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Why Learning To Write Chinese Is A Waste Of Time

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chinopinyin

What I've done (mostly due to circumstances and my personal interest, rather than because of a plan) is the opposite -- learn to read quickly, then get lots of exposure to native materials, and go back to learning how to write the most important characters later, when I have much more knowledge about the language. I've found learning to write much easier now than back when I was starting. It helps so much to know the radicals and phonetic elements.

It would be very interesting to have a study analysing whether, for a given amount of time spent studying chinese, you perform better by

1. Learning to read quickly, getting a lot of exposure and going back to learning to write later (as renzhe)

or

2. Learning to write characters in order to be able to read them (as rezaf)

Any empirical evidence?

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rezaf

It's not a different argument. You stated...

...and I provided you with a clearcut example demonstrating that that is simply not the case.

That definition was (with a low degree of error in my view)designed for our previous situation when we were talking about nothing to hanzi and as you see I even left out stroke order from the definition. Most of the definitions in social sciences and literature are just estimations according to situations. It is actually close to impossible to give a mathematical 100% bulletproof definition for anything in these fields.

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anonymoose

Well, I've given an example that it's not the case for native speakers, and Renzhe has, from his own experience, stated that it is not the case for foreign learners (and I concur with Renzhe), so I'm not sure who your statement is supposed to apply to.

I agree it's close to impossible to give a mathematical 100% bulletproof definition for anything in these fields, but at least a 50% accurate "definition" would be nice.

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rezaf

Well, I've given an example that it's not the case for native speakers, and Renzhe has, from his own experience, stated that it is not the case for foreign learners (and I concur with Renzhe), so I'm not sure who your statement is supposed to apply to.

I agree it's close to impossible to give a mathematical 100% bulletproof definition for anything in these fields, but at least a 50% accurate "definition" would be nice.

I admit that there is an element of guess. I didn't mentioned it because guessing for someone who has no basis in writing hanzi is very risky whereas considering the huge similarity between the components and their place of the simplified characters and the traditional characters and a vast natural skill of a native speaker in understanding the context makes guessing a much more powerful tool. I just assumed that you knew at that point of the discussion we weren't talking about simplified to traditional. You can't take sentences out of their context and give them your definition.

Another thing that shows you haven'r read my posts well is that in my definition I indicated what I meant be being able to write means that you have a clear picture of the character and its components in your visual memory not the fact that you can write it with your hand or not. Our visual memory works faster than the nerves that translate the picture to our consciousness and to our muscles. So by this definition those mainlanders can actually write many of those traditional characters in their visual memory (given enough exposure in KTVs and in some movie subtitles)

The other argument was that I suggested that writing with hand is the fastest and most accurate way for me to built that picture in my visual memory.

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calibre2001

It would be very interesting to have a study analysing whether, for a given amount of time spent studying chinese, you perform better by

Writing or typing are just methods of physical inputting. I don't see how it should have a bearing on one's chinese skill. It would largely depend on the usual factors i.e. personal motivation, amount of effort, environment...

One advantage about writing characters by hand is that it might develop recognition of handwriting i.e. 'native' cursive handwriting, shorthands, bad native handwriting, calligraphy etc. I think it's because by writing regularly , in due time one would eventually start employing shorthands naturally especially if they use it regularly. I cannot imagine an adult contemplating suicide writing out a 20 page suicide letter in full block, kiddy handwriting chinese. Of course one could argue that one could purchase books especially tailored for reading native handwriting. And personally if I can't read 'standard' looking cursive handwriting, I would feel like I failed in some way..because I can only read proper looking block characters...

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Glenn

because this kind of thing doesn't work well in Chinese. B) Guess you got your answer chino

I don't agree with that statement, because I don't think there is enough information available to make that determination, plus there hasn't actually been an experiment like the one he was asking about done with Chinese (or at least it hasn't been brought to our attention yet if it has). I don't think he got his answer at all.

