Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion group

Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion group

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:14 pm

Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion group

At LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion ( ... 6594485249 ), there are some great discussions about Chinese language, and I have commented on them often. For anyone who is not a member of that group, I am posting my comments here.

Federal job, Mandarin Linguist needed

CEI (Chinese Etymology Institute) was contacted by a US federal agency that needs some Mandarin linguists. The American universities and the Confucius Institutes can obviously provide as many Mandarin linguists ever needed for an agency. But, they are the old schools, grossly wrong to their students. Thus, the failure rate of their students is over 90% which was accepted as a norm. But now, this is no more. After the publication of the “Chinese Etymology”, the most difficult language in the world was transformed to the easiest one.

Today, any Chinese language teacher who knows not this new Chinese etymology is simply wrong to his/her students, a truly great shame.

It is a great honor for CEI being selected as a source for referring Mandarin linguists to the US federal government. Anyone who knows this new Chinese etymology is encouraged to apply this federal job (about $40 per hour) at

I will write a recommendation for anyone who graduated from CEI with a certificate and will provide the direct contact info upon a request.

A US federal agency (FBI) has job opening for Mandarin linguists, about $40 per hour, see small-story/letters-to-tienzen-t159.html#p4882 . More detailed info is available at ... 06004a1087 . There are openings in almost all 50 States.

Happy New Year of the Snake, everyone!

There are two cartoon videos for the greeting of the New Year of the Snake. They can be great material for your classroom. They can be downloaded at ... 58158e.mp4

Dr. Dominic Man Kit Lam send me a great New Year’s greeting (a cartoon video) for the year of the Snake. I am sharing it with you, and it can be downloaded at ... f995cd.mp4

Vindication_introduction: “沉冤大白” 簡介

西諺云: 一種語文, 一個靈魂。懂俄文, 就知俄人靈魂。通英文, 就能與西方靈魂交流。

語言學家的理想語文, 必須具備三個條件。
a. 以有限的字符 (字母或字根), 建構出無限的字。
b. 每字字音, 可由字面讀出。
c. 每字字義, 可由字面讀出。
對頭二項而言, 拉丁語系 (如, 英文) 都得了 100 分。百分之二十的英文字, 是由字根、字首組成, 也能從字面讀出字義。在 300 分中, 英文得了 220 分。雖非絕對的理想, 也是上之上等了。

五四運動時, 漢語文被裁定為, 禍國殃民的罪魁禍首。當時的口號是: 漢字不廢, 中國必亡。胡適 與 蔡元培等六百學界精英, 共同的簽署了 “消滅漢字宣言” (見,73347 ) 。接著, 中共 一面推行 簡體字, 一面加速漢字 羅馬拼音化的研究。理由就是, 在 300 分中, 漢語文抱了三個大鴨蛋。這種 蛋、蛋、蛋 的語文, 不僅是禍國殃民的禍首, 誤人子弟的元凶, 更是華人的恥辱。中共 也以廢除繁體字, 為其最偉大的政績。

二00六年, “中文字根學” 出版了 (美國版權證號 TX 6-514-465) 。它以實證的方式, 明確的證明了, 漢語文是唯一得了 300分的語文。驚慌之下, 從二00七至二0一0年, 中共政協連續三年, 提出了 恢復繁體字的議案。相關的剪報, 可在下址查閱 ( ) 。

以死記硬背來學漢字, 是對學童的虐待。會扼殺孩童的理解思維能力, 形成不求甚解的惰性, 養成臣服于威權的奴性。以 “字根” 學漢字, 不但是事一功百, 更讓孩童發展邏輯思維與創新能力。“沉冤大白” 一書, 以較通俗的方式, 不但說明了漢語文是如何拿到三個满分的, 也讓讀者知道如何培育孩童完美的靈魂。

台灣新生報 【記者邱兆衡】三月十六日的報導, 對中文教學的方向, 有重點的闡述。
a. 五四運動,漢語文被裁定為,禍國殃民的罪魁禍首。當時的口號是:漢字不廢,中國必亡。胡適與蔡元培等六百學界精英,共同的簽署了「消滅漢字宣言」。

b. 以死記硬背來學漢字,是對學童的虐待。會扼殺孩童的理解思維能力,形成不求甚解的惰性,養成臣服於威權的奴性。

其報導, 可查下址:

A great news report

A great news report (written in traditional characters) of a very prominent Newspaper in Taiwan is available at ... 24833.html

奇人、奇遇、奇學 ( )

台灣新生報 【記者邱兆衡特稿】 ( ... 24833.html )
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:17 pm

上 厕 所 and 下 厨 房

First, 上 厕 所 and 下 厨 房 is a linguistic issue. A linguistic issue can of course have some answers outside of linguistics, such as the culture answer. Even if we wanted to take the culture answer, we should understand the linguistic structure first.

a. 上 厕 所 has two linguistic parts; 上 (acting as verb, action) + 厕 所 (acting as object, a place).

b. Smoke-screen tactic --- 99% of discussion is about the “other” issue (the smoke). In this case, it is about the fengsui. Then, it makes a very quick “connection” to get the answer. In this case, it gives the logic as below.
i. 厕 所 is built at South-east corner.
ii. In the old Chinese “map” , the South is placed on “Top”.
iii. So, go to 厕 所 is go to the “上” direction of a “map”.

In fact, I can easily give a much better nonsense by using Yijing. In Yijing, the 下 kwa is called the “inner” kwa. The 上 kwa is called the “outer” kwa. 厨 房 is often as a “inner” part of a house, so it is “下 厨 房” while 厕 所 is often outside of the living chamber (as being smelly), so it is “上 厕 所”. Although this is a pure nonsense, it is still much better than that fengsui nonsense.

上 and 下 are actually as functioning verb, expressing the actions. 上 and 下 in this case are simply showing the “actions” which reflect the actual habits, no culture mystery in it this time.

@文健舜 Tina L;

I am quite sure that no one “here” (at this forum) deliberately spread "smoke screen". But, the convenience of the web has spread more wrong information than we would like to see. I will try a last time to show that the fengsui story is wrong in this case.

a. If 厕 所 is a room located at the 上 direction of a fengsui “map”, it could be called “上房”. And going to 厕 所 can be said as 上“上房” according to its logic. Yet, we know that “上房” is reserved for the main chamber of the house, regardless of fengsui direction of the chamber.

b. 厕 pronounces as 側(on or at the side), and it means a “side”-building beside the living quarter. The usage for 所 is for a building detached from the main (living) building, such as 哨所, 派出所, 會所 (meeting but not living place), etc.. Before the modern indoor toilet, it is called an “outhouse” in American, exactly as 厕 所 in Chinese.

c. Before the modern time, the master and his close family in that big house (described in that fengsui story) used 馬桶 in their bedroom, and 馬桶 will be cleaned by servants. Most 厕 所 are used by commoners (or servants), and they were built a bit away from the main house to avoid the smells. That fengsui building layout is very modern, less than 2 to 300 years old while the term of 上厕 所 has been used much longer than that.

Sharing the idea is good and fun. Spreading the wrong information is wrong.

I am a theoretical physicist, that is, I make analysis in super details. I will always clearly define the scope, the nature of the issue in hand first and will never allow the mix-up or the mess-up the issue with some smoke-screens.
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:18 pm


@Tuang 序桑

Thanks for providing the link, 漢字叔叔 (Richard Sears). It is truly a moving story. It is not only a great achievement of Richard Sears but is a very valuable work for computerizing the data base on Chinese character evolution. My salute goes to him.

While his work is truly great, it can be very misleading in two fronts.
A. The evolution of the character *forms* is not etymology. Using the term *etymology* is wrong. Dr. Victor Mair (a great Sinologist, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania) said it very clearly, see his article at ( ). Academically, this is a very serious misleading.

B. The so many word forms for a single word was the precise reason for 鲁迅欲消灭汉字, 郭沫若、蔡元培 等人的 "消滅漢字宣言", see (http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... ology.html ). It shows that Chinese word system was ad hoc and chaotic. As great as the knowledge of Mr. Sears on Chinese language system he is, he is not any better than 鲁迅, 郭沫若、蔡元培 等人. In addition to show the beauty of Chinese characters, it will give the same impression that Chinese system is ad hoc and chaotic. And, this is terribly wrong. Chinese system is the only perfect system in the entire linguistic system in the world, see chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html

The history of despising the Chinese character set
http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... acter.html

鲁迅欲消灭汉字, 郭沫若、蔡元培 等人的 "消滅漢字宣言"
http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... ology.html

Dear Peter Zelchenko:

Thanks for your email.

Richard Sears does not know Chinese etymology. You can see the article by Dr. Victor Mair is a Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania, at ( ). More discussion about etymology is available at (asking-questions/what-is-chinese-etymology-t39.html ). So, his saying is wrong.

For this word 更, you do not need to believe in my saying, as it is described in detail in the Kangsi dictionary (康熙字典). It says that 更 is 而 (beard, facial hair) over 又 (hand). As you can see that there is a slight mutation on both 而 and 又. But, this is common in Chinese characters. This is also the reason that no one discovered that the Chinese system is a 100% root-system before.

The meaning of the word 更 is combing the bear with hand instead of with comb, that is, a quick dress-up job, not well-done. In the ancient time, the hair and the beard are the most important part of man’s manner and should be taken the greatest care. When a person dress himself up with 更 only, it is called 便, (quick and dirty job or the improvising way). Dressing up is also called 更 衣. Then, its extended meaning is ‘changing’ and ‘more’. When the hour-change, it becomes 更次. Then, the first hour is 初更.

Almost 99.9999% of Chinese character etymology on web is wrong as they have no idea of what it is all about. And, they have no desire to get better. It is very nice of your trying to know more. But, I do not have time to answer every question. You can go to my website ( ) for more info.

Yours truly,
Tienzen Gong

@Ilana Wistinetzki, What do you mean by "instinct in its semantics"?
Are they always mutually interchangeable? Or are there restrictions?

Excellent questions.
In general, the leading word of a Chinese word phrase acts as the leading actor while the following word(s) are acting as supporting actors. Of course, there are exceptions. But, in this case, the general rule takes the precedence.

For 其他, 其 is the leader. 其 is an identity pointer. 其 man, this man. 其 event, this event. 其 book, this book. So, the key is about *this*. 他 is the third person, that is, (this, you then 他). So, 他 is more than to be the other one while it is obviously not of *this*. So, 他 is innately pointing to *many*. This is what “instinct in its semantics” means.

For 别的, the key is 别, the different one, of course, not of *this*. 的 is just a helping word here.

For, 另外, again, 另 is the key, not of *this*. 外 points out that the 另 is outside the scope of *this*.

Both 别的 and 另外 can be used for “as many others”. But, the *many* is not innately built in. All three are about *not of this*.

By knowing the above, the learned scholars will know the exact usages for them.

@Ilana Wistinetzki,

Very good question.

There are many different *kinds* of phrase. This is in fact a big subject. In the forum like this, I can only discuss the surface. I will just talk about two types here.

1. logic type --- the meaning of the phrase are inferred from the constituent words in logic. There are many ways to arrange this type of phrases.
a. similar words, such as, 差别 is 差 and 别. 相同 is 相 or 同. In this case, both words give out the same meaning. But, in some case, the leading takes the lead. In the rhythm situation, the second word can take the lead.
b. With opposite words, such as east-west, good-bad (note, I used light-pen to write Chinese, and it is not always connected to the computer. So, I use only the word available from your post). In this case, it shows the contrast or giving rise to question.
c. With helping word, such as, 什么 is 什. 哪儿 is 哪. The second word is a *chi* word which can go without semantically.
d. with different category words, such as 中国 and 人. The meaning of the phrase comes from all its constituent words.
d. a lot more.

2. name or (object) type --- the meaning of the phrase does not *need* come from the constituent words, such as my Chinese name.

3. A lot more other types.


Your sentence is not clear and not seasoned. One problem is the punctuation. The other is the way of saying. Before finishing reading the whole paragraph, the reader will not know that who "她" is, Ashely or 观音莲.
"她痛苦于太羞怯” is a “不通” sentence. Is “她苦于羞怯”, not kowing about shy. Or is “她因太羞怯而痛苦”. Reader cannot truly know what you are talking about.

"送Ashely观音莲,因她個性太羞怯;望她绽放如莲。" is a much clearer way of saying.


Intentionally using an odd way of expression (such as 幸福了一把) is not a professional way of writing.


The phrase 一把 significantly reduces your degree of 幸福.

In English, there are also homophones and homonym, but they accounts for only very small portion of English language. They are classified as below. Even with these classification, they are also entangled.

Homographs are words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation, such as, {bark (the sound of a dog) and bark (the skin of a tree)} or {rose (flower) and rose (past tense of rise)}.

Heteronyms (literally "different name") are the subset of homographs (words that share the same spelling) that have different pronunciations (and meanings)such as, {to, too, two}, and {there, their, they’re}, {desert (to abandon) and desert (arid region)}, {tear (to rip) and tear (a drop of moisture formed in the eye)}, {row (to argue or an argument) and row (as in to row a boat or a row of seats)}.

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled. If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently, then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing"). That is, homophones are words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling, such as, {carat, caret, and carrot}, or {to, two, and too}. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms.

Homonym is one of a group of words that share spelling and pronunciation but may have different meanings. That is, homonyms are simultaneously homographs and homophones, such as, {pair stalk (part of a plant) and stalk (follow/harass a person)} or {pair left (past tense of leave) and left (opposite of right)}.

Capitonyms are words that share the same spelling but have different meanings when capitalized, such as, Polish (a country in Europe), polish (making surface shine).

On the other hand, every word sound is shared with 60 other words (different characters) in average in Chinese language, such as, {哥, 歌, 割, …}, {志, 誌, 痣, …}, {妻, 棲, …}, …, and this 同音字 phenomenon is not small part of the language but is universal. This is one of the major difference between Chinese and other languages.

Furthermore, the Heteronyms (same spelling but with different pronunciation, 破音字) is some special phenomena in English but is for every Chinese character. Most of Chinese people knows only a few 破音字, such as, {很好, 好惡}, {大人, 大夫}, … But, every Chinese word has more than one pronunciation, and different pronunciation of the same word has different meaning, the same meaning as the same pronunciation of the other word. Superficially, 康熙字典 (Kangsi dictionary) is organized with radical (部首). But, in essence, it is all about the phonology, as it says (字) **切, 義 (此), 另 (音) 某義某, such as, *乾*, 渠焉切, 卦名; 又 *古寒*切, 燥也; 又音 *勤*,義勤; 又音 *堅*,義堅. Basically, sound what, mean what (音某義某). The scope of the heteronym in Chinese is universal, unimaginable by any other language. That is, no other language in the world has the ability to handle such an entanglement (or chaos). Yet, Chinese handle it with ease. If you are interested in this issue in more detail, you can visit chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html#p2276
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:21 pm

@Wang Weifang: “…现在,又要拿语法开刀。悲哉,悲哉!”

