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Wired Youths In China & Japan Forget Character Forms

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the ain't-got-no-good-grammar-neither dept.

Cellphones 508

eldavojohn writes "The AFP brings a story of a growing concern that children in China and Japan suffer from 'character amnesia' when asked to write the complex characters they are so used to inputting via alphabet-based systems. The article claims this is a growing problem. In China, they have a word for it: 'tibiwangzi,' which means 'take pen, forget paper.' China Youth Daily polled 2,072 people and found that 83% have problems writing characters (although there's no indication if that was an online poll or not). A young woman who was interviewed explained her workaround: 'When I can't remember, I will take out my cellphone and find it (the character) and then copy it down.'"

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508 comments

where is that Æ again? (2, Funny)

viking80 (697716) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390124)

where is that Æ again?

Re:where is that Æ again? (3, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390156)

It was terminated by Americans when we stopped spelling things like encyclopædia.

Re:where is that Æ again? (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390468)

2 buttons to the right of L! Æ

(No, I'm on a UK keyboard, with NO settings)

Not limited to logogram-based languages (4, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390138)

I have a similar problem with writing anything with pen and paper. My handwriting was never very pretty, but now not only is it ugly, I also feel very awkward and uncomfortable whenever I have to actually write anything.

Re:Not limited to logogram-based languages (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390160)

Me too. I sometimes have difficulty reading my own notes

Re:Not limited to logogram-based languages (2, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390288)

If it's confession time, add me to that list. My chicken scrawl is of the highest calibre.
I spell better when I type too; but that's just practice and a lot of muscle memory I guess.
If the keyboard is 5mm to the left It all goes wring.

Re:Not limited to logogram-based languages (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390432)

I'm the opposite, whenever I start to design anything I automatically go for pen and paper. Used to have horrendous handwriting but I just stuck with it and now it's intelligible enough that I may actually show it to other people.

Couldn't be bothered as a kid to learn it properly cause my writing was worse than others kids' and I just thought that's how it's going to be. Later on I thought what the hell; my writing will be what it will be, it's not intended to please anyone else. Started using ballpoint pens for everything (easier to write with) and wasting a lot of paper instead.

This is my shortcut to learning chinese... (4, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390140)

The only way to learn how to write Chinese is to write it out for years on end, from kindergarten until university. It ain't much fun.

Since I am a bit older than this and like to write at least basic chinese in this lifetime I am just letting the computer pick the characters for me when I type.

My brain then tells me which of the offered characters feels "right" ; but it does that by looking at the overall shape, not the individual strokes.

Re:This is my shortcut to learning chinese... (4, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390306)

Thank gawd English is a one-to-two keys to characters mapping at most.
Years ago, I wrote from scratch, a sort of enhanced pinyin entry system for myself. It provided additional hints for the language learner.

The program loads all characters into memory, sorted alphabetically by pinyin. That way, it's fast enough to keep up with your typing.
When I wrote it, I just couldn't help thinking that these logographic languages do not belong in the information technology age, and that powerful evolutionary forces would be acting on them. Apparently this was correct, as per this article.
Strangely enough, my girlfriend who is a native mandarin speaker, also found my language learner program useful, but with the pinyin mapping swapped out for wubi. It's another entry system based on strokes and totally unintelligible to myself.

One day I might get around to porting that pile of pascal, into something more modern, and a linux GUI toolkit so I can run it natively.

Re:This is my shortcut to learning chinese... (3, Interesting)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390484)

That would be awesome on Android based phones with touchscreens, specially if you can just start drawing characters and it will recognize them like in this site: http://www.nciku.com/ [nciku.com]

Why not just use Pinyin? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390354)

I know this is a painful subject for some Chinese: Isn't it time that Chinese became an alphabetic language?

I've had Chinese friends and acquaintances who have complained about the complexity of the writing. I've also had Chinese friends and acquaintances who reacted negatively when using an alphabet was suggested; they believe that the Chinese character system is associated with their national identity. [wikipedia.org]

Does Pinyin [wikipedia.org] work? What are the problems with using Pinyin? Quote from the Wikipedia article: "In 1954, the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China (PRC) created a Committee for the Reform of the Chinese Written Language."

Re:Why not just use Pinyin? (5, Interesting)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390404)

I know this is a painful subject for some Chinese: Isn't it time that Chinese became an alphabetic language?

From the experience: No, never... In Turkey we switched from Arabic Script to Latin, nearly 80 years ago. A more simpler switch than your proposed "from characters to letters" switch. We lost all written history overnight. Yes, there are lots of people who still can read Arabic, but not the general population, I cannot read notes behind photos of my grandparents, I cannot read registration papers of our ancestral family home... It was a political decision back then, justified by the ease of learning Latin alphabet, but more harm done than benefits.

Re:Why not just use Pinyin? (4, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390496)

If you only wanted to become basically proficient at reading it (not writing it, or reading at speed), Arabic script isn't that hard to learn, is it? A couple of weekends, perhaps. And going to a Latin alphabet makes your country much more accessible for others who use Latin script (and correspondingly more difficult for those who use Arabic script, but I believe that was Ataturk's point). Written Chinese takes ages to learn well, so presumably there's a real advantage on the learner's end to switching.

Please explain more about the harm. (3, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390514)

"We lost all written history overnight." Hasn't the written history been translated? It seems that providing translations is not a big problem.

"... more harm done than benefits."

My understanding is that Turkey is doing very well, and is a strong and positive leader in the region. From the Wikipedia article about Turkey: [wikipedia.org] "Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OIC (1969), the OSCE (1973), the ECO (1985), the BSEC (1992) and the G-20 major economies (1999)."

