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Cellphones Handhelds Input Devices The Internet Hardware

Wired Youths In China & Japan Forget Character Forms 508

Posted by timothy
from the ain't-got-no-good-grammar-neither dept.
eldavojohn writes "The AFP brings a story of a growing concern that children in China and Japan suffer from 'character amnesia' when asked to write the complex characters they are so used to inputting via alphabet-based systems. The article claims this is a growing problem. In China, they have a word for it: 'tibiwangzi,' which means 'take pen, forget paper.' China Youth Daily polled 2,072 people and found that 83% have problems writing characters (although there's no indication if that was an online poll or not). A young woman who was interviewed explained her workaround: 'When I can't remember, I will take out my cellphone and find it (the character) and then copy it down.'"
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Wired Youths In China & Japan Forget Character Forms

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  • by viking80 (697716) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:09AM (#33390124) Journal

    where is that Æ again?

  • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:12AM (#33390138)

    I have a similar problem with writing anything with pen and paper. My handwriting was never very pretty, but now not only is it ugly, I also feel very awkward and uncomfortable whenever I have to actually write anything.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      Me too. I sometimes have difficulty reading my own notes
    • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Friday August 27, 2010 @06:20AM (#33390626) Homepage

      I have a similar problem with writing anything with pen and paper. My handwriting was never very pretty, but now not only is it ugly, I also feel very awkward and uncomfortable whenever I have to actually write anything.

      You beat me to it. In the country I come from (like many other countries) we had daily calligraphy sessions for the duration of elementary and part of middle school. My calligraphy was decent and was already a trained typist (when we used to train people to use mechanical type writers).

      But things have been going down the hill for the last 13 years (started avidly using/working with computers since 1992). My calligraphy has gone down hill, and what is more stressing, when I write by hand I'm starting to write letters out of order. Say I want to hand write "literacy", I end up writing "ilterayc" or something like that. My hand-written notes are full of black outs and corrections because of this. This has never happened before, at least as far as I can remember from my pre-computer times (I was already an adult writing by hands for years before my "dark" path into the computer world.)

      I doesn't stress me out, but it does makes me wonder. And this news from China and Japan makes me even the more curious about this and the effect of computers in daily hand writing. Be it kanji or latin, heavy computer usage certainly seems to have a negative effect in basic writing skills.

      • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Friday August 27, 2010 @08:35AM (#33391716) Journal

        when I write by hand I'm starting to write letters out of order. Say I want to hand write "literacy", I end up writing "ilterayc" or something like that. [...] I doesn't stress me out, but it does makes me wonder.

        You're not alone, I'm doing the same thing myself. Albeit not on every line down the page, but certainly a few times on each page. It's very peculiar. Perhaps it's because writing is a slower process by hand than by keyboard, and we've become so accustomed to the new speed that, when handwriting, we "outthink" our hand and get a sort of "frame drop" or hiccup in the buffer? I'm sure it's something along those neurological lines...

        And this news from China and Japan makes me even the more curious about this and the effect of computers in daily hand writing. Be it kanji or latin, heavy computer usage certainly seems to have a negative effect in basic writing skills.

        I had a different thought: every now and then, there's debate whether or not "lol", "l33t", and so on should become part of the formal vocabulary since they are already part of the informal vocabulary -- taking this a step further, maybe it's time the Chinese should reconsider their use of that obviously very complicated glyph system, and maybe switch to something simpler (say, romulan)? I've got nothing personal against the chinese, but TFA was about their type of writing specifically. We've been optimising the hell out of everything else, so why not writing systems as well?

        • by ld a,b (1207022) on Friday August 27, 2010 @07:04PM (#33399526) Journal

          I don't really know how sustainable Chinese characters are in Mainland China, especially after Comrade Mao simplified their etymologies out, believing the Western bullshit that they were too hard. In any case, they have been in use for a few thousand years if that means anything.

          In Japanese at least, literacy is steadily increasing. Twenty years ago, with 8-bit computers, kanji were appearing to be on their way out. However, as soon as IME and modern OSes appeared people started using more kanji even if they never could have written them by hand. And that means more kanji regular people can read. Recently, the number of kanji considered to be needed for basic literacy was increased to account for that.

          Handwriting is suffering(The only real usage cases in modern Japanese society are resumes[=], paperwork[vv], and kanji quizes/exams[^]), but kanji themselves are here to stay.

