The new title and URL are now up. I still need to improve the introduction and layout(badly!!), but at least the main things are out of the way and I can continue posting.
In this post I will be going over an example of some of the inconsistencies in the simplification process. The simplification process was not to be carried out in one bout, but in several smaller reforms. Several attempts had been made, but they were not accepted by the Chinese people; only one was successful. I will go into more details about this in a later post as promised. Basically, radicals were simplified, graphemes were simplified, entire parts were completely removed, phonetic replacements occured, etc.
I don’t have much time, but I would like to at least make a new post. So here I am going to show you another simplification. This one deals with the removal of a phonetic component to reduce stroke count. So here is 獨(dú), which means “alone, independent, single”. It is a phono-semantic compound. On the left is 犬(quǎn), a pictogram of a dog, here used as the radical. The idea is that dogs are lone animals.
So I suppose I’ll go ahead and start with some characters since I’m putting the simplification post on hold for now. So our first character is 醜(chǒu), which means “ugly, shameful, disgraceful”. It is a phono-semantic compound (形聲). On the left side we have 酉(yǒu, the 10th earthly branch), which is our phonetic component. On the right, we have 鬼(guǐ), which means “ghost, sly, crafty”. So there you have it.
Unfortunately the Internet is no longer working in my room, so the blog is on hold until that gets fixed. In the meantime, I am reading the English translation of 文字學概要 by 裘錫圭 (“Chinese Writing” by Qiu Xigui). The book was recommended to me and it looks very promising. I believe it will help my understanding of the history of the Chinese writing system. For anyone who is interested I will post the book’s information in this post once I can get on a computer (typing this from my iPhone.
Before getting into the simplification process, I would like to briefly go over the different scripts in Chinese and the evolution of 漢字. From symbols on pottery to a written language, 漢字 have gone through many stages and many changes. I am not going to focus too much on this, as you can find more information on other websites (Wikipedia’s page). Well, let’s get into it then! I’ll only be going over the main 7 scripts, and they are…(in chronological order):
I still have plenty of information to go over before getting into actual characters, but I kind of got tired of writing all of it and was impatient to get into actual content. Here are the two characters 月(yuè – moon) and 肉(ròu – meat) in the 說文解字(I’ll be using this dictionary a lot to cite character etymologies). 月 肉 Here you can see the slight differences in 小篆(Xiǎo Zhuàn, small seal script).
So I think what I’m going to do is have each post dedicated to one character in general, and every now and then throw in a post about something else. Before even looking at specific characters, it is essential to know how characters are made and how to recognize them. According to the first Chinese dictionary, 說文解字(Shuōwén Jiězì) dating back to about 100 CE, there are 6 different types of Chinese characters (I’ll be using “漢字” from now on instead of “Chinese characters”).
So before I dive into the finer details of Chinese characters, I need to introduce a few resources that will ultimately make your Mandarin learning, as well as your time spent on this page, easier. I will probably only be typing in traditional characters, so use either MDBG or New Tong Wen Tang to see the simplified if that is what you wish. (I will be updating this whenever I find a tool/website that could be useful to you guys)
Note: It is not necessary to read this. I wrote this very poorly and very quickly. You can skip it if you like and go straight to my other posts. Hello everyone. This is my first blog, so it will be a work in progress As to why I am making this blog… I wish to share my love for traditional Chinese characters with the world and I hope to spread knowledge and break stereotypes.