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realmayo

Very annoying simplification

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MPhillips

Thank you Kenny for your recommendations! I did read 浮生六記 a very long time ago, and I also read 聊齋 in 白話文, I really enjoy 鬼怪故事. I will look for 酋陽雑俎 and 讀古文入門 when I am in New York. I guess it's just a question of applying myself more, perhaps I ought to try to read some 聊齋 stories on-line, unfortunately I'm an analog person living in a digital world.

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imron
making them difficult to distinguish in small type

This is one of the things that makes me prefer simplified over traditional when reading.

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MPhillips

Trying to remember how to write 鬰 is enough to give a person 憂鬰症(忧郁症).

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Kenny同志

I will say a few last words.

 

Take the character (worried; anxious) the simplified version uses the common phono-semantic pattern that many praise for being so logical, , there's a heart radical to indicate the word is related to emotion and the right side matches the pronunciation. Naturally, there is more than one example of the opposite process in simplification.

 

=? What about優,擾, and (簡正相同)? =+?  =  +? =?

 

Then there's the famous , from which the rain component () was removed, because electricity doesn't have an important logical relationship with rain. This used to make more sense when the only source of electricity was clouds.

 

A character is not exact science.

 

And finally, there were plenty of characters that were complex and varied only slightly making them difficult to distinguish in small type, , , and for example are now , , and .

 

I don’t find it hard to distinguish these three characters unless in very small type.

 

To be clear, I am not an expert on palaeography and the comments above are just how I look at the matter from an ordinary man’s point of view. To me, the thing is not which system is perfect but which one is better because there is no such thing as perfection.

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realmayo
because there is no such thing as perfection

 

Except for 한글  :mrgreen: 

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Auberon

@MPhillips

 

 

My vote for world lingua franca goes to Turkish--a highly phonemic orthography (at least on a par with Spanish) & only one irregular verb (can't say that about Spanish!).

 

That's because modern Turkish was artificially changed by the Young Turks at the fall of the Ottoman Empire to eliminate all influences/vocabulary from languages like Persian, Arabic, etc. And course it has a phonetic othography because they also did away with the beautiful Ottoman script and invented a romanisation system, from which the spoken language has not yet had enough time to deviate. It is rather as if English were 'reformed' by abolishing all words that don't have Anglo-Saxon roots, inventing lots of new ones to fill in the gaps (like 'birdlore' instead of ornithology), then changing all spellings to be strictly phonetic. Would it make English easier to learn? Absolutely. But it would also produce a generation of people almost completely cut off from all their national literature and history; which I rather suspect is exactly why the Young Turks did it.

I doubt one in a hundred Turks could understand a document written in their own language from a century ago. I imagine, despite simplification, the corresponding number would be far, far higher amongst the Mainland Chinese.

 

If you want to see an artificially-simple world lingua franca, Esperanto seems a better choice.

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Demonic_Duck

Re: annoying/illogical simplifications:

 

I'm confused as to why 隨 becomes 随, but 隋 stays 隋, and 髓 stays 髓. Did they just completely forget that 隋 and 髓 existed when they simplified 隨? :conf

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Takeshi
I don't remember where it was, but once I read the phrase "听 而笑" in a Simplified text in a Chinese class. I wondered, who would be able to read that? Ask anyone else in the room (besides the prof) and they would have said "tīng".

 

How do you figure out how to read things like this? Well, I looked here: http://www.kangxizidian.com/kangxi/0178.gif and I mean, I guess it's jan5 (jyutping), but like, I don't really have a habit of using Kangxi to check up pronunciations because I assume they may have changed over time. So what is it an onomatopeic word for smiling or something? What on earth were you reading?

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Hofmann

I forgot. Plenty of examples here though.

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Altair

 

I'm confused as to why 隨 becomes 随, but 隋 stays 隋, and 髓 stays 髓. Did they just completely forget that 隋 and 髓 existed when they simplified 隨? :conf

 

I am not certain of the reason behind this and other similar inconsistencies; however, I think the reason has to do with actual common usage.  Characters in daily use were given prioirity in simplification; while more scholarly words were treated more conservatively.  As originally laid out, the simplification scheme differentiated between simplifications that were intended to be universal and those intended to be restricted to individual characters.  I think characters that were commonly abbreviated in daily cursive writing were often adopted as new simplified ones and were only extended to others if the relationship of the combinations was instantly obvious to the eye.  I guess 隋 and 髓 failed the test.

 

Where I live, I am inured to ad spellings such "RiteAid," "Turkey Delite," and "Nite Lite."  I would be tempted to linguistic revolt, however, if I saw references to "Flite Insurance" or the "Almitey God."  Perhaps the simplification scheme faced similar opposition.

