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Guest Anonymous

Why do we learn Chinese Characters if we hate them?

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roddy

I don't despise Hanzi - they are not the most efficent way of putting language on paper, that doesn't make them worth hating. Also, I don't think anyone else who has contributed to this thread hates them, and having just re-read this thread I fail to see where you got the idea that any of us do so.

I'm learning them because I live here and they are very useful when you want to be able to read.

Roddy

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Guest Anonymous
I don't despise Hanzi - they are not the most efficent way of putting language on paper, that doesn't make them worth hating. Also, I don't think anyone else who has contributed to this thread hates them, and having just re-read this thread I fail to see where you got the idea that any of us do so.

I seem to be misunderstood left and right today (heh). Maybe despite is too strong of a word. I was just curious about why anyone who has negative feelings in general toward Hanzi would want to learn the Chinese language.

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wix
Just purely out of curiousity, those of you who despite Hanzi so much and find it "inefficient", why are/did you learning/learn Chinese?

Like roddy I don't despise Hanzi either. In fact I think they are very beautiful, but they are a very inefficient way to write a language. I might happily admire a calligraphy hanging on a wall, but when it comes to trying to read a book my admiration quickly ends. Sure for a person who is fully literate reading characters is no more difficult than reading words written with an alphabet. It is just that the process of becoming fully literate takes a lot longer (and is more painful).

As for the question "why are you learning Chinese?" Well, there are a number of reasons. One of the most important is that there are more speakers of Mandarin than of any other language. While it is not a world language in the way English is, it is still very useful. Travel, interest in Chinese and Taiwanese culture, making new friends, experiencing a different culture... and so on.

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channamasala
Just purely out of curiousity, those of you who despite Hanzi so much and find it "inefficient", why are/did you learning/learn Chinese?

Because, despite its inefficiency and how insanely difficult it is to learn to write, it is art. It's not just beautiful, it's that crazy kind of beautiful where you're not sure if you want to ditch the effort forever or never, ever stop - or at its worst, like chasing one of those hard-to-get type guys who you just have to have. It's either not worth it or it is, and for everyone on this forum, I'd guess that we all agree it's worth it. You start to understand more things - not just things related to Chinese, but how you relate to the world in general - when you start to learn something as deeply artistic and inspiring (yes, inspiring) as Hanzi.

But...it is so difficult...I'm having that problem now - since I left Guizhou, I have realized how poorly I speak Mandarin and how well I speak Guizhouhua...but grammar and vocabulary necessities have to take a backseat now to learning simply how to read and write. I picked up speaking so I could function in China. Well, I can function in China now - I can argue with taxi drivers, get directions, ask for items, hold conversations that go beyond the Top Five ("Ni shi na ge guoja?" "Ni jin nian duo da?" - in Guizhou that's "Ni hao duo sui'ah?" - "Ni lai Zhongguo ji nian/duo jiu?" "Ni de xinshui yi ge yue duo jiu?" - again, Guizhouhua - "Ni gan shenme gongzuo?" and "Ni jiehun le ma?") and branch pretty far into things like religion, history, politics, art forms, education theory and why America is bad.

But...I can't read well and I can barely write at all. I'd be surprised if I could read 600 charcters and write 400 now. So all of that has to be put on hold as I travel so I can at least start getting through basic children's books in Chinese. I'd estimate that I know a few thousand words that I simply cannot write. It's a huge problem and it's made what is otherwise an easy language to learn - so I think - into a double-sided dream/nightmare.

I can guarantee, kulong, that native speakers DO NOT see the character and know what it means automatically. I taught a class of 4-year olds (by taught I mean "taught" - trying to "teach" English at that age, when they don't even know they are in class, is asinine so we mostly played games and learned the most basic words and how to form a very simple sentence structure...we even got as far as being able to use colors and sizes as adjectives) and once wrote the character for "hao" on the board. Good.

But it wasn't good, because the kids read it as "nu zi" (woman + noun ending thingo), and were confused. They had not yet learned to write "hao" and they did NOT see it and automatically know what it meant.

Big apologies to Roddy for being "too busy" to check in here over the past few weeks.

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Quest

yea no one would know womanchild means hao if they never learned it, womanchild serves as a memorization aid for learning the word. also, can 4 year olds grasp the idea of good from "a woman with a baby"? but i agree with you, native speakers generally do not interpret the characters as pictures that can be dissected. we learn each character as it is, rarely draw reference to its pictographical or ideological origin.

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