Linda wrote:
> >Linda wrote:
> > >
> > > Here's a page that actually shows the difference between traditional and
> > > simplified Chinese characters:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > 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
> differently.

And that is _bad_ for the functioning of Chinese writing. If they had
"simplified" all the _components_ of characters -- both radicals and
phonetics -- they might have accomplished a goal, but it's likely that
such a large reduction in the amount of information conveyed in a
character would render the system unusable.

> 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)

I'm not familiar with the book by McNaughton, but the character you
refer to comprises the three-stroke radical 'inch' (exceptionally, it's
on the left) and the phonetic [she]. The archery usage isn't its primary
or original meaning.

Apparently McNaughton is a book intended to make it easier for you to
remember some number of characters by inventing pictures that might be
imagined into the present-day forms of the characters.

You would do well to read a serious book on Chinese writing (such as
John DeFrancis's *Chinese Language: Fact or Fantasy?* (Honolulu, 1985).

> > > 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.

Nor is that the origin of the spelling <lite> ...

> > > 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

No. 81% of characters (according to one investigation) are of the
meaning-sound type. (See Mair in *The World's Writing Systems*, which is
closer at hand than DeFrancis is.)

> 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".

Then you are at odds with every scholar of Chinese in the world. In
Chinese studies, the "radical" is the meaning-conveying portion of the
character. A list of 214 is used in dictionaries today.

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

Only a very tiny proportion of all the characters are constructed that

> > > 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)

Sorry! 'man' and 'legs' are both pronounced [ren2] ([jen2] in
Wade-Giles), so _if_ the radical 'see' were itself to be broken down
into components, it would be the radical 'eye' plus the phonetic [jen2]
(represented by 'legs' rather than 'man').

> > > 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.

But you said you could see the pictures! Which you can't in any of the
familiar varieties.

> > > 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.
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...