John DeFrancis, *The Chinese. Language: Fact and Fantasy*. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii. Press, ). Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. The Chinese Language has 65 ratings and 11 reviews. Christopher said: THE CHINESE LANGUAGE: Fact and Fantasy, by the legendary pedagogue of. title: The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy author: DeFrancis, John. publisher: University of Hawaii Press isbn10 | asin: print isbn
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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Fact and Fantasy author: University chonese Hawaii Press isbn10 asin: Chinese language–Social aspects, Chinese language– Psychological aspects. Lu Xun was a man of unyielding integrity, free from all sycophancy or obsequiousness; this quality is invaluable among colonial and semi-colonial peoples. Representing the great majority of the nation, Lu Xun breached and stormed the enemy citadel; on the cultural front he was the bravest and most correct, the firmest, the most loyal and the most ardent national hero, a hero without parallel in our history.
The road he took was the very road of China’s new national culture. The Singlish Affair 1 Part I.
Rethinking “The Chinese Language” 35 1. On Defining “Chinese ” and “Language” 37 2. A Sketch of Spoken Chinese 41 3. Rethinking Chinese Characters 69 4. What’s in a Name? From Pictographs to Fatnasy Demythifying Chinese Characters 8. The Ideographic Myth 9. The Universality Myth The Emulatability Myth The Monosyllabic Myth The Indispensability Myth Chinese Language Reform Speech Reform Calligraphy as Art 25 Figure 4 Chinese Writing: Pinyin 26 Figure 5 Chinese Writing: Quoc Ngu 31 Facg 10 Sumerian Writing: The nature of the Chinese language, and more particularly the nature of the Chinese writing system, as I have belatedly come to realize, also bears more defgancis on such areas as linguistics, psychology, and education, especially as it applies to psycholinguistic problems in the teaching of reading.
This realization has led me to present the material in a way that may prove useful to several kinds of readers. First are the specialists jojn the Chinese field, who will, I believe, find in it new data and fresh insights, as well as of course much familiar material.
Second are the specialists in other fields, notably linguistics, psychology, and education, whose interest in aspects of Chinese that impinge on their disciplines requires a more sharply focused treatment than is currently available.
Finally, this book should prove useful to students in all these fields, as well as to the public at large, whose need for meaty fare appetizingly presented has helped influence the manner of presentation. In the attempt to reach out to these three groups, some of the material may have been oversimplified for the specialist readers, and some may be rather heavy going for nonspecialists and students.
With a bit of indulgence from the former and effort from the latter, however, I believe the book will be of interest and value to all. In preparing this book I have had the good fortune to benefit from the aid, advice, and criticism of many colleagues and friends. I am particularly grateful to the following scholars for advice leading to the expansion of my original material to its present form: Page x Wang of the University of California at Berkeley for drawing my attention to the interest of students of linguistics and psychology in certain aspects of Chinese; David Ashworth of the University of Hawaii for noting the efficacy of the introductory material in stimulating student interest when presented in courses even at the undergraduate level; and Jonathan Spence of Yale for noting gaps in my presentation which needed to be filled to ensure comprehensive coverage of Chinese in its spoken and written forms.
I am grateful to other colleagues who were kind enough to read the manuscript in whole or in part and to discuss it with me. It was a particular pleasure to join my Chinese colleagues at the University of Hawaii in numerous luncheon meetings where we thrashed out many of the points discussed in the present work.
Apart from those already named, I extend special thanks to the following scholars with whom I have had fruitful discussions: Thompson, Anatole Lyovin, and Albert J. I am also indebted to Professor Zhou for making the seal design on the half-title page and for finding another expert calligrapher to write the characters for the cover.
Although I have benefited much from the comments and criticisms so generously offered, I have by no means always acted on them; any errors of fact or interpretation are therefore solely my responsibility.
Zheng QiaoTong Zhi [Encyclopedic annals] This is a report on my discovery of material exposing what has since come to be called The Singlish Affair.
The discovery came about when I chanced upon a forgotten carton of wartime documents in the Toyo Bunko Library in Defrabcis while pursuing research on the fate of the Chinese writing system in China, Korea, Japan, and Viet Nam. Information is lacking on how these four scholars came to be selected for membership in the committee, a point of considerable interest, for it would be hard to imagine a less harmonious group of chinrse.
