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

  • Why you should look around

    Since 2003, Chinese-forums.com has been helping people learn Chinese faster and get to China sooner. Our members can recommend beginner textbooks, help you out with obscure classical vocabulary, and tell you where to get the best street food in Xi'an. And we're friendly about it too. 

    Have a look at what's going on, or search for something specific. We hope you'll join us. 
Kelby

Making something about radicals and I don't want it to suck. Suggestions?

Recommended Posts

roddy

Hedwards, you're confused. Oneeye, I'd just ignore him. 

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.

Demonic_Duck

Hedwards, did you actually read the blog post OneEye posted yet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

Some parts of characters may not be functional (though just how functional is the phonetic in 部 LOL) according to the criteria that OneEye has outlined (it'll be interesting to see how the Outlier dictionary compares to Harbaugh say, or will the intended market be more specialized than that? EDIT: Ah, I've just spotted the 'Outlier Linguistic Solutions' thread, and it pretty much answers my questions!), but beginners especially will be using or resort to all sorts of methods to grapple with and remember whatever forms can apparently be "decomposed" along the way. It's essentially a process of "incremental heuristics" (posh for "ad hoc piecemeal guessing"), in that not everything can be learned at once (though personally I favour providing more rather than less detail, at least in the form of footnotes if not up front).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

Oh no :shock::nono not footnotes :)

 

Personally I hate footnotes, forever scanning up and down the page to read footnotes then finding where you were and so on.  In brackets if you need to have them separate from the main text.

 

Have all the information that is to do with that item in one place.

 

As I have said before if you learn the history, etymology, and origin of characters and some of Chinese culture it the meaning becomes clear and easier to remember. 

 

All these systems people try and create to remember characters is hard work, it is like learning a third language to learn Chinese with IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

:) Still, I think there's a risk that all the history and etymology (or rather, paleography) might become yet another third language, and a rather difficult one at that. I suspect the majority of learners (certainly beginners) want to be able to make sense of things in primarily simple, modern-form terms, which is why a bit of fudging won't be or go too amiss for 'em. But a lot depends on how concisely whatever wealth of information can be presented. Harbaugh for example is a valuable reference, but it can be tricky to look things up in it by "other componential"/Harbaugh's genealogical means (let's assume for example that somebody didn't know the pronunciation of either 部, "or" its phonetic, which isn't an item one will find in everyday dictionaries). Most would fall back on the radical or stroke-count indexes, and for good reason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye
(though just how functional is the phonetic in 部 LOL)

 

Quite functional. We've developed a way to understand exactly how sound components work and what range of sounds each component can represent. And actually, bù and pǒu aren't that far off from each other at all.

 

it'll be interesting to see how the Outlier dictionary compares to Harbaugh say, or will the intended market be more specialized than that?

 

Our dictionary is aimed at anyone who wants to learn Chinese characters more efficiently and effectively. We're writing it so that someone with zero interest in etymology and palaeography can use it without being overwhelmed by a bunch of arcane information. The research itself obviously requires a lot of knowledge in palaeography and historical phonology if it's going to be done the right way, but that's all behind-the-scenes. There will be information in there for people who want to know more about etymology and such, but it won't be necessary to read those sections in order to learn characters with our dictionary.

 

I've said before that I think Harbaugh's book is one of the best things out there right now, but that it's full of errors by virtue of being based on a 2000-year-old dictionary. Our dictionary is based on the latest research and so as far as is possible, it presents an accurate picture of Chinese characters and their underlying system. But we're making sure that the dictionary contains simple, concise explanations which place a minimum burden on the learner.

 

Still, I think there's a risk that all the history and etymology (or rather, paleography) might become yet another third language, and a rather difficult one at that.

 

Some of our primary concerns in making this dictionary are 1) Explanations consistent with the way Chinese characters really work, and 2) pedogogical expediency. It's very important to us not to overwhelm people with information in the dictionary. We're not going to ask anybody to learn about palaeography. We're not going to teach characters through their palaeographic forms. We're writing about this stuff on our blog because we think it's interesting, because we want to try to correct the vast amounts of misinformation out there about Chinese characters, and because hopefully it will get other people interested in palaeography. But the dictionary itself will be practical and easy to use.

 

We'll be putting together a mock-up of what the it might look like soon, which will hopefully alleviate some of these worries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
anonymoose
I've said before that I think Harbaugh's book is one of the best things out there right now, but that it's full of errors by virtue of being based on a 2000-year-old dictionary.

 

Where do the errors appear from? Is it misinterpretation of the 2000-year-old dictionary, or does that dictionary itself contain errors?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

I'd spotted your 'Outlier Linguistic Solutions' thread (and said so in a belated edit above, sorry 'bout that), but thanks for replying still, OneEye. If you guys can top Harbaugh, I'll certainly be among those lining up to buy a copy! =*:)

 

The Introduction in Harbaugh (available as a pdf from the following link) should answer your question, Anonymoose. :wink:

http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0966075005

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye
Where do the errors appear from? Is it misinterpretation of the 2000-year-old dictionary, or does that dictionary itself contain errors?