Another quote: "The GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period."

Could you explain more about the harm? Overall, Turkey seems to be doing very, very well.

Re:This is my shortcut to learning chinese... (2, Interesting)

wrook (134116) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390368)

This is not true. Chinese characters are formed in a logical way. It is not difficult to memorize how to write them. In fact, I have found that it is faster for me to learn to write and read than it is to learn just to read. Once I remember how to write a character I don't confuse it with others. I once thought like you and simply memorized the overall shape of the characters. But complex characters always frustrated me. Also, handwriting was often illegible to me. I have found that many people's handwriting is only understandable if you recognize the character by stroke order.

Granted, I am not doing Chinese, but rather Japanese. So there are slightly fewer common characters. And it is traditional rather than simplified characters. However, I don't think it will make much difference. If you work at it every day, you should probably be able to get the 3000 or so (not sure how many you need for literacy in Chinese) characters in a little over a year (i.e., learning less than 10 a day -- using a spaced repetition program will help enormously).

BTW, for anyone learning these languages, I have found it is faster to learn to write and read vocabulary with Chinese characters than it is to learn it phonetically. I suspect this is even more true of Chinese since there aren't large numbers of readings for each character. The less shortcuts I take, the faster I go it seems.

Re:This is my shortcut to learning chinese... (4, Insightful)

plumby (179557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390518)

The biggest challenge I found when learning (very) basic Mandarin was the almost complete disconnection between the sound of a word and how its written.

With a European language or something like Arabic, once you've learned the alphabet then when you learn the sound of a new word, it's usually pretty obvious how it's going to be written (bar the odd bit of perculiar spelling that you sometimes come across), or vice versa - when you're reading a new word in a phonetic language you immediately have a good idea what it's going to sound like even if you don't yet know what it means.

With Mandarin it felt almost like I was learning two separate languages at the same time, spoken Mandarin and written Mandarin.

tibiwangzi (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390144)

In China, they have a word for it: 'tibiwangzi,' which means 'take pen, forget paper.'

Actually, tibiwangzi, means "forget the word when you pick up the pen" (literally: pick up pen, forget word)

Paper polls (1)

Fishchip (1203964) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390150)

'...(although there's no indication if that was an online poll or not)...'

I should hope so, or else the subjects might have had trouble writing down their responses on paper.

Noooo kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390154)

These are some complex languages to write/read in..

I've learned several languages in my lifetime. But i kinda gave up on most of the asian character based languages..

They're just far more complex and don't equate well to english... Which is the language i was born to.

American Kids can't write in cursive (1, Troll)

HockeyGuy (1864828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390158)

The same thing is true in America. Kids even young adults can not write in cursive. They just had a study and the best teachers can get out of them is a mixture of printed and cursive lettering. And that study did not take into account the dropout rates.

So why are we complaining about deporting all the illegal aliens when so many kids don't graduate from high school.. They may not want to work in a hotel or swing a hammer but that is all they are fit to do. Most of them are not even fit to do that.

And no amount of money you throw at them will make a difference.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390172)

I started off with reading the last three sentences of your post and it reminded me of century-old racist propaganda.

Then I read back a bit and realised that actually it had the Politically Correct upgrade applied, with the same purpose of preserving an underclass but selecting a different collection of unfortunates.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390212)

Cursive is useless.

If written with care, it is readable and beautiful. The only argument that people seem to have for it is the potential speed. If you write it out in speed, it /literally/ comes out as a squiggle with irregular bumps or loops. Completely unintelligible.

I didn't fail to learn it. I outright refused. I took zeroes. My teachers were pissed off about it, but guess what? It doesn't seem to have mattered any.

I'd even risk being an ignorant asshole when I say "if it's in cursive, it's not worth my time reading it." - I know it's wrong to say that, but damn does it feel good.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (2, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390254)

My wife has cursive that is next to unintelligible, even for herself. When she writes a shopping list, it's just annoying and occasionally comedic. The problem is that lives hang daily on her written word, because she's a paediatric oncologist.

My writing has improved markedly since I quit being a doctor because I don't feel the pressure to spew it onto the page as fast as possible because the paperwork is consuming valuable time that I could be using to do something useful. On the other hand, I type a hell of a lot faster than I ever wrote. But if I need something to be 100% legible, I print. In blocks.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (2, Funny)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390396)

Doctors' Scrawl is truly a special type of written language, worldwide.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390320)

I'd even risk being an ignorant asshole when I say "if it's in cursive, it's not worth my time reading it." - I know it's wrong to say that, but damn does it feel good.

It must be depressing to outright refuse to read thousands of man-years worth of original mathematical, scientific, medical and philosophical works because they used ink and joined letters together. "You historians may have made the effort to carefully collect, preserve and scan these works, but they're just remnants of a past(*) age until you also type them up for me!"

And I'm sure in the current fashion of style-over-substance you fit right in telling the kids you're not going to look at their technically excellent work because they dared to use a pen rather than master LaTeX (or *cringe* Word - which, unlike TeX, rarely if ever produces something even as neat as fair handwriting).

(*) To any child, 20 years ago is a "past age".

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390382)

Except the letters ain't the "substance" of a old work on mathemathics. Unless the subject is caligraphy, the actual letters *are* the style while the content is the substance.

Yeah, I'll take a machine-written copy over the original handwritten manuscript any day -- precisely BECAUSE it allows me to focus on the substance, rather than wasting my time trying to read the handwriting.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390438)

I'll take a machine-written copy over the original handwritten manuscript any day -- precisely BECAUSE it allows me to focus on the substance

So, are you offering to do the typing out? I agree that it's harder to read old handwritten works than their typeset equivalents, if the typesetting is good, but I consider being able to read a useful skill - and "to be able to read" has meant, before the last couple of decades, being able to decipher varying and unclear letter forms from a host of sources, not just taking in the neat, predictable fonts of typesetting.

