>Linda wrote:
> >
> > Here's a page that actually shows the difference between traditional and
> > simplified Chinese characters:
> >
> > http://www.chinese-outpost.com/language/characters/char0030.asp
> >
> > I personally prefer the traditional characters, but obviously the
> > simplified character are...simpler. :)
>No, they aren't. Only a few hundred characters have official simplified
>forms, and that means that characters incorporating the same components
>(historically) have lost their resemblance to each other, so characteres
>that were formerly similar in sound or meaning now aren't.

I did not say that every character had a simplified form, but the majority
of characters that have been simplified have fewer strokes, and are thus
easier/faster to write. Yes, the sounds and radicals of characters have
evolved, so that radicals that once were depicted one way are now written
Take for example, she-4, "to shoot":
"The character has been corrupted through time. Originally, the 'torso'
was a picture of an arrow on a bow, and the 'thumb' was a hand drawing a
bow, whence 'to shoot.'" (McNaughton pg. 62)

> > It's like the difference in English between "light" and "lite".
>No, it isn't. Those are both spellings that point to the same
>pronunciation, but simplification was done without regard to whether the
>phonetic portions of the characters would still relate to characters
>with the relevant pronunciations.

This was a vague example for the lay person. I was illustrating the fact
that English writers have corrupted the English language for the sake of
shorthand. Most characters that have both simplified and complex forms
still have the same pronunciation, but there are usually fewer strokes.

> > Most characters are made up of 2 or more "radicals", which are basically
> > picture-thoughts which, when combined, make up a descriptive word or
> thought.
>No, they aren't.
>Most characters are made up of exactly two components, one, the
>"radical," giving a more or less good indication of the meaning (the
>semantic field); the other, the "phonetic," giving an indication of the
>pronunciation (2000 years ago, when they were standardized, the phonetic
>portion gave an exact or nearly exact representation of the
>pronunciation, but naturally the Chinese languages have changed while
>the script remained the same).

Didn't I just say this? Yes, most characters are meaning-sound compounds
OR meaning - meaning compounds, and the structure of characters is usually
two "or more" radicals - I consider what you call phonetics radicals as
well, because they are made up of radicals, even though it is their sound
that contributes to the meaning of the character. There are single part
characters as well, such as "man" or "gate".

> > If you look at the first character listed for "hua" (speech) on the website
> > I gave above, the left-hand part of the character means "word", and is a
> > pictograph of words flowing out of a mouth (3 lines and a dot coming out of
> > a square box). The right hand part of the character means "tongue", and is
> > a picture of a tongue sticking out of a mouth. Put the two together, and
> > voila! word + tongue = speech. :)
>Only a very tiny proportion of all the characters are constructed that

This was just an example on the way some meaning-meaning compounds are

> > The traditional character listed for jian (see) is a huge eye with legs.
>Actually it's 'eye' + 'man'; but it's likely that the "man" component is
>actually a phonetic, /jen/. (But 'eye' itself is now considered one of
>the 214 radicals and not usually decomposed.)

No, the bottom half of the character is the radical for legs. Please note
the crook in the right hand side of the radical, and also reference page 67
of McNaughton and the radical chart. If the bottom half of the character
was the radical for "man" (or the radical for eight, depending on how you
interpret it), the character would represent 'Bei' - "cowrie".
I quote again from McNaughton - "The modern form of 'see' = 'eye' over
'legs'. It comes from a drawing of a man in which the eye was drawn large
to suggest 'to see; to perceive'." (pg 67)

> > It's really interesting to look at the original Chinese characters some
> > 2000 years ago, they look more like the words they describe. If anyone is
> > interested, I can post some examples of early scripts.
>No, by 1 A.D. the characters pretty much had their modern shapes
>(depending on calligraphic style). For shapes that vaguely resemble
>their pictographic origins, you need to look at the earliest known
>examples, the oracle bones from the late Shang dynasty (ca. 1250 B.C.).
>Even then, if you didn't know what they were supposed to represent, you
>wouldn't be able to figure out the pictures.

I was generalizing on the date. And I still think characters from 1 AD
look interesting, because there was more than one kind of script, and, in
my opinion, seal script especially looks at least more like the original
pictographs than the regular script in use today. Please note from the
Sanzijing, or Three Character Classics, 4 of the basic Chinese scripts:
kaishu, or regular script; caoshu, or draft script; lishu, or clerical
script; and zhuanshu, or seal script. During the reign of Qin Shi Huangdi,
in 221-206 BC, the writing system was standardized for governmental
business purposes with "xiaozhuan", or small seal script, which I think
still looks more like picture writing than what is in use today. I am
talking about appearances alone and not by how close the radical formation
matches what is in use today. (Information taken from "Precursors and Early
Stages of the Chinese Script", by Roger Goepper - page 280)

If you really want to get into actual pictoral images, yes, you will have
to go back to the Shang period, circa 1500 - 1050 BC, but I was not talking
about these, I was referring more to the seal script, which dates to the
5th century BC or before, but was in use 2000 yrs ago and is still seen
more recently than this.

> > If you are interested in writing Chinese and pictograph origins, I
> > recommend "Reading and Writing Chinese", by William McNaughton. It goes
> > into detail on many common pictographs, including strokes. Unfortunately,
> > it does not use the more widely used pinyin system for English
> > pronounciation, but I can understand because the pinyin pronounciations
> > rarely make sense to English speakers.
> > (i.e. "Xue" [study] is pronounced shooay, "Chi" [to eat] is pronounced
> > churr, and "Qi" [breath] is pronounced chee. You get the idea.)
>Anyone studying Chinese seriously will need to know both pinyin (to
>understand anything published in China) and Wade-Giles (the former
>standard; to understand anything published in Taiwan, and anything
>published between the 1890s and the 1960s).

Yes, I did not say they didn't, however I did say one is more widely used now.

I apologize for not being clear and exact about what I intended; however I
did not want to write a dissertation on the subject, but rather share a few
examples intended for those who are interested.
Apparently, however, I did not get my point across so hopefully this reply
will assist in that. I am not a professor of Chinese, and I do not claim
to be an expert. However, I do like to share a love of learning
pictographs, and if I need to fully explain and cite examples every time,
then I will. However, I do not wish to do this and this takes the
enjoyment out of sharing this knowledge. I was posting because I felt I
had something valid to share with the list that might be of interest to
other list members.


-- Linda