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday August 27, 2010 @07:47AM (#33391126) Homepage Journal

      I found myself "forced" into online banking because writing checks became tedious. It was the only writing I had to do on a consistent basis and when I grouped my bill paying at the end of the week I would find my hand cramping or oddly, my thinking about the actual writing skewed my handwriting. I could feel the oddness of the pen in my hand. If I focused I could write very nice script, but it felt like work. I am not even a fan of signing my name when I pay by CC

      I cannot imagine writing a reply to a message board using a pen input device. Perhaps that is one reason many don't miss the pen or writing recognition programs that some claimed missing from the iPad.

  • by martijnd (148684) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:13AM (#33390140)

    The only way to learn how to write Chinese is to write it out for years on end, from kindergarten until university. It ain't much fun.

    Since I am a bit older than this and like to write at least basic chinese in this lifetime I am just letting the computer pick the characters for me when I type.

    My brain then tells me which of the offered characters feels "right" ; but it does that by looking at the overall shape, not the individual strokes.

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:51AM (#33390306) Homepage

      Thank gawd English is a one-to-two keys to characters mapping at most.
      Years ago, I wrote from scratch, a sort of enhanced pinyin entry system for myself. It provided additional hints for the language learner.

      The program loads all characters into memory, sorted alphabetically by pinyin. That way, it's fast enough to keep up with your typing.
      When I wrote it, I just couldn't help thinking that these logographic languages do not belong in the information technology age, and that powerful evolutionary forces would be acting on them. Apparently this was correct, as per this article.
      Strangely enough, my girlfriend who is a native mandarin speaker, also found my language learner program useful, but with the pinyin mapping swapped out for wubi. It's another entry system based on strokes and totally unintelligible to myself.

      One day I might get around to porting that pile of pascal, into something more modern, and a linux GUI toolkit so I can run it natively.

    • I know this is a painful subject for some Chinese: Isn't it time that Chinese became an alphabetic language?

      I've had Chinese friends and acquaintances who have complained about the complexity of the writing. I've also had Chinese friends and acquaintances who reacted negatively when using an alphabet was suggested; they believe that the Chinese character system is associated with their national identity. [wikipedia.org]

      Does Pinyin [wikipedia.org] work? What are the problems with using Pinyin? Quote from the Wikipedia article: "In 19
      • by pegdhcp (1158827) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:22AM (#33390404)

        I know this is a painful subject for some Chinese: Isn't it time that Chinese became an alphabetic language?

        From the experience: No, never... In Turkey we switched from Arabic Script to Latin, nearly 80 years ago. A more simpler switch than your proposed "from characters to letters" switch. We lost all written history overnight. Yes, there are lots of people who still can read Arabic, but not the general population, I cannot read notes behind photos of my grandparents, I cannot read registration papers of our ancestral family home... It was a political decision back then, justified by the ease of learning Latin alphabet, but more harm done than benefits.

        • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:50AM (#33390496) Homepage Journal
          If you only wanted to become basically proficient at reading it (not writing it, or reading at speed), Arabic script isn't that hard to learn, is it? A couple of weekends, perhaps. And going to a Latin alphabet makes your country much more accessible for others who use Latin script (and correspondingly more difficult for those who use Arabic script, but I believe that was Ataturk's point). Written Chinese takes ages to learn well, so presumably there's a real advantage on the learner's end to switching.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by billius (1188143)
            Not to mention that Turkish has 8 vowels as well as vowel harmony and Arabic has only three vowels and two dipthongs that in many cases are considered optional and are omitted when writing [wikipedia.org]. It definitely sucks that there was a huge break in written history, but it has resulted in one of the most consistent orthographies in the world (something we native English speakers ought to be jealous of ;-) ). I suppose there were political motivations for the change as well (and also political motivations for writi
        • "We lost all written history overnight." Hasn't the written history been translated? It seems that providing translations is not a big problem.

          "... more harm done than benefits."

          My understanding is that Turkey is doing very well, and is a strong and positive leader in the region. From the Wikipedia article about Turkey: [wikipedia.org] "Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OECD (1961), the OIC (1969), the OSCE (1973), the ECO (1985), the BSEC (1992) and the G-20 major economies (1999)."

          Another quote: "The GDP growth rate from 2002 to 2007 averaged 7.4%, which made Turkey one of the fastest growing economies in the world during that period."

