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gwr71

Are you aware of the 8105 simplified Chinese characters of the PRC?

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gwr71

I was advised by a wise man in this forum to start new threads.  So I am going to do just that.

 

As a newbie to Chinese mandarin ( I finished A1  and A2 with PAVC 1 and 2  but restarted it again with A Course in Contemporay Chinese Book 1), I searched the web for the answer of how to determine if a person is fluent in Mandarin.    The answers all seem to congregate on How many characters you learn.

I then again read lots of articles etc. and there were varying opinions.  Some said that if you learn about 3,000 characters you will be able to ready over 90% of chinese newspapers etc.  Another said that you must reach a figure of 8,000 to be really fluent.

I then continue to search and I am guided by MTC 9 levels and it outlines that a person needs to reach 8,000 plus characters to reach C1 and then C2. As MTC is for Taiwan (which is recogised by St Kitts and Nevis, where I live) and it is traditional characters not simplified so I then searched for PRC's  official  position. 

 

The result is I found a website and was able to download the 8,105 simplified and unchanged chinese characters (2013).  I have quoted from the website:

"The Table of General Standard Chinese Characters (通用规范汉字表; Tōngyòng Guīfàn Hànzì Biǎo) is a standard list of 8105 simplified (and unchanged) Chinese characters. The list was issued in late 2013 by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The characters are divided into three levels containing 3500, 3000 and 1605 characters respectively. Characters in group 1 and 2 (the first 6500) are designated as common.

The table below presents all the 8105 characters together with the index number in 通用规范汉字表 (General Standard#) and additional useful data (pinyin, definition, radical, strokes, HSK level, frequency)."

 

so far so good. It corresponds to MTC 8,000 plus characters.

 

Then I focused on the different test: HSK for PRC and TOCFL in Taiwan.  I noted that HSK  has been criticised by proponents for TOCFL and in America and Europe as not up to standard and it is only up to B2 under TOCFL.  

of course I needed to be certain as Confucius Institute (CI) is now in Barbados in the West Indies and CI has partnered with CXC the organization that produces the Ordinary level and Advance Level examinations in the Caribbean.  CXC will introduce Mandarin to the official basket of languages in the Caribbean along with Spanish and French.  

 

Then I read articles on HSK 1-6 and was curious to learn that HSK has only 3,000 characters.  Now I don't know if this is true.  I then got a list of HSK and compared it to the above General Table (2013) and found that a lot of the characters in HSK did not include the characters  in the General table and that the General table went further than HSK list as some characters were unlabeled, of course.  I am talking about the levels 1-6.  

 

Now my question is for persons who have taken HSK is " Does HSK 1-6 only relates to 3000 charcters?"  If not then how many characters are there in the HSK lists?  

If not then is HSK not up to standard as set out in the General table?  I say this not to offend anyone but I am comparing the official list (2013) to HSK.  

 

Are  you as learners of chinese mandarin aware of the official list (2013)?

 

Do you as learners just concerntrate on the HSK list alone?  or is attaining HSK 6 certification just a stepping stone to fluency and you learn the other characters as you broaden your learning experience?

 

I am curious and would like to know what you think.

 

  • Good question! 1

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OneEye

You most certainly do not learn 8000 characters at MTC. 8000 words, yes. Characters, no.

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gwr71

Dear OneEye,

Thanks for the update.  So it is not 8000 characters but words for TOCFL.  I was given a list of 8,000 words from a Nevis person studying in Taiwan.  Now it makes sense.  

Please advise me if you were aware of this 8,105 characters (not words) that is quoted in this thread.  Is this list doable?

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dtcamero

i would think 8k is lowballing it for total simplified characters...

there are at least a couple thousand characters that only get used in one or two place names or personal names. and as many that only appear in one or two words.

it's up to you whether or not they are worth learning, all words have value, but there is an opportunity cost to learning a rare word... one should probably try to learn the commonly occurring words first, at least.

as for commonly occurring characters, 4,000 will make you feel comfortable reading just about anything. 

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OneEye
5 hours ago, gwr71 said:

Please advise me if you were aware of this 8,105 characters (not words) that is quoted in this thread.  Is this list doable?

 

Well, yes, I'm aware of the list, but as someone who compiles and publishes a dictionary of Chinese characters, it's my job to know this sort of thing.

 

Doable? Sure. But what's the point? Most native speakers won't know anywhere near 8500. The first list (of 3500) will probably be plenty for anything you'll ever need. Beyond that, just learn them as they come up in real life. I went to grad school in Taiwan, in the Chinese department, and wrote all my papers in Chinese (of course), and I probably "only" know about 4000 characters.

