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sthubbar

Hanzi is a religion

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sthubbar

I think I found the source of my frustration with Hanzi.

Hanzi is a religion.

At a young age, it was apparent to me that there is no difference between Santa Claus and god and to this day I don't understand how an intelligent person could believe otherwise. Of course, such a statement causes much useless debate and there is no way convincing anyone of something that is obvious to me.

With Hanzi, it is the same. It is obvious to me that Hanzi is the world's most ridiculous writing system. I now realize that any debate about this subject has the same result as debating religion.

How can I find a way to like my self selected religion? :D

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Hofmann

Well...how about calligraphy?

...and I think Japanese is more ridiculous than Chinese by the way.

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roddy

Load your flashcard program up with WORDS, not characters or sentences. If you still can't read after six months, give up and learn French.

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laptopfan

I don't think Hanzi writing is ridiculous at all. (i agree it is little complicated to be write)

because Hanzi evolution by simplyfied countless times.and become abstract.and it become easier to be wrote.

Obviously, worlds composed of 26 are easy to be write,you only need to know how to write 26 single character.

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renzhe
Obviously, worlds composed of 26 are easy to be write,you only need to know how to write 26 single character.

This is almost true for Russian or some Slavic languages, but completely false for French or English. Knowing the individual letters will probably not get you far when it comes to writing words, as you need to memorise the spelling.

And I find discussions about the utility / practicality / difficulty of Hanzi to be sometimes interesting, but ultimately fruitless. They are here to stay and you need to learn them, so get started 8)

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sthubbar

Hmm, Roddy, it's been much more than 6 months studying words and sentences, and no where near being able to read, according to my definition of that word. Good thing I'm not so easily persuaded to quit. :D

PS - I'm guessing that laptopfan is a native speaker, ie indoctrinated into the religion from birth. hahaha :twisted:

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roddy

Ahem

After about 2000 characters, I found trying to study single characters unproductive. I have since switched to only studying sentences.

I humbly submit that you've bounced from a dodgy 'learn all the characters' method to an equally dubious 'learn all the sentences' one, without a devout attempt at learning the useful things in the middle. Because if you had, I reckon you'd be able to read - or at least you'd be hung up on some other issue, like grammar. And what other options have you got, anyway? A database of paragraphs?

That is the cause of your crisis of faith, I suspect.

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stoney

I rather enjoy the Chinese writing system, and learning to read has been the most natural and enjoyable part of Chinese language for me. Guess I'm a visual learner. Speaking and listening are still a struggle for me however.

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Hofmann

It's possible to be dyslexic in Chinese and not English, and vice versa.

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Meng Lelan
Hanzi is a religion.

Yes, I agree that Hanzi is a religion, it's all I care about. Every Chinese song I download into my iPod comes with hanzi so I can "hear" the song. That's because I am deaf and hanzi is my connection to Chinese songs, stories, etc. so I don't agree with you and I don't think hanzi is the most ridiculous writing system in the world because to me hanzi has meaning and makes my life meaningful.

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Charged_Ion

I've been casually studying the traditional Chinese writing system for a few months now. In fact, so short a time that I honestly cannot be 100% sure that by hanzi you mean individual Chinese characters, but that's what I imagine it must mean by the context.

Yet despite my limited education I still find some very fundmental things wrong with some of the replies here. First, someone mentioned you should put words instead of characters on your flash card. Individual characters are words. 心 (heart) is this not a word?

What that person was thinking of are not 'words' but 'word phrases.' 小心 (little heart - be careful) these two words mean to 'be careful' when put together but mean little heart seperately. This is not a new 'word' but merely a 'word phrase'. It is true that word phrases do make up most of the Chinese vocabularly but that doesn't mean that the individual characters are not words and therefore not unimportant. A true understand of the individual characters will create a much greater understanding of the language as a whole. A person will never be able to read the classics without an understanding of the individual characters since the classics do not adhere to the standard guidelines which many people are so accustom and it is for this reason they are considered so difficult to read.

Secondly, someone said that it is much easier to write English because of the fact that English words are composed of different variations of the 26 characters in our alphabet. Implying that Chinese does not follow these same principles. When in fact it does. After only two weeks of studying the different radicals and learning some of their mutations and variations. I was and am able to write any Chinese character given to me after just a glance. Usually with correct pen strokes. Only problem is, most people are not taught to break down words in the way I have been taught. Here's an example.

hmm... dragon.. its pretty complicated and fairly widely known.

Dragon has 5 parts to it.