The documents reveal that they were continuously involved in ethnocentric bickering on what to an outsider seem to be quite trivial points of detail. On only one thing were they fully agreed. This was the astonishing notion that, in anticipation that eefrancis Hawaii, then Australia and New Zealand, and eventually the continental United States itself would be conquered and incorporated within the Japanese empire as part of an expanded East Asia Coprosperity Sphere, it was necessary to plan for the day when policy would be implemented for reforming the writing systems of these English-speaking countries by forcing them to abandon their traditional orthography based on the Latin alphabet and to adopt instead a system based on Chinese characters.
Page 2 The precise nature of this projected new system of writing was a matter of acrimonious dispute among the scholars. Rationale for Singlish Although information is lacking on how this grandiose idea originated, the rationale for it was most clearly stated by the Vietnamese member of the committee, the venerable Phi De Giua, who at nearly eighty years of age was apparently the oldest, though only by a decade or so, of this group of hoary academicians.
From what little additional information I have been able to glean about him he appears to have been a scholar of considerable erudition both in traditional Confucian learning and in Western, especially French, scholarship.
The Chinese language : fact and fantasy
He was also virulently anti-Western. These attitudes explain the rationalization he presented for the promotion of Singlish, a rationalization centered on two main themes.
In a position paper, Phi De Giua argued that Asian hegemony he was writing at the mohn of Japanese victories in and justified imposing the superior culture of Asia on the decadent West. He invoked in support of this thesis the same argument which as a young man in his early twenties he had heard presented by Resident General Paul Bert in in justification of French control over Viet Nam. Phi De Giua recalled the following passage from a letter addressed to scholars like himself by Paul Bert in the hope of winning their collaboration: Page 3 influence would have implanted itself legitimately and would have been dominant for a period that no one can imagine.
The great Oriental nations, so precocious in their development, have been arrested; the Hindu, Siamese, Annamese, and Chinese civilizations have remained what they were for two thousand years.
We, on the other hand, have gone forward. Now the eternal law of history has intervened. In our turn, we arrive with our fleets, our equipment both pacific and warlike, and legitimately acquire our commanding influence.
Recalling further that Paul Bert, and even more openly another colonial administrator, Etienne Aymonier, had worked for the ascendency of the French language over VietnameseAymonier The second argument advanced by Phi De Giua was a so-called linguistic justification centering on the thesis that “ideographic Chinese writing” was superior to “alphabetic Western writing” and should therefore replace it.
He cited the fact that the Chinese characters had functioned langguage, for more centuries than the upstart nations of the West could boast in their histories, as the basis for the writing systems of such disparate languages as “isolating, 2 monosyllabic” Chinese and Vietnamese and “agglutinative, polysyllabic” Korean and Japanese.
He said the characters were just as well suited to represent the inflectional languages of the West and indeed were fully capable of serving as what he variously called “the universal script” and “the international written language.
He pointed out that Chinese derrancis been introduced into Viet Nam not long after the assertion of Chinese suzerainty in B. For a great many years more than a millennium in the case of Viet Namclassical Chinese was the only medium of written communication in all three countries. fantassy
The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy – Wikipedia
He acknowledged that these countries lacked an indigenous system of writing when they first came in contact with Chinese culture, whereas the English-speaking countries were equipped with an orthography of sorts, albeit one based on mundane letters rather than on the aesthetic characters. In any case, following Aymonier, he envisaged the eventual abandonment of their native language by the subject peoples; at best only a few vestigial words of English would be absorbed into Chinese.
The non-Chinese members of the committee objected to these views as unrealistic. They felt that this extreme approach might work in Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand with their smaller populations but argued that it was not feasible to expect that the more numerous Americans in the continental United States could be made to abandon completely both their spoken and written languages for Chinese.
At first this approach would require the importation of a substantial number of Chinese scholars, as had happened in the case of Korea, Japan, and Viet Nam in their initial contacts with Chinese, but eventually, Li said, an indigenous class of collaborationist scholars would emerge who would be able to express themselves in the new medium of writing.