 

 

How do you figure out how to read things like this? Well, I looked here: http://www.kangxizid...kangxi/0178.gif and I mean, I guess it's jan5 (jyutping), but like, I don't really have a habit of using Kangxi to check up pronunciations because I assume they may have changed over time. So what is it an onomatopeic word for smiling or something? What on earth were you reading?

 

I have Pleco and have installed the Gu Hanyu Da Cidian.  I typed in "ting," selected 听and quickly found the following entry:

 

三yín张口笑貌。 《史记‧司马相如列传》“无是公听然而笑"

3. yínOpen the mouth and smile.  (Records of the Historian: Sima Xiangru Bibliographies): "Duke Nonesuch opened his mouth and smiled"

 

The Mandarin pronunciation "yín is a good match to Cantoniese jan5 (jyutping).  There were no relevant entries when I entered "tingting," and looked under 听听.  Who said Chinese is complicated?, at least with the right equipment.  The problem thus seemed easily solved, until...

 

I happened to enter 听 directly, rather than just the pinyin.  The pinyin of one of the head words was now "yǐn" in third tone, rather than "yín" in the second.  The CC-Cedict dictionary listed only "smile (archaic)" in its entry.  The Han Da Cidian under it listed:

 

1. 笑貌。

 

There  were then a bunch of citations to the Shuo Wen with commentaries that I only half understood.  But I thought, okay.  There appears to be some disagreement on the tone, but the meaning is consistent.  I then looked below and saw:

 

2. 见“听听”。

 

I also recalled that the original quote was not 听然而笑, but rather 听听而笑.  I clicked through on 听听 and found:

 

HZ 听听

PY yǐnyǐn

 

1  齗齗。斤斤计较争辩不休。

 

 欢欣貌。

 

 

Looking up 齗齗 led to 龂龂 (yínyín) and訚訚 (yínyín) with a wealth of different meanings and different equivalents.  I never actually found 听听而笑.

 

Now thoroughly confused, I then thought to actually check the links in post 50 and 51 to the Kangxi Dictionary.  Alas, how am I supposed to read the format of the following:

 

 

听《唐韻》宜引切《集韻》擬引切音齗。《說文》笑貌。

 

Does this read as two alternative pronunciations, each giving the tone followed by a fanqie pronunciation?  What is 音齗?  Does this give me enough to decide between "yín" and "yǐn" if I assume Mandarin equivalents?

 

Maybe I'll go back to Sumerian.  At least those scholars admit they're not sure of the pronunciation variations. :wall

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Auberon

擬引切 would seem to mean nin3, but sounds as 齗 ought to be yin2.  Mandarin 1 and 2 ending in a consonant should be Tang 平聲. 齗 in 集韻 given as 魚斤切, yin1; read as 䖐, yin2. Ok, look up 䖐, 語斤切 (yin1)音垠(yin2). That all seems to be an argument for yin2 for 听, as all the modern pronunciations are consistent with 齗 being 平聲 at the time the fanqie was written.

 

But back to 擬引切 (I'm not going worry about the where initial n- came from):

 

引: 《唐韻》余忍切《集韻》《韻會》《正韻》以忍切音蚓

 

Both 忍 and 蚓 mandarin 3, so ought to have been Tang 上聲 or 入聲. But 集韻 says it should have the same tone as 齗, which seems to have been 平. Aaaaagh, what am I doing wrong here?

 

Aha, another tact: 齗 is also pronounced ken3. Could this be an alternative pronunciation that was around (at least in terms of tone) in 1037? Considering that we've just established 忍 and 蚓 rhymed, it doesn't seem unreasonable to propose that 齗/ken3, in this  pronunciation meaning gums, as opposed to 齗齗/yin2yin2/to dispute, rhymed to, and got added to the entry when the writer was trying to think of a contemporary rhyme for fanqie 擬引切 and 以忍切. It also seems possible that it was conflated with 齦, in the sense of 'gnaw':

 

http://ctext.org/dictionary.pl?if=en&char=%E9%BD%A6

 

which has 《唐韻》康很切 in 732, but was 音䖐 (yin2, remember? Ancient Chinese tigers apparently sound like that) again in the sense of gums (齒根肉). So I vote yin3 for 听.

 

 

Now thoroughly confused

 

We should create a club.

 

 

Maybe I'll go back to Sumerian.  At least those scholars admit they're not sure of the pronunciation variations.

 

There's never any opportunity to quote Sumerian, less still anyone to correct you. Nevertheless, my copy of Hayes' 'Manual of Sumerian Cuneiform and Texts' is standing by, should it be needed. I started to teach myself it ages ago, but apart from Gilgamesh, there's nothing to read apart from ancient till receipts and inscriptions of royal platitudes ('The great King of Ur, Lord of the four quarters, beloved of Enlil, in brotherhood beseeches bla bla bla...'). No chance of that with Chinese. I particularly liked it when Hayes wrote of a particular suffix words to the effect of 'We have no idea what this means'!