The top left 立 (Stand, however most of the time when you see this inside of a word rather then stand a lone it means to violate heaven rather then 'stand')

The bottom left 月 (meat 肉 not moon 月 here, this is supported in most dictionaries)

The top right 匕 (transform)

The bottom two parts of this character is the reason that most people don't know how to write the characters in the same way I do. You will not find this in any dictionary that I know of. But the bottom right hand character is basically a reversed upside character from the word feather 羽. Take one of those and turn it upside down. You will find that it fits pretty nicely into dragon. You might noticed that dragon has an extra stroke but just have faith for right now. Anyways, this section of the word means fly, obviously feather and flight are pretty closely related as well.

In between this odd looking upside down section of the word feather and the character for 七 is the character which looks like a backwards L that means to disappear. This is also something you wont find in any dictionary that I am aware of.

A dragon is a biological orginism (肉) which can violate the heavens (立) with its ability to transforming (匕), Disappear (the backwards L), and fly (The funny looking upside down section of feather)

Also another problem with Chinese that makes it look like it doesn't have a set number of characters like English is that each new word can then act as a radical. 瓏 攏 矓 隴嚨 瀧.

As we can all see. Dragon has become a part of all these new words. But once you know how to write dragon it becomes fairly easy to create the next generation of words. In fact, Dragon is a leading radical in most Chinese dictionaries.

The problem with Chinese characters is not in the writing system. It is not in the way that characters are written or developed. The problem is in the way most people learn it. Most of you have probably never even heard of anything I just said. Although its not really new information.

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Christina99

Hi, Hanzi is logical, if you can find its historical origin, you will find that every hanzi has sense.:)

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realmayo

Unarguably, to learn it as a second language requires a lot of motivation -- the kind of zeal a religion might find interesting....

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imron
What that person was thinking of are not 'words' but 'word phrases.' 小心 (little heart - be careful) these two words mean to 'be careful' when put together but mean little heart seperately. This is not a new 'word' but merely a 'word phrase'.
No, it is a word or more specifically, a 词. Words in Chinese can be made up of one or more characters - 字. I don't think it is really correct to suggest that 小心 is made up of two words. Rather, it is one word made up of two characters. And this gets to the heart of the problem Roddy was talking about. If you are always learning just the individual characters, then when you come across words made up from those characters then half the time you'll have no idea of what you're reading because you also needs to learn words as a whole rather than as split up parts.

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renzhe

The problem is that the concepts of 字 and 词 don't really have equivalents in European languages.

Yet despite my limited education I still find some very fundmental things wrong with some of the replies here. First, someone mentioned you should put words instead of characters on your flash card. Individual characters are words. 心 (heart) is this not a word?

心 is a character, and it is also a word.

But this is not always the case. 蝙蝠 means bat. Neither of the characters can be used alone, they have to be used together. There are many other examples like this. In this case, roddy is right, you should be learning 蝙蝠, not the characters individually.

What that person was thinking of are not 'words' but 'word phrases.' 小心 (little heart - be careful) these two words mean to 'be careful' when put together but mean little heart seperately.

小心 is a word. In Chinese, a 字 (single character) can be a word, or a 词 can be a word. And 小心 maps perfectly to being careful in a number of languages.

I'd reserve the word "phrase" for things like chengyu.

This is not a new 'word' but merely a 'word phrase'. It is true that word phrases do make up most of the Chinese vocabularly but that doesn't mean that the individual characters are not words and therefore not unimportant.

I think that everyone will agree that individual characters are important, but you should understand that they are not the holy grail of Chinese. Many people get carried away learning characters and ignoring multi-character words. But multi-character words form the majority of the modern Chinese vocabulary. People like that then have trouble reading and communicating because they keep trying to talk in single characters and try to devise meanings of multi-character words through some sort of analysis, and this is often not possible.

As for the dragon example, just be aware that the vast majority of Chinese characters aren't completely semantic -- they have a semantic component and a phonetic component. So you simply cannot understand the character by analysing the individual parts -- often a part will only tell you how something sounds and not what it means.

I submit the character 板 = plank. The left part is the radical (wood) which carries the meaning, the right part is the phonetic component ("ban"), which carries the sound.

It is completely impossible to combine the meaning of the two parts to mean anything resembling a plank or a board. The right part means "anti-" or "opposite".

So, I agree that analysing the parts is a useful tool, and mnemonics will help you learn better, but just be aware that many of these explanations are simply made up.

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Murray
It is obvious to me that Hanzi is the world's most ridiculous writing system.

I honestly don't think hanzi is that bad. It's certainly intimidating and a pain in the butt for a new learner of Chinese, but it's not near as hard it's made out to be.

Learning hanzi just takes hard work and loads of motivation. 26 letter systems are easier, but characters are a part of the language...I have to deal with them just like I had to deal with all the verb conjugations and mood tenses when I was learning Spanish. If you really want to learn Chinese, just get in there and study, if not, learn another language that's easier.

