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xuechengfeng

Noah's Ark

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xuechengfeng

When I was reading about all the various flood stories throughout the world, I read on wikipedia that the Chinese character 船 comes from components built of the ancient characters for vessel + 8 + people.

The word for "boat" in Chinese characters (which survived the Communist-era character simplication) is composed of the symbols for "vessel," "eight," and "person," (literally "mouth", and sometimes translated as "family member.") The characters were developed by the historian Can Ji at the order of the Emperor Huang Di during the 3rd millenium BC, and in many cases used combinations of pictograms to represent more abstract ideas. Creationists argue that he based his character for "boat" on his historical knowledge of the eight people saved on a ship through the flood. [2] (http://www.yutopian.com/religion/words/) The components for "eight" and "person" have been reduced to merely phonetic significance in Chinese today.

Is there any truth to this, and is there a Chinese version of this flood?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah's_Ark

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Bob Dylan Thomas

Firstly, i think it's Cang Jie 仓颉 not Can Ji.

Secondly, although it's not my specialist area, i read that the image of Cang Jie as "inventor" of characters is something of a myth, a bit like the image of Qu Yuan as a great landmark poet, when (according to my Classical Chinese teacher) there is in fact very little tangible evidence at all that he even existed, or at least that one individual wrote all the poems credited with his name. I reckon, in both cases, it's all about creating a symbolic icon.

Interestingly, in an essay by Hanfei Zi that we studied which mentions Cang Jie, there is a footnote pointing out that Cang did not invent characters, but rather they are the product of thousands of years of creativity and ingenuity by the glorious Chinese civilization (published in PRC).

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Claw

I highly doubt this story... it sounds like a real stretch, especially since the right side of the character is used as a phonetic and the top part is actually not related to the number 八, but rather has the meaning of "to divide."

For instance, these characters all use the same phonetic. 船 (chuan2), 沿 (yan2), 鉛 (qian1). In Cantonese, the phonetic similiarity is even closer: syun4, yun4, and yun4, respectively. According to this link, the phonetic itself is pronounced |ㄢˇ (yan3): http://140.111.1.40/yitic/frc/frc01000.htm.

In addition, I believe the 船 character is relatively recent and did not exist around the time of Cangjie, especially since no oracle bone inscription (the writing that Cangjie supposedly invented) of the character is known to exist: http://www.internationalscientific.org/Etymology.aspx?characterInput=%E8%88%B9&submitButton1=Etymology

I also found a link in response to the claim: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CG/CG101.html

That link also links to a much more thorough explanation debunking this claim: http://www.coastalfog.net/languages/chinchar/chinchar.html

In general, be very suspicious of any explanation of Chinese characters that tries to explain the etymology based on solely their graphic elements. Most of the time, these explanations don't take into account the actual phonetic origins of characters. Phonetic compounds actually make up the bulk of all modern Chinese characters.

Looks like vinhlong made a post to another thread that actually addresses this misconception as well: http://www.chinese-forums.com/viewtopic.php?p=32459#32459

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Claw

I added a bit of text to the Wikipedia article noting that this interpretation of 船 has problems.

Horray for Wikis! :clap

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marcopolo79

Don't believe the missonary bullsh*t, these are the same people who would rather have you think that evolution is false and that George Bush is on a divine mission to save the world.

These claims of biblical events influencing the development of Chinese characters are false. They people making the claims are not qualified Sinologists, they're a bunch of bible toting nut jobs who seek to warp the known facts about the etymology and evolution of Chinese characters to accomodate their agenda.

As others have pointed out, ㄧㄢˇ is the integral phonetic component of 船 and can not be further reduced into component parts, the assertion that the flood story from the bible lead to the creation of this character based on the example you cited is a flawed analysis.

Many people have the misconception that Chinese characters existed before spoken Chinese, as if the people suddenly had to alter their way of speaking in order to fully conform to their writing system, but this is clearly not the case. Chinese characters have always been adapted to suit the spoken language, not vice-versa (a more detailed analysis of this point can be found in Science and Civilzation in China, Vol. VII, I think the section is entitled Language and Logic, can't remember exactly). In order to do so, radical components were used to impart a phonological consistency when characters evolved from the relatively few used in the ancient rituals to the medium of a written language, thus most of the characters that have continued to be used till the present day contain various components which should be analysed on the basis of their phonetic value, not ideographic. That these zealous evangelical jackasses either ignore this aspect of the evolution of Chinese characters or are wholly ignorant of it speaks volumes about the quality and veracity of their research.

Additionally, all of these claims that Chinese characters were influenced by biblical events inherently assume that the ancient Chinese had the same religious and cosmological beliefs as the Levantine peoples who created the bible, but all the historical evidence has clearly pointed to the contrary. David Hall and Roger Ames have written a fascinating series of books on the subject of ancient Chinese philosophy in which they show that Western influenced notions of god, tancendence, heaven, etc. are not suitable for understanding the way ancient Chinese thought and believed. If anyone is interested in this subject, I strongly encourage them to read "Thinking From the Han", especially the chapter relating to "Heaven".

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xuechengfeng
I added a bit of text to the Wikipedia article noting that this interpretation of 船 has problems.

Horray for Wikis!

wait, so you can actually edit the wikipedia text for everyone in the world to see?!?! this is strange to me. Not to say you aren't credible, but couldn't anybody write a bunch of non-sense into these definitions?

Also, do the Chinese have a version of the flood?

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Claw
wait, so you can actually edit the wikipedia text for everyone in the world to see?!?! this is strange to me. Not to say you aren't credible, but couldn't anybody write a bunch of non-sense into these definitions?