A word (character) always has an original meaning. Then, it can have some acquired usages, slightly or greatly different from the original meaning. We must know these two and their differences.

For 的, its original meaning is “target”, such as, 眾矢之的 or 標的. From here, it acquired the usage to express the possessive case (我的, 你的).

For 地, it is 土 (earth) +也 (also). So, 地 is also earth, but not ‘earth as soil’. Thus, 地 points to the concept of ‘land’. 目的地, the destination is also a 的 (target). Thus, 地 was borrowed (假借) in some case to sit at 的 ‘s place.

The current use of 的 as the adjective possessive and 地 as adverb possessive is a very recent development. As language is a living force, this new usage is of course okay. But, linguistically, every place uses 地 can always be replaced with 的, as it is the original word while 地 is only a borrowed word.

“又要拿语法开刀”, this is a great understatement. Chinese grammar was already killed after the May 4th movement. A book “‘西廂記’: 漢語 ‘文法’ 大全 (chinese-idioms/topic-t2059.html )” can give you some details on this.

@Wang Weifang & Glenda GAO:

Chinese grammar is a very big subject.

Before the May 4th movement, the Chinese language had reached the zenith height in the writings, without ever discussing the English-type grammar. That is, there is a Chinese grammar of its own. Yet, after the May 4th movement, the Chinese grammar was squeezed into the English-like grammar structure, and no one knows the true Chinese grammar anymore today.

Yet, discussing Chinese grammar in theory is not easily understood by even the native Chinese now. Thus, I have used ‘西廂記’ as the source of examples to describe the Chinese sentence ‘structure’, for two reasons.

First, it almost encompasses all types of Chinese sentences (它卻幾乎包含了 ‘漢文’ 的全部文體)。
對白 --- 白話體
詩 --- 律體
文言 --- 散體
詞 --- 詞是從詩律中, 解放出來的。不受字數限制。但仍講究音韻。
曲 ---譜成‘曲調’ 的詞

Second, it is a very short novel which has only about 50,000 words (‘西廂’ 是一本很有趣的愛情故事。篇幅也很短, 約僅五萬字) which is only about 1/20 of the length of ‘紅樓夢’ 。 That is, students can easily read it over and over.

Yet, this new book “‘西廂記’: 漢語 ‘文法’ 大全 (Chinese Grammar)” teaches ‘Chinese grammar’ to those who must already be able to read the current Chinese newspaper, as this great classic novel ‘西廂記’ is used as the example material for analyzing the Chinese sentences. I have made the entire boob of ‘西廂記’ available in this book. I also made some glossary explanations (註解) which help the reader to read the novel easier.

The earlier version of the book is available at chinese-idioms/topic-t2059.html . Now, the pdf file of this book is available for the readers of this blog (free of charge, valued at $80), as a token of appreciation for everyone’s devotion of learning or teaching Chinese language, and it can be downloaded at . The pdf file has larger and better looking font than the web page can provide and has the latest version.

Before the May 4th movement, the Chinese language had reached the zenith height in the writings, without ever discussing the English-type grammar. That is, there is a Chinese grammar of its own. Yet, after the May 4th movement, the Chinese grammar was squeezed into the English-like grammar structure, and no one knows the true Chinese grammar anymore today.

Yet, discussing Chinese grammar in theory is not easily understood by even the native Chinese now. Thus, I have used ‘西廂記’ as the source of examples to describe the Chinese sentence ‘structure’, for two reasons.

First, …

Second, …

Yet, this new book “‘西廂記’: 漢語 ‘文法’ 大全 (Chinese Grammar)” teaches ‘Chinese grammar’ to those who must already be able to read the current Chinese newspaper, as this great classic novel ‘西廂記’ is used as the example material for analyzing the Chinese sentences. I have made the entire boob of ‘西廂記’ available in this book. I also made some glossary explanations (註解) which help the reader to read the novel easier.

The earlier version of the book is available at chinese-idioms/topic-t2059.html . Now, the pdf file of this book is available for the readers of this blog (free of charge, valued at $80), as a token of appreciation for everyone’s devotion of learning or teaching Chinese language, and it can be downloaded at . The pdf file has larger and better looking font than the web page can provide and has the latest version.


I have visited your MyEChinese site which is a well-designed site.

I have one and only one questions.

Can anyone in the world understand your sentence “ Měi lián chǔ shǒuwèi “nǚ zhǎngmén ”chūlú” without the Chinese characters or without someone read it out loud?

The 漢字拼音 cannot be a standalone language. It could be the auxiliary to help foreigner to learn the pronunciation of Chinese words. Yet, even many Americans realized that 漢字拼音 is of no use of any kind after they have gained the ability to read.

Of course, it was designated as the official “pronunciation standard” for Chinese characters with a political decree, but it is wrong. The pronunciation of any language must be “internal”, that is, defined by its own language ‘recursively’. The Chinese character pronunciation was defined by 反切 which is indeed a recursive operation. Later, it was defined with 注音 which is also an internal part of Chinese language. For any two languages, the meaning and pronunciation of a word can be ‘translated’ between the two but never be equal. That is, there is no way to equate Chinese phoneme with the Latin alphabets. 漢字拼音 was done by someone who knows no linguistics and was forced to Chinese people by a political decree. Language cannot be sustained by political decree. It will eventually show its power and overthrow all the unjust political force.

@Benjamin Tuck: “Pinyin is a necessary evil.”

I have all my sympathy on you for the unfortunate state you are facing which is the result of a group of ignorant people, such as, 錢玄同、陳獨秀、胡適、瞿秋白、魯迅、郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠等人. The logic is very simple.
1. For three thousand years, there was no pinyin while everyone (native Chinese and foreigners) can speak Chinese (including the mandarin) if he was not handicapped with muteness. Many great Western Sinologists before the Pinyin era could speak mandarin excellently.
2. Most of Chinese people (being not linguists or Chinese philologists), they will not know that Chinese language is much more complicated phonetic system than the Latin alphabetical system. If you are able to use 康熙字典, you will notice that the entire dictionary is based on phonetic, as the meaning of Chinese character is phonetic-based. That is, a character can have many pronunciations. When it sounds as sound-A, it has meaning-A. When the same character sounds as sound-B, it has the meaning-B. It is of course very fine for not worrying about the true knowledge if he (a native Chinese or a foreigner) is not interested in learning it, as the capability of daily conversation is all that he needs.

The current ‘evil’ you are facing is forced upon you by the political oppression force and stupidity. But, the strength of the Chinese language will never be defeated. If you are able to read Chinese, you can read some news clips (at chinese-idioms/topic-t2059.html#p4741 ) which shows that the strength of the language is winning.

@Guó-Xún Péng:

Your three translations are indeed the commonly accepted by the general population among Chinese people. But, they are wrong. Those three translations do not truly carry the weight as a Canonical verse of Confucianism. Again, “知” can indeed be used as “智” sometimes, but not in this case.

“知之为知之,不知为不知,是知也” is the canon law for epistemology even in today’s understanding. Its true meaning is,
知之为知之: you know ‘you know’ is knowledge.
不知为不知: you know ‘you don’t know’ is knowledge.
是知也: knowing ‘both’ (what you know and what you don’t know) is true knowledge.

In this great saying, there is nothing about 智 (wise, wisdom or wise man).

There is absolutely nothing about “honest to yourself” in this sentence as this is not an issue about morality but is about the epistemology. A very honest person can still be completely ignorant about what he does not know. Aristotle was a very honest and wise man, but he did not know what he ‘did not know’. And, his ‘Physics’ is mostly wrong as physics today, but of course it is still a great literature of this humanity. Only the people after him knew what ‘he did not know’, and this new knowledge (you know ‘you don’t know’) made advancement on the human knowledge.

@Guó-Xún Péng:
It is very nice of your discussing this great saying of Confucius. As I have said that your statements are widely accepted by Chinese people, that is, you are not the one in the wrong. Yet, there is truly a big problem about the understanding of the ‘traditional Chinese thoughts’ after the May 4th movement, as most of Chinese people is unable to understand Chinese ‘grammar’ beyond the ‘verbal’ (白話) style.

This example expressively points out this big problem. ‘Most’ of Chinese sentence does not subject to any ‘interpretation’ as its grammar provides a definite meaning to the sentence. When we remove all punctuation marks out from the Shakespeare, it will be very difficult to get his original writing by simply reading it. Only Chinese essays need no punctuation marks, and every essay can be read as the ‘same’ essay by zillions of people. No other language of any kind has this capability.

No, most of Chinese sentence does not need any ‘interpretation’ if one understands the Chinese ‘grammar’ which is on a much higher ‘rank’ than the one of English-type of grammar. If you are interested in Chinese ‘grammar’, you could read “The accurate Chinese grammar (at http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... ammar.html )”.

In addition to the ‘grammar’, the context provides some helping clues to the meaning.

Most people (Chinese or Western sinologists) view Confucianism is a moral philosophy. It is not entirely wrong but is not true neither. This is a big subject, and I will not discuss it here. Yet, in this special case, it is not about morality but is about epistemology. So, your saying “be honest to yourself towards acquiring knowledge” is ‘kind of’ a part of epistemology, but it is not. Anyone who truly wants to acquire knowledge while not honest to himself does nobody harm but to himself. When someone knows that he does not know while pretend to know is cheating or fraudulent, and this is not a part of epistemology. Only when someone ‘not knowing’ that he does not know, he could then take any un-true answer as the right answer for that ‘not knowing’ issue, and this will result to his true ‘ignorance’ . When everyone in the society becomes ignorant, that society will suffer the consequence of falling behind all other societies.

@Bashir Nawa: "I ask my students not to use ballpoint-pens when practicing writing characters. Instead I ask them to use ink-pens which is also called fountain pens."

Not many people will know the difference between the two pens. Yet, the subtle difference is indeed great. The ink of ballpoint-pen flows much slower than the ink (fountain) pen. The most important part of Chinese language (characters, phrases, sentences and essays) is all about the ‘chi’. Today’s Chinese language teacher no longer teaching about ‘chi’, as they themselves do not know about that ‘chi’ is the backbone of the Chinese language while only believing that it is for the kungfu.

For the great calligrapher, he must ensure a firm stance (standing up) with balanced ‘chi’ before his work while most of us sits on a comfort-chair doing the writing, and we did not deliver the ‘chi’ into our characters.

There is a commonly accepted pen-stroke sequence for characters. Yet, the over-arching rule is about the ‘chi’ for the pen (ink) ‘flow’. When you teach your students about the pen-strokes, you should not just show the accepted sequences but explain the flow of the ‘chi’ during the pen-strokes; how to complete a character without the flow of pen (or ink) is in any awkward motion (not smooth chi).

@Bashir Nawa:

The Chinese Chi-cosmology is based on Yijing which is a very big subject. If you or anyone else is interested in it, I will discuss it more in due time.

For the Chi-application in the ‘language’, my new book ‘西廂記’: 漢語 ‘文法’ 大全 (Chinese Grammar) gives a good description on it. It is a 200 page book and is all written in ‘Chinese’. It has two parts, the entire book of ‘西廂記’ (a great classic of Chinese novel) and my discussion of Chinese grammar (by using the ‘西廂記’ as examples). For the Chi-grammar, you can just read the first and the last chapter of the book. That book is now available with the pdf file, and I am giving it to the members of this group free (a $80 value). It can be download at ( ).

@Guó-Xún Péng

The phrase of itself is indeed from 三十六计, and it is now used to mean “sheer fabrication” or “sheer nonsense”. Yet, its original meaning is different, and it was and still is the most important Taoist's Cosmology, that is 無 中 生 (begets) 有, as 有 is the child of 無. See Chapter one of 「道 德 經」 (Tao Te Ching), tao-te-ching-f23/tao-te-ching-t154.html .

無 名 天 地 之 始 ﹔ 有 名 萬 物 之 母 。
   故 常 無 , 欲 以 觀 其 妙 ﹔ 常 有 , 欲 以 觀 其 徼 。
   此 兩 者 , 同 出 而 異 名 , 同 謂 之 玄 。 (Chapter one)

有 物 混 成 , 先 天 地 生 。
寂 兮 寥 兮 , 獨 立 而 不 改 ,
周 行 而 不 殆 , 可 以 為 天 地 母 。
吾 不 知 其 名 , 強 字 之 曰 道 , (Chapter 25)

道 生 一 , 一 生 二 , 二 生 三 , 三 生 萬 物 。 (Chapter 42)

Thus, the Taoist’s cosmology is very clear.
1. 有 物 先 天 地 生 。
2. This 先 天 地 生 is the 常 無 (the eternal Nothingness) and is named as Tao (強 字 之 曰 道).
3. Then, 道 (常 無) 生 … 萬 物 (the 有).

A similar cosmology is also the foundation of the Confucianism, and it is very clear described in 太極圖説:
無極而太極。太極動而生陽;… ,兩儀立焉。… 太極本無極也。… 乾道成男,坤道成女。二氣交感,化生萬物,萬物生生而變化無窮焉。For the original article, see post4745.html#p4745 .

As 無 中 生 有 is the foundation of the Chinese (both Confucianism and Taoism) cosmology and philosophy, why does it become “sheer fabrication” or “sheer nonsense” in today’s usage? This is from the respect of the Heaven, the Almighty. That is, 無 中 生 有 can only be done by the Almighty, not by any human. Any human who claims to have such a power of 無 中 生 有 is “sheer fabrication” or “sheer nonsense”. In Yijing, the number 9 is the highest yang-number on Earth. The 10 (perfection) and 100 are heavenly numbers and must not be used by humans. Thus, Chinese does not celebrate 100th birthday, only have a great celebration for the 99th birthday. The phrase of ‘百年’ is to mean the end of one’s life.

“但是本子的量词只能是 ‘个’,即一个本子。对吗?"

No, 一本本子 is just fine.

@Bill wilson:

It is very nice to know that you are interested in learning Chinese language.

There is a major difference for learning a second language between a kid and an adult. For kids, we immerse them without showing them the reasoning and logic of the language. Yet, the handicap of any adult for the second language is that he is no longer a good sponge which can soak up the juice by drowning him in water. However, adult does have a strong suit, the reasoning and logic comprehension.

