for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby Dragonbones » 22 Apr 2012, 22:45

mike029 wrote:That book sounds interesting, I'll check it out!
Definitely do, it's a classic! :)

Actually, it was my teacher at Shi-Da who said it was a vagina, so she probably doesn't know what she's talking about.


Most people, including Chinese teachers, and even one particularly unqualified professor of etymology at a major university here, don't know what they're talking about; neither do the vast majority of books in English on the topic. You have to do some serious scholarship to discover that, though.

I'll admit when I'm wrong. In retrospect, maybe it was said as a joke...she messed around a lot in class.


Could be, but I've heard examples this bad from a professor, so...

I googled "女 character vagina" and this thread came up as result number 4...google works fast! I still think the older form looks like a vagina, though. :lol:


That's not the oldest form; that's a late form, from Shuowen (說文解字 Shuōwén Jiézì (Shuo-wen chieh-tzu), often abbreviated Shuōwén). Xŭ Shèn, a high official and scholar in the東漢 Eastern Hàn dynasty (25–220 CE), based his analyses in the Shuōwén chiefly on the structure of the 小篆 xiǎozhuàn, or (small) seal script which, having evolved organically during the mid to late Zhōu dynasty out of the Zhōu script, had then been made the standard by the conquering state of 秦 Qín (Ch’ín) as it unified China (rather than, as blindly parroted by most Chinese teachers and books, being invented upon the conquest).

You need to look up the oracle bone forms to see 'the old form'.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 22 Apr 2012, 23:08

And I'll chip in that plenty of scholars over the ages have agreed that certain parts of the 說文解字 are incorrect. The guy was instrumental in the study of characters but, if I remember rightly, he classified quite a few characters incorrectly and a few meanings he appears to have pulled out of his ass, so it's not the definitive text. You also have to remember he was limited by the discoveries and text at the time as well. (There's one character which could easily belong to a different group but gets its own group later on in the book - personally I think he forgot to write it in when he wrote the group but wanted to include it, but this explanation was pulled out of my ass. He might have a very good reason for putting it on its own, but nobody's quite sure what it is!)

There really isn't a definitive text on 文字學 yet, it's a very interesting field. There are plenty of very useful texts but you can't get a semi-correct idea until you've read pretty much all of them and been able to cross-compare.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby Dragonbones » 22 Apr 2012, 23:47

Well put, tsukinodeynatsu.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby bismarck » 23 Apr 2012, 02:35

jimipresley wrote:
mike029 wrote:
Image

Tell me that doesn't look like a vagina.


You obviously haven't seen many vaginas.

It looks like a bloke without a head dancing at Luxy.

That's pretty true. At least, the vaginas I've seen are better looking than that. :2cents:
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for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby headhonchoII » 23 Apr 2012, 07:41

The 'meaning' of the characters changes over time to the reader. That why I said it could be almost anything you wanted it to be.
When an ancient scholar says it was definitely a picture of this or that he is actually just choosing the earliest form of the character he could find and then applying a meaning to it at that time, a meaning that is conjecture. Of course this depends on the timepoint chosen more than anything.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby Dragonbones » 23 Apr 2012, 09:20

headhonchoII wrote:The 'meaning' of the characters changes over time to the reader. That why I said it could be almost anything you wanted it to be.
When an ancient scholar says it was definitely a picture of this or that he is actually just choosing the earliest form of the character he could find and then applying a meaning to it at that time, a meaning that is conjecture. Of course this depends on the timepoint chosen more than anything.


Although Xu Shen did engage in such conjecture (often wrongly), many of his analyses were based upon the real meanings of that time. Some of the main problems he had were the lack of adequately early materials, and failure to understand how much the basic shapes had changed over time.

Of course, you may assign a shape any 'meaning' you want for mnemonic purposes, or try to explain characters such as 好 based on their modern meaning, but that doesn't change (or clarify, as the case may be) the actual etymology.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby austin » 26 Apr 2012, 01:13

The answer can be personalized by asking what else could you do in ten or twelve years. Second, one is learning the language of a people who have a 5000 years history of open animosity toward foreigners(but ... Perhaps ... maybe that will change).
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby danpire » 26 Apr 2012, 02:14

I am thinking of going to learn Mandarin. I have studied from martial arts masters who do not speak English and it would be much better to speak to them in Mandarin. :-) :grin:
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby bababa » 26 Apr 2012, 04:25

I think it was worth it to study Mandarin, but there is one thing I regret: I studied Mandarin a bit here and a bit there, with breaks of years between attempts. I wish I had just decided that, yes, I am interested in learning this language, and just gone to Taipei and studied it - either saving enough money to study full-time, or studying 2 hours a day while teaching (which is what I finally did). Piss or get off the pot, as it were.
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for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby headhonchoII » 26 Apr 2012, 07:20

My biggest regret was not starting into it sooner. I eventually went part-time for a year and then self employed and part-time for another year.
It would have made my life much easier if I had just studied from the start. I self studied for a couple of years but did not get great results from that.
Now I am on a bit of a hiatus from Chinese but it's all about getting out and talking to people at this stage.
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