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Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby KanjiHanzi » Tue 01.13.2009 7:09 am

KanjiHanzi wrote:
疑**是**地上霜

shi here ** ** could possibly be wrong since it's one of the most common syllables/sound in Chinese. It LOOKS kinda odd .... 是 is the most common verb in Chinese: to be.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby JaySee » Tue 01.13.2009 7:51 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:Written Cantonese is uninterpretable by a native Mandarin speaker, although they will be able to figure out some of the meaning (much in the way that a native speaker of a Romance language can sort of figure out some meaning from a text in another Romance language even if they haven't studied it).


KanjiHanzi wrote:I have never talked about "natural" back and forth. I am merely suggesting that these two groups of readers/writers are able to understand each other fairly well. Nuances will be lost, but the gist of the message will surely get across. Heck, I could get a superficial understanding of Chinese texts when I "only" knew Japanese/Kanji? Why would Chinese speaking/reading people be worse off?????


That's what Yudan said, and you're just repeating here what I wrote before. I don't think there's any need to push this point any further since we all seem to agree, unless you want to start discussing the semantics of "understand" and "interpretable". No one ever intended to say that a speaker of standard Chinese will not be able to understand a single word of written Cantonese.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 01.13.2009 10:00 am

You cannot get even a superficial understanding of most Chinese texts just knowing "Japanese/kanji". Classical poetry is an exception, for a reason that I already discussed before.

Chris insisted that CC where almost devoid of anything but being carriers of sound and pronunciation with the meaning added when they formed words and sentences.


That's a rather liberal interpretation of what I said. My point was that kanji meanings are assigned by dictionary compilers based on the words they appear in -- so by learning those words you can cut out the middle-man and come to an understanding of the kanji meanings on your own. And second, the kanji are tied to specific words in specific languages; they do not represent abstract concepts in the sense that they can be freely thrown around and combined any old way you want.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby KanjiHanzi » Wed 01.14.2009 5:44 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:You cannot get even a superficial understanding of most Chinese texts just knowing "Japanese/kanji".
Pardon me for dropping the diplomacy, but considering the plentiful "You don't know what you are talking about" directed at me, I see no reason to waste time on a delicate selection of words:

Considering that you are teaching Japanese, you must be as clueless as possible regarding Chinese Characters, as one can be in your position. I intended to perform a little exercise by picking the very first text to appear in a most famous Chinese newspaper, upper left corner, and show how you indeed can understand the gist of the text without knowing anything more than a bit Japanese and the meaning of the 2000+ basic character, or even the 1000+ most common characters used as Kanji today. There are a handful of simplified and very common Hanzi used, and those have to be looked up. Perhaps.

But how come that I skip this? I just do not feel a sense of MEANING doing stuff like that here. It's such an easy test to perform without me having to spend time doing the footwork. Go ahead or just forget it. (Hostile again? No, merely just trying to save your time as well as mine! Again.)

As an example of how a meaningful exchange of information can look like I point you to a very interesting thread in the Anki group on Google:

Wanted: Etymology based Kanji deck
http://groups.google.com/group/ankisrs/browse_thread/thread/43f50797c63c70a3?hl=en

I would like to suggest that you - here - learn from this exchange and try to understand that 1) it's possible to totally disagree on something and 2) join efforts to get down to more and more facts about the issue. I know: "FACTS" is a concept totally out of fashion in these days of faith-based initiatives, but.....

Have a nice day,
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby NocturnalOcean » Wed 01.14.2009 9:54 am

Just wanted to add to this thread since we were already discussing the topic. I had a chat with some of my Chinese friends, both those being mainland Chinese and those from Hong Kong. And first of all, I am told Cantonese is pretty much only a spoken language, and it is used very little in writing, you will only find it in some manga/cartoons, maybe a magazine or so.
So standard Chinese is the written language read pretty much everywhere.
More importantly, I was told that if there was some writing presented in Cantonese it would not be understandable at all for a non-Cantonese speaker unless that person had a good understanding of Cantonese, knowing standard-Chinese would not help you understanding what was written.

