Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

Sign in to follow this  
tokyo_girl

new words and lack of phonetic script

Recommended Posts

tokyo_girl

having not got much past wo shi tongzhi I never had much cause to think about Chinese script until started learning Japanese. Apologies in advance if it is an absurd question.

Can some one explain to me how Chinese script adapts to new words.

I guess there are 2 sorts of new words - one that represent new things - eg computer. In Japan the kanji for these (or lack of ) is determined by a govt agency. I expect the same is the case in China.

The second sort of new words are words that people start saying- slang I guess. An example from Japanese might be something like maji - probably originating from the word majime meaning serious. Maji means 'really' or 'are you serious'.

How does Chinese cope with these second sort of new words? Are they not part of the written language - is it possible to accurately quote what someone is saying?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Guest Anonymous

In English, slangs may "appear out of nowhere", meaning they could be brand new words with no association with proper English whatsoever. However, it's different in Chinese. Since the Chinese language consists of characters with meanings of their own, generally Chinese slangs are a combination of these characters to form a new meaning. Sometimes it could also be shortened versions of proper sayings, such as the example you provided for Japanese. Finally, some, but very few slangs are imported from other languages mainly English. A good example would be "ku", which came from "cool". Coincidently, the Hanzi for "ku" means cold as well, but generally with a more negative tone which makes this slang sort of has a "badness" to it, as in the "good bad".

Also, one main difference between Chinese and Japanese when it comes to imported words from foreign languages is that Chinese tend to import the meaning, for example, computer is "diannao" or electronic-brain, but in mainland China it's generally known as "jishuanji" or computing-machine, a more literal translation. But "jishuanji" means calculator in Taiwan since the Chinese word jishuan means both to compute and to calculate. There are a couple other "modern" terms, mainly related to electronic appliances and devices that are different between Taiwan and mainland China. The last time I visited Taiwan, I was told that there's a committee formed by both sides that are working to unify these terms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ChouDoufu

i think the most confusing part of the new words process are the differencesin mainland and taiwanese mandarin. but i'm glad they tranlate the words into chinese instead of using the japanese phonetic aspect. though, occasionally they do both: Hacker (hei ke - black visitor). also, the pinyin is jisuanji, no jishuanji..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pazu

I think some of the most confusing parts are for people's names. In Hong Kong, Bush is Bushu while Bushi is the mainland's translation, this is an easy one. But I can never figure out how they call Arnold SchwarzdljasdljflsjdflkjalfjGAR (okay, i don't know how to write it in English too) and Tom Cruise (Tang Gaolaosi in Hong Kong; Tangmu Kelusi in China)...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous
I think some of the most confusing parts are for people's names. In Hong Kong, Bush is Bushu while Bushi is the mainland's translation, this is an easy one. But I can never figure out how they call Arnold SchwarzdljasdljflsjdflkjalfjGAR (okay, i don't know how to write it in English too) and Tom Cruise (Tang Gaolaosi in Hong Kong; Tangmu Kelusi in China)...

Of course name translation is going to be different between Taiwan/China and Hong Kong because people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, therefore the names are translated with Cantonese pronounciation.

BTW, it's Anuo Siwaxing'ge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tokyo_girl

Ok so new slang doesn't develop in China like it does in English or Japanese. How about representation of dialect in written Chinese. eg it is possible in English to show a persons accent by altering the spelling of words - leaving of g in an ....ing word, changing a th to a t - Mark Twain was a master at this. I think in Japanese a lot of regionalisms may not have kanji but can be written phonetically. though it is not possible to get the 'sound' of the dialect in the written script - at least as far as I know.

Is it possible in written Chinese to show what dialect someone is speaking?

Are there any words that don't have kanji?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wix
I think in Japanese a lot of regionalisms may not have kanji but can be written phonetically. though it is not possible to get the 'sound' of the dialect in the written script - at least as far as I know.

Is it possible in written Chinese to show what dialect someone is speaking?

Are there any words that don't have kanji?

You should have a look at the thread I started called "Writing Taiwanese" in the Non-Mandarin Chinese forum and also the web page I created about this and these links.

When Taiwanese is written a combination of characters for phonetics and meaning is used. However, many Taiwanese words have no equivalent in Chinese meaning it is often written using a combination of characters and romanisation (or zhuyin fuhao).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pazu
Ok so new slang doesn't develop in China like it does in English or Japanese. How about representation of dialect in written Chinese. eg it is possible in English to show a persons accent by altering the spelling of words - leaving of g in an ....ing word' date=' changing a th to a t - Mark Twain was a master at this. I think in Japanese a lot of regionalisms may not have kanji but can be written phonetically. though it is not possible to get the 'sound' of the dialect in the written script - at least as far as I know.

Is it possible in written Chinese to show what dialect someone is speaking?

