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Charged_Ion

My system

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Charged_Ion

I did not want to continue my contribution to this site under 'Hanzi is a religion' as my contribution is clearly starting to move away from the original purpose of that topic. I did not really intend to get into this kind of debate with anyone, but I find it fascinating never the less, and throughly enjoy it. But please people! Let's try not to get TOO hostile here. Obviously I have already touched a few nerves with some people and I am likely to touch a few more, but I hope that we can still all get along. Anyways, on with the post.

Lets start by answering the question given to me by Renzhe in 'Hanzi is a religion'

You asked about how to break down 妈. Well first of all let me say I am Very Sorry. My system only applies to Traditional Chinese characters. I failed to mention this. This is the simplified form of 媽. I think anyways, you must keep in mind that as I said in my very first post. I am new to learning Chinese and I have only studied traditional so I'm not really 100% sure. I guess I would end up looking really stupid if this was a traditional character instead of simplified won't I? lol. In any case, if I am correct in my assumption the traditional form of this word is 媽 then it breaks down into a woman (女) and a horse (馬).

I of course only promised a break down of the word. Not an etymology.

However, after re-reading my post I imagine you assumed it would come with an etymology so I will give you one.

Obviously a horse woman means mother right? Haha, why? I have no idea.

However, what I can tell you is this. Horse is a sound module, or at least that's what we call them. I am not entirely sure if our systems sound modules are exactly the same as the sound compoents everyone is generally used too or not. This is my weakest field in my studies.

It is very interesting that you choose 杯 (cup) as your second word choice. Because it is this exact same word that I asked my own teacher about. I did not and honestly still do not fully understand the sound module system he has developed (once again I am still a student, please keep this in mind). However, the answer he gave me is as follows.

The Chinese developed their word system for Chinese people. Not foreigners, please keep this in mind. The definition of illiterate the inability to read or write. Which means it has nothing to do with their ability to speak.

If you know how to speak, and you understand his sound module system (which I don't, because I cannot speak Chinese) then you can read this word and understand it without having ever seen it before. Which is probably going to get more hard critisizm form people (grins). How? Let me explain the best I can.

Imagine you read a sentence and come across a word you don't know. But you see its SM (sound module) and suddenly know the "RANGE" from which it is pronouced. Then "IF" you already know the verbal language. Then knowing how to say the word simply completes the sentence verbally and now you know the word and the sentence because you recognize it verbally. Of course there's more to it then that, but that's about as much of what I understood of what I was being told at the time (laughs)

So obivously, this does not really help people who do not already speak Chinese fluently.

Okay, now lets back up before I get attacked too hard.

Some of us also may know that just because a SM is a part of the word it does not always barrow its sound form the same 4 tone -is 4 tones something other Chinese students learn? I honestly don't know.- Another words, it may not be a homophone. It may in fact have a very very different pronouciation altogether. That is why I went out of my way to make sure that you caught me saying "RANGE" from which it is pronouced.

SM do not produce a single 4 tone (for those who don't know, a 4 tone is a set of sounds that basically sound exactly the same to most people but with a different inflecution. That's probably a horrible way to describe it but it's all I the effort I feel like putting to it right now. Someone will likely correct me anyways). SM's in fact, produce many 4 tones. They are contained within a particular range. I studied these ranges in my second lesson. However, not much of it stuck considering the fact that I have no idea how to say anything verbally. So I am sorry, no examples here.

There is more to the SM system then just this also though. This next part is the arguably the most complicated part of the system I use (it's kind of a toss up between this and mutations). Particularly for someone who doesn't speak Chinese. Sometimes, SM's add the meaning of the homophone it pronounces to the meaning of the roots in the word to produce an even more expanded meaning. (sigh) This is getting complicated to explain. Don't you think? Here, go to (http://www.chinese-word-roots.org/cw8.htm) if your bored.

Anyways, that's enough on that subject for a single post. So moving on.

Okay let me focus one the subject of word phrases again here for a second. I asked my instructor about this and told him what Imron had said to see what his reply was. Basically, he said Imron almost nearly quoted him. From a year ago anyways. He as since then updated his thoughts on this matter to be more in line with my own. He did teach it to me after all (grins). He didn't go into much explaintion other then that. But I still want a chance to defend myself against Imron just a little here.

Imron said "What you have done is map a meaning back on the word that isn't there originally. By this logic it would make "perfect sense" for 小心 to also mean "scared" because someone who is not brave is always feeling scared, plus any other of a dozen other meanings you could map on to this."

