Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Chinese writing systems

From:Florian Rivoal <florian@...>
Date:Monday, November 4, 2002, 5:34
>I haven't got time to answer everything else but I wanted to answer this. In >my case, it has nothing to do with imperialism, and everything to do with >alphabets vs. logograms (I am told on alt.language.artificial that I should >not call them ideograms, LOL). I see logographic or morphographic systems as >ancient, one of the first writing systems devised, that derived from >pictographic systems (which maybe really are ideographic). Syllabaries were >an improvement, and alphabets a further improvement. It's like 'Chinese' is >lagging behind the rest of the world on this. It's their choice, but it >means half of the Unicode slots are used just for Chinese :) Imagine if >Mayan, Egyptian and Sumerian were all still going as well.
It is true that alphabet are superior to syllabaries, themselves superior to logograms, themselves superior to pictograms in terms of level of abstraction. But not nescessarly in term of use. And this hudge part of unicode is not used only for mandarin chinese. It is also used for cantonese, japanese, korean... That's not one language, but at least 4, and almost one fourth of the world's population.
>>To get closer to others, chinese should write in english (or roman, that's >>the same). > >My point is that it would be easier for foreigners to learn Chinese if it >had an easier writing system.
I am not chinese, and i understand better writen chinese in Hanzi, than in roman transcription. And i am not fluent enough to say i have the same view as a chinese. I just have a survial level, that is more or less 3 months of studying.
>And that would mean China could work with >other countries and their peoples better. That is in the interests of China >not just of foreigners.
except with other asian people.
>Obviously they should not just go over to English (a foreign language), nor >do they have to use the Roman alphabet for an alphabet. But it is handy, >already well established, and again would link them in with the rest of the >world.
>>Why don't you learn chinese to get closer to them? > >I may do if I am that bothered about China or the language itself. But it is >only one country/group of languages in the whole world. My point was not >about me, but about how countries can better get to know one another and >work together in an increasingly smaller and integrated world.
It would get china closer to some part of the world, but again, more distant with some other asian nations which have had strong relations with china for hundreds (thousands?) of years.
>>It would get them closer to you, but not to all the countries using arabic >>writing, devanagari and its variant, > >True, but look how much of the world *does* use a version of the Roman >alphabet: > >Almost all of Europe >All of North America >All of South America (except native Americans of course) >All of Australasia >Now, large parts of Africa and Oceania who have adopted it for native >languages >as a transcription often in Asian countries >and English, French and other western languages used as pidgins, lingua >francas, languages of business etc. in a lot of Africa and Asia
Yes and also note that most of them: north america south america australlia (hey, don't forget aborigens) many parts of africa use it to write european languages, who came at a colonial age, destroying all other languages and culture. I wouldn't be so proud of it, And would certainly not point that as a model.
>Obviously it would be in the interests of all these peoples to move on from >it too. Especially Japanese, which could replace three systems with one.
Japanese has ONE writing system, composed of three parts. It is one system, because it is coherent. And those people, who are one fourth of the world's population, don't agree with you, and do just fine with the things as they are.
>>So do! >>n't be too hasty to destroy the chinese writen language because english is >>popular. It has been lingua franca in asia long before the time english >>became an international language, and to a certain extend, still is. > >In fact I don't suggest getting rid of the Hanzi entirely. It is clearly >valued as an art form in itself. And in fact I have not suggested adopting >the Roman alphabet, just asked about how that was going and argued about it >:).
You don't suggest to get rid of them? how do you want to continue using them, without creating something similar to the japanese system, that you don't seem to like so much either.
>> "The world is american and speaks english, so every body who isn't >>not writing in roman letters should, and anyway, should learn english since >>they are children. If english was the official language of all countries in >>the world, and local langauge only coexist, it would proove that every one >>wants to work together, and get closer to other countries." You see how >>stupid it sounds? > >Yes, but I've never said it have I, or anything approaching it. > >>That's because of this way of thinking that america is hated in many part >>of the world. > >Again, America has nothing to do with it. I'm not American. I'm British.
Ok, forget about america, and think of colonialism. And for this, Great britain was not the last.
>It is not imperialism. It is wanting to see the world united, rather than >parochial and insularist.
The asian wolrd was once united with chinese writing system.
>>Be tolerant to diversity > >Suppose China becomes split up in the future - the present regime collapses.
it does not collapse, actualy. And even so, the end of a regime is not the end of a country.
>Suppose there is no more China, and people no longer feel Chinese. They feel >Pekinese, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fukienese etc. Their leaders, wanting to >preserve their own power in their own area, encourage people to support the >new regional reality rather than the older united past, and see their >regional state as their nation, distinct from other 'Chinese' nations...
Something like hong kong, taiwan, macao, singapore being separated countries? well you know, it has allready happened. And they still write Hanzi
>Suppose times are hard and people don't have much time to do calligraphy. >Why shouldn't they spell their language the way they speak? Which, since >there is no Chinese language, is the *real* language, Northern, >Shanghainese, Cantonese etc. That is now the language of the new smaller >nations.
Even if they don't SPELL the language the way they speak, they WRITE it the way they speak. And if you split china in area as big as european countries, each new part stil has many distincs dialects. Devising an alphabetic spelling for each official dialect would be a threat to the other ones.
>Are they going to continue with the old method of Hanzi, symbolic of a unity >that no longer exists?
Hanzi is not only geographical unity. It is historical unity. And no one wants to break up with its past, especialy when he is from one of the oldest country in the world, with such a rich culture.
>Or are they going to prefer a writing system that actually brings out their >differences - their diversity indeed?
Trust me, chinese people don;t need any help to feel different from their neighbours