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imron

The original standard for encoding Chinese on computers (GB2312) contains 6,763 characters.  It covers over 99% of characters in contemporary use in simplified texts.

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roddy
On 06/11/2017 at 2:12 AM, gwr71 said:

I searched the web for the answer of how to determine if a person is fluent in Mandarin.    The answers all seem to congregate on How many characters you learn.

Those aren't good answers. You could 'know' all the characters there are and still be unable to communicate. If you're looking for a goal to set yourself, choosing an appropriate HSK level is probably a reasonable approach. If you've just got interested in what 'fluency' means... good luck...

 

Characters are a factor - a definition of fluency might include 'able to read newspapers and other common written material', which means you need to know a certain number of words, which inevitably means knowing the characters in those words. But that's all. Similarly you can imagine someone with excellent spoken Chinese but no reading or writing skills - are they fluent? 

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gwr71

Thank you all for your input. It has been a learning experience.

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studychinese

8K characters sounds like insanity. I could see someone getting there in terms of recognition but only after most of their life in China, with daily reading and writing (a lot of these characters are going to be rare). 

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gwr71

Dear ST,

I do not agree with your statement.  I just started Mandarin this year.  I developed my own program of learning Mandarin. It is based on the experiences of persons in this forum and others over the years 2011-2017.  I then found relevant books in the following areas:

Nouns, Verbs, Measure Words, Grammer and a series of books based on MTC 9 levels.

I made the following discovery:

a. The Book for nouns which I am using is Longman's Visual Dictionary of Chinese Culture (1999).  It has 308 units with 12,380 nouns/words.  To give you an example Unit 1 - women's clothes has 47 words with 78 different characters.  I estimate that there are about 3,000-4,000 characters alone in this book, maybe more.  I am currently writing out this book in both traditional and simplified characters.  In 12 months I will complete the writing out of this book and then I will give you the exact count.  It will only take 1 1/2 years of writing 4-5 times a week.

b. The Verb book has about 2,001 verbs for everyday uses.  Again I am writing out this book in both traditional and simplified characters.

c. The measure word dictionary has over 150 measure words alone with a lot of examples of nouns.

d. I wrote out PAVC Books 1 and 2 and this is the character count:

Book 1 - about 380 characters.  Book 2 has 614 words and characters.  ( I didn't finish the character count as yet).

 

The above will show within 2 years of studying Mandarin I would have learnt over 4,000 characters maybe up to 5,000 .  The consensus of knowledgeable persons in this forum in this thread and on the internet agree that learning about 3,500-4,000 characters is sufficient for fluency.  

 

That is my experience alone.  Learning Mandarin is a lifelong exercise you never really stop learning.  No matter what level you are you will eventually encounter words and characters that you do not know and will have to consult a dictionary.

 

I pity those Chinese learning English.  Have you ever considered that English has 1,000,000 words.   Mandarin does not have half those numbers.

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dtcamero

lol holy #$@%

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gwr71

i can agree with that statement.

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imron
41 minutes ago, gwr71 said:

I do not agree with your statement.

I look forward to your update in 2 years :mrgreen:

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gwr71

I will give full account of all characters and words in mandarin in both Traditional and Simplified when I have finished the Longman's Book.  I have added A Course in Contemporary Chinese to the list.

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Publius

Learning a language is hard. Any language.

 

But I think 8000 characters is a bit absurd.

 

I once took a hanzi test out of curiosity. According to their estimation, I know 6700 characters. A bit higher than I expected. Because I was under the impression that on average, an educated Chinese person knows about 3000-5000 characters. I consider myself above average. But not too much. So I know 6700 characters. And by MTC standard, I'm at B2 level of my native tongue. Ouch!

 

You wondered how many characters is in HSK 1-6. I can tell you the exact number. 2663 unique characters out of 5000 words in the official vocabulary list. I know because I have sorted the list by hanzi. You can also find the character list on the web.

 

I generally agree with the German/French estimation that HSK 6 is equivalent to CEFR B2 or C1. Considering that 3000 characters are being taught in Chinese primary schools, 2663 characters is like, barely literate.

 

I am also aware of the PRC Tongyong Guifan standard. In fact I have it bookmarked. But the standard serves a different purpose than HSK. It's primarily a guideline for publishers. For example, the level-3 characters come from personal names, place names, technical terms, and characters that appear in school textbooks' wenyan section. I seriously doubt anyone who wasn't working on the standard would know all of them, let alone foreign language learners. One character mentioned in its preface, the simplification of 頫, has no practical use other than to write the name of a Yuan dynasty painter/calligrapher.