This is true. I could in fact map anything I wanted to these two words. The reason "I" believe it is important to learn word phrases or words as you say in this manner is because... "ASSUMING". That the Chinese truly do have a system for creating words (i.e. an etymology) then it is natural to assume that, that same etymology would extend to word phrases or just words in your case. So yes, you are right. I could map anything. But I mapped what is correct because I didn't discover the meaning to 小心 I looked it up. I simply mean that it is important to note the individual words and try and figure out a reason why it might be possible to make them mean what they do. It really doesn't matter to me anyways weather or not I am right about why it means what it means. The reason for this is simply that after you have a couple thousand of word phrases/words that you have an even vague guess as to why they mean what they do, then you may very well being to see a trend begin to form. I honestly, do not know enough word phrases to tell you much about any trends. However, I was taught to look for trends in the characters and was taught that this is in fact the case in word phrases as well. And so I defend it whole heartedly since the system I have learned has done wonders for me so far.

Also, I don't see anyone arguing the fact that there is SOME kind of etymology behind Chinese characters. So I imagine it is safe to "ASSUME", that there is at least some kind of system for at least some, if not all of the characters.

Now on to what querido said.

(Smiles) Thank you my friend, for supporting open minds. I may seem a little arrogent, and perhaps I am. I am glade that some are open enough to realize that this system may just be a new thing. In fact, it was published only a few months ago. December 2007.

Furthermore, this system has already been tested by quiet a few people (The Chinese media). Using this system a young man did something that no one thought possible. He first challenged the world by attempting a world record. He attempted to learn Chinese to the ability of reading a current Traditional Chinese newspaper within 3 months from the initual state of not knowing a single Chinese character. A testing and verification commitee was set up and it was verifived that this was an honest attempt. The entire process was open to the public and it had a considerable amount of News coverage from the local (LA) Chinese networks (which then forwarded it to China and Taiwan). He set his world record in June of this year, 89 days after his first day of study. All this information is readily avaliable on the internet. If you are interested I suggest you go look it up.

Edit: Just editing out something that you don't need to know.

Edited by Charged_Ion

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roddy

Thanks for starting a separate topic. The world record award has already been discussed here, you might want to have a look.

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realmayo

Charged_Ion, it's interesting to see a fuller explanation of the method that you referred to in those other posts. I have to say that I think most people who've studied Chinese have used the key aspects of this method: breaking down a character by identifying into the part that usually suggests the meaning and the part that usually suggests the sound. And then using some memory device to link the character to what it now means, and help remember the character in future.

If you "touched a few nerves" it is probably because in your enthusiasm for this way of leaning & memorising individual characters you give the impression that this is all completely new, whereas actually it's been going on for at least 2,000 years (http://zhongwen.com/x/faq30.htm.

No doubt your teacher has added something new to this path and if it works well for his students, good, and if it ends up being a useful addition to how lots of people learn characters, even better.

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imron
Horse is a sound module, or at least that's what we call them.
These are usually referred to as phonetic components/phonetic elements. It's quite a well known and well understood aspect of Chinese characters.
Also, I don't see anyone arguing the fact that there is SOME kind of etymology behind Chinese characters.
Absolutely correct, and most of it has been quite well documented and researched over the last however many centuries. Which is why if someone comes along and claims they have a new etymology that is the correct version that nobody knew before, then many people will be quite skeptical of that fact unless there is somehow some overwhelming body of proof.
So I imagine it is safe to "ASSUME", that there is at least some kind of system for at least some, if not all of the characters.
Unfortunately it would seem there is nothing really consistent.
He attempted to learn Chinese to the ability of reading a current Traditional Chinese newspaper within 3 months from the initual state of not knowing a single Chinese character.
Perhaps I misunderstood the test, but from what I read and saw, it seemed that it did very little to prove that person's ability to read a current traditional Chinese newspaper. I would be interested in hearing commentary on the points I mentioned in the thread Roddy linked to above. I have no doubt that he managed to learn a large number of characters in a short period of time and that is an impressive feat. However knowing thousands of characters, and being able to read a newspaper are two completely different things. Edited by imron

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Charged_Ion

Ahh, and so it would seem that you are correct. Good you are not entirely unaware of what I am talking about then. I do in fact, use this same system. You argued extensively over the ground breaking potientional of this book. However, saddly you argued with someone who was unfamiliar with this system.