You are quite honestly declaring that you don't think you should have to learn to read, except in a limited sense.

Except the letters ain't the "substance" of a old work on mathemathics.

This also is often wrong. The development of notation is an incredibly important part of the development of mathematics, and you'll probably become a better mathematician by understanding how notation evolved and bounced between descriptions, words, word-like squiggles, discrete symbols and diagrams. You may also miss a lot of the spirit of an old work by looking at a neatly edited and typeset version.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390500)

Unless you are doing original research in history (either general history or history of some subject like maths) and handling primary sources, then no, you should never actually need to handle original manuscripts. Even most time in history research is actually spent on secondary sources - which naturally means some paper already written and typeset by somebody else. Many times the earlier notation is that way simply because it is the first clumsy attempt to present a new idea that is not yet understood fully - and it's abandoned because it was found out to be unclear and misleading.

And citing your self "how notation evolved and bounced", "the spirit of an old work" - these are terms that do not apply to the research in a subject, but apply only to research on history of the subject, the people in the subject and other 'feelgood' style-over-substance issues that are not actually relevant to the subject at hand.

For example, it is undoubtedly better and more efficient to learn geometry from a modern textbook instead of a direct translation of Euclides - by deliberately throwing away the original notation and the spirit of the work we are actually getting better understanding of the science.

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (2, Informative)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390366)

I agree with you. It doesn't add anything to what you're writing. I just makes it look "prettier". Knowledge is not better just because you're writing it/reading it in cursive.

I actually tried to get good marks in school when I had calligraphy. I never got past 4.5 or 5 on a 1 to 7 mark scale (being 7 the best, and getting below 4 is failing). I honestly tried. My hand is not made for cursive writing. And I actually have very good fine motor skills, I just fail on writing. Eh. As long as people can understand my print handwriting, I don't care.

I wouldn't go as far as saying it's not worth my time if it's in cursive, since for some people is really easy to write that way. Just don't ask me to do the same!

Re:American Kids can't write in cursive (1)

Skylinux (942824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390502)

Cursive is useless. .... The only argument that people seem to have for it is the potential speed.

No they do not, writing in cursive is slower because you write more. If you want to follow someone speaking, write in block letters.

So? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390166)

If you ask my mother to spell a word, she often can't. If you ask her to write it, she'll spell it correctly. If you ask me to write a word, I may not be able to spell it, but I can type it with the correct spelling[1]. This isn't a problem for me, because I type more words in a typical day than I write with a pen in a typical year. It wasn't a problem for her, because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

This study is showing the exact same thing. That people forget skills that they don't use is not news. The only question is whether this is a particularly useful skill for them to be retaining. To answer that, I'd point out that Korea went from the nation in south-east Asia with the lowest literacy rate to the nation with the highest within a few decades of abandoning the Chinese ideographic writing system in favour of a phonographic one.

[1] Owing to an immutable law of nature, this post is now guaranteed to contain at least one embarrassing typo.

Re:So? (3, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390184)

I'd point out that Korea went from the nation in south-east Asia with the lowest literacy rate to the nation with the highest within a few decades of abandoning the Chinese ideographic writing system in favour of a phonographic one.

That's fascinating. I'm trying to learn Kanji but it might be more achievable (for me personally) to convince Japan to change their writing system.

Re:So? (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390234)

That's fascinating. I'm trying to learn Kanji but it might be more achievable (for me personally) to convince Japan to change their writing system.

If you can convince them to switch to English you'll be set.

Re:So? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390258)

You have to use Kanji? Sure you might look like a child, but can't you just spell everything out with Hirigana?

Re:So? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390338)

I'm trying to learn Kanji

If I were a counselor, I'd say that the use of "trying" in a sentence implies expected failure. In that case, I've been trying to learn to kanji too. For more years than I'd care to mention. I've given up.

If anyone anyone here knows a decent about of NLP, I'd like an some OCD so I'd feel compelled to learn it.

I need to learn English first. All the speelings and teh grammers is hard.

Re:So? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390346)

If I were a counselor, I'd say that the use of "trying" in a sentence implies expected failure.

"We're saving the patient's life."
"We're trying to save the patient's life."

The first may dishonestly imply a certainty. I'd much prefer to hear the second until it is confidently believed that the first is true.

Re:So? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390430)

Confidence can be an influential factor in success and failure.

This is one reason why pep talks and motivation are very helpful.

Re:So? (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390474)

Confidence can be an influential factor in success and failure.

Is it, though? Or is it the usual correlation vs causation thing?

IOW, in the non-pathological case, might it not be that confidence reflects a rational evaluation of the likelihood of success? And the language used merely reflects that confidence.

In particular, I'd say I'm "trying" to do something when I'm not sure that I'm going anywhere toward achieving it. It doesn't mean that I am failing at it, or that I even think I'm failing at it, just that I haven't yet been able to measure positive progress.

Re:So? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390568)

Let's say you're trying to bake a cake.

You're not sure that you can do it, so you get nervous. You start messing up measurements, making mistakes, and forgetting to do important steps.

As a result, the cake is a disaster.

Whereas if you were calm and collected, you would have gotten the measurments right, done as you were supposed to and not missed anything crucial.