Most languages are tightly woven with their cultures, and this is especially significant in Chinese language. If you just want to be a street talker, you can go with the most street talking programs which are available all over the place. If you want truly learn the Chinese language, you should start with learning the backbone of that language. That is, you should get to know, at least, three canons.
a. Confucius – the Analects.
b. Tao De Jing
c. Yijing

Anything which goes beyond the simple street talks (such as, how are you? Good weather, etc.) is somehow gotten its meaning from those books. Thus, you can read those books in their English translation first. After you get some ideas about the Chinese ways of thinking by reading those translated books, you can then try to read the original text side by side with the translations. If you pick up the Chinese language in this way, it will give you a true foundation on Chinese language.

Unfortunately, most of the translations of those canons are not very good, if not simply wrong. By reading a wrong translation will do you more harm than any good. Fortunately, this site ( ) provides 7 best translations of Yijing at one place. That is, there is a chance for you to check out the difference among the translations. By doing so, you will get a solid foundation for your Chinese language. Of course, do learn the street talks.

@Bill wilson:

As a teacher of a very difficult language (English) yourself, you will appreciate that language is much beyond of learning vocabulary and grammar. Thanks for agreeing with me.

@Manuel Mavinga:

If you are an English speaking person, you can pick up 'speaking mandarin' 10 times easier than a Chinese speaking person to pick up 'speaking English'. The speaking part of mandarin is one of the simplest language in the world.

Yet, the Chinese written language was viewed as one of the most difficult language in the world. It was so bad, and it was ready abandoned by the Chinese people themselves. The simplified system was the interim measure before that total abandonment.

Yet, the discovery of 'Chinese Etymology' in 2006 stopped that abandoning movement. Now, the Chinese written system can be mastered in 90 days, without any immersion needed. The following page will give you a rough idea of what it is all about (http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... -easy.html ).

@Derong Gu:

“I write a book on it, unfortunately, nobody wants it to be published.”

This is because that your saying is simply wrong.

Your first example “寿 :< --- 丰 寸 abundant time-->longevity” is terribly wrong.
First, 寿 is a simplified character, that is, it is no longer following the etymology of the Chinese system.
Second, if a radical (or root) means X in a system, it should mean X in all other words. If 寸 means ‘time’, it should mean ‘time’ in all other words too, such as, 付 (人-time), 対 (文-time), 討 (言-time), 封 (圭-time), 村 (木-time), 寺 (土-time). Obviously, all the above are nonsenses.

You are obviously not a Chinese philologist and do not have any basic training in linguistics. You are just making up stories arbitrary. And, this does not do the public any good.

@Derong Gu:

Good job. You got most of them correct this time. But, it is not difficult to do that after those words were listed out, as anyone can find out the right answers from (康 熙 字 典).

“You are friendly to your friends, and you are not that good toward your enemies.”

No, I don’t really know you, and you are not my enemy. I am friendly to those who are learned and right and will not give praise to those are in the wrong.

Indeed, Chinese written language is the only ‘perfect’ language in terms of linguistics;
a. Able to read the meaning of ‘every’ word (character) from its ‘face’.
b. Able to read the pronunciation of ‘every’ word from its face.
c. Able to construct all words (unlimited numbers) from a ‘finite’ set of symbols (alphabets, radicals or roots).

English-like language is able to do the b) and c), but not a). Chinese written language is the only language in the word capable of accomplishing all three. But, no one in the history knew about this before the publication of the “Chinese Etymology” in 2006. If anyone knew about this before 1960, there would not have had the simplified characters which grossly destroyed the Chinese etymology system, changing the perfect system to the most stupid one. This is an iron historical ‘fact’ and cannot be argued in any way. The following is a short list about that history.
i. 魯 迅 wrote, 漢 字 不 廢, 中 國 必 亡 (without abandoning Chinese character system, China will surely vanish).
ii. 錢 玄 同 one of the greatest Chinese philologist in 1930s (the top authority of 說 文), even promoted the replacement of Chinese with Esperanto.
iii. 胡 適 and 林 語 堂 agreed with Dr. Northrop that Chinese words are denotative and solitary -- no logical ordering or connection the one with the other.

(See, http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... ology.html )

王 安 石 (one of the greatest authority on 說 文) and his book 字 說 turned out to be a laughing-stock.

With the history here, do not pretend that that the Chinese ‘written’ language is the easiest one in the world to learn was something known long ago. By using the system of etymology, all Chinese characters (about 60,000) can be learned in 90 days from a beginning of knowing not a single character. Yet, both in China and in Taiwan, the kids are still learning Chinese characters via the old way (as a set of symbols without logic). Thus, you are welcome to this new era. But, without knowing the true system, one can just make a bad name to this new knowledge.

@Derong Gu:

"Actually we are 诤友, ..."
Yes, I like this.

"... though fast food is not that nutritious, as your original Chinese."

Good metaphor, but you have missed the point. If the Chinese system was a total trash as described by those (錢玄同、陳獨秀、胡適、瞿秋白、魯迅、郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 , etc.), I will be the first one to advocate its total abolishment. But, the fact is that Chinese written system is the only ‘perfect’ language system in the entire linguistics. The simplified system is not a fast food by all means, as only the original system allows a student to learn it with logic, not by brutal memorization. After mastering the logic and system (needs only 90 days), students can read the meaning and pronunciation of all characters which he did not know before, and no other language in the world can achieve this.

In the 5,000 years of Chinese history, this simplified system which transforms the only perfect language into the most stupid one in the world is the only greatest “shame” to Chinese history, Chinese culture and to Chinese people.

No, my support on the original Chinese system has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Taiwan is still using it. By the way, Taiwan does not appreciate this great wisdom of our ancestors thus far neither. Taiwan is not doing much better than those people who (see the above list) had done great harm and wrong to Chinese people (the ancestors and the future generations).

@Bill Wilson:

Thanks for such a moving comment.

“I am a simple man of simple means, Within the world and the multitude of things I am but a simple speck of dust.”

Yes, we are just a speck of dust in the physical sense. But our will and spirit have the power to move the entire universe, regardless of our simple means.

“The Chinese system of communication has changed, it has evolved, yet it is still the Chinese communication system, to study "simplified Chinese" is like studying the intermediate system, before moving on to the advanced system (Traditional), Like the great Yin and Yang there is room for both, and indeed if you open your eyes and look, you can see each has a part of the other within.”

How wonderful this saying truly is! My translation of 「道 德 經」 (Tao Te Ching) is widely used in the Taoist’s community around the world. Both the original text and the translation are available at tao-te-ching-f23/tao-te-ching-t154.html . For 99% of Chinese college graduates, they will still have the hard time to truly understand the original text, as they did not truly learn Chinese ‘language’ at that level. Thus, the English translation becomes a helping cane for them to wade across that difficult language. Of course, reading them side by side will be a great way for someone who is learning Chinese as the second language.

Of course, there is enough room for simplified. But, there is one important issue in linguistics, the capability of a language.

For a denotative type language, its lexicon are arbitrary assigned without any logic connection between words, that is, a chaotic system. Thus, those assignments must be memorized with brutal efforts. English is 80% denotative although most of its words have etymology, such as, no one will know why ‘book’ means book from its face.

For an axiomatic type language, its lexicon are derived from a finite set of symbols (roots) together with a handful of rules. Thus, the meaning and the pronunciation of every word can be derived from that small set which can be learned easier than 5th grade algebra. A total denotative language will be the stupidest one in the world.

A total (100%) axiomatic language system ‘was’ the far-out (impossible) dream in linguistics. Yet, the Chinese original system [not understood before] is such a system, the ‘only’ such a system in linguistics. So, the issue now is not about encompassing a simplified, but why? Why gives up the only perfect system while adapting a total denotative system (the stupidest one). In addition to this stupidity, it is an act of insulting to the wisdom and the greatness of my ancestors.

@Bill wilson:

"As long as there are people like yourself with passion in their hearts for the Chinese Language, who painstakingly work out the meaning and etymology of these wonderful words then there will be people like me who really appreciate your work and the amazing insight it gives us to your history and culture."

How wonderful of such a heart-warming saying this is! We all need a friend like you. Thanks.

@Derong Gu:

“Traditional form of Chinese doesn't help much to take HSK, which is the main subject of this discussion.”

There are only about 2,000 simplified characters while the HSK will cover about 3,000 different words. That is, the students are still needing to learn about 1,000 traditional characters for his HSK test. For an educated Chinese, he needs know about 6,000 Chinese characters, that is, the knowledge on the Chinese system will be helpful for him for 4,000 words.

“The tough part are the idioms and traditional expressions, which are so many need to be memorized.”

Very sorry, you are wrong again. As a 诤友, I will give a very, very short discussion on this issue here. There are, at least, two types of system.
Type one --- tree-like system, with root, trunk and leafs. These three parts are of course tightly bound among them but are obviously different. English-like language is having this type of system. Its syntaxes are inflectional, that is, having the parts of speech. Then, at the sentence level, it was ‘driven’ to have tense, numbers, voices, etc. . It is a ‘cause-result’ relationship.

Type two --- a fractal system which was discovered only ‘40 years ago’. You can google ‘fractal’ or look it up at Wikipedia. The key feature of it is the ‘similarity transformation’, not ‘cause-result relationship’. The easiest example is ---
A family --- composed of people
A society (higher tier than family) --- composed of people
Humanity (higher tier than society) --- composed of people
In a fractal system, the rules at one tier (root level) is ‘similarly’ repeated at the higher tiers. And, the Chinese language is a fractal system, totally different from the English-like language.

At tier one --- the root/character system, the characters are composed of roots. And, the meaning of the character is read out from its parts together with some inferring rules. At this level, it has 9 dimensions (described by 井), as there are 9 spots for those parts to sit in. The two same roots which sit at different places can become two different words, such as, [暈 (dizzy) and 暉 (halo)], [忙 (busy), 忘 (forget)],… The commutative laws at tier one are precisely defined while I cannot go into its details here.

At tier two --- word phrases (idioms and expressions) can only be layout ‘linearly’, that is, much simpler than the tier one. If we can read out the meanings of characters in tier one, why are we not able to read the meanings out directly for those word phrases?

As 錢玄同、陳獨秀、胡適、瞿秋白、魯迅、郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 did not know about these, there was no chance for you to know them. Confucius said, “…不知為不知 ….” Those people above did not know their ignorance on Chinese language because that no one taught them, that is, they can be forgiven. Yet, people today who insists to stay ‘ignorant’ cannot be forgiven.

No, there is no need to memorize the characters and word phrases with ‘brutal’ efforts. This is the ‘wonder’ about Chinese language.

Great news! Great news!

Now, ‘the annual Central Government policy meetings, 中共两会 (人大 and 政协),’ are now on session (from March 3 to March 13, 2014). The greatest news is that the returning to the Traditional character and the abolishing the simplified (which is the stupidest and the most shameful in Chinese entire history) was discussed today. After a single-hand fighting for 10 years, I have won this war, a bit early than my expectation. After all, no one (Chinese or Communists) can keep oneself continuing to be stupid and shameful (especially to his ancestors).

@Bill wilson: Thank you for so many your kind and encouraging words. For a Chinese who has learned about 3,000 characters in the old school, he will be very difficult to learn this ‘new Chinese etymology’ as his old knowledge is a huge baggage which he cannot toss off. Thus, it might be a great opportunity for you to become one of the greatest linguist in history if you take this new Chinese etymology (which no one knows before 2005) as a big part of your career portfolio. I will definitely encourage you to do so.

@Bill wilson:
“…as teachers we have an obligation to teach our students correctly, …”
Amen! This is also the gold standard in American school.

“… as I only have maybe 8 or 900 words mastered in Chinese, then my baggage is not to heavy yet, I am very keen to learn by your methods, if you can point me in the right direction then I will do my utmost to do the rest and I hope be a worthy student to your system.”

No baggage, excellent! For a twelve year old American kid who begins with knowing zero Chinese word starts by learning the system ‘only’ in my class, he can dissect all new meet (not known before) words correct and can decode them correctly 70% of the time after 30 days of hard study. For a highly educated and intelligent adult while unable to attend the in class lessons, I would suggest to read this web page (chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html ) first, as it will give him a good background info and good perspective on the correct Chinese written system. If you are still interest in knowing more about it after reading it, you can start a new thread at the LinkedIn to discuss some issues and any comments about it. I will work with you from there.

@Derong Gu:
“(in ancient time, ten people is already a big number 十口 古 ten people talked about, then the thing is very old).”

I tried, truly tried not to right this wrong for not wanting to put you down. Yet, if I don’t do it, your wrong will harm the public who has no knowledge to know that you are wrong. No, absolutely no, 古 does not mean ‘old’. The old man who is still with me, he is still my contemporary. 古 means ‘ancient’ exactly, no other denotation or connotation. For the ancients, the 口 has two functions.
a. For eating, and the side effect is ‘as a gate for ills into the body [病 從 口 入]’.
b. For speaking, the bad point is ‘as a gate for running into troubles [禍 從 口 出]’.
Yet, there is a ‘perfect’ 口 which will no longer cause trouble and say anything ‘not good’. Thus, if you check the word 古 in 康 熙 字 典, it says that 十 (perfect) 口 is 古. This is from 康 熙 字 典, not from me. You obviously did not look it up in that dictionary. The original meaning for 十 is ‘perfect’, not ten. In Yijing, 9 is the highest yang number and the 10 is a Heavenly number. Thus 十 (denoting ‘perfect’) was borrowed for the number 10.

Although the ‘Chinese etymology’ was not known before 2005, the simplifying process by all means is not ad hoc or arbitrary. The committee did set up a set of ‘rules’. You obviously did not study those rules. No, the ‘composite/decoding’ structure is not one of their rules. No, 听 cannot be decoded as 口 斤 although it can be dissected as that. “Listening to ax's edge for its sharpness”, a total nonsense.

Although 錢玄同、陳獨秀、胡適、瞿秋白、魯迅、郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 and 王 安 石 did not know about the correct ‘Chinese etymology’, their knowledge on the Chinese language is 10 thousand times (萬 倍) of any average Chinese. Although I do not know you in person, I now know that you are far below their level, as you just make up stories without any academic discipline. Please, don’t do this. It is not good for you and is very harmful to the public.

