March 1st, 2009

Over at Language Log there’s a post about being terrified at not being able to read in a foreign country (in this case, Hong Kong SAR). One of the commenters points out:

I had gathered that the “ideogram” thing was a myth — that Chinese script is really a syllabary, and that Cantonese speakers said to read “Chinese” are really bilingual, and reading transcribed Mandarin.

I don’t know how much I agree with the first part (written Chinese as a syllabary? You’re going to have to dredge up a bit more evidence for that one) but the second part is true, true, true.

Now I realize why I only learned to recognize characters in Chinese school, and not to write–I would have had to learn a whole other language.

That said, I admit to having the same fear (apropos de journal articles, for example). It’s terrifying to look at a page of text and realize you can’t read it and have no idea what it says.

Tags: ,

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 1st, 2009 at 2:04 pm and is filed under snippet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.