Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Constructing a merging system ourselves



Instead of analyzing how Chinese written system merges with the verbal system, it will be fun for us to make such a design ourselves and to see who is smarter, us or the ancient Chinese. Of course, we must first outline our objective and list out what is available (including the limitations) for such an objective.

A. The objective --- merging Chinese written system with the Chinese verbal system (which encompasses, at least, 8 subsystems) seamlessly.

B. The initial and the boundary conditions
1. There are about 60,000 Chinese characters which are the result of a root based axiomatic system. The root set has n members, while the n is a finite number. In our case, I make n = 220.

2. There are only 1,000 distinguishable sounds in the entire Chinese verbal universe. 

3. Every Chinese word (character) has four dimensions.
   a. word form
   b. word sound
   c. word meaning
   d. word usage
Note: the word usage is very much about the relations among words. Thus, I will exclude it from this analysis. That is, every Chinese word will be viewed as a three-dimensional particle (form, sound, meaning).

4. Two functions
   i. Every distinguishable sound  carries many written words.
   ii. Every meaning can be expressed with many different written words.

C. The design criteria
   1. The meaning of every word (character) must be read out from its face.
   2. The pronunciation of every word (character) must be read out from its face.
   3. All material available for these tasks is the root set (220 in this case), nothing else.
   4. We can make up rules any which way we prefer, to our heart's content, as long as they are consistent among themselves.

With the above, can this objective be achieved? What are the best design strategies? I will discuss these in my next posts. Now, the readers should also think about these yourselves. While this is our own design, I will still provide some hints below from the works of the ancient Chinese.

Case one: words in the group have the identical pronunciation.
 (妻 、 悽 、 棲 、 淒 、 )
(志 、 誌 、 痣 ),
(貽 、 怡 、 詒 ).

Case two: words in the group have “slightly” different (still related) pronunciation.
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
(佳 、 哇 、 詿 、 桂 、 鮭 、 閨 、 奎 、 崖 、 涯 、 洼 、 卦 、 封 、 硅 、 )
(曉 、 膮 、 嘵 、 撓 、 嶢 、 僥 、 、 獟 、 嬈 、 、 燒 、 澆 、 )

Case three: words in the group have “completely” different  pronunciations.
(鳳 、 鳩 、 鳶 、 鴆 、 鴻 、 、 鴿 、 鴨 、 鸚 、 鵡 、 鵬 、 鶯 、 鷗 、 鷙 、 )

Even if you are new to Chinese language, you can still find some rules from the above list by looking up the pronunciations of each word from a dictionary. Then, we might be able to borrow those ideas for our own design.

Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong

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