听. this is the ax' edge (斧头的刀口).
People judge's the ax's sharpness, the work tool's quality by listening
to ax's edge.
so that is why it means LISTEN.
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Location: USA

Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:23 pm

@Wang Weifang


If you have read the webpage which I provided in my last comment, you should get an idea that the entire (not partial, as English is only about 20%) Chinese vocabulary is a composite system with a finite number of roots (radicals). That is, the ‘structure’ and the ‘meaning’ of every character can be read out from those roots together with some inferring rules. Therefore, no word in Chinese system (about 60,000 total thus far; 48,000 in 康 熙 字 典) is truly new to a student who has learned those roots (220 of them) and the way of inferring (only about 10 rules). On the other hand, for a ‘college’ graduate from China or Taiwan, he will not know more than 3 words (in average) in every page of the 康 熙 字 典 which has about 50 words a page, that is about 6%, for example, not too many of them know about these three words 伳, 鞨, 塺 which I picked up randomly. Worst yet, most of them know about these words (董, 胤, 欒, 牟, 饅) but none of them know about their true (original) meaning. Not knowing the original meaning of a word is the reason that most of them are not able to read the ‘Classic’ essays. For my student, he might not know the current meaning (fashionable usage) of a word, he will always get the original meaning by dissecting and decoding the character from its face. For example, the word 饅, although never seen it before, the only answer he can get out from my system will be the ‘fast food’ as it is 食 (food) + 曼 (spreading very fast), so 饅 is a kind of food which can be passed around very fast. 董 can only mean ‘hidden’, as it is 重 (heavy) under 艸 (grass) while 艸 has no strength to hold up the 重. So 董 事 is the one who is hiding behind the operation. Yet, only take 7 days for a 12 year old American kid to master those 220 roots and another week (7 days) to master the inferring rules. Then, it takes about 80 days for them to dissect and decode about 1000 G1 (first generation) words. The first generation words are the most difficult one, as it is fully based on roots (which are of course significantly different from the 康 熙 部 首). The decoding above G1 is very simple and I have showed many examples online. Yet, without the foundation knowledge of the G1 decoding, one can easily make up stories with nonsense which I have pointed out a few times now.

“ ‘員’ 的 字 源。”
For my student who does not know the fashion meaning of the word ‘員’, he can only decode it as 口 (mouth) + 貝 (treasure). 貝 by all means is not for eating. So, what the mouth got to do with it? Yes, counting the 貝 with mouth. Thus, 員 must mean ‘counting’, and this is the exact meaning (go check the 康 熙 字 典 and 說 文, they say 員, 物 數 也). Today, 員 can also be as a ‘unit’ of a count.

@Wang Weifang:
“I read 《康熙字典》and 《說文解字》 before I asked you the question.”

Wow! You were testing me. That is good. This is the only way for a meaningful discussion.

“1. How do you teach your students to speak the language? Do you do 先語後文 or 先文後語?”
The Chinese verbal language is ‘the’ the ‘the’ easiest language in the whole white world. Even without my system, one can master it by immersion of 6 months. With my system, one can master it without immersion. But, I will not go into the details of this now. Yet, by all means, the student of mine will be 先文後語. They will learn 3000 characters with the method similar to learning arithmetic, geometry or chemistry, not learning from reading ‘sentences’.
No, no, no, (排排坐, 吃果果, … , 老師好, 小朋友好), absolutely not.

“2. Will students get bored during the 90 days?”
No, no, no, absolutely not. Every dissecting and decoding is very fun and very challenge. Easy but challenge indeed. The ‘system’ is all about ‘wisdom’, and it takes the wisdom to learn it. Kids will quickly discover what the ‘wisdom’ is and means. Best yet, they quickly discover how smart they themselves are. They even do the decoding in their dreams.

“ 3. After teaching your students for ninety days, what do you do the next?”
From there, it will be easy all the way. The next will be learning 100,000 word phrases which are the extension of the characters but with much easier decoding process. Too easy, and this does cause some problems, as they are no longer as fun and challenge. They also begin the verbal at this point. After this, will be the reading of classic (the real Chinese grammar), not the street talk which is the ‘default’ part of the language, known by every illiterate Chinese.

@Jared Turner: "I'll note that it's incredibly important that you provide students material that is comprehensible to them."

For a second grader teaching a first grader, he can never provide any material which is not comprehensible to the first grader. Yet, for a teacher, he must know the 'subject' in depth, much, much, much more than what he is going to teach.

Before 1930s, 85% population in China was illiterate. Now, the illiterate rate is claimed below 15% of the current population.

論 語 (Confucius --- the Analects) was a ‘verbal’ language of the educated. If we use it as the litmus test, 100% of those literate people in 1930s (15% of the population) were able to read it without any difficulty. Today, 99.99% of this so called literate people (85% of the current population) has no ability to understand half of that book. Thus, using the 論 語 as the litmus test for the Chinese written language, today only 0.85% (less than 1%) Chinese current population is literate on Chinese written language (a bit beyond the street talking Chinese).

I have translated 論 語 (Confucius --- the Analects) into English for two reasons.
First, it is obviously for the one whose mother language is not Chinese.
Second, the key reason is for the native Chinese people, as they have no way of understanding the 論 語 with their level of Chinese language, not even with the help of a current Chinese dictionary. Yet, the English translation will help them to understand the meaning of those ‘Chinese sentences’, by using an English dictionary. And, hopefully, they can begin to learn some ‘true’ Chinese grammar. If one of you is a native Chinese, you should try to read the 論 語 in its ‘entirety’ [99% of you did not] and try to find out what % of the book that you can truly understand.

The entire Chinese text of 論 語 and my English translation are available at chinese-idioms/confucius-the-analects-a-new-translation-t2062.html

Having the language level of 論 語 is the minimum for a Chinese language teacher even while he is only teaching the first grader.

@Wang Weifang: “After translation “古典英文”became “白话文”。"

Thanks for offering your personal experience.

My major concern here is that there is a major difference between teachers and students. For teachers, they must know the ‘graduation point’ for students on a giving subject. That is, even for teaching the first grader, the teachers must know the ‘total scope’ which must be learned for a student of this subject before his graduation, even on the first day of his taking the first lesson.

Before 1930s, the students in China could recite the entire book of 論 語 before the age 10, and it would take about 10 more years for them to understand the grammatical structure of its sentences. This fact was viewed as ‘stupid’ for those May 4th scholars, and 論 語 was dropped as the backbone of curriculum in China.

In addition to as the backbone philosophy and metaphysics of Confucianism, 論 語 is truly the base for Chinese language, especially the Chinese grammar. Again, it is only a base, a base (a verbal type of structure), not an elaborated fine structure (such as, 尚 書, 詩 經, 騷 賦, 駢 文, ... etc.). Without the ability of understanding the 論 語’s sentence structures (the lowest base), one cannot claim that he understands the Chinese language, as there is no chance for him to understand any elaborated Chinese sentence structures. The current street talking Chinese was viewed as ‘illiterate’ Chinese language before 1930s.

If the entire curriculum for our students is about the ‘illiterate’ Chinese language, it will be fine. But, we should let them know what they are learning. After 10 years of hard learning, that all they get is the ‘illiterate’ Chinese language. There is a Western proverb, “One language, one soul”. But, sorry, after learned the ‘illiterate’ Chinese language with your life-effort, you can still not gain Chinese soul, as the true Chinese language is still way over your head.

If all our Western students learn only the ‘illiterate’ part of Chinese language, they will never know the greatness of Chinese language and can easily look down upon Chinese as the Chinese language is such an inferior language (even to the point being stupid).

Thanks Weifang for sharing your personal experience.

@Guó-Xún Péng:

I have no problem with you in person. But, what your saying is wrong, and I should not let someone learn the wrong thing.

First, there is a big difference between Chinese language and English language. Most of the English grammar rules do not apply in Chinese.

Even in English, the redundancy is not prohibited but is not often used. In Chinese, there are many reason for the double stacking, but I will not go into the details here. But, the double stacking is a very special feature in Chinese language, applied everywhere. Furthermore, the double stacking in Chinese is not restricted to the same tokens (characters or phrases, such as, 哥 哥, 迢 迢, 潺 潺, 悽 悽, 惨 惨, 朝 朝, 暮 暮) but is also about the same ‘meaning’, such as, 魯 莽, 蝴 蝶, 葡 萄, 踌 躇, 潺 湲, 悽 惨, 馬 虎, 馬馬 虎 虎. I can list one million of these examples. No, Chinese is not English. Not only the redundancy rule does not apply on Chinese but most of the English grammar does not neither.

Second, ‘凱 旋 歸 來’ is a formal ‘idiom’ of itself. That is, it is used as one ‘particle’ (as a single token). In all languages, a single token is used as a single word. In this case, it is not even an issue about the redundancy.

In your example, most of street talking Chinese will know that the sentences with 凱 旋 歸 來 are just fine. Thus, there is no point of any further discussion needed on this issue.

@Guó-Xún Péng:

You lack the true knowledge on Chinese language but are stubbornly argumentative. Thus, it was no sense of continuing this discussion any more. But, you keep putting out some confusion info to the public, and I must right those wrongs.

“按《新华词典》和一些《现代汉语词典》,“凱 旋” 是 “胜利归来” 的意思,除此不见有其他的解释;…”
Yes, “凱 旋” is now carrying the meaning of “胜利归来” but is the ‘abbreviation’ for 凱 旋 歸 來 which is the original idiom. The problem is that you do not understand the original meaning for 凱 旋, while the 《新华词典》 和 一 些 《现代汉语词典》 are only for the street talking language, giving out only the current usage. They are not wrong for the current usage but cannot be used as the scholarly reference books.

凱 = 山 (hill, high ground) over 豆 (meat cooking pot) + 几 (bench, sitting chairs). The static image of 凱 is that a (or more) 豆 and 几 were arranged around a high ground.
Although 豆 was ‘meat cooking pot’ officially (such as 廚), it was also used as music instrument (such as, 鼓, 戲). As a music instrument, it became the part of 喜. So, what does 凱 mean in 《康熙字典》? It says, 凱, 樂 (music) 也.
旋 = (方气) over 疋 (calf, the small leg). What is (方气)? It is a ‘flag’ pole, such as, 旗, 旌, 旍, … So, 旋 gives a static image of someone running with small steps around a flag pole (the center of every army base).

So, 凱 旋 is a dancing celebration around the flag pole, meaning a ‘victory ceremony’, without any meaning of ‘return (歸 來)’. Of course, after victory, we can return. The original idiom was 凱 旋 歸 來, and now we use 凱 旋 as its abbreviation.

Now, I have given out free lessons on 4 roots. Of course, by learning the 凯 as 凱, there is no chance for you to know any better. Now, let the ‘不知為不知’ be a part of our motto.
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:25 pm

Jun Zhao: "... 但我们同时也要意识到文化其实是一把双刃剑,既是文明发展的顶峰,也是衰落的开始。宋代的文治到达了人类文明的顶峰,但文人们只会填文弄墨,最后文明毁于一旦。"

This is a fact, and ‘发展的顶峰,也是衰落的开始’ is also a law of nature (especially emphasized in Yijing). But, Chinese’s problem is more than that. If we are happily accepting this simple answer as the culprit of our demise in the 19th century, it is wrong and is the reason for getting us to that predicament at the first place. The comments of this thread show exactly the problem of our weakness.

Cecilia Chunyu Wu: "中文很有意思,对吧! ... Which means we can read them reversibly, only Chinese poems can be written and read by this way, that's so amazing and attractive, and very interesting as well."
Wang Weifang: "我非常喜欢。谢谢你的分享。"
Tan 陈: "这就是中文及汉语的魅力!谢谢您的共享。"
Lindsay Lindsay: "中文的魅力无限啊"
Cathleen Hsin Wen Shetrone: "有意思。谢谢妳分享!"
Huiping Judice: "中国语言文字真是令人回味无穷,越读越喜爱。谢谢分享!"

With these comments, how can we have any hope for catching up or passing the West? Do you know ‘why’ Chinese language is so 魅力无限, so 回味无穷, so 有意思, so 越读越喜爱? If you don’t know why, are you trying to find it out?

Chinese language is the greatest one in the world, and this 回文诗 is one of the many excellent examples. By simply sweeping this greatness off the table with a few ‘魅力无限’ comments, it is wrong and a great wrong to our ancestors who gave us such a great heritage. Shame on us.

Benjamin Tuck: “A poem by a 14-year-old boy which was posted on Twitter by his older brother has gone viral – because it can also be read backwards.”

You have completely missed the point. I can read every English page (books or newspaper) from bottom up (with sentence as a unit) and understand the meaning of the whole page.

Reading ‘sentence’ backwards is totally different from reading ‘word (vocabulary)’ backwards.

There is no comparison, not even close.

Jun Zhao: “如何总结历史,认识今天,改变未来,每个有知识和理想的人都有自己的答案,”

Absolutely wrong. This is one of the reason for the decline in the 18th and 19th century in China. For one issue, there is in general one answer (one truth). While we all have our ‘opinion (not answer nor truth)’, we should work ‘collectively’ to find the right answer, not stubbornly holding on one’s own opinion. Working collectively was always a weak spot in Chinese mentality. In the West, scholars debate fiercely but still work together. We (including me) should never claim that one’s ‘opinion’ is the answer but find it out collectively via correct methodology and epistemology. Only with correct methodology and epistemology, we can transform the ‘opinion’ to answer.


No, those people did not held a personal opinion. They got their mission via a collective sub-consciousness which knew that China was going to vanish if they did not fight their way out by 抛头颅洒热血.


Absolutely wrong. All the great works were and still are done by 凡人. Those 抛头颅洒热血 were not supermen but were all 凡人.


Absolutely correct. With our (including your) ‘current’ 力所能及, we can do not much. As long as we have one breath left, we should move beyond our ‘current’ 力所能及. I am trying, are you?

Jun Zhao: “希望您:1.不要匿名发贴,起码有个头像;2.既然讨论中文,就用中文回复,对他人也是一种尊重。”

Jeh-Tween Gong is my legal name, printed on my driver’s license. My pictures are available at small-story/tienzen-s-family-t151.html .

My computer does not have ‘Chinese software’, that is, I must plug-in my pen when I write in Chinese. So, I am lazy, sorry. But, I am very busy and will forgive my laziness. I do not agree that writing in English is ‘对他人的 not 尊重’.


I am very sorry for your holding this view. Absolutely no; 是非 is a public and society issue, absolutely not a personal issue. Most of people hold 是非 as a personal matter are now in jail.

Again, knowledge is the process of collegial debate, discussion and review which lead to a refinement or clarification of views and so to a progress of sorts.


I am a physicist and have never, never put out any theory or data which is not already 推敲的 zillion times (by myself or by my peers). I of course welcome your 推敲.

Wang Weifang: "可是您的表達方式讓人覺得您咄咄逼人。 我非常希望我們大家能在爭論中成長而不是成反目者。"

Thanks for the advice. “覺得您咄咄逼人”, I have not desire for any kind of ‘咄咄逼人’. I simply want to state the ‘facts’. I have never seen anyone who can get out his own 标准 pit by any nice-talking. If it is wrong, then it is wrong. If he does not want to accept it, I have done my duty as his follow brethren. China as a nation and as a people, it has been too weak for too long. We should not put up with the 是非 as a personal matter nonsense any more.

