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skylee

Mixing up 稍後 and 稍候

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skylee

I always see signs that say "請稍後".

But it is WRONG. SO WRONG. It drives me mad.

It is very clear that 稍後 means "later" whereas 稍候 means "wait a short while". I don't know why people mix them up. It cannot be caused by a confusion of the simplified characters. Whenever I see such signs I feel agitated, angry and disappointed. I refuse to dine in restaurants which display such a sign. I have told shop keepers about the mistake. I have even written to Citibank to ask them to correct the word on their on-line banking website. But to no avail at all. The pollution goes on. :(

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cometrue

yeah! it's quite often! but most of the mistakes are in traditional chinese, im not sure if it's a correct usage in HK,but it's certainly wrong in simplified chinese.

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confucius

Could it be because both "hou" are 4th tone or is it just radical carelessness? What is your theory on why this error is so rampant?

"Waiting" for your reply.

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skylee

It is possible that all those shops bought the signs from just any stationery shops. And all those signs were manufactured by the same factory which printed the wrong word.

But the Citibank webpage ... (I seldom visit it now so I am not sure if the word has been corrected)

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smithsgj

Get a phonetic system and the problem will go away! (I wonder if there's a dialect where the two hou s are pronounced differently though)

It's like there/their in English -- this drives lots of people mad too.

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Guest 北洋大臣
Get a phonetic system and the problem will go away! (I wonder if there's a dialect where the two hou s are pronounced differently though)

It's like there/their in English -- this drives lots of people mad too.

Why would people have problem with the "hou"s and there/their......

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Ian_Lee

Precisely because there are so many Chinese characters with the same pronounciation, phonetic system is not adaptable.

Unlike English words which rarely overlap in pronounciation, same sound can exist for up to half dozen Chinese characters or more.

If their meanings are not differentiated by written characters in various shapes (that is why I oppose the wanton simplification implemented in Mainland) in writing, then confusion will even get worse.

Japanese language faces the same predicament as Chinese does. For example, "ikura" can mean either how much is it or fish egg. But with the auxilary Kanji existing in their writing, the meaning is much clear.

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roddy
If their meanings are not differentiated by written characters in various shapes (that is why I oppose the wanton simplification implemented in Mainland) in writing, then confusion will even get worse.

I can see this would be true for classical Chinese. But surely for Baihua, anything that can be understood as speech can be understood in writing - the phonetic system is simply a representation of what is pronounced.

Roddy

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Quest
I can see this would be true for classical Chinese. But surely for Baihua, anything that can be understood as speech can be understood in writing - the phonetic system is simply a representation of what is pronounced.

Roddy

That is arguable. It takes a highly trained musician to read sheet music fluently and at the same time produce the sound in her mind, however, it doesn't take much skill for an ordinary man to understand the music piece played to his ears. The eyes and the ears function differently. The ears work well to differentiate different pitches and tones. The eyes tend to group similar objects, making it hard to distinguish similar patterns.

Also speech is often informal. If a speech is confusing or unclear, one can always ask for clarification. However, writing in most occasions should be formal, direct and clear. For Chinese, characters certainly win over phonetic scripts -- please refer to the Shi shi shi shi shi shi post.

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smithsgj

Interesting gender assumptions there Quest. And an interesting point.

The one I've heard more often to object to Roddy's stance is this: Baihua's all very well but there's still a huge gap between the spoken and written forms in modern Chinese. Like in writing "when" is usually just "shi" while in speech it's "de shihou". If people spoke as they wrote they wouldn't be able to communicate. I don't know how true this is, but I'm sure if Pinyin were adopted as the writing system people would have to adapt their style to get it more like the spoken form. Probably no bad thing thinking about it.

北洋大臣 don't you get the analogy between hou and there/their? Just that in both cases the pronunciation is the same and the written form different.

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Guest 北洋大臣
Interesting gender assumptions there Quest. And an interesting point.

The one I've heard more often to object to Roddy's stance is this: Baihua's all very well but there's still a huge gap between the spoken and written forms in modern Chinese. Like in writing "when" is usually just "shi" while in speech it's "de shihou". If people spoke as they wrote they wouldn't be able to communicate. I don't know how true this is' date=' but I'm sure if Pinyin were adopted as the writing system people would have to adapt their style to get it more like the spoken form. Probably no bad thing thinking about it.

北洋大臣 don't you get the analogy between hou and there/their? Just that in both cases the pronunciation is the same and the written form different.[/quote']

Of course, I was saying there's hardly a way you can get it wrong, as long as you have the ability of using context clues, I believe most people can possess it.

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smithsgj

Well the point is that people get both of these things wrong often. And there's no need to quote the whole post.

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roddy

Very interesting point indeed from Quest, though I'd argue that the analogy doesn't hold up - reading and listening are everyday activities, and there's plenty of available practice.

The formality / informality point is very valid though. What would be interesting is to listen to some more formal speech (say news broadcasts / press conferences) and see how understandable that would be in pinyin.

As a general principle of increasing accessibility, I'm of the opinion that writing should tend towards the spoken.

Roddy

PS Skylee - we will get back on topic soon. For now, please 稍後 . . .

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