Re:So? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390232)

If you ask my mother to spell a word, she often can't. If you ask her to write it, she'll spell it correctly. If you ask me to write a word, I may not be able to spell it, but I can type it with the correct spelling[1]. This isn't a problem for me, because I type more words in a typical day than I write with a pen in a typical year. It wasn't a problem for her, because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

The fact that both you and your mother can faithfully reproduce the spelling of a word in one form but not another suggests that you both lack the ability to visualize the word that you're about to reproduce through writing or typing. While spelling a word aloud may not be a useful skill, the ability to visualize what is in your mind is extremely useful. Being unable to do that is actually a deficiency.

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390358)

Yes, I agree. I was taught using the "pho - ne' - tic" system as a child. Which doesn't work. Just ask people who can spell. They do not use that system at all.
They visualise the word; but more interestinainaly - wHen they see a mispelt words they feel ill. It's the main reason they get so upset when they see crap. Their neurological debugging gives them force feed back. How awfuls for them. :)

The NLP crowd wrote a lot of interesting stuff on this - http://www.nlpu.com/Articles/artic10.htm [nlpu.com]

Re:So? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390580)

I taught myself to read at an early age, and was then taught phonetics in kindergarten. It was hard going at first - they don't exactly use challenging words, and it was somewhat frustrating to have to sound out "cat" when I already knew the word - but I believe it's better than "whole language" methods in terms of the speed with which learners acquire proficiency (even in English, with our strange orthography), and there was at least one benefit I've not seen mentioned elsewhere. My mother, who learned via "whole language", struggled throughout her life with pronouncing truly novel words - ones she had never heard or seen before. For someone who learned phonics, it's much less difficult. Yes, copy editors recognize patterns; they don't sound out each word. But when you're building your initial vocabulary, it's a lot better to be able to take a stab at unfamiliar words via a set of rules that usually gives you the answer than to treat them all as logograms.

Also, the NLP article linked takes such a profoundly juvenile interpretation of phonics that I'm not sure it deserves much credence. "Phonics doesn't always work in English" is a trivial statement. (And if you know the phonic rule that "P+H=F", every word in the previous sentence will come out correctly if you sound it out.)

Re:So? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390480)

If you check the literature, you'll find that this is extremely common among people who write a lot. You move the spelling ability out of your brain and into the spine. When I'm typing, I don't think a series of letters consciously, I think a word. I don't remember the spelling, I remember the sequence of nerve impulses required to reproduce the word. I can usually spell the word in another context, but it requires conscious thought, while typing it is an entirely subconscious activity.

If you like visualising things, look for some pretty pictures of CAT scans of people writing (last study I saw was published about 15 years ago, I think, but there may be something more recent). The area of the brain that you use is different depending on how familiar you are with the writing mechanism. It's one of the main reasons cited why doing whiteboard coding is a terrible idea in interviews - the best programmers don't consciously think about the language syntax and grammar and so make lots of mistakes on the whiteboard unless they practice writing code with a board marker for a few weeks before the interview. In contrast, people just learning a language will be using the same part of their brain when writing with a pen or with a keyboard.

Re:So? (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390376)

because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

I always found US spelling bees strange. Here we have 'dictation' contests: you hear something and you write it down. Whoever makes the fewer mistakes win. It's obvious why it's useful. But spelling words without context ? Maybe it comes from all the hotline staffed by foreigners where you have to spell every single thing you tell them otherwise they write garbage on your file. But besides that...

Re:So? (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390510)

For cultural reasons, it will be virtually impossible to get China to abandon it's ideogram style of writing for the much more sensible phonographic one. (See Chopsticks, too)

And in case you think "Silly Chinese people", remember the cultural inertia involved in having the UK and the USA abandon the antiquated Imperial measurement units, and their steadfast refusal to embrace the far more sensible metric system.

Time to change? (4, Interesting)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390174)

Maybe it's time to make some change in these cultures.
Either forget the alphabet based systems or the one based upon "complex" glyphs.
This already happened several times in the world history, both on the east and the west.

Re:Time to change? (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390194)

Sure, lets enforce our culture on other people!

Re:Time to change? (1, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390260)

Yea, because that's exactly what Vincenzo said!

Try reading it again. I'd suggest you get off your horse first though, hard to read from way up there.

Enforcing culture...? (5, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390278)

Writing is technology, and like any technology, it underwent many incremental improvements and adaptations to different media.

The Latin character set evolved initially for stone carving. Germanic rules evolved to be chiselled in wood. Sanskrit's Devanagari script evolved to be written in soft clay. The script used in Malayalam is an unrecognisable derivative of devanagari, evolved to suit a population etching their texts onto banana leaves.

So yes, writing is a technology, and technology is not culture. The Amish community say they reject technology as it degrades their culture, but that is not true. They have simply "frozen" the evolution of technology at one point. The cart-building and barn-raising techniques they use are (in historical terms) fairly sophisticated and efficient examples of engineering. They could improve on that engineering by incorporating newer technologies.

Giving an Amish family a solar-powered flourescent lamp would not be imposing our culture on them, it would be providing them with a tool to improve their lives. Similarly, in providing Chinese kids with a more efficient tool to write (a phonemically regular alphabet), we are not imposing a culture, just providing a technology.

In fact, by claiming that the alphabet is a cultural imposition, you are encouraging the suppression of technology in the east, which will stunt their potential for intellectual and economic growth.

HAL.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390302)

Not sure I agree with this.

I agree that writing is a technology, then again so are many different things which are ingrained with culture - such as clothing - certain clothes are 'tied' to cultures, while they are originally a technological advance (easier to make/better for that climate et cetera).

