My skepticism about chinese language

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My skepticism about chinese language

#1  Postby mawanli » May 16, 2011 7:55 am

I think chinese language is not a right language.
I mean chinese language is a burden for chinese people. In recent years, I have tried to get understanding from other chinese people about this question, but I found it is difficult to think such fundamental question in chinese, and it is obviously easy to think this question in english. Certainly I think I cannot draw such a conclusion without english.
Sorry, my english is not very well but I am luky to find such a forum, because I can discuss with someone my question which confused me so much.
I wish I can find some friends here,Thank you for your paient.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#2  Postby jamest » May 16, 2011 12:08 pm

mawanli wrote:I think chinese language is not a right language.
I mean chinese language is a burden for chinese people. In recent years, I have tried to get understanding from other chinese people about this question, but I found it is difficult to think such fundamental question in chinese, and it is obviously easy to think this question in english. Certainly I think I cannot draw such a conclusion without english.
Sorry, my english is not very well but I am luky to find such a forum, because I can discuss with someone my question which confused me so much.
I wish I can find some friends here,Thank you for your paient.

What problems? Philosophical?

I doubt this is a problem specific to Chinese. Philosophers have always felt constrained by the language in which they try to express themselves, often requiring that they invent and define new concepts (in terms of common language) in order to tackle the issues which are troubling them.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#3  Postby epepke » May 16, 2011 12:36 pm

Are you referring to something like this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapir-Whorf
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#4  Postby mawanli » May 16, 2011 1:19 pm

Chinese language is a hieroglyphic,and the other hieroglyphics have disappeared.

It was several years ago,when I had noticed that chinese language is a mistake.It is difficult for me to persude me to believe that there is such a mistake arround me because I always has doubt in my opinion about this question. After comparing some fundamental factors between china and american, I think there is two factors make me trust using chinese language is a mistake.
The first,chinese people believe two not one, no one can live under such belief that there are two elements pushing the world ahead. But chinese people, whether they agreed or not, they believed two at last. After my study of many years, I come to a conclusion That the reason of such belief is the language.
The second, verb is the core of english , and verb has the past tense, the present tense and the future tense, but verb is not so in chinese language, and verb is not the core of the chinese language. Because action is the most important element of person, a language must make the words of action become the core of talking. But chinese language neglected its duties.
Time is an important concept but chinese language fail to do well in this job,so it will be given up at last.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#5  Postby epepke » May 16, 2011 2:22 pm

mawanli wrote:Chinese language is a hieroglyphic,and the other hieroglyphics have disappeared.

It was several years ago,when I had noticed that chinese language is a mistake.It is difficult for me to persude me to believe that there is such a mistake arround me because I always has doubt in my opinion about this question. After comparing some fundamental factors between china and american, I think there is two factors make me trust using chinese language is a mistake.
The first,chinese people believe two not one, no one can live under such belief that there are two elements pushing the world ahead. But chinese people, whether they agreed or not, they believed two at last. After my study of many years, I come to a conclusion That the reason of such belief is the language.
The second, verb is the core of english , and verb has the past tense, the present tense and the future tense, but verb is not so in chinese language, and verb is not the core of the chinese language. Because action is the most important element of person, a language must make the words of action become the core of talking. But chinese language neglected its duties.
Time is an important concept but chinese language fail to do well in this job,so it will be given up at last.


So your answer to my previous question is basically "yes." What you are saying is that the language affects the way of thinking.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#6  Postby Rilx » May 16, 2011 2:28 pm

Is the problem that Chinese is an isolating language? See the Wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolating_language

Some people say that many western languages, especially English, are changing towards isolating morphology.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#7  Postby jamest » May 16, 2011 2:37 pm

epepke wrote:So your answer to my previous question is basically "yes." What you are saying is that the language affects the way of thinking.

It does, but this doesn't mean that people cannot transcend the limits of their language. For instance, even though Chinese people don't [apparently] talk in terms of past or future actions, I'm sure that the conception of such notions is not beyond them - even if they have to think outside the box, so to speak. As I said, philosophers (amongst many) have a history of inventing new words to reflect the focus of their minds. In fact, all languages are in a state of constant flux, so that the problem raised by mawanli is not essentially insurmountable. Though I appreciate that some languages might present more obstacles than others.

mawanli... did you discover these problems before or after you started to learn English? Just curious.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#8  Postby katja z » May 16, 2011 2:50 pm

mawanli wrote:Chinese language is a hieroglyphic,and the other hieroglyphics have disappeared.

