Re: Chinese writing systems
|From:||Mat McVeagh <matmcv@...>|
|Date:||Monday, November 4, 2002, 10:14|
>From: Jake X <alwaysawake247@...>
>Also, "the written form acurately reflecting the spoken form":
>interlinguistic comprehension is not so clear-cut with the roman alphabet.
>Think of the simple sentence in German, "Ich spreche Deutsch," (I speak
>German), and compare it in its sounds to the english spelling of similar
I've kind of gone off this topic, but I just wanted to answer that because
it involves a misunderstanding. "Accuracy" here means the written form
reflecting the nature of the spoken form: in effect that means that as long
as you know the spelling rules, you can always decode the pronunciation from
a correctly spelt piece of writing (even if you don't know the meaning).
Further, in a stricter sense of "accurate", I am thinking of a one-to-one
type relationship between graphemes and phonemes ("one sound one letter").
This is not strictly necessary for the above definition of accuracy, but it
seems to me to be an added and connected virtue.
It has been pointed out to me on alt.language.artificial that it may in some
cases be better to have a 'morphophonemic' transcription - as in English,
where the vowel phonemes of "photograph" and "photography" are different,
but we recognise elements of the words as allomorphs of the same morpheme.
It is a separate argument; but my answer anyway was similar to the one I
gave in reply to the claims about Chinese logographics, which is that if the
speech is good enough as it is the writing should be good enough in copying
it. (There has been a relevant answer to that re signs, headlines,
ingredients lists etc., I don't want to go into it all again now.)
Anyway the major point is that your point about letter sequences in German
being pronounced differently from how they are in English is not relevant
because it is about two different languages. Or rather... that is the whole
point about these different Chinese languages being spelt the same way -
they are *different* languages. Hence if you write them 'accurately' (to the
pronunciation) - you write them differently :)
I guess in conclusion I am a 'speechist', I believe speech is primary over
writing. I see writing as being a secondary form of expression that is
parasitic on speech. Except for Sign Language, all languages (that I've
heard of anyway) are based on a previous spoken form. I don't really
'believe' anything about how languages 'should' be written, what Chinese
'should' do, etc., it's just how I feel. It's because I am reacting to the
previous pro-writing bias that Western culture has had, in which writing has
been seen as the primary form, and maybe speech should change to suit
writing. I got this perspective from "Linguistics and Your Language" by
Robert A. Hall Jr., the book that converted the traditional-grammar
prescriptivist philological me to scientific descriptivist linguistics at
the age of 14. :)
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