Let me break down the 的 example since I thought this was amusing.

According to the system I have learned 白 is one of those 220 word roots you spoke of in the other posts. By itself 白means white I believe. However, as a word root it often means 100. Lesson one of his book. 勺 is the root to pack over a dot which is an abstract root. Which means to scoop. You scoop something with a spoon. This system claims to teach you the original meaning of the words. A lot of times the meaning has been extended from this original meaning to mean something new. Dr. Gong has a dictonary he showed me. He said it wasn't an uncomman dictonary. But it has stories behind each word which explains where the first known apperance of each word was and how it was used at that time. I'll give a fun example in a minute.

Anyways, so 的 can be read as 100 scroops.

This is another word which I asked him about personally when first starting the course. He simply said that if you have already taken 100 scoops from the pot, its contents are already yours. Because as stated previously 10 (十) is considered perfect and I am pretty sure that mutipules of ten carried a somewhat implied sense of perfect. So if you scoop it all out. You make it yours.

Okay, so the 旦 example. This of course breaks down into 日 sun and 一 earth. I know you guys think of this as the number 1. However, in this particularly system it can mean a number of other things including but not limited to earth. More accurately earth's chi, but anyways, moving on. When the sun rises above the earth it is dawn.

So okay, we know how dawn means dawn, or at least we can come up with our own reason to help us remember. That's great. But why does its higher generation words mean what they do? Why do they have little to no connection to 旦? Well this is explained in lesson two in quiet a bit of detail and is kind of what I was trying to explain earlier. I honestly don't know the whole story here as I do not speak the language. However, If you go to the website from my previous post, scroll to almost the bottom. He does cover the idea of how 100% of how Chinese words have sound tags and breifly touches how those sound tags add their contributions to the meaning "Indirectly". The meaning contribution to 旦's next generation words comes from 旦 4 tone range. Not its meaning as dawn or the sun over the earth. Also sometimes SM's such as this are often just differentiating tags that give both sound and let us know the that it is different from another word sharing this same horizontal module. An example of a horizontal module is radical for hand. 手 this character for hand not the radical, and the radical version are different in this system. Only slightly but still considered differing roots. They both mean hand but are used in considerably different ways.

On to my fun example, 雅 is the word for elegant. However, its roots tell us that it is 牙(tooth) and a kind of bird. The right radical is not stand alone but it is a radical in the dictionary so you can look it up. Anyways, why would this mean elegant? Well, I wondered the same thing myself. Then he showed me. He opened up his handy dandy dictonary that I previously described and showed me something rather interesting. The word orginally was the name of a type of bird. Who would have guessed? However, over the years this word stopped being used as the name of this bird and became the word for elegance because the bird itself was an elegant bird. The animal symbolized elegance and so now the word does.

You criticize Dr. Gong for making some rather silly etymology. Which in all honesty. I agree with you. Some of his reasons for words meaning what they do, do seem abosuletly and completely fantasized. However, after having studied a reasonable amount with this system. I have come to realize that he doesn't just pick things out of a hat. He does, in fact have a system for coming up with his crazy answers. The more you learn about his system. The more it makes sense. Also, please do not take the fact that 我 is connected (we call this fusion) and 找 are disconnected for granted. Maybe there is, in fact, a purpose for this, you think? Maybe he even discusses it. It is un-academic to judge, without first educating yourself on his system. If you have not read the book. Then you have little basis to disclaim him on now don't you?

I looked at http://www.zhongwen.com

That site, is no where NEAR this system.

Also, it is good to note, that although this system is indeed titled Chinese-etymology. He does not really teach etymology in it. He teaches the system behind the words. Not how the words came about, or the histories behind them. It simply explains structor.

Edit: once again just to remove soemthing not really nesssicary.

Edited by Charged_Ion

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realmayo

Okay okay. I'll just note that zhongwen.com says that 雅 used to be the character for raven. There is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. :mrgreen:

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ABCinChina

Judging by your super-duper long posts and sheer confidence, I concur that you must be using the best system of learning characters! :)

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renzhe
I of course only promised a break down of the word. Not an etymology.

Yeah, that's kind of my point.

Of course characters are built from smaller building blocks, this is nothing new. You'll have to take my word for it, but every Chinese teacher in the world will tell you this :mrgreen:

Of course many characters have etymologies which are widely known and researched.

And yeah, you can create mnemonics to help you remember the meaning of characters and words -- people have also been doing this for a while (see Heisig and friends).