Wang Weifang: "If your desire hurts another person, what do you think of that? Is it "Too bad, so sad" or you attend that person's feeling?"

Wow! This is truly a big charge. No, definitely no. I have no desire to hurt anyone or anyone’s feeling.

Both Confucius and Mencius did not try to ‘please’ those Dukes by saying things they wanted to hear. If they did, they could all be the Prime Minster of many states. Thankful that they did not do that, and thus they gave us a great heritage that we (not only for Chinese but for the mankind) now so proud of.

No, I do not know Mr. Jun Zhao and probably will never meet him. I have no personal grudge with him, no personal feeling toward him one way or the other. But, his view is wrong and it is my responsibility as a member of this society to right those wrongs. By the way, this is an established civilized society, that is, there is an established set of ‘right or wrong’, not my personal opinion.

I speak frankly and straightforwardly, not turning corners. I do the same at the many places which discuss the top issues (philosophy and/or physics) of today, such as, at ... mment-2772 and, ... ent-163211

The issue is very simple. 回文诗 can only be done in Chinese language, and it is wrong to conclude this greatness with 魅力无限. Should we try to find out why?
One, because that Chinese language is the worst and most stupid language in the world, as claimed by
a. 錢玄同 在給 陳獨秀 的信中說:「…欲驅除一般人之幼稚的、野蠻的、頑固的思想,尤不可不先廢漢文。……此種文字,斷斷不能適用於二十世紀之新時代。……欲使中國不亡,… 而廢 …漢文,尤為根本解決之根本。」
b. 陳獨秀 在《答書》中說道:「中國文字既難傳載新事新理,且為腐毒思想之巢窟,廢之誠不足惜。」
c. 胡適 在《跋語》中說道:獨秀 先生主張「先廢漢文,且存漢語,而改用羅馬字母書之」的辦法,我極贊成。
d. 瞿秋白 則提出「漢字落後論」,痛罵漢字:「真正是世界上最齷齪、最惡劣、最混蛋的中世紀的茅坑。」
e. 魯迅 則在《關於新文字的答問》一文中提出:「漢字不廢,中國必亡。… …漢字也是中國勞苦大眾身上的一個結核,病菌都潛伏在裡面,倘不首先除去它,結果只有自己死。」
f. 爾後, 郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 等著名的六百多位學者, 共同簽署宣言消滅漢字。他們在宣言中寫道:「漢字如獨輪車,羅馬字母如汽車,…。」

Two, because that all those great scholars were wrong. Should we right those wrongs?

回文诗 is one evidence that 漢文 is not 世界上最齷齪、最惡劣、最混蛋的中世紀的茅坑. No one else wants to right those wrongs, but I will. So, let me carry the burden of hurting others’ feeling. What else to say.

Wang Weifang:

Let me make myself clear one more time. No, absolutely no, I did not want to 冒犯 anyone, as I know them not and have no personal feeling toward any of them one way or the other.

Yet, I do care about the issues. Chinese language was put ‘down’ by many great Chinese scholars in the first part of the 20th century. It was not a naive slander but is a systematic ‘destroying’ the Chinese language. For the past 80 years, everyone in China is not learning the ‘great’ Chinese language but learning the 世界上最齷齪、最惡劣、最混蛋的中世紀的茅坑. This is not a small matter. For heaven’s sake, I will definitely not 冒犯 anyone here. I only want to wake up every one about the fact that we have been taught ‘wrong’. The Chinese language is the best, best, best language in the world, second to none, absolutely none.

Why English (or any other language in the world) cannot have 回文 structure like ours? Because, we cannot (and no one could) 倒栽葱. 葱 has an internal structure (the root, the stem and the tip) similar to English-like language which has also an internal structure (the grammatical structure); the ‘he’ at the head of sentence cannot be put at the tail for ‘him’. Any inflectional language which has ‘parts of speech (詞類)’ can never have 回文 structure. Chinese characters are not inflected, no 詞類. Chinese characters have the ‘function’ similar to 詞類, but don’t have 詞類. ‘Function’, by all means, is not the same as the ‘form’ itself.
大樹, 樹 functions as ‘noun’.
樹葉, 樹 functions as ‘adjective’.
樹人, 樹 functions as ‘verb’.

鳥飛, 飛 functions as ‘verb’.
飛 鳥, 飛 functions as ‘adjective’.

好書, 書 functions as ‘noun’.
書桌, 書 functions as ‘adjective’.
書寫, 書 functions as ‘verb’.

Enough examples. It is simple and great. Chinese system is many times better than English system (the inflectional system). Chinese language has many times more ‘freedom’ than any other languages. This is why only Chinese language can have 回文 structure.

Then, why are we still teaching kids about English-style of 詞類 for Chinese language? It is wrong, wrong, totally wrong and pure nonsense.

孔子的“仁义道德”is a big issue. You can review this page (chinese-idioms/confucius-the-analects-a-new-translation-t2062.html ) first.

simon li: “漢字不廢,中國必亡...? !...”

This was the consensus from 1920s all the way to 1990s (see ). Even in year 2,000, 周有光 still tried to push the total Romanization of Chinese word-system. Fortunately, the discovery of the fact that Chinese word-system is the best in the entire world has finally stopped that stupidity.

Jun Zhao: “Übermut tut selten gut. 要不就说我们的文化史上最强,最好,要不就说我们的文化垃圾不如。难道做到中庸真的那么难吗?”

Thanks for coming back. I was definitely not personal. If you have viewed the link ( ... mment-2772 ), you should have read my comment at Scientia Salon which discusses ‘science and philosophy’. It is hosted by Dr. Massimo Pigliucci who is a biologist (scientist, professor of Biology for 25 years). He then went back to get a Ph.D in philosophy and is now a professor of philosophy at the City University of New York.

My comment said, “… Especially, for any one-eye-street-walking philosopher (knowing only the Western philosophy), he knows very little about philosophy.”

“What is a street-walking philosopher?” that is, not formally trained in philosophy, simply un-educated. “What is one-eye?” that is, the other eye is blind, because that they know only the Western philosophy, nothing at all about Chinese philosophy. All those who participate at the forum will not ‘buy’ arrogance and will smash you to a pancake if you have any tail which can be held by them. Yet, they took and swallow my comment, because I have showed them that Chinese philosophy is many times better than any philosophy they ever know.

No, arrogance won’t work in this world. Furthermore, this is not an issue of 中庸. There are two statements.
One, 漢字不廢,中國必亡.
Two, 漢文 is the only ‘perfect’ language in this entire world.
There is no 中庸 about it. One of the two statements must be wrong.

Of course, they (錢玄同, 陳獨秀, 胡適, 瞿秋白, 魯迅, 郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 等著名的六百多位學者) all are wrong. I am right.

Arrogance won’t get one going far in this world. But, nothing can stop the ‘right’.

吳純瑜 Cecilia Chunyu Wu: “1. [莫等闲白了少年头,空悲切]! (白)从形容词转为动词.
2. [春风又绿江南岸]! (绿)也是从形容词转为动词.”

Thanks for the great examples.

For the three generations (about 60 years) of Chinese, they have been learning the Chinese language wrong.

One, Chinese language is the ‘only perfect’ language in the world, not the 最混蛋的中世紀的茅坑.

Two, English-like grammar (with ‘parts of speech, the 詞類’) is a big OK for that type of language which is much, much, much ‘inferior to’ Chinese language (especially on grammar).

錢玄同, 陳獨秀, 胡適, 瞿秋白, 魯迅, 郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠 等著名的六百多位學者 are all wrong, totally wrong. Their ignorance and wrongs can be forgiven as they had no chance to know better, that is, no one taught them. Now we know better. Why are we still keeping those wrongs? Why are we still teaching our students those wrongs?

Right those wrongs is the responsibility of every Chinese. If no one else gives a hoot, I will. Thanks for your agreeing with me.

Guó-Xún Péng: "才高八斗,涵养不足,犹如没有绿叶扶持的牡丹。"

Excellent point, and I do know what you mean. Thanks.

Now, I only care about two things, 1) the right or wrong, 2) to right those wrongs. If I must take the burden of being called as no-涵养, it is the price that I must pay and will definitely pay it happily.

Of course, it will not be fair to say that someone is wrong without a clear evidence and motive. Here they are.
The ‘ideal’ language needs to have three attributes.
One, with a finite number of symbols to construct the entire language system, the vocabulary, the phrases, the sentences, the essays, etc.
Two, the pronunciation of every word (character or lexicon) can be read out from its face.
Three, the meaning of every word can be read out from its face.

For English-like language, it reaches 20% for the point-Three with its root-words system and has 100 points for both the point-One and the point-Two. That is, English got 220 points, a number could be very proud of.

On the other hand, the Chinese language got three big 鴨 蛋 (zero, 0) according to their (錢玄同, 陳獨秀, 胡適, 瞿秋白, 魯迅, 郭沫若、蔡元培、吳玉章、林伯渠) understanding.
There is not a ‘finite’ set of symbols (similar to English alphabets) to construct the characters.
There is no way to read out the pronunciation of each word from its face. Thus, it is the 最混蛋的中世紀的茅坑.
There is no way to read out the meaning of words from their faces, and each word is ‘logically’ disconnected to any other words. Thus, every word’s form, sound and meaning must be memorized with ‘brutal’ efforts, a wasting youth’s life. Thus, 漢字不廢,中國必亡.

But, they are wrong. The evidences of their wrongs can be viewed at chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html . Yet, I would like to show just a bit here if one does not have time to read that long article.

The most difficult issue is about how to read the pronunciation of each word from its face. There are a few rules which you must learn.
One, 形聲, it has a sound-tag and pronounces exactly the same as its sound-tag, such as, 珠 as 朱, 鵬 as 朋, 傢 as 家, etc..
Two, 轉 韻, for 會 義 word, it also has sound-tag but pronounces not-exactly the same as that sound-tag but with 轉 韻, such as, 君, 群, 裙, 郡.
Three, 靠 行, using one word as the ‘anchor’ and others 靠 行, such as, 猫 (as the sound anchor), 錨, 苗, 描.
Four, ‘義’ 定, the pronunciation is the same as its synonym, such as, 祭 (請 神 ‘即’ 位) as ‘即’. 嬴 (who has ‘盈’) pronounces as 盈.

Furthermore, only Chinese language has a ‘fool’-proof system, with a very special mechanism, the 複 詞.
(哥, 歌, 割):
There will be no confusion about which (哥, 歌, 割) that we are talking about.

區, 蛆先生. No, not 蛆; as a last name it should be sounded as 歐, same as 歐 洲. Any misunderstanding of the pronunciation can be corrected right at the spot. The greatest ‘fool-proof’ system indeed.

There are many more rules, they (錢玄同 …) simply did not know these but claimed that Chinese system is a 茅坑. Are (were) they wrong?

If by pointing out that they are wrong and I must swallow the name-calling as no-涵养, I will pay that price.

好詩. 詩的重點在 ‘意, 境’, 有意有境. 最高的意境, 在 ‘不言’ 中. 這就是詩與 ‘文’ 的不同. 文必須説明白, 講请礎.

‘不言’ 的方法為 ‘隱’, 少言的方法為 ‘秀’. 更有,
錯位 (把句子結構打亂), 如, 城市裡的一方悠远 (好句)
遠 (咫尺之内, 包萬里, 含千秋), 如, 窗含西嶺千秋雪. 在目亟之处的天山外 (好句)
離散 (把字, 句打亂)
藏 (為小隱, 不明説), 如 ‘踏花歸去馬蹄香’ 藏彩蝶盤桓馬蹄之景.
還 有很多, 不談了.

@Israel "Izzy" Cohen:

Your "back-formation" is a way great way of innovating or coining a new phrase. Most Chinese idioms come from a ‘story’ or an ‘image’ for each idiom, using as few words as possible to describe that story.

For the "a skeleton in the closet", it gives me an image, often seen in movies. ... mment-1617
“Yet, the emotion of punctuation is not limited to that created by its misuse. Its significance, for instance, in literature and poetry can be the difference in whether the writing speaks or is mute.”

Excellent article.
Before the May 4th movement (about 1930s, in China), Chinese written system had no Punctuation markers system. Yet, every essay (however long it could be) will be read as a single essay by all ‘learned’ Chinese person, no confusion about it. That is, in the Chinese ‘grammar’, unlimited ways of ‘punctuation’ are built in in the system. If you are interested in this type of language system, you can visit the web page at chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:30 pm

江雪 (柳宗元)


Span Hanna: “Hard to catch fish in a river of snow, … at the heart of the beauty, tranquility or solitude is a shade of bittersweet regret, which often becomes a kind of affirmative statement about life. … Some might say (reading the words, not the spirit) that the opening lines of Laozi (admittedly not poetry) are nihilistic.”

By all means, Laozi is not about nihilism, far from it. In fact, Laozi is very pragmatic according to his ‘tao’ which is different from the Confucianism in two points.

One, the ‘Tien-ming (天命), a will-of-creation’ is the topmost ontological entity in Confucianism while the tao (道) sits below it. On the other hand, the ‘tao’ is the topmost one in Laozi while the ‘天’ (being only as ‘nature’, not a will) sits below the tao.

Two, In Confucianism, man must ‘follow’ Tien (順天, 順道), follow the tao. On the other hand, man could go the ‘reverse tao’ (反者道之動) in Laozi, that is, overcome the limitation set by the tao (人定勝天). How can such a mentality be a nihilist?

Cathleen Hsin Wen Shetrone: "... 我认为这首诗呈现负面的情感多于正面的。"

No, you are wrong. If you like Chinese poetry, you should learn it ‘formally’, not just by a self-study. You must catch the ‘key word’ (the 詩 眼) for a poem. Of course, many bad poems do not have 詩眼, and we know right the way that they are bad. In this case, the key word (詩眼) is 雪 (snow).

No, he is not fishing ‘fish’ but fishing ‘snow’.
Can snow be fished? Definitely, not.
So, the poem is not about ‘fishing’. You must find other ‘meaning’.
鸟飞绝, showing a place does not have any life, not even flying birds in the sky. How big this place is? 千山.

人踨灭, showing a place does not have any human. How big this place is? 万径.

千山, 万径 positively describe this place is as big as the entire ‘universe’.

While this entire universe is voided of any life (animal and human), there is yet one man (孤舟蓑笠翁) fishing the snow (独钓寒江雪).
Is this a scene of solitude? Yes.
Is this a scene of tranquility? Yes.

But, he is not working for ‘living’ (fishing fish) but is fishing ‘snow’. That is, he is working ‘spiritually’. Of course, this universe is not empty as it described. It is possible of one 山 without birds. It is possible of a few 径 without a traveler. But, cannot be 千山 and 万径. So, this poem does not describe a ‘material’ universe. It is a ‘spiritual’ universe where is not reachable by those birds and travelers.