KanjiHanzi, you seem to like to talk about facts, and I won't say what I wrote here is fact or not. However if multiple Chinese speakers(non-Cantonese) tell me they can't understand Cantonese writing, then I will be conviced by that.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby KanjiHanzi » Wed 01.14.2009 11:07 am

NocturnalOcean wrote:KanjiHanzi, you seem to like to talk about facts, and I won't say what I wrote here is fact or not. However if multiple Chinese speakers(non-Cantonese) tell me they can't understand Cantonese writing, then I will be conviced by that.

Well, so would I, sort of. But I would nevertheless try to find some text that is "pure Cantonese" to see with my own eyes what it really looks like. I suppose this is some sort of brain damage I've got: I just want to validate stuff on my own before I accept it as totally proven to me. I am not a believer, unfortunately.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby NocturnalOcean » Wed 01.14.2009 11:10 am

KanjiHanzi wrote:
NocturnalOcean wrote:KanjiHanzi, you seem to like to talk about facts, and I won't say what I wrote here is fact or not. However if multiple Chinese speakers(non-Cantonese) tell me they can't understand Cantonese writing, then I will be conviced by that.

Well, so would I, sort of. But I would nevertheless try to find some text that is "pure Cantonese" to see with my own eyes what it really looks like. I suppose this is some sort of brain damage I've got: I just want to validate stuff on my own before I accept it as totally proven to me. I am not a believer, unfortunately.


How are you gonna validate that for yourself when you don't even know Chinese?
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby JaySee » Wed 01.14.2009 11:21 am

It's actually not that difficult to look up some Cantonese texts on the internet...

The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-5) from omniglot

Mandarin Chinese, traditional characters:

1. 那時,天下人的口音言語,都是一樣。
2. 他們往東邊遷移的時候,在示拿地遇見一片平原,就住在那裡。
3. 他們彼此商量說,來罷,我們要做磚,把磚燒透了。他們就拿磚當石頭,又拿石漆當灰泥。
4. 他們說,來罷,我們要建造一座城,和一座塔,塔頂通天,為了傳揚我們的名,免得我們分散在全地上。
5. 耶和華降臨要看看世人所建造的城和塔。

Cantonese:

1. 嗰陣時, 天下所有人嘅語言全部都係一樣。
2. 佢地一直向東邊遷移,喺示拿見倒一片平原,就安定落嚟。
3. 佢地商量後對大家講︰「嚟,我地要將磚燒透嚟做磚。」於是佢地囉磚當石頭,又囉石漆當灰泥用。
4. 佢地又對大家話︰「嚟,我地要建造一個城市,同一座高塔,塔頂要通天,嚟為傳揚我地嘅名字,否則我地就會分散於呢個世界不同嘅角落。
5. 耶和華降臨人間,要睇吓世人所建造嘅城市同高塔。

English:

1. Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.
2. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
3. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
4. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth."
5. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.

The Mandarin and Cantonese versions are quite different from each other. I admit that I don't speak Mandarin nor Cantonese, so I don't know to what extent this is due to the wording simply being different, rather than actual differences in vocabulary and grammar. I do know however that both the Chinese and Cantonese text are almost completely incomprehensible to me (except perhaps from the first Mandarin sentence), and I know quite a few Kanji... although admittedly this is quite a difficult text in general.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 01.14.2009 11:45 am

KanjiHanzi wrote:
NocturnalOcean wrote:KanjiHanzi, you seem to like to talk about facts, and I won't say what I wrote here is fact or not. However if multiple Chinese speakers(non-Cantonese) tell me they can't understand Cantonese writing, then I will be conviced by that.

Well, so would I, sort of. But I would nevertheless try to find some text that is "pure Cantonese" to see with my own eyes what it really looks like. I suppose this is some sort of brain damage I've got: I just want to validate stuff on my own before I accept it as totally proven to me. I am not a believer, unfortunately.


so, basically, why join a forum? And further more, why post up anything, as without some sort of world travel validation, you will have a hard time ever accepting anything. If that is your lot, I really feel for you as you will find that even a doubting Thomas has an easier time accepting things that yourself.

