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I Hate Hanzi

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gato
A Chinese speaker might be able to pick out individual words from a Japanese text, but they would not grasp the overall meaning well, if at all. Similarly, a Japanese person trying to read Chinese would be completely and utterly lost. Simply writing in the same character set in no way ensures that people from different languages will be able to understand each other.

Indeed, it's probably easier for a French speaker to learn to read Spanish (given their common Latin origin) than it is for a Japanese to learn to read Chinese for Japanese and Chinese are very different languages. On the other hand, it should be fairly easy for a Mandarin speaker to learn one of the Chinese dialects, such as Cantonese, if the proper learning material is available (which is often not the case for dialects). It's also easy for a Chinese dialect speaker to learn Mandarin. Somewhere around a billion of them have already done so.

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atitarev

I think dialect speakers are just bilingual - nothing to do with the common writing system between dialects, most dialects simply don't have a writing system and it doesn't have to be in Chinese characters - e.g. Dungan, some Taiwanese dialects. Linking the dialects and languages via a common written system is good but you have to know to pronounce them for the full picture.

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zozzen

Yes, in this century, the characters can't really help Chinese speakers understand modern day Japanese text much, because the modern use of Kanji has been limited, katakana is so popular, many transliterated kanas don't have linguistic meaning in the original language. When Chinese characters were still overwhelmingly used 100 years ago, it's just different. Right after the Miji Reform, even though kana was written, kanji were so popular that to translate western concept into Kanji were more popular than transliterating into kana. At that time, some Chinese scholars learned and studied the Miji reform by reading the Japanese books, without translation.

Out of curiosity, I googled a Minnanese article which is written in Chinese characters. Anyone like challenge please come and see how much you can understand it.

咱毋管是滯佇中國,抑是台灣,普通電腦安的Microsoft Office攏中文版的(佫分”简体”佮”繁體”)較儕。中文版的word,系統暗認的字體(字型)嘛是中文字體(華文字型)啦。即个中文字體講起來hò·,實在有較歹體,伊攏bōe認得西文字體。POJ算講是羅馬字,屬佇西文字體,莫怪儂bōe認得!

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gato
Right after the Miji Reform, even though kana was written, kanji were so popular that to translate western concept into Kanji were more popular than transliterating into kana. At that time, some Chinese scholars learned and studied the Miji reform by reading the Japanese books, without translation.

That's because before the Meiji reforms, the Japanese elite wrote in classical Chinese, not Japanese. That also used to be the case in Korea and Vietnam, the two other countries where studying the Confucian classics was required for the elite. And by "elite," we are really talking about less than 1% of the population. Most people didn't know classical Chinese from Chuck E. Cheese.

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cintiaghimel

I`m surprised by seeing so many replies for this thread. Hope you get what I mean I don`t want to be rude here.

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zozzen
That's because before the Meiji reforms, the Japanese elite wrote in classical Chinese, not Japanese. That also used to be the case in Korea and Vietnam, the two other countries where studying the Confucian classics was required for the elite. And by "elite," we are really talking about less than 1% of the population. Most people didn't know classical Chinese from Chuck E. Cheese.

Indeed it is. Many ancient Japanese documents were written in Wenyan, whose grammar largely didn't exist in any spoken language. Turning our clock back to a more modern years, we can still see Kanji was heavily used in books written in early period of the reform.

Try to google 西洋烟火之法 . Also take a look at this Japanese article to propose an abolishment of Kanji, written by Maejima Hisoka who is renowned in Japan and his view did influence the language reform in China too.

http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/w3c/hyoon/kanjihaishi.html

My view is that Chinese character can linguistically help people with different tones to understand each other for many centuries. The rest issue is that if people today, especially non-Chinese, need a sinosphere. As said before, it's cultural and political issue, more than linguistic.

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sciuser

I am a chinese middle students study in Guangzhou.

I hate characters too.

As a native chinese, I couldn't write and read chinese characters 100% correctly.At school, I hate Chinese Coures the most!

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chen peisi

I just a college student speaks limited English, so if what I am going to say is confusing to you, please let me know and i will explain. There are three point in your post. About the first, I have to say not everyone writes beautiful Hanzi. Back in elementary school, I was always criticized by teacher for the poor legibility of my homework. And by the way calligraphy is a kind of art. We seldom write that way. Maybe there is only one out of ten students can "paint" calligraphy. Calligraphy includes lots of styles, of which I can't even recognize the Hanzi in them. It is art and it is hard for most of people in China, including me sure enough.

Hanzi has its unique structure. A Hanzi is made of small parts. Those small parts is somewhat like prefix or suffix. You can start form the most basic little parts. Some of the parts is meaningful; some are not. Those small parts when they constitute a hanzi, they can decide the pronunciation. There is rules of pronunciation, but it is often regular except some particular situation.

Hanzi has, acoording to some research, approximately 80000 characters. Most commonly used is only 7000 to 8000 out of 80000. In fact, in all of his works, Mao zedong(chairman Mao) used only 3136 characters. Obviously 4000 characters(most of them are similar) is not that difficult to remember. Most people in China are not able to recognized more than 8000. So you should be worried too much about that.

Pronunciation problem.....you'd better find a native speaker, you will pick up the accent very very fast. Or come to China, you can easily find a job as a teacher here, and make some friends here. without a year, you will make it. There is systematic ways to remember the character. Pupils learn methods in elementary school. You can buy some text book for pupil from cyber shop in China. They will benefit you a lot. Just like I always want to buy text book for pupil and high school students in America, so that i can learn the most genuine English. But I don't know how to buy.

