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WKC

The Duality Code

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WKC

Hello everybody,

 

My name is W. K. Choy and I recently completed my first book.  The title is ‘The Duality Code’ and it is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

 

Qian Xuantong, a professor of Chinese at Peking University, proposed the replacement of the spoken and written Chinese language with Esperanto.  Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature, favoured the replacement of Chinese characters with a Latin script.  Lu Xun is famously reported to have said, ‘If Chinese characters are not eradicated, China will perish’ (汉字不灭中国必亡).

 

My book seeks to understand why these two intelligent men (amongst many others) wanted to abandon the Chinese character writing script.  In seeking this understanding, my book explores:

a) the etymology of Chinese characters – Kai Script, Seal Script, Oracle Script,

b) theories of character composition (六書),

c) Chinese literature (from Lu Xun’s writings to classical texts such as the Book of Rites),

d) legends (which were taken to be historical fact by the Chinese people prior to the modern era),

e) religious rituals,

f) Neolithic archaeology,

g) philosophical concepts such as yin and yang,  the five movements, and the Mandate of Heaven,

h) history – the New Culture Movement and the Cultural Revolution.

 

To cut to the chase, Chinese characters have dual meanings or dualities.  As a simple example, 白馬倫 is usually translated as the White Horse Discoursebecause is usually translated as white and is usually translated a horse.  However  can also mean ‘pure’, and Chinese dictionaries such as the Kangxi Dictionary provides the definition of ‘military’ () for the character .  Therefore the 白馬倫 can validly be translated as the ‘Pure Military Discourse’!  In essence, the existence of duality meanings in Chinese characters and literature caused Lu Xun to say,  ‘If Chinese characters are not eradicated, China will perish’.  

 

I believe that The Duality Code offers new insights that are valuable for learning vernacular and classical Chinese.

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Demonic_Duck

The title makes it sound like a Dan Brown thriller. :P

 

I'm not sure I follow your logic that 白馬論 (note: 論 not 倫) can validly mean "Pure Military Discourse". That's like saying "minesweeper" could validly mean "[belonging to me] [person who cleans the ground using a broom]". Interpreting it that way requires a willful ignorance of how context affects meaning.

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WKC

Demonic_Duck,

 

Thanks for your thoughts.  Yes it should be 白馬論, instead of  白馬倫.  I typed the pinyin and pressed the space bar without checking.  My error.

 

Context does affect meaning.  司 translates as 'take charge of, control, manage; officer' according to the Unihan Database.  司馬 means the 'Minister of War' because 馬 has the meaning of 'military' in classical Chinese.  Under the circumstances, I believe that the 白馬論 in the context of classical Chinese can be interpreted to mean 'Pure Military Discourse'.

 

Professor Haun Saussy says (in The Columbia History of Chinese Literature), "Confucius (550–479 B.C.E) describes some of his disciples as engaged in wen-hsüeh (the study of writings; Lun_yü [Analects] 11.3): this was doubtless a course of training in the deciphering and interpretation of legal and historical texts, a necessary qualification for office in the palace bureaucracies of early China ..."  It is a hypothesis of my book that this deciphering and interpretation (classical exegesis) was in essence the extraction of duality meanings in classical texts.

 

The sinologist David Moser says, "Here's a secret that sinologists won't tell you: A passage in classical Chinese can be understood only if you already know what the passage says in the first place." (David Moser, Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard, at http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html]   It is my premise that sinologists do not understand classical Chinese because, although they fully understand vernacular Chinese, they do not have the tools to undertake classical exegesis to extract duality meanings from classical texts.  My book provides the initial insights required for sinologists to begin classical exegesis.  

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WKC

Apologies.  My last post was cut short.

 

It is a hypothesis in my book that sinologists do not understand classical Chinese because they do not have the tools to extract duality meanings from classical texts.

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WKC

Angelina,

 

You are correct to point to polysemy.  My book does discuss polysemic meanings.  Over and above this, my book looks at different types of dualities including:

- 古文 and variants,

- bigrams,

- synonyms,

- abbreviations.

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Angelina

Your book looks like a good example of what Lu Xun was trying to change in China. I don't agree with his support of discourse while dismissing other ways of reasoning. He thought Chinese characters were to blame, I think Chinese characters deserve some respect. 

 

Apart from duality, what looks interesting in the Chinese tradition is imagery. What do you thing of images in Chinese culture? 

 

Good luck with your work! 

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Silent

 

 

 In essence, the existence of duality meanings in Chinese characters and literature caused Lu Xun to say,  ‘If Chinese characters are not eradicated, China will perish’. 

Duality exists in (virtually) every language. Words rarely stand in isolation if not embedded in a text there is situational context that helps interpret the meaning. Often their is also something like a personal interpretation or legal interpretation that can differ somewhat (or radically) from  the common colloquial interpretation.

 

IMHO there is nothing wrong with characters. Obviously there are disadvantages but also advantages. But in the end Chinese is the easiest language in the world. At least there is no other language that so many people manage to learn to a (near) native level. :-)

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Angelina

I once read something on African philosophy and there was something written on duality in African proverbs. Habermas was quoted in that paper. 