Are there any words that don't have kanji?[/quote']

There's a way to write Cantonese Chinese, with a mix of Chinese characters plus English letters.

e.g. (written in Chinese BIG5 code) 我點知你咁Q多?

well... in Cantonese, the sound of "Q" means something like the hell in "what the hell", but there's no proper equivalent in Chinese to represent this sound, so people just use the word "Q" instead.

Another example.

e.g. 呢D野都唔會咁易搞掂架!

the word "D" rougly means "...of..." .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wix

In Taiwan you will often see the word QQ written on signs. It is a Taiwanese word that means something similar to "Chewy". The romanisation would be something like kio-kio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest qinfeng

When facing new words imported from other countries, Chinese follow three ways to absorb them: the first way is to try to copy the sound of imported words accurately , the second way is to try to find out some Chinese words whose meaning are closest to those of imported words and the third way is to find certain Chinese words to stand for imported words, which sound and look elegant. Following this way the Chinese name-kekoukele of coca-cola is standing out . Kekoukele in Chinese means delicious and happy and when we speak it out its sound is almost the same as we say it in English.

1,jisuanji - computer - diannao

2,jisuanqi - calculator

3,coca-cola - kekoukele

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smithsgj

Qinfeng, what is the difference between types 1 and 2?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest qinfeng

Smithsgj:

If you are using Microsoft operating system such as Windows XP, just following this way to find a calculator. First click Start icon right down your left hand, then All program, Accessories, and Calculator - ji suan qi.

What you are facing and using to locate the Calculator is a ji suan ji or dian nao or in English a computer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smithsgj

Dear Qinfeng

Thank you for your instructions. However, on my computer (which runs XP), the software accessory you refer to is called a 小算盤 xiao suan pan. In Taiwan at least, no-one would ever say jisuanqi. The usual word for "calculator" is jisuanji, for computer diannao, although jisuanji is coming back into favour in more specialized usages, now that there is a lot of technological and academic exchange between China and Taiwan.

My understanding was that, in China, jisuanji stood for both "computer" and calculator, with diannao, however, creeping into use, perhaps through Taiwan influence.

My question was not so much "What is the difference between a computer and a calculator", though. More, "what is the difference between the types of word borrowing". I can see that kekoukele (type 3) is phonetically inspired, while types 1 and 2 are not, but I cannot see any other difference.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smithsgj

Also: has anyone ever heard of tai-le-feng meaning "telephone" or si-di-ke meaning a "walking-stick". Obviously these are now obsolete (or maybe never really existed?) but I read about them in some book about Chinese ages ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous
Also: has anyone ever heard of tai-le-feng meaning "telephone" or si-di-ke meaning a "walking-stick". Obviously these are now obsolete (or maybe never really existed?) but I read about them in some book about Chinese ages ago.

I personally have never heard of them.

As Qinfeng mentioned, there are generally two ways to import a foreign word. I'm not sure if this was Qinfeng's intention, but it seems like he was trying to explain why some words are imported phonetically while others are translated through the meaning of the imported word. Almost always, names of people and places outside the historical Chinese influence sphere (namely Japan, Korea and Vietnam) are imported phonetically. This is why Coca-Cola is Kekou-Kele. Objects are almost always translated through the meaning of the imported words. This is why computer is either jisuanji (mainland) or diannao (Taiwan) and not kangpute.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smithsgj

But qinfeng has 3 categories, not just 2!

> This is why Coca-Cola is Kekou-Kele

Can't let that pass again, I'm afraid. Coca-cola has that name because someone in a commercial organization decided on the name, it's not part of the way the language developed.

There are a lot of *objects* that are represented by phonetically imported loanwords: wei-ta-ming (vitamin), pei-gen (bacon), qi-se (cheese), hanbao (hamburger), xiangbin (champagne), kafei, gali (curry) All of these are food-like items. Then there's bingqilin which is a sort of hybrid. I agree that these things are

> outside the historical Chinese influence sphere

But wouldn't any word representing a new concept be so, almost by definition?

I think the point is more that anything scientific or abstract gets a meaning-based translation, and objects (mostly food) get the phonetic one. This could be why tai-le-feng and de-mo-la-ke-xi never caught on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous
I think the point is more that anything scientific or abstract gets a meaning-based translation, and objects (mostly food) get the phonetic one. This could be why tai-le-feng and de-mo-la-ke-xi never caught on.

You're right. But you're missing one other fact I pointed out; names of people and places are also translated phonetically.

Also, I tried to use Kekou-Kele as an example how names are translated phonetically since it was already brought up but obviously it wasn't a good example because there was a good deal of marketing behind the name.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest qinfeng

音:to be the same pronunciation

达:meaningful

雅:elegant

That the three ways for Chinese to translate news from outside

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous

That sounds awfully familiar. I believe a Chinese teacher of mine has mentioned that before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smithsgj

Can Qinfeng (or anyone else) supply an example of a borrowing which follows each of the principles 音, 达 and 雅? Is the idea that the borrowing should try to satisfy more than one of the principles?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...