 

On the other hand, the standard is hardly exhaustive. I recently have been typing up Qian Zi Wen the Thousand Character Classic, a primer for teaching Chinese characters since the 6th century. There is one character 凊 meaning 'cold, cool' that isn't in the Tongyong Guifan. If the standard is to be taken seriously, all books must print 清 instead. The standard also defined a bunch of characters that at the time of its publishing (June 2013) didn't even have a Unicode representation. For example, (车+酋, #7512) from the same text, a "derived" simplification of 輶, is in the CJK Extension E block, which was added to Unicode 8.0 (June 2015). So if you don't have a font that covers CJK Ext-E, you'll just see a box. (EDIT: The forum tells me that "The value entered includes a character that is not allowed such as an Emoji." Great!)

 

Alright, time for a conclusion. But I've forgotten what I wanted to say... Okay, here it is: 2663 is too little, 8105 is too much. Have a good day!

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Shelley

@gwr71  So your writing will be excellent but what are you doing about speaking and listening? Can you use all these characters that you are painstakingly writing out?

 

I am intrigued in your method and would like to know your what your final aim is and how you intend to get there.

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dtcamero

i think his copying will be excellent... writing ability still TBD

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gwr71

My goal is like everyone else in this forum Fluency.  The difference is in my method of obtaining it.  I started out the same way like most new learners by finding a series of books that teaches from scratch.  Thinking that after I finished those books I would be fluent.  I was wrong and started to look at a structured way of learning.  I then concentrated on Taiwan which naturally lead to Mandarin Training Centre.  I was pleased to get the brochure online of the 9 levels.   I then sought to buy books one level at a time, naturally.  

I had to switch to A Course in Contemporary Chinese and I bought Book 1.  I had help from persons in this forum.  I then read and was informed that the series of books was just an introduction to Mandarin.  I was informed to seek out other source books on Grammer etc..  I found the grammer book: Mandarin Chinese: A Functional Reference Grammer.  Then I found the Longman's Visual Dictionary on Chinese Culture; and the Dictionary of Measure Words.  I then found the book on Verb: 201 Verbs for everyday uses.  

 

I have been learning Spanish for many years without being fluent and realised that in learning any language there are three areas: Verbs, words and Phrases and Grammer.  Grammer is the key.  Without a proper understanding of grammer you cannot be fluent. It is the cement which hold the foundation of any language together.  

 

In learning mandarin I had to add another category: measure word.  You can learn all the nouns you want but without learning the proper measure word you would sound very foolish to a native speaker of Mandarin.  

 

I then added these books to the books under MTC 9 levels.  

 

This is my wholistic approach to Mandarin.  It is very tough and demanding of my time.  It is at times very frustrating but as it was pointed out in this forum, learning mandarin is like a journey of 1,000 miles.  Western version is running the New York marathon.  In the beginning there are lots of persons who are eager and believe they are going to win.  Others just want to finish the race within their best personal time.  Others just are curious and when it becomes too  hard they make excuses and drop out.  The real winner is not the person who comes first it is the personswho crosses the finish line no matter how long it takes.

 

At the end I would be a well rounded learner with a vocabulary of about 15,000 words. All within 2 years.

 

However, knowing all the above will not make me fluent.  I am only half way there.

 

The other half is listening and speaking.  

 

In previous post I stated that if a person does not understand grammer how in the world is that person expected to become fluent.  To achieve fluency a person must know grammer and all the words, phrases, verbs and nouns and measure words.  Listening is only a means to an end.  If a person listens but can only recognize some words and sounds,  a few phrases is that person fluent,

?No.  You have to learn the first half before you start the second half.  Then as you practice listening you will eventually recognize all.  As you know listening is very difficult and you must spend a lot of time on this area before you can be comfortable with Mandarin.

Now you come to speaking and as Mandarin is a tone language you must get tones right.  This is as difficult as listening.  

 

My method is flawed as it has little or no listening and speaking.  I will rely on the cds/mp3s and websites, and youtube with movies, news etc in Mandarin to assist.  There is really no substitute for the real thing.  I don't have an online tutor so I can speak mandarin regularly.  I will have to go to Taiwan and then to HK and spend time there to practice all that I have learnt.  

That is my reality.

 

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Shelley

As I said intriguing,  you will have to keep us posted as to your progress, and hope it goes well.

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