It was several years ago,when I had noticed that chinese language is a mistake.It is difficult for me to persude me to believe that there is such a mistake arround me because I always has doubt in my opinion about this question. After comparing some fundamental factors between china and american, I think there is two factors make me trust using chinese language is a mistake.
The first,chinese people believe two not one, no one can live under such belief that there are two elements pushing the world ahead. But chinese people, whether they agreed or not, they believed two at last. After my study of many years, I come to a conclusion That the reason of such belief is the language.
The second, verb is the core of english , and verb has the past tense, the present tense and the future tense, but verb is not so in chinese language, and verb is not the core of the chinese language. Because action is the most important element of person, a language must make the words of action become the core of talking. But chinese language neglected its duties.
Time is an important concept but chinese language fail to do well in this job,so it will be given up at last.


First: the language is not "a hieroglyphic", it's the writing system that is based on ideograms. Language =/= the writing system it uses.

Second: the argument about the verb is nonsense. Yes, languages differ in which relations they grammaticalise, and how. But they all do their basic job - which is communication within their respective communities. As the communication needs change, so also does the language. Or a community shifts to another language; this is not an unusual occurence, but it has nothing to do with the language in itself (its structure etc.) and everything to do with the extra-linguistic (sociopolitical ...) factors.

I don't understand what you mean by "chinese people believe two not one", but again this seems to refer to beliefs, not specifically to language. If this is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I'll state at once that its strong form doesn't make sense at all, or we wouldn't be able to learn other languages (which we obviously can do, in fact most people in the world use more than one language in their everyday lives).
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#9  Postby epepke » May 16, 2011 3:21 pm

jamest wrote:It does, but this doesn't mean that people cannot transcend the limits of their language. For instance, even though Chinese people don't [apparently] talk in terms of past or future actions, I'm sure that the conception of such notions is not beyond them - even if they have to think outside the box, so to speak. As I said, philosophers (amongst many) have a history of inventing new words to reflect the focus of their minds. In fact, all languages are in a state of constant flux, so that the problem raised by mawanli is not essentially insurmountable. Though I appreciate that some languages might present more obstacles than others.


Maybe; maybe not. There's a lot of conflict between linguistic universalists and relativists.

In any event, arguing about it is secondary. I'm trying to figure out what he's saying first.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#10  Postby jamest » May 16, 2011 11:33 pm

This thread shouldn't have been moved from the philosophy forum. Apart from the fact that it seems to have killed the conversation, the mover of this thread has failed to account for the fact that the OPer was specifically asking about the limitations of language in relation to how IT could deal with the fundamentals of philosophical thought. As such, the focus was upon language in relation to philosophy. As such, the floor should be open to philosophers to debate this linguistic problem.

Another bad call, I think.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#11  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 4:02 am

epepke wrote:So your answer to my previous question is basically "yes." What you are saying is that the language affects the way of thinking.


What we are doing now is we are using language to discuss the problem of language, and I think we get into a original question not a basic question. As for a basic question, we can tackle it by our language, but we cannot deal a original question about language in the same way. So I mean we are dealing with the origin of the language.
I imagine that the god give many choices to the ancestors from many nationalities, and english choose english,chinese choose chinese,so is it accidental? And for me, it is unfortunate to have chinese as my mother language. But that is not the truth, and each language had taken a long time to be shaped, so choosing a language as mother language cannot be an accidental thing, it must be a mistake which has lived a long time.
Chinese people have many confusion about the origin of the world, so there is a belief in china that every thing in the world has the same origin named by chinese people pre-origin.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#12  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 4:24 am

Rilx wrote:Is the problem that Chinese is an isolating language? See the Wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isolating_language

Some people say that many western languages, especially English, are changing towards isolating morphology.


I think what I am in doubt is not of linguistics, and i think it will need many discussions and even many actions to solve this problem, because it has taken my many years to fix this question.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#13  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 4:37 am

jamest wrote:mawanli... did you discover these problems before or after you started to learn English? Just curious.


I began to learn english in my middle school.
Without english, I cannot fix this question and it has taken my many years to fix this question. Finally, I have found I can expessed this question and I am so glad. But later, I found that it is diffult to continue thinking this question in chinese, and i begin thinking this question in english.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#14  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 4:56 am

katja z wrote:First: the language is not "a hieroglyphic", it's the writing system that is based on ideograms. Language =/= the writing system it uses.

