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Re: Chinese writing systems

From:Mat McVeagh <matmcv@...>
Date:Monday, November 4, 2002, 3:05
>From: Florian Rivoal <florian@...> > >As for international understanding, i find your point of view quite >imperialist.
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.
>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. 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. 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 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
>.... and it would make them more distant to some other countries like >taiwan, Japan or korea, who do share (even if only partly) this writing >system, and many other countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, >Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and Thailand) have a strong >chinese speaking comunity, enventualy writing chinese characters. Mandarin >chinese still has nore native speaker than any other language in the world, >and is being used as a lingua-franca by many people, most of who have an >other chinese language as mother tongue but not all. When i was in >university in japan, chinese was as popular as english amongst students.
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.
>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 :).
> "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. But to repeat, what country I come from or what language I speak myself is not relevant, it is not what has prompted this view of mine. It is humanism. I don't see the Roman alphabet as essentially Western or to do with English. As I have argued on alt.language.artificial, it is hardly as tho the Roman alphabet is geared towards transcribing English, despite the few additions we've made to the Latin version. It doesn't matter to me whether the Chinese choose the Roman alphabet or a different one, or even whether they just continue with Hanzi. I just think that alphabets are easier ways to represent language than logo- or morphographic systems; they are more up to date, better for working with computers, cut down teaching time, open up easier communication with non-native speakers etc. It is not imperialism. It is wanting to see the world united, rather than parochial and insularist.
>Be tolerant to diversity
Suppose China becomes split up in the future - the present regime collapses. 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... 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. Are they going to continue with the old method of Hanzi, symbolic of a unity that no longer exists? Or are they going to prefer a writing system that actually brings out their differences - their diversity indeed?
Mat _________________________________________________________________ Choose an Internet access plan right for you -- try MSN!


Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>