So, if it helps you memorise characters, that's great. Just be careful not to confuse cute stories with real history of the characters, and not to try to get too analytical. You will find so many exceptions to any rule you "find", that it might take you far more effort to come up with explanations for these exceptions than it would to just accept that there is no perfect rule and that some things are more easily learnt by heart. Languages are imperfect by nature.

EDIT: Just a quick illustration of what gets people going. From the world-record site:

I remember talking to a patron at the library where I was conducting my studies and explaining briefly to him about the word root system. He showed me a word and I recognized that it contained the word root variant for "water". Although I did not know exactly what the word meant at the time (I had only studied for a few days), I told him that it was something relating to water or liquid. He was amazed because the word he had shown to me was "oil". It was at that moment when I had a very strange sensation. I realized that for the native Chinese it normally takes years to learn what I was learning in hours and days. For a brief moment I felt a great pity come over me. I thought, why were so many people led to strife and struggle when presented with this language in years past? I concluded that before now, no one had ever known the truth that the Chinese language was a word root language, or if someone had known, it was never made public.

I mean, really :roll:

Nobody has ever known that the radical for 油 means water. Billions of Chinese, and none of them knew!

Edited by renzhe

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Hofmann

...This system is no different from any other Chinese student's system, native or not,

assuming they know about the characters.

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querido
Now on to what querido said.

Thank you for appreciating my post in the other thread, but it was not about your system or the book you're discussing. It was addressed specifically to the original poster.

I am a devotee of T.K. Ann "Cracking the Chinese Puzzles".

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Charged_Ion

(Grins), I like how everyone claims that this system is no different without having actually learned the system. I showed Dr. Gong your posts in both the other topics concerning both his son and his system. He was unconcerned about what you think about his son's achievement. What I have to say about this though, is that real honest people reviewed this. Native Chinese speakers who are very highly educated in the written language as they were mostly either scholars or news reporters. You say that mnemonic are very common and every Chinese teacher will encourage them. So obviously these highly educated people would know about this too. Don't you think if this was all their was too it, that these people would have exposed this fact? Also, he openly challenged the areas Chinese schools to take the test with him. It was completely open to the public and yet has not been challenged by that public. In fact, quiet the oppisite. Everyone involved and who witnessed have only good things to say about it. So you don't have to like it, or accept it even. It does not change facts.

Okay Dr. Gong did however, have a few things to say about the topic concerning his system.

He told that I needed to stop being a 'bully'. Because I am not skilled enough yet to handle these questions in his opinion. However, he did show me how to properly answer some of your questions.

For example lets do 查. Someone said that this is 木(tree) and 旦(dawn). I myself saw it this way too. However, he corrected this error and explained that this word is actually broken down as 杳(hard to see) and 一(earth). So this explains that 查 means to search. Because you are looking at the ground for something that is hard to see.

He also wanted to correct the example on 哲 meaning philosophy. This word actually means Wisdom according to his 康熙 dictonary. So lets assume that philosophy is an extended meaning. Also 斤 does not mean pound in his system. It means Axe. Also 折 is the word for 'to break'. A hand which swings an axe to break something. And 哲 means to break with the mouth. Which is reason or wisdom. We are having a discussion here, in a sense we are breaking things apart to analize them with our mouths, or at least if we were talking instead of posting it would be with our mouths. I don't think the ancient Chinese had the internet though.

Also, he corrected my 的 theory. He did in fact teach me what I told you guys. However, he said that was just something to help me remember it not a real etymology. A mnemonic obviously. Today he showed me the true etymology behind this word and once again pulled out his 康熙 dictonary. White here does in fact mean white instead of 100 as i thought. The scoop is not a scoop but a package of arrows. Package and an abstract root.

In his 康熙 dictonary 的 is defined as being a target. In ancient China the targets 'bulls-eye' was colored white, unlike the conventional red common in the US. So this is an archery target. He explained that there is a very significant different between a words meaning and a words use. Thus, although 的 is used to show possesion in Chinese, it is not the original meaning of the word. Merely, the conventional use. This is probably why he taught me a mnemonic instead of the real etymology. Less confusion this way for such a beginner.

He also had a lot to say about what exactly a system is and how it is defined. He stated that an expection to the rule does not automatically disrupt a system. As long as a system is self contained and does not contradict itself within its domain it is a valid system.

