MITRES_21F_003S11_char01 - Learning Chinese: A Foundation...

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Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin Julian K. Wheatley, 4/07 第一课 Dì-y ī Lesson 1 名不正 言不 ,言不 事不成 Míng bú zhèng zé yán bú shùn, yán bú shùn zé shì bù chéng. ‘Name not proper then words not effective, words not effective then things won’t succeed.’ On the ‘rectification of names’. Confucius, Analects . Classical Chinese . 1.1 General features of Chinese texts 1.1.1 Size Regardless of complexity, characters are matched in overall size, fitting into an imaginary rectangle along the lines indicated in the following example (in simplified characters). For this reason, characters are also called f ā ngkuàizì ‘squared writing’. Shàngh ǎ i ti ā nqì h ě n rè. 1.1.2 Spacing Characters are evenly spaced regardless of whether they represent whole words or components of words. Compare the character version of the sentence above and the pinyin version. Though the convention is not always consistently followed, pinyin places spaces between words rather than syllables. Characters are evenly spaced regardless of word boundaries. 1.1.3 Punctu- Modern Chinese written material makes use of punctuation conventions ation that are similar in form to those of English, though not always identical in function: Periods, full stops: traditionally ‘ ’, but nowadays also ‘ . Commas: ’ and ‘ ’, the latter for lists (enumeration) Quotes: traditionally 「-」 or , but nowadays also ’ and “ Proper names: usually unmarked, though in a few texts, indicated by wavy underline. There is nothing comparable to a capital letter in Chinese. Other punctuation will be noted as encountered. 1.1.4 Direct- Traditionally, Chinese has been written downwards, from right column to ion left. Major writing reforms instituted in the 1950s in the PRC not only formalized a set of simplified characters (see next item), but required them to be written horizontally, from left to right, like modern European languages. As a result, Chinese texts now come in two basic formats. Material originating in Taiwan and traditional overseas communities, or 1
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Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin Julian K. Wheatley, 4/07 on the Mainland prior to the reforms, is written with traditional characters that are – with a few exceptions such as in headlines and on forms – arranged vertically (top to bottom and right to left). Material originating in the Mainland, in Singapore (again, with some exceptions for religious or special genres) and in some overseas communities after the reforms of the 1950s is written with simplified characters arranged horizontally, left to right. (Chinese has provided the model for most of the scripts that write vertically – at least in East Asia. Vertical writing is still the norm in Japan, coexisting with horizontal writing. Other scripts of the region, such as Mongolian, whose writing system derives ultimately from an Indian prototype, have also followed the traditional Chinese format.) 1.2
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MITRES_21F_003S11_char01 - Learning Chinese: A Foundation...

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