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Quest

The Chinese script has been misunderstood.

Read Quest's post and give you opinion:  

  1. 1. Read Quest's post and give you opinion:

    • I absolutely agree with Quest!
      7
    • I somewhat agree with Quest.
      4
    • I agree with Quest on some points and disagree on others.
      6
    • I see where Quest is coming from, but he is wrong.
      5
    • I totally disagree.
      2


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nnt
> "concepts" or "ideas" or "things" or "objects" ??

How many of those are there? How many concepts exist?

There's absolutely no way to quantify it' date=' it's meaningless to even try. There are computational ontologies, but they don't attempt to cover all possible domains.

One thing is for certain: more than the number of *words* in English or Chinese or any other language.[/quote']

Sorry to have gone too far...Let's go back to the original quote from the link provided by Ian Lee:

An average educated person knows about 20,000 words and uses about 2,000 words in a week.

How would you interpret these "2000 words"? If it were to be translated into Chinese (for example, for a bilingual ABC), how many "words" would be equivalent to the 2000 English words?

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smithsgj

I added to my previous post!

> How would you interpret these "2000 words"?

What, you mean if you translated each word individually, in a list? Something over 2000. Over, because if the concept was not represented by a single word in Chinese, you'd need extra words to explain it.

The fact that a concept is represented by a single word in one language does not make that universally the case. 後天 is a single word in Chinese, but not English; with say "monthly" the reverse applies.

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Ian_Lee

Nnt:

Actually I am not too sure about what that link means when it mentioned an average educated person uses about 2,000 words a week.

Since most media uses much more than 2,000 words, probably it means that a person uses 2,000 words to write, verbally associate with friends, co-workers and family members.

In Chinese, I would say I use about 500 characters a week to conduct the above duties if I were in Chinese community. But of course, there will be much more than 500 words since Chinese words are usually formed by the compound of two Chinese characters.

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Ian_Lee
What is a 电梯? An 'electric ladder'? Yes, we know it's a lift, but that's because we know, not because we can tell from the characters. Which character in 经济 tells you that this word means 'economy'?

电梯 is actually not the Chinese term for lift (elevator). It should be escalator. But even many Chinese got mixed up with these two terms.

经济 is actually a borrowed loan word from Japanese as I have elaborated in a previous post somewhere in this forum.

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ala

No I believe elevator is indeed 电梯 or specifically 升降机

escalator I've always called 扶梯 or specifically 电动扶梯

Both are generalized as 电梯.

经济 is a Chinese term originally vague meaning both politics and economics. The Japanese just narrowed it down to economics.

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Ian_Lee

Ala:

I would say elevator used to be called 电梯. But now 升降机 is more appropriately and commonly used as witnessed by the Chinese notices posted in the elevators.

But most HKers used the short sound for "lift" to refer to elevator.

扶梯 is seldom used in HK. 电动扶梯 is more formally posted as sign posted beside the escalator. But most HKers hardly use such lengthy term to refer to escalator.

I would say I am confused too in how to call escalator in Cantonese colloquially.

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bathrobe
Ala:

I would say elevator used to be called 电梯. But now 升降机 is more appropriately and commonly used as witnessed by the Chinese notices posted in the elevators.

In putonghua 电梯 is lift/elevator. Colloquially 梯子. I am aware that HK has a different usage because I've been there' date=' but HK hardly sets the standard!

升降机 is an old Japanese word for 'lift', which must have caught on in HK and maybe Taiwan.

'Escalator' is a curly one. I don't think there is a single, universally accepted Chinese word for this. 扶梯 maybe, also 扶手梯, but I've seen others.

经济 is actually a borrowed loan word from Japanese

So it's not a Chinese word? How much Chinese vocab are we going to except from our generalisation that 'you can tell the meaning of Chinese words from looking at the characters'?

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Ian_Lee
In putonghua 电梯 is lift/elevator. Colloquially 梯子. I am aware that HK has a different usage because I've been there, but HK hardly sets the standard!

Probably you are not aware there are a lot of loan words borrowed/derived from HK into current day Putonghua vocabulary. The most obvious one:

打的

经济 is a modern loan word from Japanese which Sinologists were the first to translate these foreign terms after Meiji Restoration.

But if you have studied some Classical Chinese, 经 and 济 always appeared in related to politics and economics.

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bathrobe
Probably you are not aware there are a lot of loan words borrowed/derived from HK into current day Putonghua vocabulary. The most obvious one:

打的

Yes, I am perfectly aware. Nevertheless, I would challenge anyone who said that HK people speak standard Mandarin!

经济 is a modern loan word from Japanese which Sinologists were the first to translate these foreign terms after Meiji Restoration.

But if you have studied some Classical Chinese, 经 and 济 always appeared in related to politics and economics.