Here's an example (my example not his), 1+1=2 however take one bucket of water and pour a second bucket of water into the first and you still only have 1 bucket of water. 1+1=1 this may not make a lot of sense to people. Certainly it is obvious to me that you still have twice as much water. However, the fact remains. That there are serveral different kinds of math and some of those maths directly contradict each other (like euclidian and non-euclidian), but as long as those maths create a useful system which does not directly contridict itself within its own domain. It is a valid system.

But more importantly Dr. Gong claims that his system covers 100% of Chinese characters. So what exceptions? Just because I am not skilled enough to answer all your questions doesn't mean the system doesn't cover them. He claims and I have personally yet to disprove that he can break apart and give an etymology for any and every Chinese character. That etymology does not nessicarly tell you how the word is used today. But does tell you what the word originally meant.

On his website he lays claim to 4 premises. Which he asked me to restate for you.

First, EVERY Chinese character is composed entirely of root words.

Second, EVERY Chinese characters "ORIGINAL" meaning can be read from it face.

Third, EVERY 100% of Chinese character carries a sound tag.

Fourth, ANY commited student can learn Chinese with 6 months of intense study.

NOTE: The current meaning may be far removed from its original meaning. This is apparent in the examples above. If you do not know the original meaning then the best you can come up with is a mnemonic.

Okay, another thing he wanted to touch on, was that his root words are not all radicals. Some radicals are roots, but not all roots are radicals. There are somewhere around 214 standardly accepted radicals. He has 220 roots. If all the radicals where roots then you will still have 6 new roots to work with. However, since they are not all roots. You actually end up with something closer to 100. With 100 newly discussed roots, who is to say what you can and cannot do with them?

Also, he pointed out as I did previously that the word for hand 手 and the radical for hand you find in the dictonary "折(left part)". Are not the same roots in his system. They are indeed both hands. However, they act and operate in VERY different ways. In fact, there are about 10 or 11 hand roots in his system, which all mean hand. However, each one is used in a different fashion.

He encourages me to do my own decoding so that I may slowly begin to see the bigger picture by self correction. Obviously I have just had a major correct take place in my own etymologies and so I will have to reflect on this for a bit.

Edited for addition and just some editing:

Dr. Gong's system is not a new system for mnemonics. It is a methodology for the creation and construction of words.

Mnemonics help you remember something with an arbitrary assignment for a given radical. So one radical in ten different words can come up with ten different stories.

However, in an etymology system. Every root has to be consistent in every character in which it appears.

Here is your difference.

Edited by Charged_Ion

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roddy

Perhaps you can advise Dr Gong that if he wants to see this method widely adopted he needs to come up with an affordable and easily available edition of his book. He also needs to stop people like you (you wouldn't happen to be his other son, would you?) posting so much, as you're going to give all the secrets away and we won't need to buy the book. I also suggest he takes that world record thing down, as it's a bit of an embarrassment. Apart from that - best of luck.

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imron
What I have to say about this though, is that real honest people reviewed this. Native Chinese speakers who are very highly educated in the written language as they were mostly either scholars or news reporters.
They were reporting on it yes, but it would seem as a special interest story rather than a thorough investigation of the world record attempt, and what it actually meant. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that the majority of the Chinese media reports shown on the chinese-etymology.com site claim that this is a Guinness Record (金氏記綠), when in fact it is not Guinness Records conducting or verifying the test but rather a self-styled "World Record Committee". How can I trust the credibility of the rest of an article when a pretty vital and easily verifiable fact is incorrectly reported? (Especially when they are making this claim in the headlines of the articles).

Secondly, there are also several quite significant issues that anyone doing a more thorough analysis of the world record attempt might ask, and yet were not reported on at all. For example, the rules state:

The standard for success and completion of this competition is that the attempter must be able to read a current newspaper published in the selected second language at the proficiency equivalent to the native people of that language.
(emphasis added)

With regards to test used, I would ask:

1) How is this a valid test of proficiency, considering that as long as the taker can write any character shown to him (not a difficult task if you've spend several months studying the composition of characters), then he could potentially fail on the meaning of half the characters and yet still pass? (See here for an explanation on what I mean by this).

2) How is this a valid test of proficiency, when the test taker is allowed to verify their results with a dictionary before they are submitted for marking?

