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John DeFrancis (1911–2009)

Författare till Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy

21 verk 699 medlemmar 15 recensioner 1 favoritmärkta

Om författaren

Verk av John DeFrancis

Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (1984) 179 exemplar, 4 recensioner
In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan (Kolowalu Books) (1993) 27 exemplar, 1 recension
Advanced Chinese (1966) 26 exemplar, 1 recension
Things Japanese in Hawaii (1973) 6 exemplar


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This book will be of interest only to those who want to dig into the linguistics of Chinese. For people learning Chinese it might illuminate some of the problems you are having.

It's by one of the most prominent Chinese linguists of the last century, who in the first half of the book tackles (and for the most part demolishes) many of the myths about the Chinese language held both by outsiders and by Chinese scholars themselves. For example: that Chinese characters are ideographic, expressing ideas directly without appeal to spoken language; that the language itself is monosyllabic; that Chinese is a unified language across China with only minor differences in pronunciation.

I would have rated it higher if the second half hadn't been so out of date. It consists mostly of discussions of the political history of the attempt to spread literacy in China, and the issues of the writing system--should the characters be replaced or at least supplemented by a phonetic system? Written in 1984, the whole discussion I believe has been or soon will be rendered obsolete by the widespread use of the internet and cell phones, for the way characters are input into computing devices is by typing phonetically. Once communication is mediated by computers, game over.
… (mer)
JudyGibson | 3 andra recensioner | Jul 17, 2016 |
When I first cracked open In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan I thought DeFrancis was thumbing his nose at his readers. The first chapter of In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan is called "You can't Do That Anymore" Here, DeFrances spends time listing all of the routes he was able to travel back in 1935 that are now closed to present-day (in 1993) travelers. But, that's not bragging - it's the simple truth. As it was, retracing the steps of Genghis Khan was not a simple affair, even back then. Just getting camels at that time of year (May) proved to be difficult because in the summer months the camels were traditionally "retired" and put to pasture to fatten up. When the travelers were presented with only female camels their journey was further slowed as females need to rest more often, get later starts in the day and their loads had to be much lighter than males. Typical women!

This was a fun read. Besides the fragility of female camels I also learned that lamas teach and can marry while monks don't teach and shouldn't marry (most do). There is very little about Genghis Khan, per se, until they reach Etsina.
… (mer)
SeriousGrace | Aug 14, 2015 |
I read the Amazon reviews, noticing that the negative and equivocal reviews were written by people who actually read Chinese with some degree of fluency, and realized that I don't need to read this book. So I skimmed. Assertions about the desirability of abolishing Chinese characters in favour of an alphabetical system, which is the burden of DeFrancis's argument, annoy me. Trying to read romanized Chinese text is as difficult as trying to read English text written in Chinese characters (you might call it a rebus format), and just as frustrating; not to mention the millennia of cultural heritage embodied in the characters which would be entirely lost to the world. Orwellian Newspeak is benign by comparison. DeFrancis begins his book with a shaggy-dog tale, a "joke" dozens of pages long and full of "corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative", in which the Japanese during WWII anticipate complete victory over the US and spearhead a committee to plan writing the English language in Chinese characters. It is highly ironic that he fails to comprehend that he wants to inflict the same kind of violence upon the Chinese language.… (mer)
1 rösta
muumi | 3 andra recensioner | Mar 17, 2015 |
Great introduction and a well-grounded presentation of the facts (and the fantasies) about the Chinese language make this a must-read for Chinese learners. Gets a bit strident towards the end, though.
Audacity88 | 3 andra recensioner | Apr 5, 2012 |


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