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tony1343

Do Chinese People "Misspell" Characters

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tony1343

Hi,

Maybe there's already been a post on this, but I'm unable to find it. Also, I obviously understand that you don't spell chinese characters, but I think that was the easiest way to concisely get my point across in a short title.

So basically I'm wondering if it is common for a Chinese person while writing to mess up characters and write them incorrectly, but still understandbly. I'm assuming that a Chinese person is obviously going to sometimes forget a character or have problems with certain ones. If a person doesn't know a character, I guess they are unable to write it without looking it up, while in English people just make a guess (based upon pronounciation, intuition and if they know its etymology). But I'm wondering if there are other times when the Chinese person writes the character incorrectly, but people understand what s/he meant. If s/he has no idea what the character is, does s/he simply write using different words (something that I sometimes do if I don't know how to spell a word), make a guess, write it in pinyin, look it up, or what? Also in English, one often knows how to spell a word but makes a typo when typing it. Is this analogous in Chinese? Maybe the person would select the wrong character after typing in the pinyin or misspell the pinyin and select the wrong character (or something analogous with the other chinese input method that I've seen people use).

Thanks.

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renzhe

Yes.

Chinese people sometimes write characters wrong. Sometimes they also write the wrong character, which has the same pronunciation as the correct one.

Just like in any other language, the literate ones do it far less often.

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jonaspony

yes, my teacher had a couple of mental blocks this semester. There was a sigh of relief, or was that schadenfreude?

Nonetheless, miss a single stroke in most characters and native literates will be all over it - even though they use cursive script most of the time, leaving out a lot of the details.

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muyongshi

While more often in my experience they forget WHICH character it should be rather than "misspell" (missing a stroke or the such) one of my teacher's actually taught us wrong on on of the characters. And in a survey of all our teacher's after that only 1 out of 5 got it right as to which way was the right way. The character was 善良的 and since I can't use the computer to write it wrong I will try and describe it. She did not think that the "shu" stroke that ran through the top 羊 came all the way down to the last "heng". Meaning it looked more like a 王 (with bunny ears) and then the bottom was separate.

But this also happens on other characters like 迷惑的. Once she couldn't remember if the line went over the 口 or under on the 或 part.

The interesting thing was that she is our best teacher and very infrequently makes mistakes while as we asked our "college student" friends and they all got it right.

And for the first thing I mentioned about forgetting it's usually a more obscure character and I usually only have one teacher that does this but she is the one that likes to talk about obscure characters and her recall is 50/50. "Now how is it written again??" and then 50% of the time she remembers and 50% we look it up.

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roddy

Yeah, like muyongshi I think it's often a case of either can write or can't write - errors within characters do happen, but seem to be rarer to me. Once you know the first stroke the rest is more likely to flow out from motor memory, I think.

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imron

Just for reference, in Chinese, characters that are written incorrectly are known as 错别字 (cuòbiézì).

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liuzhou

The local speciality round these parts is rice noodles in a snail broth with loads of chilli and various other bits and pieces. I must be asked 100 times a week if I like it. (Yes, I do.)

During a recent visit to the local university ( a guanxi maintenance call), I asked a class of about 50 undergraduates to write the name of the dish.

About half wrote 螺蛳粉 and half wrote 螺丝粉.

Later I had the regulation banquet with the school leaders and teachers and I asked them to do the same. 100% went for 螺丝粉.

The correct answer is 螺蛳粉.

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muyongshi

Does that count though as a 错别字 because it is a dish name...it's like saying 宫保 vs. 宫爆 in 宫保鸡丁. Here in Sichuan you will see both. One is obviously going to be correct but due to it being a proper name, I don't think it would count as what we are referring to as a "misspelled" character/错别字

This situation would be either like the one described above with 善 or something like righting 及格 with a 极 instead.

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renzhe
Yeah, like muyongshi I think it's often a case of either can write or can't write - errors within characters do happen, but seem to be rarer to me. Once you know the first stroke the rest is more likely to flow out from motor memory, I think.

Yeah, this is because of how they learn to write them -- endless repetition.

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muyongshi
Yeah, this is because of how they learn to write them -- endless repetition.

That is not entirely true.... I haven't done said repetition at all in my learning character process, I just look at it and understand how it's made up and after a few times am able to reproduce it. So I agree with the motor memory though, even though I haven't done it. If I can't think of how to write a character, if I can get it started I can usually finish it.

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skylee
The character was 善良的善[/size'] and since I can't use the computer to write it wrong I will try and describe it. She did not think that the "shu" stroke that ran through the top 羊 came all the way down to the last "heng". Meaning it looked more like a 王 (with bunny ears) and then the bottom was separate.

I write 善 the same way as the teacher did and I genuinely do not think it is wrong at all. Take a look at this page -> http://www.edu.tw/EDU_WEB/EDU_MGT/MANDR/EDU6300001/allbook/bishuen/p138a.htm?open (from 常用國字標準字體筆順手冊). If it is considered wrong, the only explanation I can think of is that it is written differently in the simplified script.

Just for reference, in Chinese, characters that are written incorrectly are known as 错别字 (cuòbiézì).

Also for reference, another term is 白字, as in 白字連篇.

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muyongshi
I write 善 the same way as the teacher did and I genuinely do not think it is wrong at all. Take a look at this page -> http://www.edu.tw/EDU_WEB/EDU_MGT/MA...p138a.htm?open (from 常用國字標準字體筆順手冊). If it is considered wrong, the only explanation I can think of is that it is written differently in the simplified script.

Okay, well our teachers after again looking in the books and dictionaries then "changed" and said it must be wrong then. I will have to show this to them. I am wondering then also if it is just a 字体 difference then. Thanks for the notice on that...Will have to look at some more things then :D

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muyongshi

I just checked my most frequently used fonts on my computer (have about 20 more but don't feel like checking the random ones) and 5 out of 13 were written without the 出头 style...

I bet it's just a 字体 question then...no right or wrong

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liuzhou
like righting 及格 with a 极 instead.

:lol::lol::lol:

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Yiwan

Young people, especially those born after the 90s tend to misuse characters thanks to the heavy usage of internet lingos, my observation.

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LiYuanXi

I seldom miss a stroke but I write alot of 'cuo bie zi'. Fortunately, friends can still understand my letter even though there are such mistakes.

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Lu

Do Chinese people ever misspell characters on purpose, for whatever reason? Recently a Chinese friend passed me a note and I was appaled at some mistakes she had made, to the point of writing a wrong character in the word 晚上. She's a university student, I can hardly imagine her making some mistakes that I wouldn't even make.

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muyongshi

Well the character 阔 was not actually a character until some guy (details are a bit fuzzy) put the two things together and so "created" the character. Upon seeing it one of his underlings pointed it out that it was wrong and the guy said he did it on purpose..... So there is at least one.

I for the fun of it do a "pictionary" thing with characters using radicals and we see who can guess the meaning/story/ or other random thing from the "new" character.

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somchai69

English speakers do have problem spelling some uncommon (or even common) words, let alone 3000 frequently used Chinese characters. I think it is a hard job for any human being to remember how to correctly write each Chinese word. :)

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DoraYao

I think it is normal to misspell. :mrgreen: We all do.

I also wonder whether Chinese people from China can understand most traditional Chinese characters or not. Some characters have very different simplified and traditional forms. I could not think of example. It is very interesting to see when traditional characters will be taken over by simplified characters. I personally fall in love with some traditional characters.

Interesting question!

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