So I am really not sure, I'd go ahead with Language being part of a culture, and the written form would inherit from that. Otherwise we might as well all drop our languages and speak Lojban.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390392)

Well, the thing is, he's not saying they should change their language. Just the way they type/write it out. Nobody's saying chinese should speak english. Just instead of using their system, move to the phonographic one (sp?). Egyptians once wrote with pictures. Now they don't. And I don't think they've lost one bit of culture because of that.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390410)

Sorry, the word I was looking for what phonetic, not phonographic. My mistake.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390572)

Actually, I believe that the bird is the word.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (1)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390436)

Language is indeed a part of culture - it shapes how a person thinks. It's pretty difficult to think about things you have no words for. On the other hand, writing is just a serialised form of a language and for most languages, does not contain different concepts than the aurally serialised form. So different written forms of a language would be mostly* equivalent.

*Things like artistic calligraphy and puns aren't likely to remain the same from one writing system to another, though.

Re:Enforcing culture...? (2, Insightful)

addsalt (985163) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390534)

It's pretty difficult to think about things you have no words for.

Really? Because my children had cognitive functions long before they had any sort of verbal language. For another anecdotal reference, many times I will remember a conversation, but not remember what language it was in, and quote someone in a different language than what they originally said. What is remembered is the idea behind each word, not the specific word itself (which has no intrinsic meaning).

Re:Time to change? (1)

Dan1701 (1563427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390224)

I agree; the character-based systems only work well when you can have a specific class of scribes in a society whose specialisation is the written language. As soon as reading and writing becomes commonplace, switching to a phonetic alphabet is a much better idea since such systems are so much easier to learn, and mis-spellings and poor grammar do not render any message illegible, merely rather silly.

Re:Time to change? (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390248)

They already did it. China uses simplified characters instead of the old moldy traditional characters. Socialists enacted this reform to increase literacy among the peasantry. Unfortunately, language is culture and many old texts of wisdom, beauty, and learning are now unreadable. English speakers can, with help, read Shakespeare or "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in the original. For the post-90s generation in China, anything older than 1950 is simply unavailable.

Re:Time to change? (3, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390316)

Greeks and ancient Greek. Italians and Latin. Egyptians and Hieroglyphics. Iraqis and Sumerian. The list can be very long.
It's a matter of handing the tradition down along with new cultures.
It's not easy at all, but not an impossible mission either.

Re:Time to change? (3, Informative)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390318)

Your post is so wrong I do not know where to start ... Did you ever learn Chinese, went to China or spoke to a Chinese person ?

The simplified characters are not a radical new system, just some little modifications of the old system. Sure the most common characters were made easier to write by hand (as that was the focus at the time) and some general rules are applied to simplify some common forms. But it concerns a few hundreds of the most common characters, while an educated Chinese will know around four or five thousands.

Also, while young Chinese do not write traditional any more, except for calligraphy, almost everyone can read it approximately. It is very often used in shops sign as it suggests culture and tradition, it is essential to enjoy karaoke and online videos coming from Taiwan, and to read any text before 1950. Do you really believe that they stopped reading Confucius after 1950 ? They are very attached to this long literary tradition, and that was the main point against complete romanisation.

Re:Time to change? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390412)

Show a Chinese person something in traditional Chinese, and they can't read it. Believe me, I've tried. I can't read traditional Chinese, either. I go to Hong Kong and it's like I'm illiterate all over again. Distressing when I go back to the States and someone asks me to read a menu or a street sign or something and I have to confess that I can't. I get strange looks like maybe I'm making it up.

Re:Time to change? (2, Interesting)

shikaisi (1816846) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390460)

On the contrary, it's Western alphabetic systems that become difficult to read over time. Because they write the sound, when the sound changes, the written word has to change. You may not find Shakespeare too difficult, but try Chaucer and you will probably struggle. Try reading an Anglo-Saxon tale like Beowulf and you will most likely understand next to nothing. But because the Chinese system writes the meaning and not the sound, when the sound changes, the character stays the same. Even I, a stupid foreigner, can pick up a book of poems from the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) and read it without much more difficulty than a modern book.

Once you know the simplified characters, it really isn't much of a stretch to figure out the traditional characters. Many characters are identical in both systems and those that have been changed have generally followed a fairly consistent set of rules. Reading the traditional characters on the songs from Taiwan at the karaoke doesn't take a huge effort (I believe this is probably the main way in which the traditional characters are being kept alive on the mainland).

Too fucking hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390182)

Face it... their system is too complex. It's natural that young minds would turn away from it when exposed to a better system.

Is it a travesty that I use Arabic numerals instead of Roman ones?

These ideogram writing systems will die out and be replaced by alphabetic systems.

Ummmm (1, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390214)

Perhaps then this is an indication you need to simplify your written language?

Seriously, languages are living, changing, things. We shouldn't stick with something in a language just because "That's how it's always been." There are things in languages that are silly, and changing them can be a good thing. Now I realize something as complected as the character set used isn't a thing you can change overnight, but it is something to work towards. Work on simplification.

A simple example of a language that did that is German. They had a 27th character called the es-zett which looks like a beta. It was used for a dual s. It has been deprecated, and now you just use two s characters instead.

There is really something to be said of a Latin-like character set where you don't have a whole lot of characters, and they are fairly distinct (though there are a few Latin characters that could use improvement in that regard).

More or less if we are finding things that kids are having trouble with in terms of penmanship, the answer isn't to try and force a lot more penmanship training on them, since it really isn't that useful in life these days. The answer is to look at trying to modify characters to make them easier to write. After all, that really should be the point. Our language is just a means for us to communicate ideas. Shouldn't it be made as simple and as clear as practical?

