideas, a number system, the concept of time and a gadget for measuring the time. For a normal human kid, he learns these three ideas after 4 to 5 years old. I as an adult am still often getting lost by reading the road sign in a foreign country. To think about that those symbols can pop into our minds immediately with an understanding, Dr. John DeFrancis was wrong, terribly wrong.

Then, his logic,

Point 1 "to our mind", thus "bypassing" point 2 = point 4.

What does "Point 1 to our mind" mean?

DeFrancis wrote: ... the concept of written symbols conveying their message directly to our minds, ...


I am a Chinese language teacher over 30 years in Taiwan. I took over 10 weeks to learn Gong's system. Now, every Chinese word conveys its meaning with its word form (face) directly to my mind. If Dr. John DeFrancis' point 1 sentence demands the conveying to an uninstructed, then his statement has absolutely no meaning.

What does "thus "bypassing" point 2" mean?

DeFrancis wrote: ... the concept of written symbols conveying their message directly to our minds, thus bypassing the restrictive intermediary of speech.


Is a road sign bypassing the restrictive intermediary of speech? Is a number on a clock bypassing the restrictive intermediary of speech? Those symbols are acting the same as the icons on our computer screen. They are the short-cuts of a long string of codes. A short-cut exists only after the original string was written. Dr. John DeFrancis' statement goes way beyond being wrong, it is stupid.

His logic is also wrong and stupid.

This is only the very short introduction of his article. The entire article is full of this kind of stupidity.
hantze
 
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby kenny » Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:43 am

hantze wrote:His logic is also wrong and stupid.

This is only the very short introduction of his article. The entire article is full of this kind of stupidity.


DeFrancis has passed away. We should use kinder words in our critiques on him.

Not only was DeFrancis ignorant about the Chinese etymology, but we were all the same as he before our learning Gong's system. As you have said,

hantze wrote:Before I learned Gong's new Chinese etymology, Defrancis' article could be very convincing although I was Chinese language teacher for over 30 years in Taiwan. Now, knowing Gong's work, John Defrancis' article becomes a joke, completely ignorance.


Without knowing Gong's system, the logic shortcomings of Defrancis' article could easily be overlooked.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby hantze » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:48 pm

kenny wrote:DeFrancis has passed away. We should use kinder words in our critiques on him.


Yes, we should use kinder words. We should discuss the issues only without any qualifying words. DeFrancis' article fully reflected the knowledge of his time, not knowing Gong's system. As it is still widely read online, we should point out its errors regardless of his being passed away. I will discuss his article with three issues.

1. DeFrancis' understanding on the term of ideograph

DeFrancis wrote:This view was taken up and expanded on by the well-known Father J. J. M. Amiot in a longer article in which he described characters as;
Father J. J. M. Amiot wrote: images and symbols which speak to the mind through the eyes -- images for palpable things, symbols for mental ones. Images and symbols which are not tied to any sound and can be read in all languages. ... I would be quite inclined to define Chinese characters as the pictorial algebra of the sciences and the arts. In truth, a well-turned sentence is as much stripped of all intermediaries as is the most rigorously bare algebraic demonstration. [Mémoires 1776:282-285]



There are five points about ideograph from the above passage.

a) Images and symbols which speak to the mind through the eyes
b) Images and symbols which are not tied to any sound
c) Images and symbols which can be read in all languages
d) as the pictorial algebra of the sciences and the arts
f) a well-turned sentence is as much stripped of all intermediaries

While DeFrancis was opposing all these five points, he argued strongly against only the top two points, a) and b).
Note: Amiot did not have a system like Gong's to support his five point claim. There were only a few simplest and most interesting examples, not a system.

DeFrancis wrote:Apart from the error of thinking that Chinese characters are unique in evoking mental images, where Creel and others from Friar Gaspar da Cruz right on down go astray in their characterization of Chinese writing is to succumb to the hypnotic appeal of the relatively few characters that are demonstratably of pictographic origin and to extrapolate from these to the majority if not the entirety of the Chinese written lexicon.



2. DeFrancis' position on linguistics.

DeFrancis wrote:Their discussions of Chinese writing are confused and contradictory -- at one time seeming to say one thing, at another something else, but coming down ultimately to a conclusion, that is completely untenable.
Creel (1936:91-93) wrote:
That Chinese writing was pictographic in origin does not admit of question. On the other hand, Chinese is not, and was not three thousand years ago, a pictographic language in the sense that it consisted of writing by means of pictures all or most of which would be readily understood by the uninstructed. ... The Chinese early abandoned the method of writing by means of readily recognizable pictures and diagrams. ... It was in part because the Chinese gave up pictoral [sic] writing that they were able to develop a practicable pictographic and ideographic script, with comparatively little help from the phonetic principle. To draw elaborate pictures of whole animals, for instance (as is done on some of the Shang bones), is too slow a process. The course taken in many parts of the world was to conventionalize the picture, reduce it to a simple and easily executed form, and then use it to represent homophonous words or parts of words. The course the Chinese have chosen has also been to conventionalize and reduce, but they then use the evolved element for the most part not phonetically, but to stand for the original object or to enter with other such elements into combinations of ideographic rather than phonetic value. This parting of the ways is of the most profound importance.