Yep... that's the whole idea behind Wikis. Every page has an "edit this page" link at the top that anyone can click on. The whole thing is self-policing, so when someone writes anything unsubstantiated, it's usually corrected pretty soon by another passing editor. General guidelines have also been posted for people to follow and everything is supposed to be from a neutral point of view, but things sometimes can get out of hand and "edit wars" sometimes result when topics are highly controversial. In such cases, they have a dispute resolution process that seems to be working pretty well.

Also, do the Chinese have a version of the flood?

I don't know anything about a flood story in Chinese culture but maybe someone else might know...

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xuechengfeng

ahhhhhhhhhh, that would explain why one time i made the argument that indonesia is not a unified country on one of my midterms, one reason being that they speak of 300 languages and have over 10,000 loan words from dutch, and my teacher who spoke indonesian said that was completely false. I thought wikipedia was all true. :oops:

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skylee

Poor 小薛 ...

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pazu

Here's more,

1. Greedy: 婪 (林 & 女), so it means a woman in the forest is a symbol of greed............. it sounds so familiar... who's she?

2. Prohibit: 禁 (林 & 示), note, 示 means "god" or "heaven". So a god in the forest means prohibition... hmm....

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markalexander100

I have to admit that creationism articles are not the greatest advertisement for Wikipedia. :oops:

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马杰

It wouldn't be too surprising if the Chinese had a version of the flood story, or of Adam and Eve.

A concept of "god" is not exactly new or revolutionary, but as easily evidenced by the bipolar relationship of Islam, Judeaism and Christianity an easily conveived belief in one God easily becomes twisted and complicated when cultural and political views are thrown in.

Just one more thing for humans to fight about. :conf

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shibo77

Of course there is a flood story. Most Old World cultures have a flood story, directly or indirectly.

Thousands of years ago (~21st century BCE), there were flooding in the Huang (Yellow River) River Valley, a guy named 禹Yu came along, built some dams, and helped in the rebuilding of the area afterwards.

-Shibo :mrgreen:

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xuechengfeng
Here's more' date='

1. Greedy: 婪 (林 & 女), so it means a woman in the forest is a symbol of greed............. it sounds so familiar... who's she?

2. Prohibit: 禁 (林 & 示), note, 示 means "god" or "heaven". So a god in the forest means prohibition... hmm....[/quote']

are you Christian?

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Long Zhiren

The scholarship to which you refer is unfortunately bad.

Refer [or rather ignore] Ethel Nelson's book... "The Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Languages"

Such perverted scholarship & writing probably does not help Christian causes. Bad perverted Christian influences can also be blamed for inspiring Hung Xiuquan and other nutjobs in disasters like the Taiping rebellion.

Some others, like previous posts, have gone the other extreme and thrown out the baby with the bathwater so-to-speak.

If there will be any evidence to Noah's flood in China, I believe it would be uncovered when fossilized sea creatures are found at the tops of the himalayas; when the elevations of the himalayas are determined to have been tens of thousands of meters lower; when the geological upheavals are determined to have occurred far faster than is now estimated; and when the theoretical dating-of-events techniques now widely used by scientists is found to be drastically incorrect. A true scientist would never rule out these probable events.

However, that such events are hidden in Chinese characters is wild and irresponsible conjecture at best.

For more scholarly treatments of the development of Chinese characters see:

"The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy", by John DeFrancis

"Sources of Shang History" by David N. Keightley

"The Composition of Common Chinese Characters: An Illustrated Account", from Peking University Press.

Leon Wieger "Chinese Characters: Their origin, etymology, history, classification, and signification."

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in_lab
Chinese characters have always been adapted to suit the spoken language, not vice-versa

See this essay for some theories about the influence of written Chinese on the language:

http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/east_asian_languages.html

Here's a quote:

If words are a language's finished concepts, it is difficult to see how anything that subverts the role of words could be beneficial to a language and its users. Yet, as we have seen, Chinese writing does this in two ways: by encouraging users to focus on a word's parts instead of on the whole and by allowing people unlimited license to make up "words" with no social sanction.

The text notes that classical Chinese was "a written language that has no spoken counterpart." Whether or not it could be pronounced is not the question, the statement communicates that classical Chinese was a language not adapted to suit the spoken language.

If you are going to rail against people for fanciful interpretations of Chinese characters, then you should probably include just about all Chinese teachers. You don't have to be a nutjob to for that. And although most English speakers are not so concerned with etymology, almost everyone knows some false folk etymologies.

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Lu

The '8 mouths in the boat' is a nice story which makes it easier to remember the character, and not more than that.

And Wikipedia should never be taken as a sole source, always doublecheck anything you find there, preferably in a book.

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mr.stinky

drat, i was looking for another discussion of dinosaurs on the ark.....cause we'uns here

dun figgered it out. dinosaur eggs, not dinosaurs, so the 口 signifies that he carried

eight crates of eggs. unfortunately, during a major storm which blew the pterodactyls

into a volcano, the woolly mammoths stomped the eggs, thus extinctifying the dinosaurs.

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randall_flagg

totally off topic, but if you ever happen to be in Dalian: Noah's Arch has the best pizza in town!

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muyongshi
Also, do the Chinese have a version of the flood?

The Li people on Hainan island have a flood story where everyone was wiped out except for a brother and sister who climbed up a tree and survived. They then came down after the flood wandered the earth and found no one. The girl then tattooed her face so her brother wouldn't recognize her and then the kept the human race alive. Hence why to this day the Li people tattoo their face.

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