"The more one learns the harder it becomes. " You sometimes may mix up characters look similar. Let me tell you, Chinese students mix up a lot. Because we are not doing research in Hanzi, nor are we writters, mistakes of mixing up characters is allowed.

Do you know why there is pingying? Several decades ago, the authorities had tried to Latinized Hanzi for they are too complicated. But at the end of the day, they failed to transform Hanzi AND Pingying, as by product, survived and serves as a way to identify how to pronounciate a character. The rule of pronounciate Pingying is almost the same as it of English.

Got any problem you can turn to me. Not 100% correct, but i am glad to help.

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volga_volga

to the OP, here is my motivation for learning hanzi:

I found out, I couldn't survive in China if I didn't know hanzi. I am surrounded by public notices, signs, timetables, announcements, questionnaires, forms to fill which are almost 100% in hanzi, very rarely with English (or pinyin) parallel text. And if there is an English translation, most of the time it does not make sense :mrgreen:

So, when in China, must understand hanzi. There is no question if I like them or hate them. I just need them. So I accept this as a fact of life and move on. What waste your efforts on something you cannot change?

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DrZero

Aren't there a good number of expats, both businesspeople and the English teacher variety, who survive with no Chinese at all, written or spoken?

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md1101
Aren't there a good number of expats, both businesspeople and the English teacher variety, who survive with no Chinese at all, written or spoken?

yes.. my dad was one of them for 8 years. he could say a few hotel names which helped him in the cabs. apart from that he lived in a hotel where all the employees spoke english and he frequented expat bars where again he could speak english. and in other situations he usually had one of his employees with him who spoke chinese. plus there is a surprising amount you can do without having to speak chinese. bargaining just requires a calculator for example!

my two cents to the OP: i hope you do keep up with the chinese. and yes even the characters. i've found its definitely become easier to learn over time. Just don't try and move to quickly. or what you said will happen and you'll start to get characters confused. make sure you learn them in context not just as some big list. the rewards of learning it will start to come when you can understand certain signs and fill out forms without any help! if you're passed that level already then you have newspapers to focus on.

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大汉之子民

Not ridiculous. It's a hard process to remember the spell and meaning of english words for me.

Many characters have two parts, one part is the meaning and anthor is pronunciation. take 请 for example, 讠is "Speaking", the pronunctiation of 青 is "Qing1", and the whole character "请" is pronounced "Qing3".

By the way, there are some different between "Pronunciation" and "Pronounce" (Pronun adn Pronoun) , why?

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imron
Aren't there a good number of expats, both businesspeople and the English teacher variety, who survive with no Chinese at all, written or spoken?
I think the key word here is survive. Knowing the language, both written and spoken, allows you to participate and interact with society in ways that are not possible otherwise.

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volga_volga

IMHO, apart from big cities in the East coast, and some tourist centers like Xian and Kunming, you woudn't survive, not talking about interacting with locals and becoming a part of the local community, in the rest of China without putonghua and hanzi.

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Myriam
I think time is worth saving,

I've got an* idea! You know the calculators you use when attending* exams, sometimes they're not allowed because it'd be too easy and wouldn't benefit the student : well, we could imagine an electronic dictionary being allowed at Chinese exams, a dictionary that would be consulted using radicals, phonetics, synonyms, definitions, but wouldn't contain sets of chengyus or famous quotes; in fact it should only be able to output 字s, one by one, in a vertical list. The priority would be on argumentation and knowledge ie assimilated concepts, chronologies, grammar, style etc.

Decent screen size for a reasonably big font (public health concerns).

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Quest
we could imagine an electronic dictionary being allowed at Chinese exams, a dictionary that would be consulted using radicals, phonetics, synonyms, definitions, but wouldn't contain sets of chengyus or famous quotes;

Or bring a Chinese interpreter?

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lilongyue

One aspect of the connection between written and spoken Chinese that I think is very important, but often times overlooked in discussions about the order one should learn to speak and read/write in, is the way Chinese reference characters to help to clear up confusion in conversation. This happens a lot with names when Chinese first meet and introduce themselves. If someone isn't sure which character is used in person "X's" name, "X" 先生 will explain it by referencing the character as it's used in a commonly known word. For example, my Chinese name is 李龙月. If someone wasn't sure which li, or long, or yue I was talking about, I would say "李子的李" or "月亮的月." Foreigners I know that can only speak Chinese usually aren't able to do this sort of thing very successfully. I've found that knowing the difference between the characters 圆and 院 often times helps me to remember the pronunciation (that one is 2nd tone, the other 4th).

I also think it's a little strange that people can talk about "knowing" a language, whatever level they may be at, while being illiterate. The difficulty of a language's written system doesn't change the fact that no matter how much one can speak, if you can't read or write, you are illiterate. I know the OP said he already knows about 2,300 characters, and that everyone has there own reasons for learning a language (i.e. some people just want to be able to get from point A to point B on their own, and not read the newspaper), but sill, being illiterate is being illiterate.

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LiYuanXi

Though I have learnt chinese since young, I get frustrated every now and then when I forget how to write a character too. The characters you have learnt just don't stick in your mind. If you stop using chinese for some time, you will forget how to write them very easily.

What is hard is sometimes how chinese people break up words and mix them into things that don't make sense to me. For example, lots of news article headlines, they can be tricky, even if the article contect isn't so tricky.

Hee hee, I agree with that cuz I often need to think an extra second when I read those headlines.

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