          Could you explain more about the harm? Overall, Turkey seems to be doing very, very well.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Could you explain more about the harm? Overall, Turkey seems to be doing very, very well.

            Well, I suppose that Ataturk's obsequious deferring to Western cultural, social and political imperialism/franchisism did confer some benefits on Turkey. The question is do these benefits outweigh the loss of native culture, history, language and pride? I'm sure from the perspective of an outside westerner, this "civilising" and "modernisation" of Turkey is both splendid and favourable. But Joe Turk might have a differ

      • by Asic Eng (193332) on Friday August 27, 2010 @07:01AM (#33390810)
        I think there is basically no chance of that working. For one you could argue that "Chinese" is a written language only - there is no standardized pronunciation. The same character will have very different pronunciations depending on the region - people who can currently communicate via the same written language will no longer be able to do so if you were to replace that with e.g. Pinyin.

        Then - just like in English - there are many words which sound the same but have different meanings (like "there"/"their"/"they're" to use a simple example). Those have different characters in written language. You might think people can easily infer that from context in spoken language, but that's not true - if someone speaks with a strong accent or not very clearly, then meaning will get lost. When I'm watching TV in Taiwan, there are always Chinese subtitles on the Chinese-language soap opera programs.

        You also have to consider the enormous significance of the Chinese script for Chinese culture. One way to get an insight into that, is to visit the Palace Museum in Taipei (well worth the visit) and see how much of the exhibits are either calligraphy or at least strongly tied to the Chinese script. Even the painting styles are closely linked to the style of writing. Abandoning the writing system would be akin to a second cultural revolution - just much worse.

        Yes it's difficult to learn Chinese script, however there are advantages to it, as well. I'm always amazed with the speed with which my wife is able to read books - I think a trained reader can absorb written text in Chinese characters at much higher speed than someone using an alphabetic script.

        Lastly - I think it's somewhat absurd to change something as significant as a written language, solely to accommodate technical solutions which in all likelihood won't last particularly long. Yes we use keyboard a lot, right now - but that's getting replaced by touch screens currently (not that I believe that's useful, but there you are). New input systems will come along, and they likely won't be as focused solely on the needs of the USA as they were in the past.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BetterSense (1398915)
          "I think a trained reader can absorb written text in Chinese characters at much higher speed than someone using an alphabetic script."

          bullshit.
        • English pronunciation also varies widely. So much so that somebody with a strong New England accent would be unlikely to be able to understand someone with a deep Southern accent without great difficulty. In the company where I work, I heard this all the time from Yankees that had to take classes from our training center in Atlanta. And there are many deep accents all over the world: Scottish, Cockney, "BBC English", and the accent belonging to each individual former English colony.

          While the advent of mo

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wrook (134116)

      This is not true. Chinese characters are formed in a logical way. It is not difficult to memorize how to write them. In fact, I have found that it is faster for me to learn to write and read than it is to learn just to read. Once I remember how to write a character I don't confuse it with others. I once thought like you and simply memorized the overall shape of the characters. But complex characters always frustrated me. Also, handwriting was often illegible to me. I have found that many people's ha

      • by plumby (179557) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:53AM (#33390518)

        The biggest challenge I found when learning (very) basic Mandarin was the almost complete disconnection between the sound of a word and how its written.

        With a European language or something like Arabic, once you've learned the alphabet then when you learn the sound of a new word, it's usually pretty obvious how it's going to be written (bar the odd bit of perculiar spelling that you sometimes come across), or vice versa - when you're reading a new word in a phonetic language you immediately have a good idea what it's going to sound like even if you don't yet know what it means.

        With Mandarin it felt almost like I was learning two separate languages at the same time, spoken Mandarin and written Mandarin.

        • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday August 27, 2010 @07:59AM (#33391276)

          "The biggest challenge I found when learning (very) basic Mandarin was the almost complete disconnection between the sound of a word and how its written."

          I (still) have the same problem with English. It's generally impossible to determine how a word is pronounced from its written form in English. And that was a problem, since I learned English mostly from reading books and talking in web forums.

