Should we all write in Chinese

中国经历几千年的发展,文化、风俗等都有了很大的衍生与变化,同样的事物,在不同的地方有着不同的名称,不同的发音。文字是唯一将他们联系统一在一起的工具。无论是粤语,赣语,闽南语,还是客家话,四川话,湖南话,用的都是同一套书面语言。在国外看来,这是相当神奇的一件事。


Most of us know what these emojis mean. . . and these numbers.
我们大多数人都知道这些表情符号是什么意思...还有这些数字。

But what if everyone in the world always used the same writing system, while still speaking completely different languages?
但如果世界上每个人都使用相同的书写系统,却仍然说着完全不同的语言该怎么办呢?

It is actually not a myth to say that writing unified the Chinese cultures.
如果说文字汇集了中国文化,其实并不夸张。



There are many many small groups of dialects in China, but we all use this one written system which are the characters.
在中国有许多种方言,但我们都使用这个书写系统,即文字。

That makes things easier for people speaking different languages.
这让说不同方言的人之间进行沟通变得更加容易了。

How do they understand each other?
他们是怎么理解对方的呢?

By written language, which is great!
用书面语言表达-这真是太棒了!

Like emojis and hieroglyphs in ancient Egypt, Chinese doesn't use an alphabet based on sounds, but symbols denoting meaning.
就像古埃及的表情符号和象形文字,中国人不使用基于声音的字母表,而是使用表达含义的符号。

So how does Chinese work?
那么中文是怎么用的呢?

Each character represents a word or a concept, and you stack them together like Lego bricks to build more words.
每个字符代表一个单词或一个概念,你就像乐高积木一样把它们堆在一起来创造更多的词汇。

Some of them also look like what they represent.
它们当中的一些看起来也像它们所表达的那样。

A mountain may look just like a mountain with a peak in the middle.
一座山看起来就像中间有一座山峰的大山。

And fire resembles some blazing logs.
火就像是燃烧的木头。

Put them together and you get volcano.
把它们放在一起就是火山了。

Lots of the writing is the same between China and Japan.
中国和日本的许多书写都是一样的。

I know this bit is dog. . . So, like, my dogs are really cute, I guess?
我知道这是狗...我知道这是狗...我想我的狗真的很可爱吧?

Chinese is the most concise written language in the world, so we'd use less paper.
汉语是世界上最简洁的书面语言,这样我们就能少用很多纸张了。

And it looks beautiful!
而且看起来很漂亮!

For centuries, people have tried to invent the perfect universal written language, and Chinese has actually been considered before.
几个世纪以来,人们一直试图发明一种完美的通用书面语言,中国人以前也考虑过。

Universal language schemes were particularly popular in the 17th century.
通用语言方案在17世纪特别流行。

People would have assumed that the origin of language theologically was in the Garden of Eden, so the whole world would have spoken one language.
人们会认为语言起源于伊甸园,所以全世界都说一种语言 。

But then with the Tower of Babel languages were broken into a multitude of languages.
但是随着巴别塔的出现,语言被分解成多种语言。

They reckoned that it would take a universal language. . . To get us back the Heaven.
他们认为需要一种通用的语言...把我们带回天堂。

Francis Bacon assumed that a language like Chinese and its writing system would have qualified, because of this special relationship between the sign and what it symbolised.
Francis Bacon认为,像汉语这样的语言和它的书写系统应该是合格的,因为它的符号和它所象征的东西之间有着某种特殊的关系。

But there's a problem!
但有一个问题!

Because Chinese characters often represent whole words, there are a lot of them.
因为汉字通常代表整个单词,有很多是这样的。

Tons. . . How many are there, Hongping?
成吨...洪萍,一共有多少吨?

Oh I'm sorry, I don't know.
对不起,我不知道。

I don't know.
我不知道。

Obviously, it's too many.
很明显,太多了。

2,000?
两千?

8,000 or 9,000?
八九千?

A million?
.一百万个?

Not quite, but it is is very hard to say.
不完全是,但很难估计。

That dictionary has around sixty four thousand characters.
那本字典大约有六万四千字。

If you know five thousand characters you're doing very well.
如果你认识五千字的话,你做得已经很好啦。

While some of them look like what they represent, most of them don't really.
虽然其中一些看起来像它们所代表的东西,但其中的大多数并不是这样的。

In fact, some of them are incredibly complicated.
事实上,其中一些非常复杂。

This one has 57 strokes.
这个汉字有57划。

No!
不!

Oh my God!
我的天啊!

What do you think it means?
你知道它是什么意思吗?

It's actually the name of a kind of noodle.
它实际上是一种面条的名字。

Oh right. It's "biang"!
噢,想起来啦。是"biang"!

This one word means that noodle? !
这个文字表示一种面条?!

Yep, in fact. . . Chinese is so complicated that, since the 1950s, a simplified system of characters has been used in mainland China, along with a romanised alphabet called pinyin.
没错,实际上是这样的...中文过于复杂,从五十年代开始,中国大陆就开始使用简化的汉字系统,还有一个浪漫的字母名为拼音。

So Chinese characters might not become a universal writing system any time soon. . .
所以汉字可能不会很快成为一个通用的书写系统...

The trouble is not just inventing one, but getting people to use it.
问题是不止创造了文字,还要让人们学会使用它。

It wouldn't be easy for the whole world to agree on the same set of meanings.
对全世界来说,要将同一个含义达成一致并非易事。

Language needs a cultural context.
语言需要文化语境。

You cannot really just borrow or create.
你不能只是去借用或创造它。

Maybe it's actually our different languages that make us special. . .
也许正是我们不同的语言让我们变得特别...

Every year we lose hundreds of languages from this planet, and I would fear that a universal language might lead to cultural impoverishment.
在这个星球上,每年我们都会失去数以百计的语言,我担心用一种通用语言可能会导致文化匮乏。

For now, perhase we should just stick to emojis.
现在,或许我们应该坚持使用表情符号。

I use very simple "like" and "dislike" and then I design my own sometimes.
我用非常简单的"喜欢"和"不喜欢",有时我得自我设想。

How do people know what they are then, David?
人们是怎么知道它们都表示什么呢,大卫?

They have to guess!
他们就必须得去猜测!


 |BBC Ideas

Last update: 2019-01-11|Pageview:593
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