These scholars, following the path of their predecessors in Asia, could be counted upon to guard their monopoly of learning, take pride in their newly acquired knowledge, extol the merits of Chinese over their own language as a medium of communication, and develop a refined literature the appreciation of which would be restricted to those few with enough resources to acquire a command of classical Chinese. Li envisaged, for example, that Westerners would start their schooling, as in the traditional Chinese educational system, with the study of the classical Chinese rhymes contained in the Zhou dynasty B.
Here is the opening stanza of such a poem widely quoted in anthologies of Chinese literature, for which I provide a transcription and character-for-character translation: Page 6 Broken Chinese The other committee members were opposed to the idea that Westerners should be made to start their study of Chinese with something as difficult as classical poetry. They pointed out that poetry, even more than other forms of writing, is dependent for its beauty on how it sounds, and it is precisely with respect to pronunciation that foreigners are most seriously guilty of speaking broken Chinese.
He was aware even some of the most highly acclaimed Chinese programs in American universities had failed to give their students a modest command of spoken Chinese.
Tones would undoubtedly be the first casualty, as they had been in Korea, Japan, and, to a lesser extent, Viet Nam, where the indigenous language was either tonal to begin with or became tonal in the course of its history.
These words are, of course, fantash distinguished when written in Chinese characters or when accurately pronounced in Chinese. What else, he observed, could one expect of people who perpetrated such monstrosities as the GI distortion of “Chiang Fanatsy as “Chancre Jack”?
The Korean member remarked, rather smugly, that in the inevitable process of bringing many Chinese loanwords into English he hoped it would be possible to avoid the Vietnamese, and more especially Japanese, precedent of basing the Chinese borrowings not on a more or less homogeneous variety of Chinese but on phonologically quite disparate forms belonging to different Chinese dialects during different periods of time.
Thus a Chinese character meaning “to kill” was taken over into Japanese as seti in the “go’on” pronunciation of the Shanghai area in the third to sixth centuries and as satu in the “kan’on” pronunciation of Northwest China in the seventh to tenth centuries;6 in addition to these pronunciations in Chinese loanwords it was also used to represent the stem of the purely Japanese word korosu for “to kill.
The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy
While acknowledging the existence of such variant pronunciations of the same written symbol, Kim Mun-yi remarked that they were no more numerous in English than in his own language. Vantasy urged that every effort should be made to emulate the Korean success in avoiding excessive irregularity and complexity in phonological borrowings. All four members agreed, in any case, on the need for the largescale importation of Chinese loanwords chinnese English and indicated their own preferences regarding the terms that should be brought in.
The committee compiled a list defancis ten thousand such phonetic-semantic loanwords they believed were needed to improve the English vocabulary. Chinese Characters as Phonetic Symbols Although there were varying degrees of concern over the problem of Sino-English distortion of Chinese loanwords, fantays the Chinese member naturally expressing the greatest worry on this score, all four members expressed even greater concern about the problem that had plagued their own countries: The Chinese were the first to deal chinesw this problem, which they did by extending the principle, already adopted in their own language, of using characters to express sounds.
In the Book of Poetry the cries of birds were expressed by characters used solely for their phonetic value. When the Chinese were confronted with the problem of expressing foreign terms and names, as happened on a large scale with the introduction of Buddhism in the first century A.
The Chinese language : fact and fantasy (eBook, ) 
The phonetic use of Chinese characters fangasy also applied by the Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese in rendering words in their own language. In Korea and Japan this phonetic use of Chinese characters to represent indigenous words has an even longer history.
The committee members agreed that their English-speaking subjects should be permitted a similar use of Chinese characters to factt English names and terms. Thus the personal name Anna was to be rendered as. He pointed out that the Chinese had done just this in rendering foreign names into Chinese in their early contacts with Westerners before they were forced to abandon the practice in the nineteenth century in treaties imposed upon them by the imperialist powers.
Although the other committee members sympathized with this crude but subtle way of mocking the despised Westerners, they all finally agreed that from a long-range point of view it was better to adopt characters with auspicious or at least neutral meanings, as in the name Anna, which was already well established in Chinese in the form cited.
The scholars agreed, on the basis of precedents in their own countries, that one of the first uses of English expressions written in Chinese characters would undoubtedly occur in rendering English words, including personal and place-names, in an otherwise wholly classical Chinese passage.
This approach was somewhat as if an American using the Latin alphabet and composing in Latin were to write “John amat Mary, sed Mary non amat John.