          Why 'general' but 'gear'? Or 'chair' but 'chlorine'? 'Put' but 'putty'? How the hell "Eugene Delacroix" is pronounced? Etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Psx29 (538840)
        Japanese characters are actually a mix of simplified and traditional. Many characters use simplifications that differ from Chinese and there also characters that were created by Japanese and have no equivalent in Chinese (kokuji)
  • tibiwangzi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:14AM (#33390144)

    In China, they have a word for it: 'tibiwangzi,' which means 'take pen, forget paper.'

    Actually, tibiwangzi, means "forget the word when you pick up the pen" (literally: pick up pen, forget word)

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:19AM (#33390166) Journal

    If you ask my mother to spell a word, she often can't. If you ask her to write it, she'll spell it correctly. If you ask me to write a word, I may not be able to spell it, but I can type it with the correct spelling[1]. This isn't a problem for me, because I type more words in a typical day than I write with a pen in a typical year. It wasn't a problem for her, because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

    This study is showing the exact same thing. That people forget skills that they don't use is not news. The only question is whether this is a particularly useful skill for them to be retaining. To answer that, I'd point out that Korea went from the nation in south-east Asia with the lowest literacy rate to the nation with the highest within a few decades of abandoning the Chinese ideographic writing system in favour of a phonographic one.

    [1] Owing to an immutable law of nature, this post is now guaranteed to contain at least one embarrassing typo.

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Funny)

      by dintech (998802) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:24AM (#33390184)

      I'd point out that Korea went from the nation in south-east Asia with the lowest literacy rate to the nation with the highest within a few decades of abandoning the Chinese ideographic writing system in favour of a phonographic one.

      That's fascinating. I'm trying to learn Kanji but it might be more achievable (for me personally) to convince Japan to change their writing system.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        You have to use Kanji? Sure you might look like a child, but can't you just spell everything out with Hirigana?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you ask my mother to spell a word, she often can't. If you ask her to write it, she'll spell it correctly. If you ask me to write a word, I may not be able to spell it, but I can type it with the correct spelling[1]. This isn't a problem for me, because I type more words in a typical day than I write with a pen in a typical year. It wasn't a problem for her, because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

      The fact that both you and your mother can faithfully reproduce the spelling of a word in one form but not another suggests that you both lack the ability to visualize the word that you're about to reproduce through writing or typing. While spelling a word aloud may not be a useful skill, the ability to visualize what is in your mind is extremely useful. Being unable to do that is actually a deficiency.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ciderbrew (1860166)
        Yes, I agree. I was taught using the "pho - ne' - tic" system as a child. Which doesn't work. Just ask people who can spell. They do not use that system at all.
        They visualise the word; but more interestinainaly - wHen they see a mispelt words they feel ill. It's the main reason they get so upset when they see crap. Their neurological debugging gives them force feed back. How awfuls for them. :)

        The NLP crowd wrote a lot of interesting stuff on this - http://www.nlpu.com/Articles/artic10.htm [nlpu.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          They visualise the word; but more interestinainaly - wHen they see a mispelt words they feel ill. It's the main reason they get so upset when they see crap.
           

          You have no idea how ill this sentence just made me. :D

      • If you check the literature, you'll find that this is extremely common among people who write a lot. You move the spelling ability out of your brain and into the spine. When I'm typing, I don't think a series of letters consciously, I think a word. I don't remember the spelling, I remember the sequence of nerve impulses required to reproduce the word. I can usually spell the word in another context, but it requires conscious thought, while typing it is an entirely subconscious activity.

        If you like vi

    • by dargaud (518470)

      because being able to spell words aloud is not actually a useful skill (except in the USA).

      I always found US spelling bees strange. Here we have 'dictation' contests: you hear something and you write it down. Whoever makes the fewer mistakes win. It's obvious why it's useful. But spelling words without context ? Maybe it comes from all the hotline staffed by foreigners where you have to spell every single thing you tell them otherwise they write garbage on your file. But besides that...

  • Time to change? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:21AM (#33390174) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it's time to make some change in these cultures.
    Either forget the alphabet based systems or the one based upon "complex" glyphs.
    This already happened several times in the world history, both on the east and the west.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Haedrian (1676506)

      Sure, lets enforce our culture on other people!

      • It's true also for the other way around! They're billions.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by X0563511 (793323)

        Yea, because that's exactly what Vincenzo said!

        Try reading it again. I'd suggest you get off your horse first though, hard to read from way up there.

      • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:47AM (#33390278)

        Writing is technology, and like any technology, it underwent many incremental improvements and adaptations to different media.