Plus, it was clear to me when I read the post I linked to that 大豙奷 was meant to be 大家好, and it wasn't until I saw the 奷 that I went back and realized that the second character wasn't 家. 塮塮伱门 was a bit more obvious as being 錯字, but it's still perfectly understandable (and obviously meant to be 谢谢你们). I'm a beginner at Chinese, too, so using me as a test subject won't give you comparable results to the ones in the Cambridge University study, which was done on native English speakers*. I'm not sure what chinopinyin's level is, but from his posts I'm gathering it's around mine. I'm still curious to know what anonymoose's sentence was supposed to be in standard Chinese notation, but I also get the feeling that it changed too much, and would be more comparable to the Cambridge experiment if it had not kept the first and last letters of each word in place. I think more analogous would be changing out parts of a complex character and seeing how much it impairs reading or is even noticed, like writing 齊 with a 夕 on the left instead of 刀 (I actually saw it written that way once). And I think it should be noted that "mouths" go missing from characters sometimes but they're still perfectly understandable, like 拉 for 啦 (or maybe that's the only case of that happening, but still...).

I believe it would be possible to formulate an experiment similar to the Cambridge one in Chinese and that it would get similar results. The question is how to translate the experiment, because it's pretty obvious that there are lots of differences between the English alphabet and Chinese characters. But I don't believe we've seen anything like it in this thread, really, although 大豙奷 and 塮塮伱门 probably come pretty close.

I'd also still like to know why chinopinyin thought it sould be 他豙奷. I guess he was going straight from the meanings of the other two characters, although they're a bit hard to find as they don't seem to be used anymore...

* The reason I assume you're only using me (and possibly chinopinyin) as a test subject is because you only directly addressed my post and the comments therein.

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rezaf

Yeah why not? You can play this kind of game but it's not as easy as with alphabets cuz characters are more complicated and a small change can make the character a lot more different and as you see in 大豙奷, the only reason that we can read it is 大。 Will it be as easy to guess if you write 爽豙奷? I wonder if you guys can provide a longer passage and see if it's as easy as alphabets. The only way that I can think of is writing characters that sound like each other like 门 for 们。 That's how Shanghainese people write their dialect.

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anonymoose

I'm still curious to know what anonymoose's sentence was supposed to be in standard Chinese notation

愛遈吥蕦葽讠語の...硪倁噵...妳...遈愛硪嘚

爱是不需要言语的...我知道...你...是爱我的

I just found that sentence off someone's blog. Here's another one:

沒冇芣苛厡諒鍀錯,祗冇譕鍅鋔恛?

This kind of writing is not uncommon on the net. Just search for a few of the commonly used characters, like 莪 芣 伱 and so on, and you'll find plenty of results. And I have to add that, in most cases, I can understand what is being written. I think for a native speaker it would be no problem.

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Glenn

Ah, I was at least close. I think I'm a little more comfortable with it now, so I'll give "translating" the other one a go:

沒冇芣苛厡諒鍀錯,祗冇譕鍅鋔恛? → 沒有不可原諒的錯,只有無法免回?

And I believe it's saying "it's not an unforgivable mistake, only it can't be taken back?" How did I do?

Incidentally, knowing that Cantonese uses 冇 for 沒有 makes that a little tricky, but I'm guessing it's just the shape they're going for more than the meaning anyway.

Also, I'm slightly surprised to hear that people actually write this way, but then again, it's not all that surprising in light of how people use other languages online.

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rezaf

愛遈吥蕦葽讠語の...硪倁噵...妳...遈愛硪嘚

爱是不需要言语的...我知道...你...是爱我的

I just found that sentence off someone's blog. Here's another one:

沒冇芣苛厡諒鍀錯,祗冇譕鍅鋔恛?

This kind of writing is not uncommon on the net. Just search for a few of the commonly used characters, like 莪 芣 伱 and so on, and you'll find plenty of results. And I have to add that, in most cases, I can understand what is being written. I think for a native speaker it would be no problem.