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imron
There's never any opportunity to quote Sumerian

 

He says, and then quotes the Sumerians...

 

The great King of Ur, Lord of the four quarters, beloved of Enlil.....

 

:mrgreen:

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hedwards

I tend to find the traditional characters to be easier to remember in most cases. I can remember 龍 without much trouble, but 龙 usually escapes me. The main saving grace for simplified characters is that they're easier to read on a computer and they're mandatory in Mainland China. In fact, were it not for the fact that I get most of my Chinese from there, I'm not sure I'd even bother with the time and effort it takes to learn the simplified characters as they take substantially more work to learn.

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Demonic_Duck

Are you claiming that, in a vacuum, 龍 would somehow be easier to learn than 龙?

 

I can certainly get behind the idea that some of the logical connections in the writing system were broken by simplification, and that this can cause problems for learners (native and foreign alike), but the idea that learning a complicated character with many strokes is somehow intrinsically easier than learning a simple character with few strokes seems a little bizarre to me.

 

Overall, I reckon the simplified character set is a bit easier to learn, but I don't think there's much in it. As far as my memory serves, there have been a number of studies carried out on this; those conducted in the mainland tend to conclude that simplified is easier, whilst those conducted in Taiwan or Hong Kong tend to conclude that traditional is easier. Go figure.

 

Meanwhile, to my mind the traditional set is more beautiful and logical (although the logic is still far from perfect).

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hedwards

It is intrinsically easier to memorize 龍 versus 龙 though. 龍 is made up of a couple common functional components and one that looks like the meaning of the word. Compare that with 龙 which requires a lot of abstraction in order to memorize. I'm not even sure how they came to that as the simplified form as it bears basically no resemblance to either the original character or to the meaning of the word. 

 

Realism generally precedes abstraction. It's easier to depict things in a realistic manner than it is to abstract them. Now, the realism may be cave paintings that are simplified because the tools hadn't been developed to depict them in a hyper-realistic style, but if you look at a mammoth drawing, it looks like a mammoth. If you see a man carrying a spear, it looks like a man carrying a spear and so forth. The more abstract styles generally come later as they require another level on top of that to make sense of them. They're also less accessible and less likely to be popular.

 

In other times, you wind up with things that are barely less meaningful like 馬 versus 马。 The simplified version doesn't really help much in terms of learning to write the character, unless you're still learning to write by memorizing it stroke by stroke, and it is ever so slightly less meaningful as you've dropped the hooves.

 

The point here is that simplification is something that sounds like a good idea on paper, but I'm not personally convinced that the simplification process has resulted in gains. In fact, the more I study, the more I question whether simplified characters are really helping anybody out. I see the traditional character next to the simplified character and it doesn't look any harder to read or write. Perhaps a better system of simplification would avoid the pitfalls, but who knows, there isn't any other system of simplified characters that's gained any sort of traction.

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imron
Go figure.

Confirmation bias.

 

Meanwhile, to my mind the traditional set is more beautiful and logical

And the simplified set is easier to read at smaller font sizes.

 

They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so learn whichever one you'll use most first, and pickup the other if you ever need to.

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Hofmann

I'm not even sure how they came to [龙] as the simplified form [of 龍] as it bears basically no resemblance to either the original character or to the meaning of the word. 

It's a case of 行/草書楷化. See the right side of these, which corresponds to the body of the dragon (while the left side is the head). Of course, 2 or 3 丿 become one. But yes, it seems that they were working on the assumption was that more strokes → more complex. So the main effect of simplification was to reduce the number of strokes.

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Demonic_Duck

It is intrinsically easier to memorize 龍 versus 龙 though. 龍 is made up of a couple common functional components and one that looks like the meaning of the word. Compare that with 龙 which requires a lot of abstraction in order to memorize. I'm not even sure how they came to that as the simplified form as it bears basically no resemblance to either the original character or to the meaning of the word.

I'm assuming that 立 and 月 (even if you take 月 to be 肉) do not individually have any semantic content in this particular character, though. In other words, it's arbitrary that they happen to be represented by those forms (just like the 月 and two 匕s in 能).

 

As for the right hand side of 龍, I don't think it looks objectively much more like a dragon than 龙 does. If you showed the two forms to a layman and asked which looked like a dragon, there might be a slight preference for the right hand side of 龍, but I don't think it would be very pronounced. Meanwhile, if you solicited opinions as to what the forms looked like without giving any hints at all, I think it'd be pretty unlikely that anyone would volunteer “dragon” for either one.

 

 

Meanwhile, to my mind the traditional set is more beautiful and logical

And the simplified set is easier to read at smaller font sizes.

 

They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, so learn whichever one you'll use most first, and pickup the other if you ever need to.

 

 

I couldn't agree more.

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