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Chinese Language Forums - Chinese Etymology Institute • View topic - Words of the week (002) --- Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard?

Words of the week (002) --- Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard?

Words of the week (002) --- Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard?

Postby Tienzen » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:17 am

In David Moser’s article “Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard?” he gave out a few very good reasons:

1. Because the writing system is ridiculous.
2. Because the language doesn't have the common sense to use an alphabet.
3. Because the writing system just ain't very phonetic.
4. Because you can't cheat by using cognates.
5. Because even looking up a word in the dictionary is complicated.
6. Then there's classical Chinese (文 言 文, wenyanwen).
7. Because there are too many romanization methods and they all suck.
8. Because tonal languages are weird.
9. Because east is east and west is west, and the twain have only recently met.

Although all his points are results of ignorance, it is a very fun article to read. If you have not read it yet, it is available at (http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html ). Moser is now a highly respected Sinologist today both in the West and in China. Yet, his experience is universal for anyone (the Westerner or the native Chinese) who learned Chinese via the old school way. Thus, if you did not read that article, you can never appreciate this new etymology.

With this new etymology, all “because” of above disappear. This new etymology claims that Chinese written language can be mastered in 90 days from an initial state of knowing not a single Chinese word (both verbal and written) to a point of being able to read the current Chinese newspapers, because of two newly discovered facts.

Fact 1. All (each and every) Chinese words (characters) are composited of from only 220 word roots.
Fact 2. The meaning of all Chinese words can be read out from their faces.

In Moser’s article, he made a point related to this fact 1. He wrote, “Now consider the American undergraduate who decides to study Chinese. What does it take for this person to master the Chinese writing system? There is nothing that corresponds to an alphabet, though there are recurring components that make up the characters. How many such components are there? Don't ask. As with all such questions about Chinese, the answer is very messy and unsatisfying. It depends on how you define "component" (strokes? radicals?), plus a lot of other tedious details. Suffice it to say, the number is quite large, vastly more than the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet. And how are these components combined to form characters? Well, you name it -- components to the left of other components, to the right of other components, on top of other components, surrounding other components, inside of other components -- almost anything is possible. And in the process of making these spatial accommodations, these components get flattened, stretched, squashed, shortened, and distorted in order to fit in the uniform square space that all characters are supposed to fit into. In other words, the components of Chinese characters are arrayed in two dimensions, rather than in the neat one-dimensional rows of alphabetic writing.”

Yet, this is not his idea. It is shared by all Chinese philologists and all Western sinologists. His article becomes so popular and is carried by hundreds websites. At the post post75.html#p75 , it lists about 20 top websites which carried his article. This again shows that this new Chinese etymology is not understood ever before by anyone.

In this forum “Words of the week,” I will show hundreds examples to prove above two points. In this week, I will begin with three simple examples.
a. 歪 (not straight) is 不 (not) 正 (straight) .
b. 甭 (not be used) is 不 (not) 用 (using, used).
c. 掌 (palm) is 尚 (top, upper) 手 (hand), top side of the hand.

If the Chinese language is your mother tongue, you have learned these words without knowing the above simply facts that the meanings of those words can be read out from their faces. By giving you three examples here, you might be able to dissect and to decode the following words.

貨, 貸, 撒, 秋, …

But there is no chance for you to dissect and to decode the words of 用, 尚, 散, etc.. For those words, you must learn them from this new Chinese etymology.
Tienzen
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Hey all users, I'm newest on this site

Postby lemsskymnam » Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:47 pm

Howdy!



I would really like to say hey there to anyone.
lemsskymnam
 
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