3) How is this a valid test of proficiency in reading a newspaper when you are only testing individual characters at random, rather than words or the meaning of sentences? e.g. it is easy to recognise 克 individually as 'can; be able to' (character 19 on the test), but if you look at the original source this character is actually part of 沙克吉 - Sarkozy, the current French president, meaning that if you were reading this newspaper, reading 克 as 'can; be able' is only going to cause confusion.

4) How is this a valid test of proficiency at the level equivalent of a native speaker of that language, when headlines containing cultural references are removed?

5) How is this a valid test of proficiency at the level equivalent of a native speaker of that language when the time given to answer various sections is far in excess of the time that would be required for a native speaker to complete the same task (45 minutes for 3 headlines?!).

6) How is this a valid test of proficiency at reading a newspaper when no reading comprehension on the actual newspaper articles are tested? (instead comprehension is only tested on individual characters and headlines without cultural references).

7) How thorough was the committee in checking and preparing for the test, given that it appears some characters were repeated (see characters 21 and 34).

Those are just my basic doubts and concerns after looking over the material presented on that site, and I'm sure I could find a few more if I spent more time looking. They are questions that anyone should be asking to understand what exactly the "World Record" is for. Why the media and the other educators didn't delve into these questions is another matter and is not for me to speculate.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, I don't mean to disparage this person's achievements. It's an impressive feat that he has learnt so many characters in such a short period of time, and he should be applauded for that. What I am querying is the methodology and validity of the test itself. It does the test taker a disservice to promote this as having obtained native level proficiency in Chinese, when the test clearly does not test for this (he may well have achieved native level proficiency, however for the reasons listed above, this is not something that can ascertained from the test results).

As for the 4 premises you listed:

First, EVERY Chinese character is composed entirely of root words.

No one doubts every Chinese character is composed of separate parts, whether these are words or not is open to interpretation.
Second, EVERY Chinese characters "ORIGINAL" meaning can be read from it face.
You say this, however at the very beginning of the thread, when presented with 媽, you are quite happy to accept that the 馬 component has nothing to do with the meaning but rather is instead related to the pronunciation. No-one doubts that this is how Chinese characters work. So, if by "reading the original meaning from the face" you are accepting that sometimes the component is related to the sound of the character, and sometimes it's related to the meaning, then you will get no argument from anyone, as this is a well established fact regarding the Chinese language. People will doubt however if you say that every part of every character somehow relates to a meaning (rather than a pronunciation hint).
Third, EVERY 100% of Chinese character carries a sound tag.

I would be interested in hearing the sound tag for the character 明. I would also like to know the sound tags for 行, 给 (給) and 会 (會).
Fourth, ANY commited student can learn Chinese with 6 months of intense study.
Learning Chinese characters is not the same as learning Chinese. Once you have been studying for 6 months, I would be interested in hearing how well you can read a Chinese newspaper. Edited by imron
spellign

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Hofmann

(Actually in 給, 合 is the phonetic.)

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imron
(Actually in 給, 合 is the phonetic.)
I don't doubt that. Rather I'm interesting in hearing which one of multiple pronunciations (gěi or jǐ) the 'sound tag' is supposed to match.

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renzhe
Fourth, ANY commited student can learn Chinese with 6 months of intense study.

You can learn thousands of characters with a number of systems, including a rote memorisation method. I learned over 2000 in a year with nothing but a couple of mnemonics and a flashcard program. But you're in for a huge disappointment if you truly believe that this is equivalent to "knowing Chinese". There are hints to meanings all over Chinese characters and words, but as soon as you grab a newspaper or a book and try to read it, you will see that hints are not sufficient.

Also, it seems to me that you do not believe us when we tell you that it is common knowledge that characters are composed of parts (some carry meaning, some carry sound), and that you can come up with mnemonics to memorise them more easily. You seem to be trying to convince us that nobody actually knows this, and that the fact is that it's a secret system?

Doesn't this strike you as strange?

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renzhe
And 哲 means to break with the mouth. Which is reason or wisdom.

Or to bite.

Or to punch somebody in the teeth :mrgreen:

Or to scorn/scold.

Why exactly wisdom?

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YuehanHao

I won't try to pass judgment on the main idea, but I think the distinction made between 妈 and its traditional version 媽 is a case for which the statement "My system only applies to Traditional Chinese characters" is not true. For cases where there is a 1-to-1 mapping of the traditional version of a component to the simplified version, does the number of strokes have any impact on the ultimate meaning? Any system that can explain the significance of 媽 would seemingly do equally well for 妈. Or, for another example, 金 and 钅.