Re:Ummmm (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390268)

The "sharp s" or "eszett" ß, HTML character entity "ß", is very much alive in German, along with 6 more "out of the ordinary" characters, the umlauts ä, ö, ü, Ä, Ö, Ü. Some orthography rules have changed which used to force ß instead of ss in certain places. In other places, the ß still makes a clear difference over ss: The latter makes the preceding vowel short, the former makes it long.

Re:Ummmm (1, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390294)

Oh, that's rich. A suggestion from a Westerner on how Asians can improve their culture. I'm shocked at the audacity, well-done, sir. I note your education level as well, apparently you are totally unaware that they already thought of the idea and rejected it [pinyin.info]. I also note that you labor under the misinformation that German has 27 characters when it actually has umlaut-a, umlaut-o, and umlaut-o as characters that don't appear in English. Please stop talking about this subject, you have no idea what you're saying.

Re:Ummmm (1, Flamebait)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390422)

Stop being a bleeding vagina. Look at Korea and Japan, you stupid mother fucker. Both are decedents of mainland china and modified their languages as they saw fit. It's not a Western or Eastern bias, you ignorant nigger, evolution is as natural to humans as breathing.

Re:Ummmm (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390570)

I also note that you labor under the misinformation that German has 27 characters when it actually has umlaut-a, umlaut-o, and umlaut-o

I assume you mean u? That would be ä, ö and ü - slashdot doesn't strip all the non-US characters. I guess the counting depends on whether they're considered accented vowels or separate letters.

To take an example from Norway, we have 29 letters including æøå. The last looks like a+circle but it's a separate letter, while say à is considered simply a variant of a.

Re:Ummmm (1)

Boandlgrama (300771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390298)

A simple example of a language that did that is German. They had a 27th character called the es-zett which looks like a beta. It was used for a dual s. It has been deprecated, and now you just use two s characters instead.

Um, bullshit?

The uses of the es-zet were straightened out a bit with tha latest "reform", but it is still alive and kicking. Groß, Maß, Fußball, ...
There is even a new capital ß that was introduced by the german version of ISO (DIN). Not in wide use, but it is official.

You are wrong (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390300)

Modern Chinese has a HUGE Vocabulary, which is based on phonetically similar/equal "words" (= 1 Chinese Character), which is used in different contexts. Chinese Characters eliminate the ambiguity of the spoken language (better: ask Japanese!) and are a breeze/pleasure to read for native speakers (even at a young age). There are countries like Vietnam and Korea that did away with Chinese Characters, and of course the language is still alive, but I think its save to say that Chinese Characters have not turned out to be the obstacle to widespread literacy as which they were perceived of by the modernists in the late 19th and early 20th century.

If anything, the arrival of the digital age means, that more persons can write chinese easier and faster, by outsourcing the "recall" part of the memory process to the recognition part (pinyin input gives you possible characters combinations, you read them and select the one that represents what you wanted to say). THAT is the evolutionary step the language has taken, and which the article is talking about, and I wouldn't consider it especially worrisome.

By the way, the German sz is fine and alive, the reform only reduced its frequency of usage, but didn't eliminate it completely.

Re:You are wrong (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390428)

As someone who speak Japanese (admittedly badly), I find that the same is generally true of that language. There are quite a few words written with a single character that have complex phonetic sounds (based on the Japanese reading of the character). But most words are compound character words based on the simple Chinese pronunciations. Especially for a learner of the language, these words are a joy. It's like in English where you have the root "hydro" and you know that it has something to do with water. But it is not just a phonetic representation, you also have a visual representation in the writing. I can't tell you the number of times someone has told me a new word and after they write it down for me I understand exactly what it means. I can only imagine that Chinese is like that but only better (since there aren't a huge variety of readings for each character).

Chinese characters were a revelation to me when I first started studying Japanese. Now I vastly prefer reading in Japanese to reading in English (hmmm... then why am I on the English Slashdot, I ask myself... Oh yeah, my Japanese is crap...) Recently I asked a friend of mine to try a quiz program I had with Japanese sentences. He could read some of the phonetic characters, but none of the Chinese characters. After he had played with the quiz for 15 minutes, he could easily read all of the Chinese characters in the sentences, but still struggled with the phonetic ones. This mirrored my own experience.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390308)

A simple example of a language that did that is German. They had a 27th character called the es-zett which looks like a beta. It was used for a dual s. It has been deprecated, and now you just use two s characters instead.

It's still used behind a long vocals. The change only made it consistent to write 'ss' behind short vocals.

Example: blass (old and new), Fluß (old) and Fluss (new). Always a long vocal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9F

Re:Ummmm (3, Interesting)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390336)

Perhaps then this is an indication you need to simplify your written language?

Perhaps, perhaps not.

Computers have introduced something quite extraordinary and unexpected into written language technology -- asymmetric input and output.

While alphabetic writing has always been considered more economical in terms of learning and ease-of-use, pictographs have always been more efficient in terms of space. When the Romans invented the codex (book, more or less), they didn't reduce the need for paper, but they found a way to make large amounts of paper more manageable. The Chinese, on the other hand, were still using scrolls and the like and needed to keep the bulk down, so stuck with the more space-efficient writing method.

In a computer, data is cheap (at the Unicode level, anyway), so what's your benchmark of efficiency now? Ease of reading would suggest alphabet, but screen real-estate favours ideographs. And on mobile phones, data isn't so cheap -- isn't SMS the world's most expensive data transfer? -- so ideographs are massively more efficient to the consumer.

With Latin entry and ideograph display, we get the best of two worlds -- efficient production for the writer, efficient display for the device. Is this asymmetry more efficient overall? We'll just have to wait and see....