With that in mind, I'll make sure not to respond to your questions, as you won't think it valid enough. YMMV..
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 01.14.2009 1:01 pm

JaySee wrote:1. 那時,天下人的口音言語,都是一樣。
2. 他們往東邊遷移的時候,在示拿地遇見一片平原,就住在那裡。
3. 他們彼此商量說,來罷,我們要做磚,把磚燒透了。他們就拿磚當石頭,又拿石漆當灰泥。
4. 他們說,來罷,我們要建造一座城,和一座塔,塔頂通天,為了傳揚我們的名,免得我們分散在全地上。
5. 耶和華降臨要看看世人所建造的城和塔。


I do know however that both the Chinese and Cantonese text are almost completely incomprehensible to me (except perhaps from the first Mandarin sentence), and I know quite a few Kanji... although admittedly this is quite a difficult text in general.


The main reason for that is that most of the functional and grammatical words use characters that are either obsolete in Japanese, or that have different meanings in Japanese. This means that all you can get is an occasional noun and verb, and just some nouns and verbs without the grammar doesn't let you do much.

For instance, in the first sentence: 那時,天下人的口音言語,都是一樣。 With a knowledge of meanings of Japanese kanji, you could come up with "? time, [under heaven] person (like?) mouth sound [language], city is one style". There are a few traps in this sentence -- first, 的 is like the particle の, rather than like てき in Japanese. Second, 都 means "all" and has nothing to do with cities or capitals. This is the only way you know that the 人 earlier in the sentence is plural. 那 means "that", without which you don't know that 那時 means "[at] that time". This is actually a pretty clear sentence as far as Japanese mapping goes, and even then I don't think you could get the meaning without knowing the Mandarin function words.

The second sentence is even worse: 他們往東邊遷移的時候,在示拿地遇見一片平原,就住在那裡。 Here you have 他們 (them), 往 (indicating direction of movement), 在 (at, rather than "exist"), 示拿 (phonetic characters standing for the place name "Shinar"), 就 (indicating that the next action is done immediately after the former one).

Something like 在示拿地遇見一片平原 requires you to have knowledge of Mandarin sentence patterns. 在[place] [action], with no particles or anything separating the place name and the action, means that the action is done at the place. You just have to know that 示拿地 is the place, 遇見 is the verb, 一片 is a measure word, and 平原 is the object of the verb. Even if you could somehow parse that into words and know the Japanese meanings of the characters, there's no way you could figure out the meaning of the phrase. (The reason you can know where to break things is that Mandarin has a very strict word order, so it's not necessarily to have additional particles marking the various function words in the sentence -- this is sometimes interpreted by people as "having no grammar", but it just means that the grammar tends to be controlled through word order and fixed sentence patterns marked by certain words at the beginning (like 在) rather than by particles or postfixes or the like.)
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby AJBryant » Wed 01.14.2009 3:29 pm

Once again, I find my finger hovering.

Image
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 01.14.2009 4:10 pm

I second the motion.. Image
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby katafei » Wed 01.14.2009 6:50 pm

KanjiHanzi wrote: But it's an issue that can be inspected using fairly established methods of inquiry. Not exactly high tech, but standard "scientific methods". Ask and you shall know.

:mrgreen:
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby Sairana » Wed 01.14.2009 7:59 pm

two_heads_talking wrote:I second the motion.. Image


I think I went to highschool with the guy in that photo.
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Re: Is Japanese THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGE?

Postby KanjiHanzi » Thu 01.15.2009 3:21 am

AJBryant wrote:Once again, I find my finger hovering.

Bet it does. Please, push that button.

I took a look at the RULES page:

clay wrote:3: Do not use offensive language. Treat other people with respect. Many people find the abbreviation 'jap' offensive. Please refrain from using it.


What about OFFENSIVE IMAGES??? SILLY IMAGES??

AJBryant wrote:When you write, please write with proper capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and syntax. In short, like a literate adult instead of a text-messaging chimpanzee.


You've always kept up High Literary and Academic Standards here, like in your HEISIG IS THE DEVIL post in the past. Or am I remembering wrong? But what about image-dumping gorillas?
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