A simplified/traditional character pair such as 惧 / 懼 may be more challenging, as the difference lacks such a clear 1-to-1 mapping. Yet, while the "my system" discussed in this thread might be considered not to work for 惧, another (slightly modified, perhaps) system certainly could be invented for it that would be no less arbitrary than "my system." For instance, is the difference between 惧 and 懼 really any greater than the difference between 懼 and the ancient bronze inscription version of this character, which I have read just represented a pair of eyes large with fear (which have now changed into the upper part of the right hand side of the existing traditional character)? If someone can invent a system that explains the significantly modified traditional version of this character, then I think explaining the additional change to the simplified version should not be too hard.

Another example is 奔 (traditional and simplified are the same). The bronze inscription for this character clearly showed three footprints under the person on the top. Thus it indicated a man running fast. Is that apparent now? It is not to me, although I use this mnemonic now after studying its evolution. Or 病, which once represented a man lying in bed sweating, is it as apparent? I certainly can memorize the outer radical, but the current forms are not so vivid as the earliest versions. I think my point is that there have been substantive changes in many characters since they were invented - the recent round of simplifications is frequently no worse than any of the previous modifications that have led to today's traditional characters.

One last example I like is 經 / 经. The traditional character more clearly shows the original meaning of vertical threads on a loom, but in the modern days, other meanings have been attributed to the character and knowing its original meaning, although interesting, will not be such an obvious help to understanding its current usages. Another example of this sort I find interesting is 然.

I make some of these points for the sake of logic and others just because they are interesting examples. But in the end, any system that helps one learn is a good system in my opinion! The most important thing is persistence.

约翰好

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Charged_Ion

First, I would like to summarize some of the key points in the responses to my previous posts.

1. The world record thing is an embarrassment and should be taken down.

2. Learning 3000 words in 6 months is nothing new and it does not guarantee the ability of reading a newspaper.

3. All tests performed on the world record site do not truly verify the ability to read the Chinese newspaper.

4. A root word system is not new at all.

5. Some examples are provided as supporting logic for their posts.

6. Some discussion about the traditional and simplified systems.

Obviously, there are a lot of topics to discuss. So, I showed this to Dr. Gong and asked him how he would respond to this. His reply was that he would not response for two reasons.

A. He does not truly have time to dive into such a big project.

B. He pointed out that none of you have read his book. So none of those posts are any real analysis or critique on his book, but rather just opinions and speculations. Thus, it is impossible for him make any kind of intelligent response.

He showed me a Chinese phrase. 雞同鴨講. Which means, chicken together with a duck talking. They are not only talking in different language but are different species. They are beating their own drums that have no point of interception.

However, I did ask for him to explain some of the issues you are all talking about. Since I am learning his system I should have the rights to know. After repeated requests, he agreed to point out some problems for him to deal with those posts. He said if I insist on some explanation on these problems he must first discuss the logic in those posts before any substance discussion can be done. The following is his explanation.

There is a kind of logic called cyclical logic, that is, the conclusion is used as the premise. And then from the premise the conclusion is reached. Many previous posts use this cyclical logic, and he showed me a few examples.

Example 1

Premise: Chinese word system is very complicated and do not have a logic.

Statement: Gong's system insists that Chinese words have a logic.

Conclusion: Gong's system cannot be valid.

General consensus

Example 2

Premise: Chinese word system has 5,000 years of knowledge and wisdom behind it.

Statement: No one knows about Gong's system for 5,000 years.

Conclusion: Gong's system cannot be valid.

Among others is Roddy's post at http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/15229-breakthrough-in-learning-characters

Example 3

Premise: Any system with an exception cannot be logical.

Statement: There are many expectations in any given known Chinese system.

Conclusion: Gong's system cannot be logical.

Imron also at http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/15229-breakthrough-in-learning-characters

Then those posts throw some examples, such as 媽,駕,驂 are having different pronunciation and 旦, 坦, 查 are also having different pronunciations. He does not understand what these examples have to do with the analysis of his system. Do those examples disprove some of his system or support some of his system? In fact, those examples are irrelevant for the subject if that subject is analyzing gong's system. Worse yet, some examples used are simply wrong. For example, 查 does not have the radical of 旦 but rather 杳(hard to see) over 一(earth). Another example, is that we don't know the true meaning of the roots, such as mistaking 斤 as a pound (the current fashion meaning) instead of the root meaning as an axe. One more example, is not knowing the original meaning of the word 的 (target) and can be extended to mean bright, and solid. The fashion meaning of belonging is in fact a very recent usage. Under these circumstances, any discussion would in fact be 雞同鴨講.

