Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More on ideograph

Someone again argued, “Chinese characters are ideographs which  are composed of symbols and images, and that these symbols and images, not having any sound, can be read in all languages, and form a sort of intellectual painting, a metaphysical and ideal algebra, which conveys thoughts by analogy, by relation, by convention, and so on.”  Indeed, an image can actually be whipped up for many Chinese words, and that image can, in fact, point out the meaning of that word. However, in this ideograph system, there is no connection between one image to any other one. 

1.  This fact was the reason for the conclusion of  Dr. Northrop and others (  [Hu Shih] and 林  [Lin Yu Tang])  ---  the Chinese written language (Chinese words) is denotative and solitary without logical ordering nor connection the one with the other.

2. This was also the reason for Dr.  DeFrancis’  conclusion, "The concept of ideographic writing is a most seductive notion. There is a great appeal in the concept of written symbols conveying their message directly to our minds, ...  Surely ideas immediately pop into our minds when we see a road sign, a death's head label on a bottle of medicine, a number on a clock. Aren't Chinese characters a sophisticated system of symbols that similarly convey meaning without regard to sound? Aren't they an ideographic system of writing?
The answer to these questions is no. ... Here I would go further: There never has been, and never can be, such a thing as an ideographic system of writing."

3. Dr. J. Marshall Unger (linguistics professor of Ohio State University) goes one step further with the following statement.

“Try this "thought experiment": suppose a couple really smart little green guys from outer space showed up one night in a suburb of Tokyo, just like in a Japanese science-fiction movie. Would they instantly understand all those store-front Chinese characters as soon as they saw them?

It's pretty obvious that cousins of E.T. would be as clueless about Chinese characters as you would be staring at street signs in Baghdad (unless, of course, you happen to be literate in Arabic). But that hasn't stopped generations of writers who really ought to know better from insisting that Chinese characters somehow convey meaning to brains through some mysterious process completely detached from language. Think about it: every normal human being naturally acquires a language just by going through infancy in the presence of normal, talking adults. It took hundreds of thousands of years for even one species with this extraordinary ability to evolve. Yet somehow, within the span of just a few rather recent centuries, the Chinese came up with a completely artificial writing system that can denote every thought you could ever express in any of the world's languages without any reference to human speech whatsoever! Something is obviously wrong with this story, and Ideogram explains what.” The “Ideogram” is Dr. Unger’s book on this ideograph issue, and more info on it is available at    http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/unger26/Ideogram.htm 

4. Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania)  wrote, “There is probably no subject on earth concerning which more misinformation is purveyed and more misunderstandings circulated than Chinese characters ( Chinese hanzi, Japanese kanji, Korean Hanja) or sinograms.”

Thus, for the idea of Chinese characters being ideographs, it was,

a. accepted by Dr. Northrop and his colleagues with the conclusion that the Chinese word system is a mess and was the culprit for China’s demise in the 19th century,

b.  rejected by Dr. DeFrancis, Dr. Unger and Dr. Victor Mair.   Dr. DeFrancis wrote,  “For ideographic writing, however, it requires mastery of the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of symbols that would be needed for ideographic representation of words or concepts without regard to sound. A bit of common sense should suggest that unless we supplement our brains with computer implants, ordinary mortals are incapable of such memory feats. …     I believe it to be completely untenable because there is no evidence that people have the capacity to master the enormous number of symbols that would be needed in a written system that attempts to convey thought without regard to sound, which means divorced from spoken language.”

Indeed, the idea of Chinese characters being ideographs is wrong. Yet, none of the Sinologists above knew what the Chinese character set actually is. They did not know that it is a root based axiomatic system, a composite system similar to the physical universe, from
1. elementary particles (mainly proton, neutron, electron, etc.) to atoms (elements),
2. elements to chemical compound (inorganic, organic, biochemical, etc.) or matter,
3.  matter to objects or items (stars, life forms, etc.).

The Chinese written system is a composite system, from
a. word roots to compound roots, radicals or words,
b. words to word phrases,
c. word phrases to sentences.

However, no one in the past 2,000 years history knew about this before the publication of the book “Chinese Word Roots and Grammar” (US copyright # TX 6-514-465) in 2006. One of the reason is that many roots are deeply buried under some evolution processes, the root-fusion, the root mutation, etc.. Today, I will show two more root-fusion examples.

i.   (rain) is the fusion of 天 (sky or heaven) (water). In this case, both the shape of  and 水 have changed slightly. However, it becomes all clear when it is pointed out.

ii.    (long-lasting or forever)  is the fusion of root 97 (heaven or heavenly) with (water).  Only the heavenly water is forever.  Root 97  is the shared radical of (亢, 六, 玄, 文, 亡, 亦),  and it means “heavenly.”
  Again, I will show the law of DNA inheritance of this Chinese etymology.
a.   泳 (swim) is 水 (water) with (long-lasting or forever).  In order to avoid sinking in water, only 泳 (swim) can stay floating.
b.   詠 (singing or reading poem) is 言 (speaking or words) with 永 (long-lasting or forever).  Before the invention of writing and printing, only the singing poem can last generation after generation.

Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong

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