Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Mar 2013 14:20 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu This could potentially be quite big for Ubuntu and Linux in general. Canonical and the Chinese government have announced a collaboration to build a version of Ubuntu specifically for the Chinese market, which will become the reference architecture for standard operating systems in the country.
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RE[2]: hoping Taiwan will benefit
by cl91 on Sat 23rd Mar 2013 02:17 UTC in reply to "RE: hoping Taiwan will benefit"
cl91
Member since:
2013-03-23

[quote]
How do you guys figure things out when you don't recognize a character?
[/quote]

Well there is nothing you can do. If you don't know a character, you don't know the character.

However, this usually doesn't occur. The good news is although there are well over 10,000 chinese chars in existence, only 3,000 of them are in frequent use, and another 3,000 of them are in occasional use. So effectively you only need to learn ~6,000 chars.

And if you learn these 6,000 chars, you learn all chinese words: there is no need to separately learn the vocabulary, which is huge. This is because the chinese is an ideographic language. Say if you don't know the English word `rocket', all you can do is to look it up in a dictionary. But if you don't know the Chinese word `rocket' (but you do know the common 6,000 chars), you can make sense of the word because it's made of two characters which stand for `fire' and `flying arrow' separately, and at least you can picture that the word means something arrow-like and is propelled by fire.

Edited 2013-03-23 02:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11


And if you learn these 6,000 chars, you learn all chinese words: there is no need to separately learn the vocabulary, which is huge. This is because the chinese is an ideographic language. Say if you don't know the English word `rocket', all you can do is to look it up in a dictionary. But if you don't know the Chinese word `rocket' (but you do know the common 6,000 chars), you can make sense of the word because it's made of two characters which stand for `fire' and `flying arrow' separately, and at least you can picture that the word means something arrow-like and is propelled by fire.


If you just learn the characters that doesn't mean you learn chinese or chinese words. You'll still be writing and reading in your own language but with chinese characters. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

If you just learn the characters that doesn't mean you learn chinese or chinese words. You'll still be writing and reading in your own language but with chinese characters. ;)


Don't be silly. The Chinese characters do not correspond to syllables, vowels or consonants, they correspond to full words or idioms and therefore every time you write a chinese character down you've written a Chinese word.

Here in the western world, yes, the latin character set corresponds to individual vowels and consonants and therefore when you string together many characters to form a word you have to specifically pay attention to what language you're writing in.

Reply Parent Score: 2

saso Member since:
2007-04-18

Well there is nothing you can do. If you don't know a character, you don't know the character.

I'd say this is a fairly big issue, as e.g. Japanese people forget characters constantly. This has become especially problematic since much/most writing nowadays occurs on keyboards. People would recognize a character, but for the life of them can't produce it by hand. This sort of problem doesn't occur with alphabets - if you know the word, you can read and write it.

However, this usually doesn't occur. The good news is although there are well over 10,000 chinese chars in existence, only 3,000 of them are in frequent use, and another 3,000 of them are in occasional use. So effectively you only need to learn ~6,000 chars.

And here I was thinking the Japanese had it bad with having to learn roughly 1/2 of what you said...

And if you learn these 6,000 chars, you learn all chinese words: there is no need to separately learn the vocabulary, which is huge.

Except this is not how humans naturally learn languages. We learn our mother language as small children with no writing and then have to laboriously relearn it using the writing system (e.g. Chinese characters).

This is because the chinese is an ideographic language. Say if you don't know the English word `rocket', all you can do is to look it up in a dictionary. But if you don't know the Chinese word `rocket' (but you do know the common 6,000 chars), you can make sense of the word because it's made of two characters which stand for `fire' and `flying arrow' separately, and at least you can picture that the word means something arrow-like and is propelled by fire.

Naturally, if you have no concept of the thing being described, regardless of the writing system used, you're screwed. But that's not how most people operate. We know words before we know how to write them down.
In languages using Chinese characters, you effectively need to re-learn your own language in written form. This may not be such an issue in native Chinese languages, but it is certainly an issue in languages into which Chinese characters have been imported (aka "shoehorned"), such as Japanese. Japanese is about as similar to Chinese as English is...

Reply Parent Score: 3

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

And if you learn these 6,000 chars, you learn all chinese words: there is no need to separately learn the vocabulary, which is huge. This is because the chinese is an ideographic language. Say if you don't know the English word `rocket', all you can do is to look it up in a dictionary. But if you don't know the Chinese word `rocket' (but you do know the common 6,000 chars), you can make sense of the word because it's made of two characters which stand for `fire' and `flying arrow' separately, and at least you can picture that the word means something arrow-like and is propelled by fire.


Except when not, which is not uncommon. Think 'logic' and 'theory': same two characters, but different order -- different word. Or when there are 3 characters with similar meaning, and almost any combination of them makes a word, each with slighly different meaning.

Also, not everything is as straightforward as fire + arrow: what about, for example, 'hand' + 'paper'? Who would ever guess that it means 'toilet paper'? Not the Japanese, I'm sure, for whom those that sequence reads as 'letter'.

So yes: logograms help, but do not acquit you from learning vocabulary.

Reply Parent Score: 5

sdeber Member since:
2005-07-06

True, but the problem you described here is not mainly about the language, it is about the culture and history. It is common to all civilizations. For example, in English, "Black sheep" carries more information that its literals. That is one of the reasons why foreign students can do a PHD in English but still find entertainment magazines hard to understand.

Reply Parent Score: 3

orfanum Member since:
2006-06-02

True but context plays a larger role in my experience in terms of the ability of Chinese characters to communicate meaning.

I once had a conversation with two middle-aged Koreans who spoke very little English and a younger Japanese person who spoke good English but knew no Korean apart from 'hello' and 'goodbye' (I had no knowledge of any of these East-Asian languages). I do not doubt that some things were miscommunicated according to the nuanced intentions of my interlocutors but we held a functional dialogue through spoken English between me and my Japanese friend, and Chinese characters between her and our Korean hosts.

Nobody got insulted and there was much laughter.

It was certainly a fascinating episode for me.

Reply Parent Score: 3