Then I ask him how can he prove his system or what is the way to prove a system? The following is his answer. First, the premise must be clearly listed out. Anyone who’s trying to prove or disprove a system must deal with that premise only and not just beat around the bushes when we don't know what is going on. All we gain this way is some self satisfaction. Then I asked how to prove a premise correct or incorrect and he says there is a very precise procedure. It is called methodology of induction and it has the following three steps.

Step 1: When n = 1, premise A is correct

Step 2: When n = k, premise A is correct, k is an arbitrary integer

Step 3: When n = k + 1, premise A is correct,

If any step fails, premise A is not correct.

The step 1 is in fact the law of existence. It means, that premises A does exist

The step 2 is in fact the law of non-uniqueness. It means, that premises A is not an accidental single event. This is in fact the law of Second (being seconded).

The step 3 is in fact the law of universality. It means, that premises A is valid in a given domain (universe). This step is, in fact, also a law of randomness.

So in order to prove Gong's system is correct. He must first (Step1) show one example which is valid for his premise. In the case, of his first premise Chinese words are composed from a finite number of word roots. At his website he shows about 50 examples of word roots and about 200 examples of words composed of these word roots. In his book, he shows 220 word roots with over 500 actual examples. Thus, the first and second steps of the methodology of induction have been satisfied.

For the third step, if premise A is correct for any randomly chosen variables in the entire domain (The Traditional Chinese Character Set) then the step 3 is satisfied.

That is, if anyone wants to disprove his system. One has to prove that he has failed in one of those three steps. Any other arguments have no meaning to it.

In short, any meaningful discussion can be made only if we understand the following procedure.

One - no cyclical logic is allowed.

Two - The premise being discussed must be clearly identified and no beating around the bush, or otherwise ill relevant discussions.

Three - The precise procedure for epistemology (the method of induction in this case) must be followed.

He does recognize that this is a serious academic work and might not be suitable for this kind of a discussion forum. So he did provide an easier epistemology in terms of casual discussion, and it is called the law of statistics. Its logic is as follows.

1. For tossing a coin, the probability of the head to show up is 1/2 (50%).

2. For tossing a coin two times, the probability of the head twice is 1/2 times 1/2 which is 1/4 (25%)

3. For tossing a coin n times, the probability of all heads is 1/2 to then n th power

So for n = 5, the probability of all heads is 1/2 to the 5th power or 1/32 (about 3%), for n = 20 the probability for all heads is much less than 0.000001%

With this law of statistics, for a system to become an accident is almost 0 if more then 20 "random" examples can be shown. In fact, if more then 20 examples can be shown, the underlying premises for those examples must be widely spread, perhaps universal.

He thinks that if the above etymology understanding is accepted then all issues listed at the beginning of the posts can be discussed in a meaningful way.

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renzhe

No, the problem is not in the induction nor in the probability theory. The problem is that you are using a secret system that claims all sorts of great things, and you don't want to tell us what it is. Yes, we haven't read the book, because the book costs $400. All you do is provide examples of the system in action on examples where you already know the answer, and each example uses a different explanation after you already know the answer.

A true test of the system would be if you could devise the meanings of characters and words where you don't know the meaning.

Let me express my position without circular theory or logical fallacies. You can take the following as facts (I'll provide proof for each one of these):

1) It is widely known that characters are composed of parts and that parts of characters carry meanings and that other parts carry phonetic information. Look it up in NPCR, www.zhongwen.com, wikipedia (or here), or this book. This is a fact.

2) There are character input methods like Cangjie or Wubi which are based on this very fact and require you to decompose the character into components. You can download them for free and test it for yourself.

3) There are widely available methods for creating mnemonic stories in order to speed up learning characters. Look up Heisig's Remembering the Kanji, T.K.Ann's "Cracking the Chinese Puzzle" or here, free online. This is also a fact. Some of these enable people to learn thousands of characters in a matter of months, which is also easily checked.

Given these facts, can you tell us what makes your system so special? You don't have to divulge secrets, but tell us what practical benefits would we have by using it instead of something else?

This is not an attack, it is a simple and honest question. Assume that we know about character components and radicals, that we know about making mnemonics, and that we have access to historically proven etymologies. What extra knowledge does your system bring that isn't already available out there? Please be specific.

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