Maria Holland

What If English Were Written in Characters?

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 at 11:48 pm

It’s miserably cold here – the high today was 10 degrees.  Of course this is in Celsius, but when outside temperature = inside temperature, I think 50F counts as cold.

I spent most of the day wrapped up in my comforter, either in bed or at the computer.  I went out for dinner, which may have been the warmest part of the day – probably because temperatures of 50 degrees are considered acceptable when outside.

My main goal today was resuming my Chinese character studies with the program Anki.  I stopped my daily reviews when my parents came and, in the month since then, almost a third of my 4,000+ flash cards came due.  I went through a thousand or so in good time, but now the 230 that I failed are waiting for me to try again . . . I was impressed with how easily some characters came back – even some that I found very hard to learn or just added (攒,陡, 套,柜,鼻,偷,烧,制), but of course it goes the other way as well.  There were some really easy or common characters that I wrote wrong or completely blanked on (热,站,笔,奶).  All in all, probably about what I should have expected after taking such a long break. 

It’s been a slow day, but I would like to share some links I’ve been accumulating:

  • This article from the Union of Catholic Asian News talks about a priest in India who recently turned 90.  His life’s work has been translating Catholic resources into Khasi, a local tribal language.  So far, he’s written Khasi-Hebrew and Khasi-Aramaic dictionaries, and is praying for 10 more years to finish the Bible in Khasi.  This story blew me away – what dedication!
  • This article was on UCAN a few months ago, detailing the growth of Catholicism in China over the last few decades (which has not kept up with overall population growth).  Some basic numbers: 5.7 million Catholics.  3,300 priests.  1,250 seminarians (major and minor).  5,500 nuns and 350 brothers.  Of course, these numbers are questionable because of the state of religious freedom in China, making underground house churches hard to count.  A Hong Kong institute’s figures are much higher – 12 million Catholics.  Also, there are less than 10 bishops who do not have a papal mandate.
  • I came across this article last summer: “If English Were Written Like Chinese”.  It’s a really interesting explanation of the Chinese writing system, as the author takes you step-by-step through the creation of a similar system for English.  It may help some of you make more sense of the crazy characters.  The good news: They’re not as bad as they seem.  The bad news: They’re much, much worse.  All at the same time.  Welcome to Chinese!
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