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Posts: 373

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Q: Chinese as a language: Doomed to die?

I've been in China for some time now. Enough time to realise that Chinese people seem to think that English and Chinese are the worlds two greatest languages.

I hate to beg to differ but...

What exactly does great mean? Big? Like the great wall?

Well if Chinese is great because a lot of people speak Chinese then I agree, but, on the other hand, if they mean important (and they do): I don't understand.

Chinese, in my humble opinion, is archaic and doomed to disappear or be forced to adapt (we all know how China and it's people fail to adapt quickly to anything).

English is the worlds greatest language thanks to:

1) The English Empire conquering half the world.
2) Simple grammar.
3) The internet.

The Internet assured the future of the English language but causes headaches and sleepless nights for the Chinese. It's common knowledge that the eastern computer under-performs because of the extra CPU cycles used in order to adapt to Chinese. That's right China didn't adapt to computers rather computers adapted for them. Way before computers Chinese people almost self-destructed because in the west we had type-writers and they didn't. The guy who invented the Chinese type-writer was given a Nobel prize if I'm not mistaken (such was his contribution to a lost cause). They force the population to learn Pinyin. This only proves my point and I'm not going to explain why.

The Chinese language faces an uncertain future. This primitive language is too archaic to be a worldwide language. Spanish, French, German... These are great and important languages. Chinese, well I'm sorry to say, that when tomorrow comes, it's a language only for the Chinese, who, will still be speaking and writing in Martian come 1000 years time; because...

.. they wont want to admit that their culture is anything but that which it is; because otherwise they will lose face. Puzzled

The problem with Chinese losing face is that they have been faceless for a very long time and they don't realise it. Love You've got to love them, they are so innocent. Tongue

8 years 15 weeks ago in  Culture - China

 
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The problem with Chinese (and I mean as a written language - spoken "Chinese" is made up of a bunch of totally different languages) besides from the obvious computing issues already stated, is that it's pretty much fixed and will not grow and evolve unless official changes to the language are made. It's been like this for a while. For example, train. 火车 -huoche - literally "fire cart" = train.

Any "new" word or concept usually needs to be made from already existing characters. Prime examples:

量子力学 - liang zi li xue - "measure/quantity - offspring/seed - power/capacity - knowledge/school" = (loosely) the study of the amount of power from (inferred from yuanzi - "origin seeds") atoms = Quantum Mechanics.

航天飞机 - hang tian fei ji - navigate/boat - sky/heavens - fly - machine = flying machine that navigates the heavens = Space Shuttle.

Well, at least they're slightly descriptive, but they're bulky and if you don't happen to know that these 4 characters put together mean this specific thing, well too bad for you. There are other flying machines that navigate the heavens...

The "naming process" is remarkably similar to how the Vatican comes up with modern Latin terms for things even though Latin is technically a "dead" language.

In media advertising, sometimes companies will "create" new characters, usually by adding a radical to give a specific sound to a character that means a specific thing:

Here's a good link explaining that: http://weber.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/chin/mojicakes.html

But keep in mind, this isn't exactly creating a new character, it's more like in English how I could write "kewl" to mean "cool" or "donutz" to mean "doughnuts". You wouldn't ever find these characters in a dictionary.

In most spoken variants, there is also a set number of actual spoken words. In Mandarin, just over 400 combinations of initials and finals X 4 tones = just over 1,600 actual sounds, all of which are already used multiple times (look up any tone variation of "shi" in a dictionary - different character, but the same sound means more than 1 thing). So now, some names are phonetic pronunciations of other words, which in itself is just confusing:

可口可乐 - ke kou ke le - can mouth can happy - Coca Cola. Sounds similar spoken, but if you didn't know what a coke was and you tried to read this, what the hell would it mean?!?!

Anyway, "Chinese" is only useful in China, and often only useful in a specific city or region.

English is useful just about anywhere on the planet (even China). The hopes of making Chinese as common as English is also just silly and wishful thinking. English is everywhere simply because it can evolve and grow and absorb other languages. Chinese cannot.

I think it's pretty obvious where this is going.

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8 years 14 weeks ago
 
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Governor

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Very interesting . I learned Latin at school? which is a dead language, why? It was kept up in the English private schools or as they call them Public schools. Many of the public school students became medical doctors as there fathers before them. Their prescriptions were written in Latin so,  for the most part could not be copied. Now the doctors have got the laws changed to benefit themselves and maybe the public. But why did Latin die out?  If the US Latin population  get enough lobbyists.maybe they can get the official language changed to Spanish. With there archaic religion that promotes as many births as possible to keep the bandwagon rolling. The wold is already over populated. From the little I know about Chinese ( my wife is Chinese) it has far too many characters compared with English. Too many phrases that sound the same, can mean something completely different.  It would appear that Mandarin Cantonese etc will eventually go the way of Latin? As far as I know Mandarin is the most spoken language on the planet. I am not sure this is true, I think English is. The Latin"s in California produce more children than the rest of the population combined. The first generation are mainly displaced Mexicans that speak only Spanish,the second generation speak some Spanish, the third generation speaks only English. Who knows? Franck3

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6 years 42 weeks ago
 
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Did anyone ever think if the Chinese government would fight long and hard to keep the Chinese people who speak English, to a level where things such as searching freely on the internet, making it possible to travel freely without having to be part of the traditional tour group etc. 

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6 years 42 weeks ago
 
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Simple grammar? I spent my day hammering the basics of passive voice into a dozen Brazilian and Korean heads.

 

Simple, bah! I'm off to go attack a whisky bottle....

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6 years 42 weeks ago
 
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Every language has got to be adjusting and absorbing, so I need no mentioning of foreign words emerged into Chinese language. From your own stand Chinese language is hard to understand especially on the internet, but I can print Chinese characters out with keyboard smoothly, which seems to be magical to you. So the two languages will be in use as different roles on the internet, where English has formula function and Chinese being describing things. 

Learning a bit more Chinese and you may have more thorough understandings.

楼主要多学点中文啊~~~

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6 years 22 weeks ago
 
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no

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6 years 22 weeks ago

There are cookies, bookies and too many rookies for me to sit here trying to be a hooky! Looky Looky don't call me a wooky. Touchy Touchy Feely Feely Spicy Spicy Nicey Nicey & that's what the doctor Ordered!!

 
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World languages include English, Spanish and French. Maybe Russian and Arabic. Not Chinese, because it is only a major language in one country.

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6 years 22 weeks ago
 
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learn English  if you want to survive, prosper and get around  ,,,,,,, it is and will be the language of the world  if the the world is to progress... 

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6 years 22 weeks ago
 
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maybe chinese could get more popular thru breeding but aint no way anybodys going to choose putonga over english if they got to learn a foreign language 

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4 years 3 weeks ago
 
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English currently is the worlds de facto language thanks to 2 historical, and 1 technologically historical facts:

1) The English Empire conquering half the world.
2) The emergence of the USA as a superpower (including the role of Hollywood Cinema).
3) The internet.

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4 years 3 weeks ago
 
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