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realmayo
most people are not taught to break down words in the way I have been taught.
most people don't know how to write the characters in the same way I do. You will not find this in any dictionary that I know of.

Charged_Ion: could you elaborate on how you learned this method?

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Charged_Ion

Let me first tackle what Imron said about word phrases being words. I am sorry, but you are incorrect here. Little heart 小心 is very much a word phrase and should not be learned as a word. No phrase should be learned as a word 'if possible.' It is true that not all word phrase are possible to learn seperately or at least it's not practical because of the fact that many people do not know the individual words due to the fact that you do not find them individually and their core meaning has been lost over the centuries. Once you learn the individual words putting those words together to create word phrases is just a matter of learning more about Chinese culture. Or at least learning about the Chinese culture at the time of that word phrases creation. It makes perfect sense for little heart to translate into be careful because someone who is not brave (i.e. who has a little heart) is always being careful. This can be applied to any and all tradional Chinese word phrases. Chinese word phrases are always self expressions. However, there are some more modern chinese 'words' that use what we call phonectic barrowing or loaning, which try to duplicate the sound of words already in exsistence in other languages. Normally names and new nouns follow this kind of pattern. In this case, the self expression found in older word phrases is not always apparent, but that's merely because the chinese don't understand their own language enough to stick to tradition.

Okay now let me move on to Renzhe, your word 板 which means 'plank or board' can indeed be decoded (what we call for what I did to dragon). 反 more accurately means to be 'against the flow' 厂 in this case means 'to flow or to deliver' in this case. 又 is a hand here. When you put your hand against the flow you are contrary to that flow. You are against it. opposite or anti as you said. A much better translation though is 'against the flow' as this is a much broader translation and since chinese is a conceptual language broader is genernally better, not to mention that it is simply the true meaning of the word which incomposses all of its seperate meanings when used as a radical or in phrases. The broadness of individual characters is why we have word phrases (grins). Anyways, so a 板 is a piece of wood (as tree is made of wood and we are talking in concepts here) and that 'piece of wood' is 'against the flow.' Exactly how far of a stretch is it at this point to say that this word means a plank or board? We use wood to build thing. Lets say... a shelter for example. If you build a shelter out of wood are not the individual planks against the 'flow' of the elements? Or how about we build a wooden dam? Call us beavers. Is that wood not against the flow of the river? A piece of wood is made from a tree and can very easily be made to go against the flow.

Chinese is really about understanding how the Chinese (or shale I say ancient Chinese people) might of looked at something. Their individual characters are a direct representation of those believes and outlooks. However, you are correct in the fact that not all words can be read out loud like this. At least not as easily as this lets take 笑 (laughter)

It is made up of two parts 竹 (bamboo) and 夭 (not upright). Now how do we get from not upright bamboo to laughter? Obviously we have to deviate from my previous two examples. Well okay, lets do that and figure out why bamboo and not upright is so funny.

Well, once again it is just a matter of culture. The Chinese use bamboo, a particular kind of tree, and a particular kind of flower to help describe the Chinese. If you notice the Chinese often refer to themselves using this word 華 (blossom). This is in reference to the flower which I describe. Some of you might know its name. I don't right off hand. In any case, bamboo has a huge amount of importance in the Chinese culture and this is not hard to verify.

Anyways, we also all probably know that bamboo is a very tall very straight plant. For it to grow in an un-upright position would be unnatural. In fact, one might call the idea even laughable (grins). Even if you do not call the bamboo itself laughable, when using the bamboo as a symbol to describe a person or group and then call them not upright is in a sense a joke. 'That crowd makes as much sense as a croocked bamboo groove'. Surely you can see where I am going with this. Anyways, yes sometimes, in fact most of the time, you can't read a word out directly from its corrisponding parts. However, if you know all of its parts and you know all of the history behind those parts then you can. So in my opinion. Learning the Chinese language is a lot more about reading into their culture and history.

In answer to Realmayo's question. Where did I learn this? Well, it's not something you will learn in any school I'll tell you that (grins). No honestly, I am just very lucky. I am the direct understudy of the worlds leading Chinese word etymologist. Basically, I am taught directly from the worlds greatest Chinese language teacher.

In any case, if you are still non-believers, I will very happily break down ANY character you feel like throwing at me. Please just one per person if you guys decide to take me up on this offer.

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renzhe
Also another problem with Chinese that makes it look like it doesn't have a set number of characters like English is that each new word can then act as a radical. 瓏 攏 矓 隴嚨 瀧.

Actually, 龍 is not a radical in any of these characters.

It tells you how to pronounce them (all of them are a variation of "long") and nothing else. None of these characters have anything to do with violating heaven, biological entities, or dragons.

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