This poem is all about the spirituality.
He is the one alone here.
He is the one alone who awakes.
He is the one alone dominating this (spiritual) universe.

Cathleen Hsin Wen Shetrone: "I can hear no deeper conception, nor I see higher frame of mind, but rage and roar of immemse hollow in malicious words. How are you? 诗中有画,画中有诗谁人不知? 請問您的高明之處何在? 是罄竹難書還是憤恨難消? 又此恨意何來之?"

What are you talking about? You are obviously lacking the formal training on ‘Chinese’ poetry which is not an easy subject by all means, and every learned person can tell about that.

There are many learned persons in this world. You can have your own opinion but don’t miss lead the young people.

choi mun ardy: "那意境不只是仕途不顺那麽地浮浅!"

Exactly, after 仕途不顺, this poem is saying that you all (Emperor and others) are the rulers of this material world, but I am the only person awake in this higher reality.

choi mun ardy: "... 在“鸟飞绝,人踪灭”的严冬里,那位“蓑笠翁”象徵着坚持不懈的精神。"

Yes, ardy is right.

Cathleen Hsin Wen Shetrone: “Control your emotional expression, please. … 不晓得您是哪根筋不对了。 … 但是 you guys 真的是让我啼笑皆非啊! … I want to thank you for leaving comments.”

Cathleen Hsin Wen Shetrone: {"完全是你沉溺在某一种道学的世界中,用着这道学的理论看待世界万物,心神并过度膨胀;换句话说,你不以诗人所处环境及心境正常地回朔这一首诗的形成,也不以读者的环境和意识解读这一首诗;你试图以某种宗教的用语弄悬虚,… 你真的是每一根筋都错位了。你说的每一个字,每一个观念都非任何正统学校资深中文教授 所传授的,也非任何读诗的人可以理解,更非曾经掠过诗人脑中的每一个念头,完全是你沉溺在某一种道学的世界中,用着这道学的理论看待世界万物,心神并过度膨胀;换句话说,你不以诗人所处环境及心境正常地回朔这一首诗的形成,也不以读者的环境和意识解读这一首诗;你试图以某种宗教的用语弄悬虚,误导学生,并满足自己的虚荣,或者带进几个好奇的新教徒。

I did not make comment until seeing you misleading people.

Writing Chinese poetry is a very special discipline with very deep knowledge involved. You (or anyone) should learn how to read poetry first. No, you don’t read Chinese poetry with words or lines. One must find its 詩眼 first. Then, from 詩眼, one can read its 詩心。 The circumstance which the poem was written is a good reference. But, the 詩眼 still must be found in the poem itself. 詩眼 is the ‘gate’ for entering into the entire poem. 詩心 is the ‘soul’ of the poem. All other lines are the ‘supports’ for the 詩心. So, different people can get different inspirations after reading a same poem, but there is only one way to read a poem (from 詩眼 to 詩心).

In this particular case, the 詩眼 is 雪. That is, the gate for understanding of this poem is the word 雪. The 詩心 of this poem is 独钓 which has two parts.

One, 独 (alone). Of course, this 独 can have many meanings: the loneliness, the only powerful, etc. Then, which one is? The answer must be rely on the second point.

Two, 钓 (fishing). In the entire Chinese poetry universe, 钓 is used at (for) the circumstances of pleasure, leisure or proudness. In the case of 姜太公 fishing, he used a ‘straight’ hook or no-hook, and his 钓 is all about his internal proudness. The 钓雪 is even at higher (much, much more higher) level than 姜太公 ‘s 钓人. That is, the author of this poem is saying that he is at a higher level comparing to 姜太公. Anyway, the word 钓 was never used in a depressed sense in the entire Chinese poetry universe.

Then, {千山鸟飞绝,万径人踨灭。}, these two lines show a scene of desolation, and it can be a depressing situation or an “I alone awake and powerful”. Which one is? Again, this must be decided by other ‘references’. As he is doing the 钓, he is at leisure, at pleasure and/or at his proudness.

So, you are wrong. If you are unwilling or incapable of learning, it is just fine. But, {您是哪根筋不对了}, I just don’t want others to be misled.

好詩. 詩的重點在 ‘意, 境’, 有意有境. 最高的意境, 在 ‘不言’ 中. 這就是詩與 ‘文’ 的不同. 文必須説明白, 講请礎.

‘不言’ 的方法為 ‘隱’, 少言的方法為 ‘秀’. 更有,
錯位 (把句子結構打亂), 如, 城市裡的一方悠远 (好句)

choi mun ardy: "... 只有我一个人还独醒着, ..."

Cathleen Shetrone: “However, who are you that have been here blowing your pride and ignoring what the target learners really want, what the target learners can really take?”

There are many other teachers here who might want to know the correct way of reading this poem.

Cathleen Shetrone: “你说的每一个字,每一个观念都非任何正统学校资深中文教授 所传授的,…”

You are exactly correct. Now, 90% of 正统学校资深中文教授 has no ability to teach the Chinese poetry correctly.

The key of this poem is 钓雪 vs 钓人. Searching (or begging) for a politic position (求官) is 钓人. Freeing from those begging is 钓雪. 钓人 is a lowly desire (低俗). 钓雪 shows the enlightenment in tranquility (豁達, 超脱). Your reading on this poem as depressing and hatred is wrong. This wrong must not mislead others.

It will be truly your fortune for learning about Chinese poem from me, as you have no good chance to find such a teacher from anywhere else. Obviously you have no capacity of learning from me. No, I have no need of blowing my pride but would like to show other readers some basics about the Chinese poetry. 紅樓夢 is a good book for anyone who loves Chinese poetry. It shows two ‘basics’.
One, 擬題. See 第三十七回 秋爽斋偶结海棠社 蘅芜苑夜擬菊花题 ( ).

Two, 立意. See 第四十八回 情人情误思游艺慕 雅女雅集苦吟诗墊( ).

These two are the ‘beginning’ for learning the Chinese poetry. One must find the meanings of 題 and 意 of a poem in order to find its 眼 (eye) and 心 (soul). Just use choi mun ardy’s example.


The eye is ‘悟’, and the soul is ‘离’. Not just 离言説, the 意 is truly about 离低俗 (but no longer talking about it). All other words and lines are just supporting utterances. No, Chinese poetry cannot be read with only its words and lines. One must find its 意 (眼 and 心).

Cathleen Shetrone: “你真的是每一根筋都错位了。”

During a discussion, when one goes off-topic and resolves on calling names, it is called ‘Ad hominem (fallacies of irrelevance, )’. It can be translated in Chinese as 潑婦駡街, the result of 黔驴技穷. A nice girl like you, you should not make such a joke for yourself.

choi mun ardy: "Not sure I understand what Morgan Graziano was on about. Can any one explain that in simple English or Chinese? … Chinese culture has successfully manipulated people into believing that "not thinking" is the way to spiritual perfection"

Graziano is exactly (exact … exactly…) correct. I am very surprised that anyone is unable to get it. I did not have the time to read all comments, I will just respond to a few here.

Morgan Graziano: "In Taiwan where I live, I always ask natives how they manage to remember these. They all say that they keep writing them down repeatedly for years on end until it finally "sticks in". This approach is clearly "the traditional rote-learning style of Asia, and works very well to take the magic out of learning and put learners to sleep. ... So why should China (or even Taiwan) teach that to its people!! … I have yet to meet an educated adult who can explain more about the hidden connections and subtle meanings in their language. People speak it, read it, write it in practical ways, but very few think twice about deeper associations and etymology for improved clarity and learning. “

How true this is! How sad this is! The most ashamed in the entire ‘human’ history, indeed.

Shu-chuan Croker: "Look at the following characters and answer all the questions:
character sound meaning
妈 mā mother
姑 gū younger aunt on father’s side
姐 jiě elder sister
妹 mèi younger sister

How can anyone not ashamed about these questions ‘Today”? Please review the following pages. http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... -results=3 and chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html .

Morgan Graziano:
It is nice to know that you have the knowledge of linguistics, and this makes our discussion much easier and meaningful.

Morgan Graziano: “Noam Chomsky would disagree in his famous quote by saying that "all languages are the same". …”

Indeed, Chomsky was wrong. After my work, Chomsky has admitted that his project of ‘universal grammar’ has failed.

Morgan Graziano: “The fundamental fact today is that no language or dialect is any more or less difficult, smart or dumb than any other.”

I must disagree with you on this one. An ideal language has three parts.
One, with only ‘finite’ number symbols (such as alphabets) to construct ‘unlimited’ number of syntaxes.
Two, the sound of every word can be read out from its face.
Three, the meaning of every word can be read out from its face.

English-like language gets 100 points for {one and two} but only 20 points for {three}. On the other hand, Chinese language gets 300 points. Chinese language is the only (only… only…) language in the entire world getting the perfect score (300 points); the only ‘ideal’ language in the world.

There is a tremendous difference between an ideal language and a non-ideal language. Non-ideal language is very difficult to learn, and English is one of such language. On the other hand, ideal language can be learned as easy as geometry or chemistry.

choi mun ardy: “Chinese culture has successfully manipulated people into believing that "not thinking" is the way to spiritual perfection"

Why should we accept excuse because of the others are doing the same wrong? By all means, others did not wrong to their ‘soul’ as Chinese did recently (in the past 100 years), changing the only ideal language in the world to the ‘stupidest’ one in the world. No, the culprit is not truly ‘Chinese culture’ but is the acts of recent policies.

choi mun ardy: “Now, we are all straying away from Shu-chuan's original topic: Effective Chinese reading and writing teaching methodology.”

No, no, …, no! How can this be the case? Now, everyone teaches Chinese language as the ‘stupidest’ language in the world, by brutal-effort memorization. The pointing out that Chinese language is the only ideal language in the world is the precise answer to Shu-chuan’s question.

Shu-chuan Croker: "I made up a story about how every man in the ancient times thought that life is only good when he had a woman as wife and a child to carry the on the family's name. We then looked at each part '女' and ‘子' separately."

For Heaven’s sake, I beg you ‘Don’t do this”. For a non-ideal language, the mnemonic device can be useful. But, for an ideal language, it is totally ‘logical’. Why should we abandon the beautiful logic and replace it with ‘made-up’ story? This is wrong as teaching the wrong facts. This is wrong and shame to our great ancestors.

Morgan Graziano: "... you have not justified anything by referring to an "ideal language"."

Well, how to justify? In all discussions, we must understand the ‘words and terms’ in the discussion. I have ‘defined’ the ‘ideal language’ with three points.
One, with only ‘finite’ number symbols (such as alphabets) to construct ‘unlimited’ number of syntaxes.
Two, the sound of every word can be read out from its face.
Three, the meaning of every word can be read out from its face.

If anyone does not agree with this definition, it will be fine, and we can come up with an agreeable definition together. However, with my ‘three point’ definition, Chinese is the ideal one (getting 300 points) while English is not as it only gets 220 points. Of course, you can disagree with my way of scoring. Then, the burden is on me to prove my way of scoring. Your blunt rejection is not a way of debating for any issue. As it is my burden, I will beg you to read my presentation at CollegeBoard ( ), that is, you can ‘challenge’ that article.

Morgan Graziano: "And what on Earth makes you believe that chemistry or geometry is any easier than English?"

Wow! For a 7th grader, one semester is all he needs to set a ‘foundation’ on geometry or chemistry, as they both are knowledge of ‘logic’, not the massive data set which requires the brutal memorization. A solid ‘foundation’ can also be set for Chinese language in one semester if it is learned with the ‘logic’ (the new Chinese etymology), not with the old school way which you correctly described as the brutal way of learning in your previous comment.

Morgan Graziano: "Your native language will always appear easier to you and the ones from your native country because it's simply part of the system in which you live."

Yes, this is the old school saying. But, you are obviously not in the linguistics community. My paper has changed that (see, ).

Morgan Graziano: "English cannot possibly be more difficult to learn than Chinese or vice-versa. It's only a matter of opinion."

This is indeed your opinion. I have provided two articles for this debate. I am looking forward to your rebuttal on the ‘issues’. There is no point of debating with tongue in cheek.

Morgan Graziano: "Stop wasting my time and get the fuck off our blog."

Ha, ha,…ha! Ad hominem, bad mouth and throwing a fit hurts nobody none but shows the character of the speaker. This does you no good.

I am a worldwide renowned linguist. My books are collected by the best universities (such as, Columbia university, Cornell, Stanford and Yale, etc.), see ... ef_results , ... /318075862 and ... 0000158119 . Note: the shelf space of those university libraries is a pound gold per inch.

My works are praised by many University-presidents of China (see, ). Many of those compliments are written in Chinese. If you can read in Chinese, you will see that one of them salutes me as his master (he will hold my book in his bosom).

With my prominent reputation, should I care about your childish temper tantrum? Of course not.

Morgan Graziano: "If he is indeed recognized with distinction, … It would also say something of the poor quality of Chinese academic regulation."

Chinese has a polite culture and will never use the profane language at a ‘debate’ which is not a contest of swearing. Even in America, the profanity (dirty words) are ‘prohibited (prohibit, …, prohibited) in the public, and a ‘law (law, you know) was enacted in 1996 to stop those profanities (see Communications decency act, ). The f-word which you used so arrogantly is the first profane word in the list. You are not only violating the American law for using the f-word in public, but most importantly you have showed your true substance, the low of the lowly.

I am too strong with very high reputation and of course will not be bothered by that kind of lowly profane attack. But, when you attacking ‘Chinese academia’ is poor quality, you have go over the line. While most of Chinese people here are tolerating your baseless putdown Chinese (as whole), I will not allow this to stand. You must apologize for making that ‘poor quality’ statement.

By the way, I also have very high reputation in the West academia. I was invited for giving a major speech at “World Congress of Philosophy, see small-story/more-letters-to-tienzen-t160.html ).

Everything you have showed at this discussion thus far is very basic. Every Chinese teacher here who I have talked with can teach you 10 more years before you truly know what the Chinese language is all about. You are welcome to stay to ‘learn (learn, …, learn,…) some more knowledge before making a fool of yourself.

Do take Robert Sowa’s good advice to heart. He said, "I fell in my OPINION the use of vulgar language only lowers the persons linguistic standing it does not enhance the statement in the least."

Morgan Graziano: “I sincerely do apologize for my misconduct.”

Yes, it was a major misconduct. Your apology is however accept.

