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You could also ask for a recommendation of good books to consult instead.

I have already checked my local bookstores here in Taiwan, but there is nothing that advanced in English, only the popular press stuff. I will follow your advice and ask you for a recommendation of two or three good books in English about Chinese characters.

I'm not the expert, so I won't recommend anything beyond John DeFrancis, The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy* (Honolulu, 1985); his later *Visible Speech (Honolulu, 1989), a general book on writing, is also good but has some mistakes about non-East Asian writing systems.
Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
You could also try Peter's and my names at Amazon if you want to buy a few books to contribute to our continuing financial well-being (if only).

Don't buy mine at amazon. The list price is $170, they offer it for $200.75, and it's in Oxford UP's Fall Sale catalog at the website for $50 (unless the sale is over).

Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
"Peter T. Daniels" (Email Removed) wrote on 28 Dec 2003:
I don't know what David's specific analysis of the two examples is, but the structures of characters are based on ... cases diverged considerably. You have to pick a reconstruction and see how it coheres with the structures of the characters.

Ah! This makes what I've said above quite irrelevant, then. I see what you mean, and it is clear that I need to read a great deal more in order even to be able to say that I know "something" about Chinese characters. I will amend my previous statement from "something" to "almost nothing", which I think now is a more accurate self-appraisal. Thank you for the lessons.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
"Peter T. Daniels" (Email Removed) wrote on 28 Dec 2003:
I have already checked my local bookstores here in Taiwan, ... two or three good books in English about Chinese characters.

I'm not the expert, so I won't recommend anything beyond John DeFrancis, The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy* (Honolulu, 1985); his later *Visible Speech (Honolulu, 1989), a general book on writing, is also good but has some mistakes about non-East Asian writing systems.

Thank you for these recommendations. I will try to find them.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
Geoff helpfully quoted CyberCypher who had written:

All the more so that the Chinese original very likely must have had the character yin ("sound") in whatever whoever translated "phonogram" IF whoever translated correctly.
(John Dean) said "When no phonetic element is added, but ... in his sentence that no indication of sound is included?

"When a semantic symbol is added". Added to what? I cannot think of any Chinese character functioning as a phonogram, except when added to another one functioning as a taxogram (semantic classifier).
In the majority of cases the taxogram is written first.

But in many cases it is written last, such as xin1 in yi4si de yi4. So, in such cases, it can be said indeed that "a semantic symbol is added". This however, would boil down to calling "phonograms" characters consisting of a phonetic complement followed by a semantic classifier, and calling something else (zhuanzhu?) those consisting of a semantic classifier followed by a phonetic complement. Humbug, stuff and nonsense.
Add to this the knowledge that some Chinese characters have no separate phonetic but are pronounced,

Yes, "keys", such as huo3 "fire", shui3 "water", jin1 "gold", zu2 "foot", and so on.
And pure ideographic compounds, such as qiu1 "autumn".
and others, primitives, have no separate phonetic and are not pronounced.

Eh? You mean, I suppose, taxograms ("keys") which do not occur in isolation. They are far and few between. And they do have a pronunciation, e.g. key #4: pie3.
The name of the former type of character is also the sound of the character.

And what is the name of the latter?
I think it is necessary for you to demonstrate that you know enough about Chinese characters to justify your criticism.

I've done it for him. Now it is necessary for you to demonstrate that you know enough about Chinese characters to justify your criticism.
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Jacques Guy (Email Removed) wrote on 28 Dec 2003:
Geoff helpfully quoted CyberCypher who had written: wrote on 27 Dec All the more so that the Chinese original very likely must have had the character yin ("sound") in whatever whoever translated "phonogram" IF whoever translated correctly.

Yes, that "if" is a very big one. If the translation is incorrect, it is quite possible that the translators either did not understand the original Chinese or that they failed to notice their poor English rendition of that original Chinese. Which means that the
"nonsensical" interpretation provided by John Dean is not an accurate statement of what was said* instead of what was *intended* or *meant.
"When a semantic symbol is added". Added to what?

The sentence in question out of context says "continue to label those phonograms which were derived from existing characters to which semantic symbols were added". Presumably, the semantic symbol is added to an "existing character". There are no examples provided in the sentence, so we cannot know precisely what the translators or the original author meant. The English is nonsensical out of context, at least.
I cannot think of any Chinese character functioning as a phonogram, except when added to another one functioning as a ... not occur in isolation. They are far and few between. And they do have a pronunciation, e.g. key #4: pie3.

The descriptive terms you use are different from those I have encountered in my little bit of research on this question. I don't know what you mean by "keys", unless, of course, it is "radicals".
Yes, pie3, the fourth radical, has a name (pie3) and the name is pronounceable, but that radical does not stand alone as a character in its own right. My understanding of this kind of primitive is that is has a name but that the name is not the pronunciation of the primitive, only the pronunciation of the name of the primitive. There is a difference. Can you point to the phonetic in that radical?
The phonogram (a) in the English alphabet, which does occur "in isolation" ie, as a word in its own right instead of as only an element of other words has both a name (ei) and at least two pronunciations.
And what is the name of the latter? I've done it for him. Now it is necessary for you to demonstrate that you know enough about Chinese characters to justify your criticism.