Second: the argument about the verb is nonsense. Yes, languages differ in which relations they grammaticalise, and how. But they all do their basic job - which is communication within their respective communities. As the communication needs change, so also does the language. Or a community shifts to another language; this is not an unusual occurence, but it has nothing to do with the language in itself (its structure etc.) and everything to do with the extra-linguistic (sociopolitical ...) factors.

I don't understand what you mean by "chinese people believe two not one", but again this seems to refer to beliefs, not specifically to language. If this is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I'll state at once that its strong form doesn't make sense at all, or we wouldn't be able to learn other languages (which we obviously can do, in fact most people in the world use more than one language in their everyday lives).


Actions is the core of the concept of "me", and I think that a rational thinker must know this.
Chinese people did not think so in the past, they even draw a conclusion that any result without action is the highest purpose of the ancient goverment. And today this minds has some influences in everywhere in china.
'dao" is a religion in china about two elments pushing the world ahead, and it is believed by many people in china. Without the mistake of language, the belief can not be produced.i think we can talk more about this topic.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#15  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 5:38 am

jamest wrote:This thread shouldn't have been moved from the philosophy forum. Apart from the fact that it seems to have killed the conversation, the mover of this thread has failed to account for the fact that the OPer was specifically asking about the limitations of language in relation to how IT could deal with the fundamentals of philosophical thought. As such, the focus was upon language in relation to philosophy. As such, the floor should be open to philosophers to debate this linguistic problem.

Another bad call, I think.


Thank you, the basic question for language can be seen as a linguistic problem, but we are talking about the original question of language.
It is not easy to doubt my mother language, and I donnot know whether the decision of god to make englsih say english and chinese say chinese is a decision based on philosophical thought. So if a language is a mistake and there is a god here, it must be his job. And why I am putting so much attention to the job of god, what I can say is I can not pay attention to the other questions.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#16  Postby katja z » May 17, 2011 7:34 am

mawanli wrote:
But that is not the truth, and each language had taken a long time to be shaped, so choosing a language as mother language cannot be an accidental thing, it must be a mistake which has lived a long time.


Uh, no one chooses their mother language. Also, leave gods out of it. Linguistic forms evolve from pre-existing linguistic forms. Gods have no place in linguistics; if you insist on a role for a god, take this to the theism forum.

mawanli wrote:
katja z wrote:First: the language is not "a hieroglyphic", it's the writing system that is based on ideograms. Language =/= the writing system it uses.

Second: the argument about the verb is nonsense. Yes, languages differ in which relations they grammaticalise, and how. But they all do their basic job - which is communication within their respective communities. As the communication needs change, so also does the language. Or a community shifts to another language; this is not an unusual occurence, but it has nothing to do with the language in itself (its structure etc.) and everything to do with the extra-linguistic (sociopolitical ...) factors.

I don't understand what you mean by "chinese people believe two not one", but again this seems to refer to beliefs, not specifically to language. If this is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I'll state at once that its strong form doesn't make sense at all, or we wouldn't be able to learn other languages (which we obviously can do, in fact most people in the world use more than one language in their everyday lives).


Actions is the core of the concept of "me", and I think that a rational thinker must know this.


And how does this relate to the points I've raised?

'dao" is a religion in china about two elments pushing the world ahead, and it is believed by many people in china. Without the mistake of language, the belief can not be produced.i think we can talk more about this topic.


Nonsense, specific religious beliefs are not produced because a community uses a certain language rather than another.Many religions have fervent followers who speak many languages. Heck, the Bible was produced in several languages, it was never a monolingual construct to start with.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#17  Postby nunnington » May 17, 2011 7:51 am

Wow, is somebody resurrecting strong Sapir-Whorf? I see katza z is dealing with it satisfactorily. Go, go, team linguistics!

Reminds me of teaching Linguistics 101, please sir, is it true that the Hopi don't have tense, and therefore can't talk about time? Language X doesn't have a word for blue, so does that mean that they can't see blue? And Cockney often uses the historic present, so Cockerknees find the past a very hard concept to grasp. I'm going round the johnny 'orner, innit, guv, when I see this geezer standing, and I thinks, mmm, he looks like an advocate of strong Sapir-Whorf. Cor blimey.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#18  Postby nunnington » May 17, 2011 8:12 am

katja z wrote:
mawanli wrote:
But that is not the truth, and each language had taken a long time to be shaped, so choosing a language as mother language cannot be an accidental thing, it must be a mistake which has lived a long time.