Morgan Graziano: “See madness here: . You claim that 田 is a brain (when it really is "a field") on top of the heart (心) in the word "think/consider" (思)”

That webpage was done by my students. It did make one mistake. 田 on top of 思 is a variant of root 154 (not 156 as indicated on that page), and it is brain, not field. This is the key issue of why no one in China knew about this Chinese etymology for two thousand years. If you are interested in ‘learning’ more, go visit http://chineselanguageetymology.blogspo ... cters.html . The variations and mutations are the most difficult part of the language.

Poor book review 1 (at Amazon): Today, every hatemonger can spend $100 dollars to buy my book and post a negative comment. In fact, you can do that too if you are willing to spend $100. But, the fact is that that book are in ‘collection’ of many top-rank university-libraries. Some of those libraries are members of WorldCat, and I have showed you the link of WorldCat in my previous comment. That list encompasses only small portion of the libraries which collect my books.

Poor book review 2: Did you read that review? It is a very fair review. I did not know Dr. Stephen M. Modell before his reviewing my book. That review was published at a very prestigious journal (Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science), and you can find it at (but the article is behind a pay-charge wall). By the way, this kind of ‘scholastic’ review signifies the importance of the book. By all means, that review is not bad but very fair.

Morgan Graziano: “Looking again at your link to the letters you received proves, yet again, nothing. Most merely acknowledge receipt of application forms!”

Wow! Are you competent in ‘English’? If you are, you will know that those letters are not a reply to ‘my application’, as there is no acknowledgement of the ‘date’ of my application letter. No, I did not apply a position there. It is simply an invitation letter, hoping for me to take their kind gesture in consideration. I received many such gesture letters although I only posted one from PennState. The earliest one was from Stanford. It is more honest of not saying that 'I applied" but encouraging me to apply. It even emphasized that he is not putting a 'deadlines' in my case. (See ). I am a very prominent physicist. My book is archived at HEP (high energy physics) data archive (See,,+jeh+tween ). Again, that book is ‘collected’ by the university-libraries around the ‘world’ (See, ... ef_results ). The HEP archive and WorldCat are the authority of reputation. Again, a hatemonger can always put your (or anyone else’s) name on his website, calling a crackpot. How can it compare to the HEP archive and WorldCat?

Morgan Graziano: “Finally, I cannot see you on Youtube.”

Wow! Is youtube having any reputation or authority on academic works? It is just a platform of ‘free speech’ without any ‘editorship’. It can be the place for “an outstanding charlatan”.

Morgan Graziano: “The fact is, however, that you have not responded to any of my reasoned comments in a logical manner.”

Yours understanding of linguistics is minimum, let alone to say about Chinese. I did discuss with you with reason. But, no, you are not ready for that yet. Take your good time to study my work (go to chinese-idioms/part-three-the-new-chinese-etymology-t229.html first). If you find any problem here or have any question on my teaching there, I will be happy to answer your question or critiques.

Yes, you have the right to challenge me or even defame me, and I don’t give a hoot about it. It is just wasting your time and time of many readers of this blog.

岡 is 网 (a net) over 山 (mountain). A mountain which can be covered by a ‘net’ is just a small ‘hill’.
剛 is 岡 +刀. Using a 刀 to dig a small hill is still ‘hard’. Thus, an item is ‘hard’ as a small hill (岡) for a knife, it is called 剛 (very hard object).

愎 is 心 (heart, mind) + 复 (repeating); the mind is ‘repeating’ a single idea, that is, unable to learn anything new. It is a synonym of 愊 (single minded), and they two pronounce the same, as 逼 (being oppressed). 愎 is the mind being oppressed by an single idea (unable to learn anything else). 刚 愎 is the ‘hardest’ 愎.

自 (self) is a ‘root word’. 用 is 冂 (cover, such as a dice cup) overs four (4) 卜 (divination, such as by using the dice with a cup). After divine acceptance of 4 times, your wish can be ‘implemented’, that is 用. 自 用 is doing the 用 (implementation) without getting the permission from the gods or anyone else.

刚 愎 自 用 is doing ‘things’ with no regard to heavenly laws or the views of anyone else.

The above is very short and easy to learn. Your lesson below is good for rote-learning. The students will not truly learn the language but a big book of ‘data set’.
{刚愎自用 gāng bì zì yòng : headstrong, recalcitrant
虚怀若谷xū huái ruò gǔ : very modest and open-minded
xū huái ruò gǔ shǐ rén jìn bù ,gāng bì zì yòng shǐ rén luò hòu}

Robert Sowa commented at another thread, saying, "But the question at hand is Effective Chinese reading and writing teaching methodology?? What methodology DO YOU USE?? What books, resources video, audio do you use in a classroom???"

This is the precise issue. Why slave students with a huge ‘data set’ while we can teach them the ‘logic’ of the language? That is, every 10 years old American kid can learn to ‘read’ the current Chinese newspaper with 90 days of ‘solid’ study.

Yet, most of our discussion turn out to be Ad hominem which is much worse than the 刚 愎 自 用 but into the low of the lowly.
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:34 pm

Span Hanna:

Even in English, there is some differences between essay and poetry. In poetry, the English grammar is much relaxed; often, the subject/predicate rule is not obeyed strictly while the ‘parts of speech’ still must be observed. But, the difference does not go too much beyond this, as they both are descriptive while the poetry is in a more artistic way.

It is completely different in Chinese. The Chinese essay is the same as English essay, totally descriptive for ‘informing’ the reader about what it tries to ‘say’ directly. That is, the intended ‘reader’ is not the author but someone other than the author. On the contrary, the intended reader of Chinese poetry is not other people but is the author himself. Thus, Chinese poetry is not descriptive but is a ‘reflection’ of the deep inner world of the author. That is, when someone reading a poem, he can never understand the meaning of the poem until he himself becomes the ‘author’, entering into that inner world which resides way beyond the semantic meanings of the written ‘words’. If you understand this, we can then move ahead on this issue.

In summary, the essay is trying to let the reader understand what the author wanted to say in ‘words’ clearly. So, saying everything perfectly ‘clear’ is a must. On the other hand, the poetry is trying to express author’s inner world which is often beyond the words description. Thus, that inner world must not describe with words; not saying out loud. The reader must ‘enter into’ that same ‘inner world’ to catch the point. I have showed this point earlier about the poem {独钓寒江雪}. It is absolutely not about fishing the ‘snow’ but is about {只有我一个人还独醒着, I alone awake in this entire universe}. So, Chinese poetry has at least two layers (tiers) of meanings.
One, superficial: the semantic meaning of the words
Two, an inner world.

Now, about this 寒山诗:

Superficially, it is a simple recount of his life-career, and he lists 6 of them.
One, 一 为
Two, 二 遇
Three, 东 守
Four, 西 征
Five, 学 文
Six, 学 武

Of course, he failed on all these six careers. Obviously, if he can do one good, there is no need for trying out six. Now, 老矣 (time and youth went by), 不足云 (don’t want to talk about anymore). Seemingly, this is a very ‘flat’ prose, nothing at all. Yet, in this counting, he gave a ‘hint’ {二遇圣明君}, that is, his lifetime was in the period of ruling by a 圣明君 (sage king). So, his failures were not the results of external factors (亂世, the time of chaos) and thus must be his own failures.

The inner vision: I tried very hard (changing careers six times), but time and youth went by without mercy. At end, I have not accomplished anything but must give up. It depicts a world of ‘flow’ and ‘transient’, all for nothing. It is the view of Buddhist Zen. The poetic vision is ‘all for nothing’.

In Chinese poetry, the poetic vision must not be ‘expressed’ explicitly, must not say it directly.

好詩. 詩的重點在 ‘意, 境’, 有意有境. 最高的意境, 在 ‘不言’ 中. 這就是詩與 ‘文’ 的不同. 文必須説明白, 講请礎.

‘不言’ 的方法為 ‘隱’, 少言的方法為 ‘秀’. 更有,
錯位 (把句子結構打亂), 如, 城市裡的一方悠远 (好句)
遠 (咫尺之内, 包萬里, 含千秋), 如, 窗含西嶺千秋雪. 在目亟之处的天山外 (好句)
離散 (把字, 句打亂)
藏 (為小隱, 不明説), 如 ‘踏花歸去馬蹄香’ 藏彩蝶盤桓馬蹄之景.
還 有很多, 不談了.


choi mun ardy: "I think you should also study the poet's life and deeds, and the historical background when the poems were written."

For 'studying' a poem in a scholastic fashion, yes, we should know about the poet's life and deeds. But, for poetry itself, it must be 'independent' of its author. No, definitely not, the value and the vision of the poem must not have anything to do with the life and deeds of the author. We know the poem 《清明》 was written by 杜牧 (唐). But, without knowing who the author is, it is still the best of the best poem ever written.


Superficially, it is a very ‘flat prose’. But its emotion is very, very deep, with many ‘levels’ of twist. The key for the Chinese poetry is of ‘not saying out loud’. Knowing who the author is is a good knowledge. But, if a vision of the poem is ‘depending upon’ the author, it will be a very bad poem. If one does not know the author of the above poem, is that poem still the best of the best? Of course, it is.

詩的重點在 ‘意, 境’, 有意有境. 最高的意境, 在 ‘不言’ 中. 這就是詩與 ‘文’ 的不同. 文必須説明白, 講请礎.

‘不言’ 的方法為 ‘隱’, 少言的方法為 ‘秀’. These ‘不言’, ‘隱’ and ‘秀’ have nothing to do about author’s life. After the author transfers his vision (from his life) into a poem, that poem must ‘come alive’ with its own life, no longer depending upon the life of the author.

choi mun ardy: “Background knowledge is important. It does not compromise 意境, but enhance it, particularly for a non-native reader, they can appreciate so much more.”

Of course, the more you know the better. But, the key (key, …, key,…) point is that the ‘poem’ must not be ‘author dependent’. Einstein invented (discovered) Relativity. But, as soon as the Relativity was written, it came to alive as a ‘law of nature’, totally independent of Einstein. The validity of Relativity has absolutely nothing to do with Einstein. Of course, without Einstein, we might still not knowing anything about Relativity. But, can you understand the difference?

choi mun ardy: “If a reader, not knowing what 清明 is all about, would they even comprehend the 断魂 part? And all these 行人 where are they going?”

You are completely confused here. 清明 is not a background knowledge of the author as it is the ‘language’ used in the poem. Of course, this language is culturally based, a culture ‘background’ which is simply a ‘part’ of the language. You have confused the ‘culture background’ which is a part of language with author background which is case related only.

In this thread, we have showed four (4) poems. Their poetic visions can be read out from the poems themselves, without the knowing about who the authors are. But, my point goes one step further: the vision and the value of the poem ‘must not’ be author dependent, just the same as the validity of Relativity must not depend on Einstein’s big name.

Thanks for this kind of scholastic discussion, making the time spent with great value. Basically, I agree with all your points about the background knowledge (the more the better, indeed). But, I concern about a fundamental issue, the ‘essential’ difference between poetry and essay.

choi mun ardy: “A poem, however, reflect the state of mind of a poet, his experience, his realization and what have you. Of course one can still appreciate the superficial value of a poem, the vivid landscape it portraits, the depth of emotion it conveys, but background knowledge can only deepen one's appreciation, and become one with the poet.”

Yes (big Yes), every poem must be the ‘heart and soul’ of the poet (that is, the soul of his ‘life’). But, as soon as that heart and soul is ‘manifested’ into words (a poem), it must have a ‘life’ of its own, no longer depending on the poet’s life-history.

Yes (big Yes), the reader of a poem must become ‘one with the poet’, and this was the key point which I stated in my first comment. Paradoxically, the only way to achieve this is not making the reader to become the poet but making the poet to become the reader (as I said that the ‘readers’ of the poetry must be the poet (author) himself). That is, the ‘life’ of the poem must be ‘universal’, not depending on one particular person (a poet or else) anymore. Now, we know the difference between the poetry and essay. An essay can be agreed or ‘disagreed’ by the readers. A poem has no ‘agreeing’ issue but must draw the readers into poet’s ‘world’, and the way to do that is making him (himself) to become a ‘universal being’ (that is, self no more).

Span Hanna: "if one enjoys a poet (or painter, or musician) it is usually worth looking at their life, if anything is known about it, because we know as Mr Gong pointed out that the poet is talking about his own view, and perhaps we would like to see where that view is coming from."

How can anyone argue ‘against’ this, but this is beside the point. The more you know, the better. Seeing the beauty is one thing. Wanting to know more about the creator of that beauty is another thing. If the beauty of a beauty cannot be seen without the knowledge of who its creator is, is it a true beauty?

choi mun ardy: “寒山子's alleged failure in life was not for lack of abilities on his part, …”

By all standards, 寒山’s career was not a failure. Thus, his admitting of those failures are not true failures but with a deep ‘reference’. 寒山自谓:“下愚读我诗,不解却嗤诮。中庸读我诗,思量云甚要。上贤读我诗,把着满面笑。杨修见幼妇,一览便知妙。若能会我诗,真是如来母。”

‘This’ 寒山 poem superficially talks about his career failures but his deep reference is definitely beyond that. By knowing that he was a Buddhist, we know that his reference is about the Zen. But, even without knowing he was a Buddhist, the poem itself still gives out the ‘spirit’ of seeking a higher level of substance as the Earthly life was all about over.

Span Hanna: "人问寒山道,寒山路不通"

Excellent quote.

Span Hanna: “…but in English is forced strongly into one or the other of them.”

This is a very good point. In Chinese, a poem normally has many layers of meanings. The true meaning of the above quote is all about Zen but I will not go into the details at this moment.

It is very nice to see that you have some good understanding about Chinese language. To ensure that you are truly understood the ‘essence’ of Chinese language (not just a street-talking type), you should read at least two Chinese novels.

One, “紅樓夢”: it is mostly 白話 (with some poetry sporadically in the chapters). If you are interested in reading it, you can use my book as a starting point (available at chinese-idioms/topic-t227.html ), and the link to the entire original text of “紅樓夢” is provided in it.

Two, ‘西廂記’: the ‘best’ poetic novel. If you want truly understand Chinese grammar (not the nonsense which fills in the bookstores), you must read it. I will give you the link after you review the 白話 version of the Chinese language.

Bill wilson: "I believe every serious student of Chinese Language, History and Culture should read the YiJing, DaoDeJing and the Analects but, I think each one individually deserve much more than the 40 hours mentioned in the article above. ..."

How true this is indeed! While most of Chinese natives read some excerpts of those three book from here and there, 99.99% of them does not read them in their ‘entirety’. Worse yet, even if they wanted to read, they cannot truly understand the ‘language’ used in those books. Even the Chinese language teachers in both China and Taiwan know only about the ‘street-talking’ Chinese language, not the ‘genuine’-Chinese language. It will be very difficult even for those Chinese language teachers to ‘relearn’ the proper Chinese language. Thus, I have translated all three books into English. By reading the English translation, they can then understand the true meanings of those verses. Here is the two links for the two books.