I have asked my sinologist friend to comment on this. I defer to his knowledge and judgment in all things
Chinese. He has been at this for about 45 years.
I specifically said that I too knew "something" about Chinese characters, but not enough to answer the
questions that SH asked. Peter said that he knew
"something" about Chinese characters, but demonstrated none of his knowledge. In any case, his criticism was of John Dean's interpretation of the English in the passage and did not claim to be a true statement about the nature of zhuanzhu as opposed to phonograms.
Can you criticise John Dean's interpretation of the English* without making any comment about whether it makes sense to someone who knows enough about Chinese characters to be able to judge the truth, falsity, or meaningfulness of the statement as a statement about Chinese? Sebastian wanted to know how to interpret the meaning of the *English. His question did not presume that the sentence was making a true or a false statement about Chinese characters, only that it was poorly
written English and difficult to understand.
I think that John Dean's interpretation of the sentence is correct. All that means is that this is what the sentence says, not that the sentence is true or false or even meaningful. The sentence seems like nonsense to me. The meaningfulness of the sentence seems to me to hinge on an accurate understanding of the phrase "an existing character" and the word "phonogram" in this work when used to describe Chinese characters.
I'd rather have Peter speak for himself, unless you can clear up the issues here. You haven't. You've created more.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
If you had bothered to take a few minutes to review the sci.lang archives, you would have learned that Jacques (golly, maybe you could even have guessed from his name!) is a native speaker of French, and he sometimes uses translations of French terminology rather than words that happen to have come to be used in English for the same concept.
Yes, pie3, the fourth radical, has a name (pie3) and the name is pronounceable, but that radical does not stand ... instead of as only an element of other words has both a name (ei) and at least two pronunciations.

And what is the name of the latter? I've done ... you know enough about Chinese characters to justify your criticism.

I have asked my sinologist friend to comment on this. I defer to his knowledge and judgment in all things ... the passage and did not claim to be a true statement about the nature of zhuanzhu as opposed to phonograms.

Exactly.
Can you criticise John Dean's interpretation of the English without making any comment about whether it makes sense to someone ... a true or a false statement about Chinese characters, only that it was poorly written English and difficult to understand.

If you had taken, etc., you would know that Sebastian is a native or near-native speaker of Chinese, and that his question was about the interpretation of the English sentence, not about its truth value.
I think that John Dean's interpretation of the sentence is correct. All that means is that this is what the ... understanding of the phrase "an existing character" and the word "phonogram" in this work when used to describe Chinese characters.

Whether or not it's a possible interpretation of the sentence, the interpretation is nonsensical, and anyone who does know Chinese (such as the author and the translators) could not have written it while in their right mind.
I'd rather have Peter speak for himself, unless you can clear up the issues here. You haven't. You've created more.

No, Jacques's posting is completely coherent. When he goes awry, I don't hesitate to say so, but it doesn't happen very often.
Peter T. Daniels (Email Removed)
"Peter T. Daniels" (Email Removed) wrote on 27 Dec 2003:
If you had bothered to take a few minutes to review the sci.lang archives, you would have learned that Jacques ... of French terminology rather than words that happen to have come to be used in English for the same concept.

Yes, I thought about it after I posted. That was the conclusion I came to.
No, Jacques's posting is completely coherent. When he goes awry, I don't hesitate to say so, but it doesn't happen very often.

He created more issues for me. I didn't say that he had gone awry or that he wasn't coherent.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
What I have is a translation by Gilbert Mattos and ... 'Chinese Writing') by裘錫圭 (Ch'iu Hsi Kuei), originally written in Chinese.

This sentence is on page 102 of the book (republished in handwritten simplified Chinese in 1988). The original Chinese text reads: "如果祇把在已有的文字上加註音符而成的形聲字稱為轉註字, 在已有的文字上加註意符而成的形聲字則仍稱為形聲字, 那倒還能使形聲跟轉註的區分顯得合理一些。"

Thanks for posting this, Matin... you've cleared up a lot with this post. In cases like this, the best recourse is to go to the original text, which, unfortunately, I don't have access to at the moment.
Dylan's translation is good. You can find the book at 超星數字圖書館 (www.ssreader.com). Their internal number for the book is 10107111.

Unfortunately, I am not adept at reading simplified Chinese, and, whilst I can usually get the information I want with a few educated guesses, I am not willing to labour through an entire book written in the simplified script. I have asked our library to acquire the 萬卷樓 (Maan Guen Lau) edition of the monograph, which I understand is printed in the traditional script. Thanks anyway, though, for the link.
The author went on to say that time should not be wasted on quibbling over the exact meaning of "zhuanzhu". I think this might be a good advice.

Yes indeed; I would agree here. The zhuanzhu category has always been ill-defined, and there has been an enormous debate over what exactly constitutes a zhuanzhu character, but I feel that it's all been a bit of a wild goose chase.
Sebastian.
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