 

 

edit

 

here it is

 

from Kwasi Wiredu: A Companion to African Philosophy, the paper is Government by Consensus: An Analysis of a Traditional Form of Democracy, by Edward Wamala 

 

 

 

 

post-44480-0-34411900-1473858304_thumb.png

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WKC

Angelina,

 

My book explores visual imagery (art) in very limited context.  It explores imagery in terms of metaphors in legends.  They are an essential part of the Duality Code.

 

 

Silent,

 

Mori Arinori, Japans first minister of education (1885) proposed replacing the Japanese language outright, just as Qian Xuantong proposed replacing Chinese with Esperanto.  Hara Takashi, tenth prime minister of Japan, proposed gradual reduction of Kanji moving towards total abolition, just as Lu Xun advocated replacing Chinese characters with a Latin  script.  Kanji is 漢字 pronounced in Japanese.  Korea abandoned Hanja which is 漢字 pronounced in Korean.  Vietnam eliminated Han Tu which is 漢字 pronounced in Vietnamese.  Mao wanted to replace 漢字 with a latin based script but he was prevented from doing so.  "The reality that forced Mao to give way in the 1950s and that still prevents Pinyin from having a primary role was made plain by Wang Li, the PRC’s foremost linguist, who supported the basic reform of the Chinese writing system. Wang—himself, of course, a member of the elite group he criticized—said opposition 'comes primarily from intellectuals, especially from high level intellectuals.'"  [John DeFrancis, The Prospect for Chinese Writing Reform at Pinyin.Info]

 

There is nothing 'wrong' with characters.  But characters have duality meanings that has caused intelligent Chinese nationalists to advocate abandoning them.  It was not just the Chinese, every country that had ever used 漢字 as a writing script has tried to move away from it.  The reason is that there are duality meanings in Chinese characters.

 

 

Demonic_Duck,

 

There is a reason why the title of my book reads like a Dan Brown novel.  There is a Duality Code that has to be solved.

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Demonic_Duck

So... I'm confused. Is it fiction, fact, or Dan Brown's trademark mix of fiction and made-up "facts"?

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Angelina

That's why I love the book and I love Chinese characters. A reason-only Crusade against the Chinese writing system would be a disaster. Yes, discourse and an alphabet can be liberating, but there is nothing liberating in attacking "made-up facts". 

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Demonic_Duck

@Angelina you've already read the OP's book? Also I'm not sure what you're getting at with your last sentence. Inaccuracies in Dan Brown's books are pretty well-documented.

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Angelina

I have not read The Duality Code yet, but any potential inaccuracies in it would not make the book look bad. On the contrary, just like Chinese characters should not be eliminated, any books that might be inaccurate should not be dismissed. 

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WKC

Demonic_Duck,

 

My book is narrative non-fiction. 

 

The first line of 白馬論 says:「白馬非馬」,可乎

 

It can be read as: 白 (white) 馬 (horse) 非 (not) 馬 (horse) 可 (can) 乎 (?), whereby it is a logical paradox.

 

Alternatively it can be read as: 白 (pure) 馬 (military) 非 (not) 馬 (horse) 可 (can) 乎 (?), whereby it is an exercise in classical exegesis.

 

Dan Brown used facts to write a work of fiction.  I use fact and classical exegesis to solve the mystery of why every single country that has used 漢字 has tried to move away from it.  The answer lies in understanding dualities.  Fact can be stranger than fiction.

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Angelina

More Umberto Eco than Dan Brown 

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Demonic_Duck

So what research backs up your claim that 白馬 means "pure military" here? Are there contemporary sources which use the same two characters to mean that? Are there commentaries that claim it means that? What does "pure military" even mean?

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Angelina

why every single country that has used 漢字 has tried to move away from it

 

 

because people with this way of thinking:

 

 

 

So what research backs up your claim that 白馬 means "pure military" here? Are there contemporary sources which use the same two characters to mean that? Are there commentaries that claim it means that? What does "pure military" even mean?

 

 

went on a killing spree around the world, trying to "civilize" the (what they saw as) "primitive" cultures  :P

 

 

This has led to attempts to get rid of Chinese characters as part of local modernization movements, e.g. the New Culture Movement. 

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realmayo
went on a killing spree around the world, trying to "civilize" the (what they saw as) "primitive" cultures

 

It's true that China did this, but I don't see how Han expansion led to attempts to get rid of Chinese characters.

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WKC

Demonic_Duck,

 

I maintain two facts:

1. 白 has the meaning of 'white; pure, unblemished; bright' in the Unihan Database.

2. 馬 has the definition of military (武) in the Kangxi Dictionary and the 說文解字.

Therefore it is perfectly valid to read 白馬 as 'pure military'.

 

The 士 were the original Chinese warriors, the original Chinese military, therefore 武 and 士 are synonym dualities.  From ancient beginnings they stratified and became the 武士,  士大夫 and 士族 who were all 文士.  The Duality Code is the private language of the 文士.  The 'pure military' discourse may be viewed as an exercise in classical exegesis for the 士 who were the 文士 who ran the bureaucracies of imperial China.

 

Mao was prevented from replacing Chinese characters in order to eliminate the Duality Code.  So he did the next best thing...  He repressed the 文士.  This leads us to the Anti-Rightist Movement and the Cultural Revolution.  Understanding the Duality Code yields unique perspectives on historical events.

 

Angelina,

 

Quite a good guess.  But I cannot reveal everything in my book.

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