「道 德 經」(Tao Te Ching): tao-te-ching-f23/tao-te-ching-t154.html

《論 語》 Confucius --- the Analects: A new translation: chinese-idioms/confucius-the-analects-a-new-translation-t2062.html

choi mun ardy, Span Hanna:
Good discourse on 寒山's poetry and about the Buddhism, and I will try to join in as soon as I have more time.

I gave a good score for Buddhism in my book “The Divine Constitution (ISBN 9780916713065, ... CDcQ6AEwAA )”.

Scientia Salon is an international renowned webzine on philosophy and science, edited by Dr. Massimo Pigliucci (a biologist and philosopher at City University of New York). He just wrote an article about the Buddhist's logic and epistemology. I have made two comments there, a bit on the negative side from the epistemic view point (not about Buddhism's great power of soul salvation). You might be interested in them.

Comment one: about logic, ... mment-5925

Comment two: about mysticism, ... mment-5994

Dr. Pigliucci's article is an excellent piece on this issue, and you might want to read it yourselves.

Span Hanna: "Thus my immense gratitude for your contributions."

Thanks for your kind words. Buddhism is a big issue, and it had tremendous impact on the Chinese language, not just as a background info but with a completely new style of Chinese sentence structure both on the translated sutras and the stanzas. Sutra was the first true 白 話 writing structure in the Chinese written tradition. Stanza is similar to Chinese poems in style but is also totally 白 話 in essence (without the spirit of Chinese poetry).

My book “The Divine Constitution” is a renowned theological book, reviewed by the most prestigious religion/science journal (Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science), available at ( , but the article is behind a pay-charge wall). A big chapter of that book is about the Buddhism. If you are interested in this type of issue, I will discuss it in due time. At this thread, I would like to talk a bit more about Chinese poetry which is a very important part of Chinese language.

In general, Chinese poetry has at least two layers: one, the written words; two, an inner ‘world’ of the poet. In practice, these two layers are described with three steps.
A. Description of the Earthly world
B. A hint of turning (this is the ‘key’ of the poem)
C. The hints of the inner world

Just use the following poem as an example:


清明时节雨纷纷: 清明 is the day for family-reunion with the deceased family members. It is in a rainy season but still often lands on a sunny day. This first verse simply says that special day is raining.

路上行人欲断魂: in those days (in Tang dynasty), people won’t go out in the rainy day in general. Now, there are many people walking in the rain, and their business is of course for this very important reunion. 欲断魂 can be read in two points: one, they are fighting the rain; two, they are sad about their deceased family.

The above two verses are the part (A), the description of the Earthly world.
借问酒家何处有: this is the part (B), the turning point. The ‘key’ word is 借 问. 问 is a ‘neutral’ word; one can ask parents, friends, etc.. But, 借 问 can only be used when asking answers from a ‘stranger’. Now, the poet pointed out that he himself is a ‘stranger’ at this place; that is, he is a traveler. So, he is definitely not going to have a 清 明-reunion. At 清 明-reunion, people shares and offers the wine (酒) to the deceased. He then wants having wine too but can only get at bar (酒 家), not at the family’s home (the tombs). This verse shows very clearly with three points.

One, he is a traveler, very lonely.
Two, he cannot reunite with the family (living or dead) on this very special day.
Three, he still wants to get the wine to go through the reunion in spirit or gets drunk to cover his loneliness.

牧童遥指杏花村: wow, this is it. This makes it the best poem in the whole world. First, the 遥指. 遥 means far away. Is it far? Yet, 指: if a place can be pointed out with ‘finger’, it is not too far after all. Then, why is it 遥? It is very 遥 in spirit. For a traveler, he has used his second-, third-, …, nth-winds. Every additional step is 遥, a total exhaustion both physically and spiritually. Yet, there is 牧 童 (the boy herding the cow), that is, the life (living) goes on on this rainy 清明 day.

With the total loneliness, total exhaustion on this special day, the life goes on and after all there is a lively village (杏花村) which is a finger-pointing away. After all, he is not alone and is still vividly alive.


From this poem, it is clear that there are two key points on Chinese poetry.

One, the vision of the poet or the soul of the poetry must not be said ‘out loud’ (explicitly).

Two, the poet himself is the narrator who must not be ‘seen’. This is the only way for a poem having the ‘universal’ value, not depending on one special ‘personality’. This was my point which stated in my previous comments: while knowing the author of poem is a good knowledge, the value of the poem must not be linked to that knowledge.

For this 清明 poem or the previous poems of 寒山 and others, the poetic visions must not depend on who is the author.

Span Hanna: "These are the barriers we must overcome when trying to understand poetry in another language. Knowing the language is not enough. Poets do not use language to tell a story, but to create a picture and a feeling in another's mind. … The third line, the turning, is most important of all for my understanding, …”

The language and culture barriers are true in most cases among almost all languages. But, this is not the issue in this case. For 99.9% of Chinese natives, they can recite this poem hundred times over and still not able to catch the ‘turning’ point because they do not know (never learn and never be taught) the essence of Chinese poetry.

In Chinese poetry, you can hardly find the word ‘I’ in any of the proses. The key is that ‘I’ (the ego) must disappear in the poetry as poetry stands for ‘universal’. Then, the second key is the artistic ability: showing a great poetic vision ‘without’ saying out loud.

Today, every Chinese becomes self-centered, which was reflected even in the discussions among us. But, the Chinese culture emphasizes the egoless self. There are a few ways to express ‘I’ in Chinese.

One, 自: this is a pictograph root for ‘nose’. But, it does not depict ‘nose’ but is denoted as ‘self’, as someone pointing to his ‘nose’ to express about himself. This is a ‘neutral’ word for ‘self’.

Two, 我: it is 手 (hand) +戈 (spear). A person who holds a spear can defend for himself, not of slave. So, 我 is the one who has dignity, not a slave.

Three, 台: 厶 (great ability, such as 能) over 口 (a man always has a 口, here means a person). So, 台 is a self with great ability or power. In 湯 誓, it said “吾 台 小 子”, this 台 means self, the original meaning. But today, it is ‘borrowed’ to express the ‘respect’ for someone with great ability, such as, 兄 台, 台 端, etc. Again, giving up this powerful self, and using it to express the ‘respect’ to others.

Four, 己: 一 (Heaven) over 亡 (disappear). Who ‘disappear’ under heaven is ‘self’, must be egoless.

So, the key point is the ‘egoless’ in Chinese culture, and this is expressed to the zenith point in Chinese poetry. As 99.9% of Chinese natives are now not knowing about these, they are not doing any better than you on reading those poems.

Span Hanna: “Sad to hear about the 99.9%. I'm afraid it's much the same in the English speaking world. ... Yes, they require a little bit of work, but only until you become used to the language they use, and the construction rules. Then each poem becomes easier to comprehend, and soon the treasure boxes open.”

Yes for English poems, they require a little bit of work, and then soon the treasure boxes open. But for Chinese, it is in a completely different situation. Chinese language has been severely damaged after the May 4th movement. Before that time, the literate rate in China was about 15%, but all those 15% did know about Chinese written language. Today the so claimed literate rate is over 85%, but 99.99% of these so-called literate people cannot read the ‘Classic’ language anymore. Yet, most of those people proudly claim that those ‘Classic’ language is the shame of Chinese language. How sad!

The ignorance of the contemporary Chinese natives is not their own fault but the tragedy of the stupidity of an era. The greatness of Chinese language was shamefully destroyed. I will show you one simple case.

Now, 后 is used for 後. 後 is composed of three roots {彳 (small step, action), 幺 (small), 夊 (walking slowly)}. So, 後 depicts and connotes ‘walking behind someone’.
The root 夊 (walking slowly and comfortably) is in many words, such as, 愛, 憂, 夏 etc.

后 (queen) is the upside down 入 (enter into) on the top of 口. In the entire Chinese system, 口 (not 囗, enclosed area) means ‘mouth’ but with two excepts: in 石 (it is a pictograph of a small stone); in 后 {it depicts the vagina of the queen (not about any woman)}. By all means, it is not about pervert but is signifying the ‘motherhood’ in the Empire. 后 directly depicts that the king is entering into queen’s vagina, making the ‘Long live the Empire’. Chinese was not afraid of making the point clear, the bloodline of the Heavenly ordained lineage via this supreme 后 action.

In the Empire, the king’s court is 朝 廷. Behind the 朝 廷, it is 后 palace. In the front of 朝 廷, all ministries (司) stand. 司 is flapping the 后 180 degrees.

Now for heaven’s sake, what is the reason to use 后 to replace 後? This kind of ignorant and stupid works has ruined the Chinese system, making the greatest to the stupidest one. What a shame!

Yet, none of the contemporary Chinese natives feels a shame about it. It is in this perspective, the situation is much different from any other languages. But now, the truth is out, and this stupidity will eventually be removed, amen!
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:37 pm

Span Hanna: "The third line, the turning, is most important of all for my understanding, for the same reason you had to explain some of Du Fu's poem: some things that were taken for granted in the past are now considered strange, some things that were considered wrong or fearful are now of no consequence, and some things, or words, we have simply forgotten what they really meant."

One, 擬題. See 第三十七回 秋爽斋偶结海棠社 蘅芜苑夜擬菊花题 ( ).

Two, 立意. See 第四十八回 情人情误思游艺慕 雅女雅集苦吟诗墊( ).

choi mun ardy: “寒山子's alleged failure in life was not for lack of abilities on his part, …”

but a flawed system in Tang dynasty's appointment to the court where it placed undue emphasis on a dignified appearance. Alas, 寒山子did not meet that! And that cause him to give rise to the mind of "renunciation" and spent the rest of his life pursuing Taoism and Buddhism. 寒山诗 reflects that simplicity, non-dualistic life.

I did not include the word POET behind background knowledge.

choi mun ardy: "Without the background knowledge, they would remain largely obscure, rendering them almost incomprehensible."

choi mun ardy: “星移斗转: PREDICTABILITY.
风云变幻: UNPREDICTABILTY, as in 天有不测风云.”

These are exactly correct. I will translate:
星移斗转: the times goes as the movement of star and the rotation of northern stars, meaning time goes by as clockwork or simply [time went by].
风云变幻: the change and movement of wind and cloud are as magic illusion, meaning unpredictability.

choi mun ardy: "How one interprets 星移斗转,风云变幻 is really a matter of opinion, shaped by one's IQ and EQ."
Wow! What do you mean here, the IQ and EQ? Come on, be nice.
Yes, they can be ‘used’ at different places and situations. But, no, their innate ‘meaning’ cannot be changed.

choi mun ardy: "The vicious attack scarred me! ... that was a very unnerving experience."

Ha, ha. Why should a childish temper tantrum upset a man? Be a man.

By the way, 星移斗转 is about the movement of time. 物换星移 is about the changing of a scene. They are different semantically.

Again, 风云变幻 is all about the unpredictability. 沧海桑田 is a totally predictable ‘evolution’.

Our readers must not be confused on these. We should not let the wrong info to stand simply because of the unnerving experience of a childish temper tantrum.

Span Hanna: "Stars move in their courses, the world moves by its whims."
This is very good.

Span Hanna: "... each half of the chengyu separately, as respectively "passage of time" and "a changeable situation"
This is exactly correct.

But, for heaven’s sake, “星移斗转,风云变换 = 物换星移,沧海桑田” is not correct.
风云变换 depicts the change which happens with blinking of the eyes.
沧海桑田 depicts the change which takes generations (often longer than a century).
These two are completely different ‘time-scale’, different in degree.

星移斗转 describes the ‘passage of time’.
物换星移 describes the ‘change of the surrounding’.
These two are completely different concepts, different in kind.



Hi 龚老师: 你好!我非常佩服也感谢你的回应,对大家的帮助都很大,我们都学到许多,谢谢你对我们的贡献!


例如: 颜色用作形容词,但是换个词性就成了诗句
1. [莫等闲白了少年头,空悲切]! (白)从形容词转为动词.
2. [春风又绿江南岸]! (绿)也是从形容词转为动词.

By 吳純瑜Cecilia Chunyu Wu
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Re: Comments at LinkedIn, the Chinese Teacher Discussion gro

Postby Tienzen » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:39 pm

讀 《改變與轉變》一書有感: about Yijing at at Chinois en France @ LinkedIn

The following is posted by 王紅波 (Hongbo WANG, Professeur d'Anglais at Académie de Versailles) at Chinois en France @ LinkedIn. I am sharing it here.

{ 以武世偉先生為主編的《改變與轉變》一書已經出版。該書原文為法語﹐經由本人翻

讀 《改變與轉變》一書有感:

‘易經’ 為六經之首。 一 劃 開 天: 立天之道, 立地之道, 立人之道。 ‘定’ 乾 坤 (cosmology), ‘位’ 貴 賤 (morality), ‘斷’ 剛 柔 (science) 。其至高至大: 通 神 明 之 德, 類 萬 物 之 情。

甲午戰起, 清庭陷華夏於亡國邊緣。愛國之土, 興五四救國狂朝。追根究底, 中華文化為敗因, ‘易經’ 當然是禍首。至高哲浬, 頓成愚昧與迷信之根源。污蔑、唾棄, 似乎成了定論。

本人主修 ‘理論物理’ 。 本想為五四大業, 奠定萬年根基。盼國人, 徹底的根除迷信, 完全的追隨科學。為此投入易經研究, 決心批愚昧, 破迷信。豈料, ‘易經’ 較之近代物理, 更為真實, 更為進步。請參閱 “Yijing, Wo-Hsing and Modern physics” (at ).

近日, 王紅波 (Hongbo WANG)女士翻譯了 武世偉 (WU Shiwei)先生等的大作, 並惠賜 一册。此作者雖為法國人, 對易經的了解, 是正確的。對 ‘三易 (不易、變易、簡易)’ 都有正確的掌握。以 ‘變易’ 為機遇, 為挑戰。以 ‘不易’ 為人生方向的舵手。更以極為 ‘簡易’ 的方式, 寫成一本人人可讀的大作。紅波的譯文, 簡潔明暢, 文采飛揚。譯文本身, 即文學之上之上者也。拜讀之後, 欣喜莫名。特書數語, 將此大作, 介紹友人。


書於 洛杉磯
七月三日, 2014 }

Yijing is the foundation of both Chinese culture and Chinese language. Thus, understanding Yijing is very important for anyone who wants to understand Chinese language in a deep level. Chinois en France @ LinkedIn group invited me to give a Yijing lecture awhile back. I have post my lectures at chinese-idioms/yijing-linkedin-t2065.html , for anyone who is not a member of the group to view the discussions.
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