The last two sentences are the crux of Creel's thesis. Where Boodberg and others, as noted earlier, see phonetic elements, Creel sees elements that are conventionalized or reduced forms used "to stand for the original object or to enter with other such elements into combinations of ideographic rather than phonetic value." This emphasis on ideographic symbols that are merely conventionalized forms of pictographs leads Creel into the fanciful explanations of Chinese characters that were so sharply condemned by Boodberg. Boodberg's refutation contained in learned journals known only to specialists could do little to counter the impact of Creel's views expressed in his popular The Birth of China. Here Creel says: "We have specialized on the representation of sounds; the Chinese have specialized on making their writing so suggestive to the eye that it immediately calls up ideas and vivid pictures, without any interposition of sounds" (1937:159).


Here, Creel emphasized that Chinese characters are not tied to any sound.

DeFrancis wrote:With regard to the principle, it matters little whether the symbol is an elaborately detailed picture, a slightly stylized drawing, or a drastically abbreviated symbol of essentially abstract form. What is crucial is to recognize that the diverse forms perform the same function in representing sound. To see that writing has the form of pictures and to conclude that it is pictographic is correct in only one sense -- that of the form, but not the function, of the symbols. We can put it this way:

QUESTION: When is a pictograph not a pictograph?
ANSWER: When it represents a sound.


Here, DeFrancis insisted that Chinese characters are all representing sounds.

Both Creel and DeFrancis were correct. So, they are both wrong too. Chinese characters are representing both ideas and sounds. Please read Gong's system at the-new-chinese-etymology-f16/the-entire-framework-of-this-new-chinese-etymology-t33.html

3. DeFrancis' objection to the term of ideograph

DeFrancis wrote:The error of exaggerating the pictographic and hence semantic aspect of Chinese characters and minimizing if not totally neglecting the phonetic aspect tends to fix itself very early in the minds of many people, both students of Chinese and the public at large, because their first impression of the characters is likely to be gained by being introduced to the Chinese writing system via some of the simplest and most interesting pictographs, such as those presented at the beginning of Chapter 5. Unless a determined effort is made to correct this initial impression, it is likely to remain as an article of faith not easily shaken by subsequent exposure to different kinds of graphs.


Again, only the simplest and most interesting pictographs were available to DeFrancis on this ideograph issue. There was no system.

DeFrancis wrote:The term "ideographic" has been used not only by those who espouse its basic meaning but also by others who do not necessarily accept the concept but use the term out of mere force of habit as an established popular designation for Chinese characters. I find, to my chagrin, that in my previous publications I have been guilty of precisely this concession to popular usage without being aware of the damage it can cause. As a repentant sinner I pledge to swear off this hallucinogen. I hope others will join in consigning the term to the Museum of Mythological Memorabilia along with unicorn horns and phoenix feathers.


In Gong's system, Amiot's five points are all correct.

a) Images and symbols which speak to the mind through the eyes
b) Images and symbols which are not tied to any sound
c) Images and symbols which can be read in all languages
d) as the pictorial algebra of the sciences and the arts
f) a well-turned sentence is as much stripped of all intermediaries

However, Amiot did not prove them with a system beyond a few interesting examples. This led DeFrancis' objection on the idea of ideograph which is viewed by DeFrancis as Mythological Memorabilia along with unicorn horns and phoenix feathers.

Of course, DeFrancis was wrong but is excused as he did not have a chance to know any better.
Last edited by hantze on Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chinese character set is pseudoscience, 汉 字 是 伪 科 学!

Postby yijing » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:28 am

hantze wrote:
kenny wrote:DeFrancis has passed away. We should use kinder words in our critiques on him.

Yes, we should use kinder words. We should discuss the issues only without any qualifying words. DeFrancis' article fully reflected the knowledge of his time, not knowing Gong's system. As it is still widely read online, we should point out its errors regardless of his being passed away. I will discuss his article with three issues.


As a Chinese philosopher, I will know DeFrancis' Chinese language proficiency level (high school or college level) if he has a 300 word essay written in Chinese. Without it, I cannot judge his true level on Chinese language. But by reading his article "The Ideographic Myth", I must say that he had no true understanding about linguistics let alone about Chinese language. In addition to his ignorance (having no chance to know any better), he was prejudiciously against Chinese language with the following writing.

DeFrancis wrote:We need to go further and throw out the term [Ideographic] itself. Boodberg proposed doing so years ago when he sharply criticized students of early Chinese inscriptions for neglecting the phonological aspect of Chinese writing and for "insisting that the Chinese in the development of their writing ... followed some mysterious esoteric principles that set them apart from the rest of the human race." Boodberg added (1937:329-332):


John DeFrancis was prejudiciously against Chinese language for that it is setting itself apart from the rest of the human race.

With Gong's "Linguistics Manifesto" ( http://www.chinese-word-roots.org/cwy.htm ), Chinese language did not set itself apart from the rest of the human race but is the foundation of linguistics.
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