HAL.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390350)

> Seriously, languages are living, changing, things. We shouldn't stick with something in a language just because "That's how it's always been." There are things in languages that are silly, and changing them can be a good thing.

This "living thing" analogy seems a bit daft to me - or to be more exact the use of it does. Trees are living changing things yet you rarely see them disposing of the trunk or roots which have gone before. Most living things tend to build upon the existing rather than dispose of it. Yes there are cases where a tree will meander and (in the case of something like a banana plant) even move locations but to use "living thing" as an analogy for "throw out the old" seems a bit daft.

Yes languages change, they always have and always will but I can quite understand concerns over the potential loss of unique cultural identity amidst a growing homogeneous Internet-culture (which generally means a western-based one). How would we westerners feel if the web had been invented by someone in China or Japan and URLs used their character set not ours?

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390452)

A simple example of a language that did that is German. They had a 27th character called the es-zett which looks like a beta. It was used for a dual s. It has been deprecated, and now you just use two s characters instead.

This is not true. Germans and Austrians still use 'ß', they just simplified the spelling rules when to use 'ss' and 'ß'.

Re:Ummmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390466)

you have to be joking

there's nothing prettier than a poem written in chinese
I'm not ready to lose that just yet

michelob beer (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390576)

actually micheloß pronounced michelossenglish could do with a spelling revamp . 42 phonemes and 1400 different spellings .

i do the same thing (1)

musikit (716987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390216)

"A young woman who was interviewed explained her workaround: 'When I can't remember, I will take out my cellphone and find it (the character) and then copy it down.'""

i do the same thing whenever i cant remember a kanji. often times i know the correct kanji usage but i forget how to draw it. to me reading is fundamental. 95% of my writing is done via computer so i worry very little about character drawings.

Ha, me too (2, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390228)

I have been living in China for some years now and I hardly ever handwrite characters. I can recognize them and read (some) but it's a real relief to use input methods instead of handwriting. Despite what you may have heard, Asian input methods are quite good these days and the age of 5 words per minute for an experienced typist are long past. One one hand, it's a relief as writing is by far the most tedious and non-fun part of learning Chinese. I'm glad to skip it and concentrate on other fields. Typically adult learners of Chinese sit and fill pages upon pages of notebooks with characters written again and again. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing would be my ranking of the four skills. It's I know several people who can speak quite well but can't read, as well as some people who have quite nice penmanship but can barely speak. It's actually a pity as calligraphy is part of traditional Confucian culture. Every man of wealth and taste is supposed to sit in his garden and write with a paintbrush in his spare time, along with playing Go, writing poetry, and the other Four Olds [wikipedia.org] that the government stamped out back in the days of culture-annihilating socialism.

For what it's worth, my English handwriting isn't that good either. How often do I even write English these days? Not much!

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390238)

If texting is any indication, most American youth suffer from a similar issue.

brb, lol.

no surprise (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390264)

My sister in law, who is japanese born and bred, still has trouble reading some newspapers due to the complexity of the characters. She even needs to use multiple dictionaries (3?) to properly understand what she's reading.

Add that to the fact that, as the article points out, everything now it typed (let alone the Chinese using simplified characters), it's no surprise that they're forgetting it. But, hey, look on the bright side: just like Latin, it'll evolve into easier, more coherent languages.

Re:no surprise (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390394)

My sister in law, who is japanese born and bred, still has trouble reading some newspapers due to the complexity of the characters. She even needs to use multiple dictionaries (3?) to properly understand what she's reading.

Add that to the fact that, as the article points out, everything now it typed (let alone the Chinese using simplified characters), it's no surprise that they're forgetting it. But, hey, look on the bright side: just like Latin, it'll evolve into easier, more coherent languages.

AFAIK, the Romans had no trouble with Latin. And it's actually not a bad language as they go for coherence - once you get the idea that to change the meaning of (most) words you just change the ending, it's probably more regular than most modern Western languages. For instance:

  • Infinitive: Amare: To like/love
  • Amo: I like/love
  • Amas: You like/love
  • Amat: He/She/It
  • Amamus: We like/love
  • Amatis: You (plural) like/love
  • Amant: They like/love

There's a whole bunch of verbs which follow the exact same pattern: -are, -o, -as, -at etc etc. And to change the tense - make it "I/you/he loved/will love" - it's another set of endings. Probably the most complicated thing is that there are three other variants on this set of endings depending upon which group the verb falls into, but seeing as the endings are subtly different for all groups it's fairly easy to figure out which group a given verb will fall into.

It's the same with nouns - the ending changes depending on if you're talking about the nominative, accusative, dative, accusative or ablative form of the noun - and there are masculine and feminine nouns which have different endings. It follows that you don't really have much in the way of prepositions because you don't need them - instead you alter the ending of the word. So the "Romanes Eunt Domus" scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" was based on pretty accurate latin. Not much of a surprise considering most of the Python team were classically educated.

The only thing you have to look out for is the occasional word that doesn't follow these patterns - the irregular verbs, for instance. Interestingly, the verb "to be" is irregular in virtually all languages.

Same the world over (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390280)

School leavers handwriting skills are getting worse year on year based on what I have seen - in the past month I have met with 4 17 year olds who have handwriting that I would expect from a 10 year old, yet they can type quite well.

Re:Same the world over (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390528)

My mother stormed into my school about 23 or so years ago and gave them a right rollicking. They were marking me down for bad handwriting, but I always got top-marks for the right answers. Her reasoning was thus: it wasn't a handwriting test, the work wasn't for display, the writing was legible enough for them to tell I had the right answer and the right working-out (they had marked it correct, after all) and I was one of the best students in the class academically. Did it REALLY matter what my handwriting looked like? She was hardly going to claim that the school had failed in my education just because my handwriting was a bit messy.

