January 24, 2012
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I've been doing some research on Chinese writing. To almost every Westerner, the Chinese written language is very difficult to learn. You guys had an advantage when you learned it. You were young! I guess if I had started when I was five or six, it would have been easier.
But, as it turns out, it's not just difficult for Westerners, it's difficult for Chinese people too. (I always add the word 'people' after Chinese but some people just say 'the Chinese'. I don't know which is correct.) It seems that with computers and keyboards and cell phones, many Chinese are forgetting how to write the characters. If you don't write on paper, only on a computer or cell phone, I think you would forget the characters over time and it seems that this is true. Remember that we only have 26 letters to learn. You have thousands!
Here are some questions that I have about your written language:
If you forget how to write a character, how do you look it up?
Do you have Chinese dictionaries? How are they ordered? I mean we have alphabetical. What do you have?
What about encyclopedias? How do you look things up in a book? In a library?
Does each character represent a sound? When you are learning the characters, are you learning sounds at the same time? Is it easy to learn which sound is which character? I mean you already know how to speak Chinese when you start to learn the written language, right?
Did you know that the early Chinese symbols actually looked more like what they mean? The later ones are 'stylized' but the early ones, from what I learned, were very basic, almost like heiroglyphs.
When you put characters together, do they make a new sound, a combination of other sounds?
Ignoring grammar, do you use more characters than letters to say the same thing from English in Chinese? I know that the word order is different and that I can't put my English words in the same order as a Chinese translation but do you use more characters to say more or less the same thing?
Those are my questions for now. I will think of more, I'm sure. Part of the reason that I love China is because it is so damn old! Your culture, your language, your buildings and villages, everything. Chinese is the oldest written language and the basis for Japanese and, perhaps, Korean. It's pretty cool, I think.
Thanks for reading!
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