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[3]: hoping Taiwan will benefit
by Savior on Sat 23rd Mar 2013 10:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: hoping Taiwan will benefit"
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

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

For example, in English, "Black sheep" carries more information that its literals.


That's true; however, I think we should probably draw a line between "regular" non-compositional compounds and idioms. Linguistically speaking, this line may be non-existant, and in any case very blurry; but I believe anyone, who speaks a foreign language, feels the difference between these types of words when learning them. When you learn that hand+paper means letter, you go "OK, it's not fully compositional (but what is, really)"; but when you are told that spear+shield means contradiction, you know there's something more going on -- and you won't even understand it until someone explains you the story behind this word.

Same with "black sheep": you have to think metaphorically to arrive at the meaning -- something you don't need to do with words like "airship" or "rabbit hole".

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

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

It was certainly a fascinating episode for me.


I love these kind of interactions as well. But actually it's not that surprising: the meaning of the (lexical) individual characters remained the same across these languages -- that was the original reasing for using a logographic script. Also, a very large part of the Japanese (and I guess Korean) vocabulary came from Chinese. The 'letter' example above is a well-known exception, and I brought it up mainly not to illustrate the difference between Chinese and Japanese, but as a proof that even in languages that use a logographic writing system, you are not exempt from the chore of learning the vocabulary.

Reply Parent Score: 3