They never bothered me again until secondary school where we had exactly the same thing happen all over again.

To write neatly TAKES TOO LONG - for me and a lot of other people. My brain is already on the next question by the time I'm halfway through writing out the answer. Seriously - I never used more than half of the time available in an exam from primary school to university, and at least 50% of the time I *did* use was due to using a damn pen rather than a keyboard. Handwriting was always slowing me down and making me lose my concentration and place. My writing, technically, was perfect - grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. were all present but the handwriting was a little messy and scrunched because I was trying desperately to NO..T..... WRI.... TE.... AT... A... SNA....IL'... S.... PAC...E and then lose what I actually wanted to say by the end of the sentence.

How many *authors* who want to knock out a 500-page novel still use pen and paper for even the first drafts? Very few, and they don't do that because they use the classic typewriter or a computer which takes away the tedious business of transcribing their thoughts and lets them get on with the thoughts themselves. It's handy to scrawl some notes with a pen on a computer printout, it's handy to write tiny memos with them, but anything longer than a few sentences and you're better off doing it on a keyboard. I can't even *remember* the last time I had to write something down - possibly an insurance claim form some months back.

We have a viable, widely-available, cheap, more efficient, more accurate and faster method of transcription now - I work in schools and even in the poorest UK primary schools it's mandated to have one computer per three children, or thereabouts. Every topic must have some IT work in it, too. No wonder the kid's handwriting is deteriorating - damn right, as well. But these kids can touch-type before they move into secondary school. Handwriting's only advantage is that it needs no additional hardware past the most basic and crude (a stick of some kind that makes a mark), and kids can *still* do that if necessary - writing things on the back of your hand will never go out of fashion. It just won't be neat, but in those cases the ONLY people to ever read the message will be themselves, so neatest doesn't matter.

Handwriting is not a necessary skill any more. Hasn't been for at least 23 years, probably a lot more. It's *nice* to be able to do, sure. Convenient at times, but it's basically an artform. How many people today can write with a proper quill? Not many. Why? Because it's an outdated technology that has enormous downsides with the only real upside being the simplicity of the equipment and the artistry of the finished product. In 50 years time, handwriting will be "quaint" and you'll only use it for love-letters or artworks.

How can they be so concise?? (1)

m.alessandrini (1587467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390310)

they have a word for it: 'tibiwangzi,' which means 'take pen, forget paper.'

I always wonder how they can express n words with n (or < n) syllables!

Well known problem in Japan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390328)

This phenomenon is well known in Japan, with the problem extending to both children and adults. Sadly, in my writing class last semester (at a particularly prestigious Japanese university in Tokyo), the teacher had problems writing even the most basic Kanji; she would have us look up the word in our electronic dictionaries and then copy from the screen onto the blackboard. I didn't learn much in that class...

Whenever I explain this problem to someone who hasn't heard of it before I liken it to misspelling a word in English; you can probably still read it, but something just isn't 'right'. I've noticed that this problem is already affecting me and many of my friends, we all tend to have trouble recalling how to write kanji that we can read easily. Whenever we 'write' kanji it's by typing it into our phones or word processors, so we learn the reading and what it generally looks like, but never the specific strokes.

The positive side... (5, Insightful)

mutherhacker (638199) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390330)

Elders always complain about youth not knowing history or spelling or this and that. That's how it's always been and that's how it's always gonna be. People just need to realize that even if youth are forgetting to write characters they are gaining other skills i.e. The ability to quickly navigate between the entries of a pop-up menu, or the ability to input text fast via a mobile-phone keypad. You lose something you gain something. Society is changing/evolving and the fact that youth are changing too is not a bad thing.

The Japanese have a word for it too: Waapuro-baka (4, Informative)

dido (9125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390374)

This hardly a new phenomenon. In Japan it was noted ever since Japanese-language word processors began to be widely used, so much so that a term: 'waapuro-baka [jisho.org]' was coined for them. Literally meaning 'word processor-stupid', it refers to someone whose kanji-writing ability has suffered due to over-reliance on the kanji conversion systems used to input Japanese text in a word processor or computer. I can imagine that waapuro-baka can only have gotten more prevalent in recent days, and perhaps might be a driver for orthographic reform in the countries that use the Han characters. The Koreans have all but abandoned the use of the Han characters (Hanja) in favor of their phonetic Hangul script and their use is now very much limited (and in North Korea has been completely forbidden). The Japanese have more inertia, from the looks of things, as it seems they have even recently increased the number of general-use kanji taught in their schools, rather than reducing their use in favor of the kana syllabaries instead. The Chinese don't have any native alternatives, and so what direction their orthographic reform will take is unclear.

so they've discovered phonetics (1)

Punto (100573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390420)

good for them. it's a good system, easy to learn, and it serves the purpose they need it for (communicating). what took them so long? reminds me of that Seinfeld joke, "the chinese farmer wakes up, eats his breakfast rice with some chopsticks, and then goes out to work on the field with a pitchfork". now if only english started making sense phonetically, life would be so much easier.

Proving the superiority of an alphabet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390444)

I know this will be modded as flamebait, but I'm being serious: This is why having an actual alphabet of limited characters is superior to a writing system that basically revolves around ideograms. China and Japan are holding themselves back with this primitive writing style.

Just one word for you lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33390546)

Serbian.

our kids too? (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 3 years ago | (#33390578)

Now, how long do our kids need to be online to forget what an "a" looks like?

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