That works for me, so I guess that it's possible

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chinopinyin

Writing or typing are just methods of physical inputting. I don't see how it should have a bearing on one's chinese skill. It would largely depend on the usual factors i.e. personal motivation, amount of effort, environment...

calibre2001, if you are right in assuming that it does not matter for your chinese skills whether you write or type,then do you feel that learning to write Chinese by hand is really well worth the effort? It is considerably easier to type Chinese than to learn how to write

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calibre2001

it depends on one's circumstances and objectives. I think it is worth having it as a foundation skill. But it shouldn't take up too much of one's time in learning chinese. Working on core skills like listening, speaking, reading, composition is far more important.

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Scoobyqueen

how writing hanzi activates your brain and makes you smarter.

Does this mean the average IQ of people from countries using hanzis is higher or that they are "smarter" in general when compared to countries that dont use hanzis?

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chinopinyin

Does this mean the average IQ of people from countries using hanzis is higher or that they are "smarter" in general when compared to countries that dont use hanzis?

There seems to work on average country IQ by Richard Lynn.

Here you will find a table of national IQ estimates for 82 countries. These are the top 12

1 Hong Kong 107

2 South Korea 106

3 Japan 105

4 Republic of China (Taiwan) 104

5 Singapore 103

6 Austria 102

6 Germany 102

6 Italy 102

6 Netherlands 102

10 Sweden 101

10 Switzerland 101

12 Belgium 100

12 China 100

....although its scientific rigor is dubious. I would take results with a pinch of salt.

Even if these results were accurate, it would still be unclear if this ranking is somehow related to the script one uses.

(Sorry, I now have to return to my Chinese writing)

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anonymoose

So the simplification of characters cost an average of about 5 IQ points then. :o

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calibre2001

1 Hong Kong 107

4 Republic of China (Taiwan) 104

5 Singapore 103

12 China 100

繁體字萬歲!

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yonglin

Those figures listed by chinopinyin have been very heavily criticized. The "study" is openly racist and deeply unscientific. Trying to make some inference on what writing Chinese characters does to your brain using that study just made me laugh out loud.

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chinopinyin

....although its scientific rigor is dubious. I would take results with a pinch of salt.

Even if these results were accurate, it would still be unclear if this ranking is somehow related to the script one uses.

Just to reiterate my position

In any case, studying the impact of learning hanzi on other cognitive abilities seems to me a highly interesting area of research.

Does anybody know rigorous scientific studies on this topic?

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chinopinyin

I don't agree with that statement, because I don't think there is enough information available to make that determination, plus there hasn't actually been an experiment like the one he was asking about done with Chinese (or at least it hasn't been brought to our attention yet if it has). I don't think he got his answer at all.

Plus, it was clear to me when I read the post I linked to that 大豙奷 was meant to be 大家好, and it wasn't until I saw the 奷 that I went back and realized that the second character wasn't 家.

I believe it would be possible to formulate an experiment similar to the Cambridge one in Chinese and that it would get similar results. The question is how to translate the experiment, because it's pretty obvious that there are lots of differences between the English alphabet and Chinese characters. But I don't believe we've seen anything like it in this thread, really, although 大豙奷 and 塮塮伱门 probably come pretty close.

Westerns seem to process information differently from Chinese people. I asked 2 native Chinese speakers about 大豙奷 and their reaction was

1. I guess it's very hard for a Chinese to understand 大豙奷, we type wrong characters, but usually the pinyin stay the same, so if you type 大加郝, I think we can probably understand that you wanted to say 大家好。

2. But 大豙奷 is too strange that I cannot understand

They didn't know a Chinese version of it. But there may be a version. For instance, both understood 踏扪恨葱名

Besides being fun, I believe there is deep issue here worthy of further investigation. Chinese people and foreigners seem to process information differently when reading. Knowing what they actually do (but may well be unaware of) could help foreigners improve their Chinese

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renzhe

I second yonglin because somebody marked him down. Those numbers have been heavily criticised. Most (more than half) of them were blatantly made up. The others were obtained using LOL methods. For example, the Chinese number was obtained from a study in Shanghai (which gave an average IQ of 109.4) and then subtracting a random number from it. Yes. A random number.

Lynn is connected to some very dodgy organisations (we're talking about Nazi-era propaganda here) and the only one who publishes his racial studies is himself.

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