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How do you know the pronunciation of a character?
   日期:2003-06-23 18:11        编辑: system        来源:


  Unless you have already memorized the pronunciation, you cannot be sure of a character’s pronunciation just by looking at it, but you can make an educated guess. Chinese characters do not have an alphabet, but they incorporate a rough syllabify. Whereas alphabets use symbols to represent each phoneme, syllabifies use symbols for each syllable . To do this in English, with its more than 8,000 different symbols , would be impossible. But in Chinese there are only about 1,250-1,300 different syllables, and only about 400 if the four tones are ignored. So theoretically it is possible to represent all Chinese sounds with just 400 characters and some tone markers. In practice most Chinese characters have two components, the “radical” which roughly classifies the meaning and a phonetic component which roughly represents the character "ping"which has identical pronunciation.


  When a language has few syllables a syllabify has clear advantages over an alphabet. Children have less difficulty dividing words into syllables than into phonemes. (Many adult Chinese unfamiliar with alphabet –based writing systems have a very hard time writing even their own names in "pinyin"since it requires phoneme –by –phoneme dissection of the syllables.) And syllabifies allow for quick reading because the symbols can be made quite distinct from each other rather than being just letters in different combinations arranged in a line. Perhaps the ideal writing system for Chinese would have a syllabify of four hundred different characters, based on the current system of about one thousand, and a set of about two hundred different classifiers based on the current 214 "bushou"All Chinese characters would then be formed by combining about 600 characters, greatly reducing the burden of memorizing so many different character . Such a system would clearly indicate pronunciation as "bushou"does, but would also indicate information about character meaning and there by maintain the essence and tradition of Chinese writing., of course , at this point it is extremely unlikely that such radical character reform will be undertaken.


  Editor: Li Guixiang.




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