Chinese alphabet +Runes

From Slashdot Poll | My handwriting …

Re:Same as 4th grade (Score:5, Interesting)

by iNaya (1049686) on Monday February 09, @09:09PM (#26792787)

A good alphabetic system does not require having to memorise a bunch of spelling, but a set of rules. English is certainly not a prime example, but even in English, spelling follows a lot of rules, albiet, inconsistent ones. In most alphabetic languages the correct spelling of a new word can be guessed quite accurately, and in many languages almost perfectly, and even if guessed wrong, a reader should still be able to pick up which word you are trying to write. In Chinese, a new word in written form needs to be looked up in a dictionary, and a new word, when said, is impossible to guess, and hard to find in a dictionary without looking up pinyin first.

When learning to write in an alphabetic writing system, one does not actually remember a bunch of spellings, we learn the rules and go from there. Even in English with its inconsistent writing system, we don’t learn all the spellings. There are several rules for how to write certain sounds, but we are not forced to remember each spelling. We simply learn which rules apply to each word. Spelling has a certain syntax.

In Korean, Japanese, Italian, Spanish etc. a written form can be pronounced perfectly from the first glance at it. When hearing a word in one of these languages (when pronounced in the ‘standard’ way) it is usually possible to get the correct spelling on the first attempt.

The other thing with English, is that when reading, if you come across a word for which you know, but have never seen it before, you will almost always be able to know which word it means. This is not possible in Chinese unless guessing the word from context.

There are certain advantages to having ideographs, which I have not touched upon yet, such as reducing vagueness. For instance, in an alphabet, several words will be spelt and said the same, however, by writing in ideographic form, the correct word can be chosen straight away. But it still requires that the ideograph is known.

In Korean, for instance, the verb sseu-da has 3 main meanings (write / wear / use), which are usually picked from context (you don’t wear with a pencil, and you don’t write with a t-shirt), but when written in Hanzi instead of Hanguel the word can be known without understanding the context.

Anyway, a good alphabetic system allows one to read / write without learning individual spellings. In Hanzi / Hanji / Kanji, the written form must be known. Stroke order does not really need to be remembered. There are certain rules, the main one is “top to bottom, left to right”, but this isn’t followed precisely, certain characters break the “rule”, just as happens in alphabetic languages. English does not have a perfect alphabetic system, as far as I know, so far, the worst, however it is still pretty damned good.

And yes, I would expect any dictionary of common usage between any language should be the same size if following the same methodology. Also, that is absolutely no indication of how easy a language / writing system is to learn. I have seen specialised dictionaries in Chinese that are far bigger than a standard dictionary in English, for instance, I have a fire industry terminology dictionary that translates between Korean and Chinese (bloody hard to find by the way), and it is bigger than a standard Oxford English dictionary. However, as far as volume goes, English has by far the biggest dictionaries. Also, in many Chinese dictionaries, there are words made up of several characters (i.e. not a character dictionary, but a word dictionary).

I’m not saying that ideographs are worse, I’m just saying that they take longer to learn. Certainly, once learnt, it is of equal, if not greater utility. For a farmer, who knows a language, but does not know reading or writing at all, it would take a couple of weeks before he could read slowly, and within a year, with practice, quite fluently. That is almost impossible with ideographs.

Re:Due to left handed-ness* (Score:5, Interesting)

by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday February 10, @02:49PM (#26800935)

This is an awfully geeky thing to admit but when I was a kid I was fascinated by Vikings so I learned a couple runesets (anglo-saxon and swedish) and thought that was kind of cool. A few years later I was in school and there was this *amazingly annoying* guy (who, in hindsight, was probably just in desperate need of glasses but his parents were poor) who would sit beside me and copy my notes when I was taking notes in class. It really irritated me, in part because he’d criticize what I was doing and how sloppy my writing was.

So I started taking all my notes in runes.
And after a while it was sort of addictive.

I have a meter-tall stack of notebooks completely filled with runic, from university. It’s english, but it sure doesn’t look like it. The lit classes weren’t very interesting-looking but the notebooks from organic chemistry, particularly the organometallic synthesis ones, are beautiful in a strange way.

Now for the downside: the pretty girls never asked me if they could borrow my notes. Well, okay, NOBODY asked me that, but it was the pretty girls I most missed.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

One Response to “Chinese alphabet +Runes”

  1. Allan Says:

    To master current English spelling, we need to do a lot of memorizing.
    The inconsistent application of our rules makes this necessary. We should be trying to apply our rules consistently.
    Now that there is a relaxation of spelling, thanks to email and texting, the chance is there for us all to try it!