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I Hate Hanzi

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renzhe

But this is also true in many other languages, especially English.

If you saw the word "Worcester" or "Edinburgh", would you know how to pronounce them correctly? Most people don't.

You'd get close, probably, but often you can get close, or narrow it down, with Chinese characters too.

Edited by renzhe

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sthubbar

We are still talking about 100% completely different things. We are talking about a 100% brain freeze and unable to make any sounds come out. Of course, there are words that have non-standard pronunciations in every script language, and even some words can have different pronunciations, like "tomayto" "tomahto".

In Chinese, we are not talking about making a guess and being sort of close like saying zhi2 or zhi3 or even shi2, we are talking about a 100% inability to make any sound because this is a completely new symbol. Even worse is that the guesses are often 100% wrong and have no relation to the real sound.

I assure you that you take 100 native speakers of English and give them your two examples, there might be some variations in the pronunciation, though it would not be so large as to prevent understanding what you are saying

With Chinese, the native speakers sometimes just have to throw up their hands and say "I have no idea what sound to make for that symbol."

One final, significant point. It isn't the fact that one person doesn't know how to pronounce a character, it is the fact that with 6 well educated native speakers, none of them can pronounce it.

I challenge you to put six well educated native speakers of any script based language together and find a common word that none of them knows how to pronounce. Should I start another 10,000 RMB Challenge? :mrgreen:

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renzhe
In Chinese, we are not talking about making a guess and being sort of close like saying zhi2 or zhi3 or even shi2, we are talking about a 100% inability to make any sound because this is a completely new symbol. Even worse is that the guesses are often 100% wrong and have no relation to the real sound.

How many characters fall into this category, though?

The majority of characters contain a phonetic component which provides a good hint and can narrow down the possible pronunciation. Estimates range between 70% and 90%.

I challenge you to put six well educated native speakers of any script based language together and find a common word that none of them knows how to pronounce. Should I start another 10,000 RMB Challenge?

Can I take Arabic? :mrgreen:

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atitarev

Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew and English are the 5 major languages where pronunciation can be highly unintuitive and children or foreign learners require a kind of phonetic guide - pinyin/zhuyin, furigana, tasjkiil, nekudot and a phonetic respelling (English) to learn to read. Chinese and Japanese are the extremes in the difficulty of reading and especially writing. In Chinese 90% characters have one single reading, in Japanese, they have 2 and more, often highly unpredictably but the number of characters in use is less making C and J almost equally difficult as for reading.

Writing in Arabic and Hebrew is much easier than reading, just skip those short vowels; when reading, they have to be inserted.

Can I take Arabic? :mrgreen:

Native speakers normally don't have a problem reading any word in A. or H. but they may read the word in their native dialect, not in the standard language, as is the case with Arabic. The difference in readings often happens where written Arabic can read in different ways, depending on which vowels are inserted (or absence thereof).

English spelling is notoriously difficult but it's nothing compared with Chinese and Japanese. I think it would take more time for a native Japanese to become a fluent (out loud!) reader in Chinese than in English.

Hanzi makes Chinese attractive and I don't hate them but they are too difficult, nevertheless.

Edited by atitarev

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HashiriKata
We are not talking about being to understand what is written. Of course there are words in English that I can read and not understand. We are talking about not being able to make the sound that is represented by the written language.
Your argument is seriously faulty. Chinese characters are not based on phonetic symbols, it's naturally that you (Chinese or not) may not know how to say them if you haven't heard them before. Comparing English writing and Chinese writing is to compare an apple with a slustima.

(Of course you don't know what a "slustima" is, but I hope you've got my point! :mrgreen:)

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atitarev

That's right. Many exceptions in English are often used as an argument that English is equally difficult to read as Chinese. English is a bad example of the use of phonetic alphabets. If it wasn't used by so many countries, the English spelling would be long reformed.

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vampire

Notice that literature materials of thousands of years ago can still be understood today(few other language can), and 文言文 served as a common written language in east Asia region for a very long time throughout history.

In pre-modern time to develop a common spoken language is pretty impossible, this is why the written system developed in such way, rely more on meaning rather than pronunciation. No doubt very different from European languages, but it's just another way to solve things out , another way to write.