Uh, no one chooses their mother language. Also, leave gods out of it. Linguistic forms evolve from pre-existing linguistic forms. Gods have no place in linguistics; if you insist on a role for a god, take this to the theism forum.

mawanli wrote:
katja z wrote:First: the language is not "a hieroglyphic", it's the writing system that is based on ideograms. Language =/= the writing system it uses.

Second: the argument about the verb is nonsense. Yes, languages differ in which relations they grammaticalise, and how. But they all do their basic job - which is communication within their respective communities. As the communication needs change, so also does the language. Or a community shifts to another language; this is not an unusual occurence, but it has nothing to do with the language in itself (its structure etc.) and everything to do with the extra-linguistic (sociopolitical ...) factors.

I don't understand what you mean by "chinese people believe two not one", but again this seems to refer to beliefs, not specifically to language. If this is about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, I'll state at once that its strong form doesn't make sense at all, or we wouldn't be able to learn other languages (which we obviously can do, in fact most people in the world use more than one language in their everyday lives).


Actions is the core of the concept of "me", and I think that a rational thinker must know this.


And how does this relate to the points I've raised?

'dao" is a religion in china about two elments pushing the world ahead, and it is believed by many people in china. Without the mistake of language, the belief can not be produced.i think we can talk more about this topic.


Nonsense, specific religious beliefs are not produced because a community uses a certain language rather than another.Many religions have fervent followers who speak many languages. Heck, the Bible was produced in several languages, it was never a monolingual construct to start with.


In fact, I seem to remember that linguistics was given an early impetus in the US because of the translation zeal which gripped some missionaries. This brought up many issues to do with how syntactic and semantic structures could be taken from one language to another, even if they appeared to be very different. For example, I think Kenneth Pike (non-Chomskyan American linguist), began in the Summer School of Linguistics, which was involved in Bible translation. But SIL was later accused of 'imperialist' activity amongst tribal peoples, for example, encouraging them to move from land, which happened to be oil-rich. I don't know the full facts about this.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#19  Postby mawanli » May 17, 2011 8:29 am

nunnington wrote:Wow, is somebody resurrecting strong Sapir-Whorf? I see katza z is dealing with it satisfactorily. Go, go, team linguistics!

Reminds me of teaching Linguistics 101, please sir, is it true that the Hopi don't have tense, and therefore can't talk about time? Language X doesn't have a word for blue, so does that mean that they can't see blue? And Cockney often uses the historic present, so Cockerknees find the past a very hard concept to grasp. I'm going round the johnny 'orner, innit, guv, when I see this geezer standing, and I thinks, mmm, he looks like an advocate of strong Sapir-Whorf. Cor blimey.


English is not my native language and I donnot understand some words in your post.
I want to say you are luky to use a language which has tense. Without tense, american can not be the most developed country.
Tense developed the minds of people whose mother language is english. If you are born in a country no tanse here, you will find how interesting in your talk there are three aspects of time every day.
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Re: My skepticism about chinese language

#20  Postby nunnington » May 17, 2011 8:37 am

mawanli wrote:
nunnington wrote:Wow, is somebody resurrecting strong Sapir-Whorf? I see katza z is dealing with it satisfactorily. Go, go, team linguistics!

Reminds me of teaching Linguistics 101, please sir, is it true that the Hopi don't have tense, and therefore can't talk about time? Language X doesn't have a word for blue, so does that mean that they can't see blue? And Cockney often uses the historic present, so Cockerknees find the past a very hard concept to grasp. I'm going round the johnny 'orner, innit, guv, when I see this geezer standing, and I thinks, mmm, he looks like an advocate of strong Sapir-Whorf. Cor blimey.


English is not my native language and I donnot understand some words in your post.
I want to say you are luky to use a language which has tense. Without tense, american can not be the most developed country.
Tense developed the minds of people whose mother language is english. If you are born in a country no tanse here, you will find how interesting in your talk there are three aspects of time every day.


Sorry, got a bit colloquial there. I'm saying that if a particular language does not have tense on the verb, (and Hopi is often cited as such a language), this does not mean that the speakers of that language cannot refer to past and future, and other interesting aspects of time, e.g. continuous activity. The strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis said that language determines what you can conceive of. Nonsense.

The historic present is used in English for the past, eg. 'I'm going down the road, when who do I see, but this big fat Man Utd fan, so I thinks to myself, oh, hell, who ate all the pies?' Colloquial usage.
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