I still think you are wide of the point. How much of this extra knowledge (study of Classical Chinese, etc.) do we need in order to understand the meaning of these Chinese compounds? You were the one who told us that:

Chinese words are normally formed by a compound of two Chinese characters. But such words usually are self-explanatory since each character carries its own meaning and the compound's meaning is a derivation of these two meanings

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Quest
Yes, I am perfectly aware. Nevertheless, I would challenge anyone who said that HK people speak standard Mandarin!

They don't need to, they are only responsible for standard Cantonese.

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bathrobe

They don't need to' date=' they are only responsible for standard Cantonese.[/quote']

Perhaps we need a new thread: 'What is the Chinese language?'

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ala

How about 汽油 ? How would you know this was gasoline from the parts of the word? steam + oil = gasoline?

无线电? wireless electric/electricity = radio?

小气? little spirit/air/morale = stingy???

放款? to place + funds = loan? why not "deposit"?

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Quest
How about 汽油 ? How would you know this was gasoline from the parts of the word? steam + oil = gasoline?

无线电? wireless electric/electricity = radio?

小气? little spirit/air/morale = stingy???

放款? to place + funds = loan? why not "deposit"?

Why "?" ?

Do you mean the parts of the words do or do not give hints on what the words mean?

汽油-- gas(liquid)+oil' date=' very intuitive.

无线电(磁波)-- wireless electromagnetic wave(a radio signal is an electromagnetic wave travelling in free space as opposed to through a transmission line/wire, it is basically the same thing as electricity)

小气(气量小)--the quantity of 气(容忍度)[one can hold'] is small.

放款-- release funds.

Of course, you cannot be 100% sure what a 词 means until you see its definition, but in most cases the characters do provide enough clues for you to remember easily what the 词 means. 全都有迹可寻。

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skylee

I have already given up on this thread, but am very upset reading this -

Nevertheless, I would challenge anyone who said that HK people speak standard Mandarin!

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Lu Yi Si

The alphabetical cannot be applied to Mandarin Chinese. It is impossible as so many words have the same pronounciation and tones. Secondly it would rape China of years of cultural devlopment and thinking. A great deal of Chinese thought is contained within characters.

I also strongly disagree with the thought that characters are somehow inefficient, I watch people hand-writing and typing in Chinese daily, and in my view, it's actually quicker, or at least not much different in speed.

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Lu Yi Si

Skylee has a right to be upset.

Puntonghua is spoken in HK well, maybe with a slight southern accent! Far better than many areas in China, excluding the North East and Beijing as well as most of Guangdong! In Schenzhen, the putonghua was good, it was taught in a very stanard way to Guangdong natives at school. In fact I found that the Northern Chinese Mandarin speakers had to learn Putonghua as nobody would have been able to understand their strange regional dialect, especially people with a different regional dialect.

Where I live most Chinese can't speak Putonghua, I wish they could! I often have chats with North Eastern Chinese that live locally, we sometimes poke fun at the local pronounciations, and agree that it's all a bit strange. You can bet that putonghua is spoken better in HK than in Shandong or Shanghai!

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hparade
Probably you are not aware there are a lot of loan words borrowed/derived from HK into current day Putonghua vocabulary. The most obvious one:

打的

Yes' date=' I am perfectly aware. Nevertheless, I would challenge anyone who said that HK people speak standard Mandarin!

[/quote']

i think when talking about standard mandarin, it's talking about the vocabulary here, yes, cantonese do have influence on mandarin, but it surely shouldn't be seen as the standard! when talking about standard written chinese, it is mandarin, unless you're going to start another thread as "why should mandarin be set as the standard written chinese" :D:roll:

edited: added missed puntuactions

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Ian_Lee

Actually when we are talking about Chinese vocabulary, it is not necessarily true what is prevalent in Putonghua (Mandarin term may be different as used in Taiwan) region must be more authoritative than what is prevalent in Cantonese region.

That happens in English too.

In UK, they use words like lift, lorry, to let, fortnight,.....etc.

But in US, they use words like elevator, truck, for rent, two weeks,....etc.

So is the former or the latter more correct?

I would say both are correct.

Chinese idiom says, "Enter that village and follow the custom there".

When I am in Beijing, I use their vocabulary. When I am in HK, I use my vocabulary.

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Ian_Lee

打的 may be an extreme example.

But let's take a more common term: Computer

Both HK and Taiwan translated computer into two-character word: Electric Brain -- which is very precise and appropriate.

But Mainland first translated it into five-character word: Electronic Calculator -- which was very clumsy and misled.

Gradually I saw many Mainland media have switched to the translation that HK & Taiwan have been using.

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Quest

actually, 电脑 is the misleading term, but I agree 计算机 is clumsy and it can be confused with calculators.

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