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atitarev
Notice that literature materials of thousands of years ago can still be understood today(few other language can)

Ideographic writing is very poor at keeping the pronunciation over a long period. Ancient Classical Greek, Latin and Arabic (partially phonetic) did a better job. Despite some differences in pronunciation Latin or Arabic was taught similarly in different countries. Although, Chinese was used over a large area, it was read out in many different, often mutually incomprehensible ways.

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realmayo
Not a single one of the six knew what was the character.

What was the character?

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vampire

But ancient Latin or Greek writing scripts are not easy to understand today, right? I am sorry if I was wrong on this. Anyway my point is written system doesnt have to indicate how to pronounce, I was just trying to list some advantages of Ideographic writing

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Lu

Ancient Greek is hard (I thought when I learned it), but I imagine native speakers of Greek have an easier time than I did. Latin is not so difficult. Well, it also depends on the writer, one can write easy Latin or difficult Latin.

Or were you talking about script? Those are so easy. Latin is written in the Roman alphabet, almost exactly like the one in use now in most of Europe. Greek is just a different alphabet, but with exactly the same system as the Roman alphabet, piece of cake.

But all in all I find the classical Chinese I've read (well, translated) easier than Ancient Greek.

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imron
But ancient Latin or Greek writing scripts are not easy to understand today, right?
Likewise, ancient Chinese is not easy to understand today, unless you've actually studied it.

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atitarev
But ancient Latin or Greek writing scripts are not easy to understand today, right?

I am the 3rd to answer this question but since it was directed to me, I want to answer too. :) Classical Latin, Greek and (vocalised) Arabic are not easy languages. Which one is? However, learning to read out loud is not hard when you know the letters and some rules. Arabic may seem the most difficult out of three but religious texts (e.g Qur'an) use vowel diacritics (tashkiil), which serve the same purpose as pinyin or bopomofo in Chinese, making pronunciation clear.

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Scoobyqueen
But ancient Latin or Greek writing scripts are not easy to understand today, right? I am sorry if I was wrong on this. Anyway my point is written system doesnt have to indicate how to pronounce, I was just trying to list some advantages of Ideographic writing

In fact Latin co-existed with the vernacular romance languages (late Latin or vulgar Latin) that had already developed. Thus the written language used was Latin but what was spoken was probaly far removed from the written word and therefore the letters used in Latin no longer represented phonetic sounds (of the words that were spoken). It was only when people decided the letters could be used to represent what was actually spoken that the vernacular developed into a written language (around 11th century for Spanish for example).

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Meng Lelan

Oh, dear, a thread devoted to the hatred of Hanzi? Here in Chinese Forums?

As a Chinese teacher in Texas, I love hanzi.

Maybe Roddy will let me start a new forum called I Love Hanzi.

Or, I Love Logographic Languages.

Oh, wait a minute, Chinese is supposed to be the only logographic language in existence today. Right? Or something like that.

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soonHKguy

l will learn to 3000 character then l don't need to learn more, l think in that way :)

:mrgreen:

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rezaf

I know 3000 characters and believe me it's not enough, I still can't read newspaper properly. Maybe 6000 is the number.

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gkung
l will learn to 3000 character then l don't need to learn more

Even if you learned all the characters that's required, you need to review them constantly otherwise you will forget them. The first 1,000 is relatively easy to pick up, but you'll need more time to learn the next 1,000 to not forgetting the first 1,000. If you have enough motivation (and the environment) to jump over this hurdle then you will success.

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gkung
I know 3000 characters and believe me it's not enough, I still can't read newspaper properly. Maybe 6000 is the number.

I am certian you don't need 6,000 to read newspaper. Native Chinese adults recognize only about an average of 3,500 characters. If you know 3,000 you are very close to be able to read newspaper "properly" (in the same way as other Chinese.)

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renzhe
I know 3000 characters and believe me it's not enough, I still can't read newspaper properly. Maybe 6000 is the number.

This is most likely due to the lack of words/vocabulary, not the fact that you need to learn more characters.

You will always run into the odd character you don't know, but if you can really read 3000 characters, this shouldn't happen too often.

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