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View Diary: Daily Kos Elections Weekly Open Thread: Good Friday Edition (309 comments)

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  •  Japanese pronunciation (0+ / 0-)

    is more phonetical. Mandarin is not easy for English-speakers but I think its grammar is not as complex as English. I only know a bit of survival-level Mandarin, however.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:38:02 PM PDT

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    •  writing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      English uses 26 characters. Japanese uses about 2,000. Chinese uses...something like 4,000? and for both of the Asian languages that figure only includes characters used in a regular setting (as opposed to specialized).

      Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

      by sapelcovits on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 03:26:01 AM PDT

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      •  Yeah, if you want to learn Kanji (0+ / 0-)

        Hiragana is not nearly as complex. And there are way more than 4,000 Chinese characters. The 4-year-old child of the couple I shared a hard seat section with in 1987 already knew several hundred characters. There are tens of thousands.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:26:45 AM PDT

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        •  well, if you don't learn kanji (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, jeffmd

          you might as well be illiterate. and I know there are tens of thousands of characters in existence, but to my knowledge only 4,000 are used "regularly" (i.e. outside of specialized fields).

          Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

          by sapelcovits on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 04:55:15 AM PDT

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          •  I disgree (0+ / 0-)

            If a 4-year-old girl already knew hundreds of characters, you think a literate adult knows only about 4,000?

            To your other point, I think we can distinguish between learning how to speak a language and how to read and write it.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 01:06:31 PM PDT

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            •  sure (0+ / 0-)

              of course reading/writing and speaking are different, all I'm saying is learning hiragana alone means nothing and for all practical purposes doesn't amount to literacy because kanji are so ubiquitous.

              as for Chinese, Wiki gives two figures for the number of characters in common use, but 4,000 isn't too far off from either. also, if this girl was someone you were with on a flight, I'm guessing she was from an urban/reasonably privileged background, but if you look at all of the people in the countryside who don't have as many resources, do they learn as many characters? Somehow I doubt it.

              Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

              by sapelcovits on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:39:35 PM PDT

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              •  She was with me in the hard seats (0+ / 0-)

                (lowest class) of a long-distance local train. Her family was proletarian, as I remember. She had a little book she doodled in and had also written probably 300-400 some-odd characters.

                Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                by MichaelNY on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:32:01 PM PDT

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                •  Where were you going? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MichaelNY
                  •  From Wuxi to Beijing, 21 hours or so (it was late) (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Audrid

                    And again, this was in 1987. The hard seats were actually vertical benches padded with foam covered by green plastic. I got about 3 hours' sleep between 4 and 7 AM or so by putting my head on the table we 4 people shared. The couple was very nice; they gave me some of their food for breakfast (basic good noodle soup). I hadn't brought food to share with them, so I made sure I brought food on the train to share with fellow passengers the next time I took a long-distance train - from Beijing to Guangzhou (33 hours).

                    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                    by MichaelNY on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:53:55 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  4,000 - 5,000 characters (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MichaelNY

              ...are really all that are needed; sapelcovits is correct. They account for the vast, vast majority of characters needed, even in fairly specialized fields.

              Taylor and Taylor (1995) discusses this on p. 54.

              3,800 characters account for 99.9%, and 5,200 characters account for 99.99%.
              Your reasoning may apply to words as we conceive them in English, but not "words" (that represent distinct ideas) in Chinese. For example, "telephone" is its own word in English, but its Chinese equivalent (电话) is comprised of two separate characters (symbolizing "electric" and "talk" respectively), and is not its own word.

              Incidentally, I also agree with sapelcovits' assessment of the necessity of Kanji. In my experience, most places names as written using that script. For me (as a Mandarin speaker/reader), this has the side benefit of letting me navigate in Japan (...which I had to do as a 10 year-old traveling alone once) even without any knowledge of spoken Japanese (thought the fairly ubiquitous English signage helps too, I suppose...).

              Editor, Daily Kos Elections. IL-07.

              by jeffmd on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 02:40:50 PM PDT

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              •  Very surprising (0+ / 0-)

                I was thinking that because many Chinese words are made up of 2 or more characters, you'd actually need to know more and not fewer characters. I'm guessing most regulars on this sub-site know over 10,000 English words.

                Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                by MichaelNY on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 10:33:00 PM PDT

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                •  yeah but (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MichaelNY

                  a lot of those words are mix and match. if you have x number of characters, the number of words you can get with permutations of those characters is very high.

                  Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

                  by sapelcovits on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 02:26:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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