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Same word, different inflection


Hofmann
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First of all, I appreciate your advice. But I don’t understand why you guys keep asking me for evidences to support my statement that the dictionaries are right about君臣父子

@Peter2010:

First of all, thank you for awknowledging my post. I only wanted to help out.

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You don't need to provide additional evidence to support the dictionary pronunciation if you don't want to. But if you want to say that the dictionary is correct, then you just need to state that it's your opinion and any other reasons you want to add that shows why others should take your opinion. What you should avoid is present a blanket statement that seems like a firm fact such as "I'm afraid only what the dictionary tells is correct" without any other evidence or reason. Please refer to post #10 from @OneEye. I think he explained it pretty well. If you do that then people can attack that statement and you end up going back and forth trying to defend that blanket statement when that's not what you intended to do in the first place.

Let me give you a different example to explain what I'm talking about. Imagine if this is Spanish forums and I asked this question:

"I'm going to Mexico next week. My Spanish dictionary says "you" is "vosotros". Should I use "vosotros" to say "you" in Mexico because people speak Spanish in Mexico?"

Without knowing anything else, would you have said "I'm afraid only what the dictionary tells is correct"?

You probably wouldn't right? So why did you say it in this case?

I believe you said it because you have some intimate knowledge of Chinese as a native Chinese speaker and that is a good enough reason for you to make that opinion. However, that is still an opinion and it's up to others to decide if they want to take that opinion. That's why you should word it as an opinion but state your reasoning.

So let's now assume you took my advice on how to word your statement:

Assume this is what you said:

"I think in this case, you should just follow the dictionary pronunciation. As a native Chinese speaker from China, I have not encountered 君君 臣臣 父父 子子 read as /kjun kjuns gjin gjins pja? pjas tsj?? tsj?s/. However, that's just my opinion. Others?"

And @OneEye said:

"I'm certainly not qualified to judge whether the conclusion is sound, but it seems reasonable."

As an outside observer and knowing that @OneEye is a Chinese learner from his other posts, I would probably believe you simply because I would put more weight on the fact that you're a native Chinese speaker. Now if @OneEye or anyone else showed me some links to academic papers stating otherwise, that might sway me. But just knowing the above, I'd side with you. However, that's just how I would decide. Someone else may think differently. Remember that all you can do with posts is state your opinion, how others want to believe is completely up to them.

One last thing, the only reason I jumped in here is because I noticed that you, a native Chinese speaker, have been helpful to us learners in many threads and I thought that you might have been misunderstood here. I doubt that you wanted to start a discussion on the correctness of dictionaries in general. If that's what you really wanted to do, feel free to start another thread on it. I won't be participating.

@OneEye: Hope you didn't mind me using your posts as an example here.

@Hofmann: Apologize for the off-topic posts but this misunderstanding going back and forth was just too much for me, even as an outside observer.

@Daan: Thanks for your support as well.

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@OneEye: Hope you didn't mind me using your posts as an example here.

Of course not. Hopefully we can actually have some rational discussion on the actual topic now. Sorry it got so derailed.

As I said earlier, I don't know enough about the topic to comment one way or another, and I don't want to continue participating in the thread in the direction it has taken, so I will be bowing out now, but still following along hoping to learn something.

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Yes, dictionaries have flaws, which I’ve stated before. I don’t see it is necessary to argue over that again. But if you insist, I would like to calculate the probability that four of these words (君臣父子) lost the distinctions of their pronunciations during the last 2500 years. I will assume a probability of 0.5 (liberal enough?) for each word since you said no evidence indicated it lost or not. Then you will see the probability that all of them lost their pronunciation distinctions would be 0.54=0.06, which is a small probability event and presumed won’t happen. In other words, it's technically wrong to claim four of these words lost their distionctions.

As a math student, I just have to chime in and point out that this is blatantly wrong use of probability theory. Sadly, you are not the only one to make this mistake. People have been convicted of murder because of the same kind of spurious reasoning, and the mistake has therefore been given the name "prosecutor's fallacy." (Poor Sally Clark... :-? )

P(A and B and C and D) = P(A)P(B)P©P(D) only when the events are independent. I.e. only if the probability that A is true will not affect the probability that B is true, and so on. Let's take a very common statistical example: Say you live a place where roads close during heavy snow and extreme weather conditions. Say this happens about 3.65 days or so a year on average. Take two random roads in your district, road 1 and road 2. The probability that road 1 will close on a given day may be around 1/100, and the same goes for road 2. However, the probability that road 1 and 2 will both have to close on a given day is not 1/100 * 1/100 = 1/10000. In fact, it is highly likely that road 1 and 2 both will have to close at the same time because they are both caused by the same variable.

If all the words have been left out because of the same reason, it can therefore be that the probability of all of them being left out is close to the probability of only one of them having been left out. It is therefore technically wrong to claim that it is technically wrong to claim that all four of the words have lost their distinctions.

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You are totally right about that "independent event" theory. Philosophically speaking, nothing is independent in the world. So, I can hardly deny these words have something dependent on each other. But again, shouldn’t we presume they are independent before we could provide any counter evidence? If not, how do you know things are independent of each other? Is there any stuff you could show us to evidence these “left out” events are dependent?

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No.

Math is not made so that you can choose your assumptions to reach the conclusion you wanted in the first place.

Events are either independent or not, and you cannot presume one or another. I have explained above why it is likely that two words that belong to the same category get left out for the same reason, and any statistical model of the word-inclusion process has to take that into account.

Say the words 马克思主义 and 直肠癌 have about the same probability of showing up in a given text. If a book does not contain the word 社会, would you say that it is just as likely that it does not contain the word "马克思主义" as that it does not contain the word "直肠癌"?

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Math is not made so that you can choose your assumptions to reach the conclusion you wanted in the first place.

Isn't that what governments do all the time?

If a book does not contain the word 社会, would you say that it is just as likely that it does not contain the word "马克思主义" as that it does not contain the word "直肠癌"?

直肠癌已经成为当今社会严重威胁人类的健康和生命的主要疾病之一,近几十年来其发病率呈迅速上升趋势,发病年龄则不断下降。 :lol:

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Isn't that what governments do all the time?

Yeah, economists too. But that's not math, that's religion.

I'll refer to this year's Ig-Nobel in mathematics, which went to Harold Camping for showing that when doing math, you have to be careful with your prior assumptions.

By the way, remind me to offset your quote above by writing a treatise on the Marxist theory of colorectal cancer.

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Events are either independent or not, and you cannot presume one or another

Really? How do you know if some events are independent or not? Since you said you are a Math student, I suppose you are familiar with Karl Pearson’s

chi-squared test, which has been acknowledged as a standard process to test the independence of events. Anyway, what did Pearson do to test the independence of events? Didn’t he initially presume events are independent of each other, and then see if something contradictive could be inferred? If something contradictive was inferred, that's fine, he could say these events are dependent of each other. But if nothing contradictive was inferred, didn’t he presume these events are independent of each other even though they might be actually dependent (who knows). See, mathematicians presumed events are independent.

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Apropos: a news item from yesterday about efforts by a group of experts (including the venerable Yuan Longping) to amend the pronunciation of 粳, which they say should be gěng instead of jīng. The editor of the Xinhua Dictionary agrees with them that everyone pronounces it gěng, but the dictionary cannot be amended without the approval of the Ministry of Education.

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