 

I'm referring to the 說文解字, which of course is full of errors. 許慎 didn't have access to the information we have today, so it was unavoidable, and he did an excellent job with what he had. But the discovery of 甲骨文 and the recent advances made in the Warring States-era script, not to mention what we know now about Old Chinese, have all revealed serious problems in the Shuowen's explanation of characters. It's still a useful tool, but it must be used critically, something that Harbaugh, as an economist, was not trained for, so the errors carried over into his book.

 

Not to mention the traditional 六書 system on which the Shuowen is based is also flawed. Tang Lan 唐蘭, a noted 20th century palaeographer, said What do the six principles tell us? First, there were never any clear-cut definitions; each person could come up with his own interpretations. Second, when the six principles were used to classify characters, it usually was impossible to determine which character should be placed in which category. In the light of these two points alone, we should neither place all our faith in the six principles nor fail to seek other explanations." (但是六書說給我們什麼?第一,它從來沒有明確的界說,各人可有各人的說法。其次,每個文字如用六書來分類,常常不能斷定它應屬哪一類。單以這兩點說,我們就不能只信仰六書而不去找別的解釋。)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

To be fair, Harbaugh does acknowledge the (to him, only slight) shortcomings of the traditional etymologies, but argues that they still provide a lot of valuable insights, not least into how many have viewed and/or learned the characters up to now. And it has to be said that those "flawed" etymologies are pretty adequate for learning at least the modern forms (that is, I'd take the likes of Harbaugh over certainly many of the newfangled complicated mnemonicy true "third languages" e.g. the Matthews' work).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OneEye

I agree with Harbaugh on that, except I don't view the shortcomings as "slight." I'd have to find the reference, but I think it was 劉釗 who said that it isn't an exaggeration to say that among the characters in the Shuowen that we've been able to trace back to oracle bone script [甲骨文], 90% of the Shuowen's explanations are wrong.

 

And yes, the etymologies are "adequate," in the sense that an ax is adequate for chopping down trees. We're making a chainsaw.

 

Again, we're teaching the modern forms of characters. Of course. The dictionary will have ancient forms for people who are interested or find it helpful to know about them, along with explanations for how the form evolved (much like my last image in this article, attached below, but more professionally done of course), but that part isn't essential. People will be able to use the dictionary without ever learning or looking at an ancient character form if they so choose.

 

I agree about Matthews' book, but not about mnemonics in general. I think mnemonics can be helpful as long as they don't distract you from what's really going on with the character. That is, once you have the explanation and understand the character's structure, if you still need something to help jog your memory, that's fine. But trying to attach a mnemonic to something you don't really understand (a la Heisig, Matthews, et al) is going to complicate things.

 

evolution-1024x319.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

Chainsaws, eh? Groovy! Way to tackle that Evil Dead triffid (the very leftmost form in that evolution strip)! :D

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

Not sure chainsaws are much good against triffids - they require you to be too close. Rotating blade guns and flamethrowers are the way to go.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gharial

So close...yet too close(-range) for Imron. So it's back to the drawing board (and E.D toolshed), OneEye! :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Demonic_Duck

Oh no :shock::nono not footnotes :)

 

Personally I hate footnotes, forever scanning up and down the page to read footnotes then finding where you were and so on.  In brackets if you need to have them separate from the main text.

 

Have all the information that is to do with that item in one place.

  • Click on the footnote number in the body of the text, which is hyperlinked to the appropriate footnote.
  • To go back to your exact previous place in the text, click "back" in your browser (I assume this will work equally well in all browsers, it certainly works fine in Firefox).
The point of using footnotes is that they contain non-essential information that may be useful or interesting to some, but not all, readers, hence they aren't appropriate for the body of the text.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

@Demonic_Duck that works fine for electronic version of books but it doesn't work with paper books :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Demonic_Duck

My bad, I thought you were referring to the link OneEye posted, I missed Gharial's post.

 

My point about the function of footnotes still stands, though. And you can just bend down the corner of the footnotes page, and stick a finger in the book to keep your place whilst you look it up, that's almost as good as the hyperlinked electronic equivalent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Shelley

In my experience footnotes are usually at the bottom of the page and so it is down to the bottom, scan back up and find where I was.

 

I have also had books where the footnotes were more than half the page, and they are usually in smaller print.

 

@Demonic_Duck I didn't know you had that confusion, so not a problem :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Demonic_Duck

Oh yeah, my bad once more, that's endnotes I'm thinking of. Still, placing a finger physically on the page whilst your eyes scan down to the bottom solves the problem.

 

I think if there is a very large amount of parenthetical material (such that it would take up half the page), then putting it in footnotes isn't really appropriate, but putting it in parentheses would be even less appropriate. In that case, endnotes also wouldn't be ideal. I like OneEye's idea of "red pill" sections that can be read as and when desired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register 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.


×
×
  • Create New...