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Secrets of Chinese Words and Sayings

Secrets of Chinese Words and Sayings

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Published by FRANCIS FUNG

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Published by: FRANCIS FUNG on Jan 24, 2008
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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SECRETS OF CHINESE WORDS AND SAYINGS: ANCIENT WISDOM FORTODAYTHE IMPORTANCE OF CHINESE LANGUAGE TO MODERN SUCCESSWWW.WORLDHARMONYORG.NETBY FRANCIS C. W. FUNG, PH.D.The importance of learning the Chinese language is not limited to thefact that almost one fourth of the world’s population, in East and SouthAsia and the rest of the world use it wholly or partly. Neither is thenewly discovered importance of Chinese language in world commerceand world affairs. Apart from its uniquely beautiful calligraphy theChinese language obviously also has inherent world culturalsignificance. Most of all to the author, the Chinese nation owes itsrepute as a nation of wisdom to the innovative cultural formation of itslanguage. This I will venture to elaborate in this announcement.Learning the distinctly spatial Chinese words will expand the mentalcapacity of citizens of the world who speak native phonetic tongues,increasing their capacities for different types of intelligence. Added tothis is the cultural wisdom embedded in the formation of thecharacters, and in the meaning of Chinese sayings. As most of themajor languages of the word are phonetic, a bilingual person who alsospeaks Chinese will exercise different parts of his brain in their dailyundertakings.The Chinese nation with its continuous and uninterrupted history of 5000 years stands out among ancient nations of the world. Itslanguage is early and being non-phonetic is also unique among worldlanguages. Chinese pictographs or characters were discovered as earlyas 3000 years ago and predated oracle bones. The Chinese characterswere created by diverse ingenious and imaginative ways throughout itslong history. It is a collective treasure of wisdom and art by design.Different from the world’s major phonetic languages, the Chineselanguage consists of a system of more than 5000 basic charactersinstead of a limited number of letters in an alphabet. This largersystem of basic characters at one hand presents a challenge to nonnative learners at the outset but it also renders Chinese a language of wisdom as we shall soon realize.From this creatively crafted system of basic characters, new words,two- word- “nomenclatures” and four- word- “ Chinese sayings” (CHENG YU) are innovatively created to suit evolution of times. Forexample the word commonly meaning patience (REN) is the characterknife edge (REN) held above the character heart (XIN). The world
 
martial (WU) is formed by the character stop (ZI) and the characterweapon (GE). The word war (ZAN) is composed by two parts (DAN)and (GE) meaning unilateral and weapon. The term crisis is formed bythe two words meaning danger and opportunity (WEI JI)simultaneously. The term harmony is made up of two words each of two characters ( HE XIE) together they mean content and consensus.Thus the words patience, martial, crisis and harmony impart deeperwisdom above mere meaning for the common use of the words. Thiscontinuing development has persisted without major disruption for5000 years. A well learned Chinese shows his pedigree by frequent useof these cultural related nomenclatures and other famous sayings asexplained in the following. Thus the Chinese language incorporates therichness of the Chinese historical development and culture.There are many modern advantages to the Chinese language. Themodern Japanese and Korean languages evolved from heavydependence of Chinese words into phonetic languages during recenthistory. Because of the usefulness and versatility of the Chinesecharacters, today many educated Japanese and Koreans read Chinesecharacters and still prefer not to totally divorce from the use of Chinese words. Most of all, the Chinese language is attractive to thosewell heeled in the wisdom and cultural content of the innovative words,nomenclatures and famous sayings mentioned previously. IndividualChinese characters are monosyllabic, and the four character sayingswhich embody Chinese wisdom are as short and as easy to learn andmemorize as acronyms in English. These acronyms like simple wisdomphrases are handed down through generations and become thecumulative reservoir of Chinese cultural jewels with deep meaning.Two most well known four word idioms are (Zhi Ji Zhi Bi, Bai zhan BaiSheng), together they mean “know thyself and know thy enemy,hundred battles hundred victories.” This has come to be one of theutmost important military strategies of all time. Because it is simpleand easy to remember like an eight letter acronym, even Chinese kidsknow it by heart.The other modern advantages of the Chinese language are many.Chinese language is concise and compact. A similar length book inChinese will take half the space of a phonetic language book. Becauseof its compact pictographs, Chinese writing lends itself readily forspeed reading. As a bilingual person of 50 years and receiving most of my education in America, I can read Chinese books much faster thanEnglish books. This makes it significantly less of a chore to go throughlong documents in Chinese than English.
 
Chinese verbal commands are more limited in sounds, because thebasic system of characters are finite in number so are Chinese words.English alphabets may be only twenty six but the sounds of phoneticEnglish words are infinite. Thus the first fully functional verbal inputcomputer most likely will be Chinese. The first Chinese language inputcomputer is well advanced is well on its way to commercialization. Thiswill eliminate the key board input disadvantage of Chinese languagecomputer once and for all. Although current key board input Chineselanguage computers are reasonably efficient, the verbal input Chineselanguage computer may prove to be even more efficient and easy touse.As a bilingual person practicing a wide range of disciplines of studyfrom physical sciences to social sciences, from commerce tointernational affairs I have discovered a curious phenomenon. Over theyears I noticed that many of my Chinese associates and myself aremore adept in picking up new disciplines of studies. It also seemsrather easy for Chinese to practice new discipline in late life. Mypersonal career of over 50 years has included many vastly differentfields and professions. The reason may be the threshold of crossingbetween various disciplines, is lower in Chinese language. Or Chineseculture is a more flexible and harmonious from aeronautics to worldaffairs. To reach definitive conclusion on this interesting premise willrequire more detail analysis on the possibilities of the Chineselanguage and the Chinese learning attitude.One obvious observation that surfaces is the fact that Chinesenomenclatures in different disciplines are more standardized becausethe meaning of the common pictographs that makes the different jargons of the trades. In the English language jargons, it is easy todeliberately create different new jargons for different trades. By natureof the phonetic language infinite number of words with differentsounds can be created by combination and permutation of the 26alphabets. This does not necessarily make cross discipline studies anyeasier. Because the Chinese system of basic characters is finite, evenwhen the Chinese nomenclatures appear to be different in eachdiscipline the pictographs will give away its intended meaning. Thebeauty of the Chinese pictograph language system as opposed to thephonetic system most of the world uses, is its relative simplicity. Oncea Chinese learner knows a relatively small sample of pictographs he isless likely to need the dictionary when pursuing a new discipline. Thissignificantly lowers the threshold of cross discipline studies andcommunications.

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