        The Latin character set evolved initially for stone carving. Germanic rules evolved to be chiselled in wood. Sanskrit's Devanagari script evolved to be written in soft clay. The script used in Malayalam is an unrecognisable derivative of devanagari, evolved to suit a population etching their texts onto banana leaves.

        So yes, writing is a technology, and technology is not culture. The Amish community say they reject technology as it degrades their culture, but that is not true. They have simply "frozen" the evolution of technology at one point. The cart-building and barn-raising techniques they use are (in historical terms) fairly sophisticated and efficient examples of engineering. They could improve on that engineering by incorporating newer technologies.

        Giving an Amish family a solar-powered flourescent lamp would not be imposing our culture on them, it would be providing them with a tool to improve their lives. Similarly, in providing Chinese kids with a more efficient tool to write (a phonemically regular alphabet), we are not imposing a culture, just providing a technology.

        In fact, by claiming that the alphabet is a cultural imposition, you are encouraging the suppression of technology in the east, which will stunt their potential for intellectual and economic growth.

        HAL.

        • by Haedrian (1676506)

          Not sure I agree with this.

          I agree that writing is a technology, then again so are many different things which are ingrained with culture - such as clothing - certain clothes are 'tied' to cultures, while they are originally a technological advance (easier to make/better for that climate et cetera).

          So I am really not sure, I'd go ahead with Language being part of a culture, and the written form would inherit from that. Otherwise we might as well all drop our languages and speak Lojban.

          • Well, the thing is, he's not saying they should change their language. Just the way they type/write it out. Nobody's saying chinese should speak english. Just instead of using their system, move to the phonographic one (sp?). Egyptians once wrote with pictures. Now they don't. And I don't think they've lost one bit of culture because of that.
          • by Ornedan (1093745)

            Language is indeed a part of culture - it shapes how a person thinks. It's pretty difficult to think about things you have no words for. On the other hand, writing is just a serialised form of a language and for most languages, does not contain different concepts than the aurally serialised form. So different written forms of a language would be mostly* equivalent.

            *Things like artistic calligraphy and puns aren't likely to remain the same from one writing system to another, though.

        • by master_p (608214) on Friday August 27, 2010 @06:56AM (#33390782)

          The Latin character set evolved initially for stone carving.

          No [umd.edu].

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dcollins (135727)

          "The Amish community say they reject technology as it degrades their culture, but that is not true. They have simply 'frozen' the evolution of technology at one point."

          Amish don't say that, and they don't do that. What they do is have a critical, community-based discussion about new technology and its effects before allowing it, rather than a laissez-faire permissiveness. From Wired:

          Amish settlements have become a cliché for refusing technology. Tens of thousands of people wear identical, plain, homemade clothing, cultivate their rich fields with horse-drawn machinery, and live in houses lacking that basic modern spirit called electricity. But the Amish do use such 20th-century consumer technologies as disposable diapers, in-line skates, and gas barbecue grills. Some might call this combination paradoxical, even contradictory. But it could also be called sophisticated, because the Amish have an elaborate system by which they evaluate the tools they use; their tentative, at times reluctant use of technology is more complex than a simple rejection or a whole-hearted embrace. What if modern Americans could possibly agree upon criteria for acceptance, as the Amish have? Might we find better ways to wield technological power, other than simply unleashing it and seeing what happens? What can we learn from a culture that habitually negotiates the rules for new tools?

          http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.01/amish.html [wired.com]

  • Ha, me too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:35AM (#33390228) Homepage

    I have been living in China for some years now and I hardly ever handwrite characters. I can recognize them and read (some) but it's a real relief to use input methods instead of handwriting. Despite what you may have heard, Asian input methods are quite good these days and the age of 5 words per minute for an experienced typist are long past. One one hand, it's a relief as writing is by far the most tedious and non-fun part of learning Chinese. I'm glad to skip it and concentrate on other fields. Typically adult learners of Chinese sit and fill pages upon pages of notebooks with characters written again and again. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing would be my ranking of the four skills. It's I know several people who can speak quite well but can't read, as well as some people who have quite nice penmanship but can barely speak. It's actually a pity as calligraphy is part of traditional Confucian culture. Every man of wealth and taste is supposed to sit in his garden and write with a paintbrush in his spare time, along with playing Go, writing poetry, and the other Four Olds [wikipedia.org] that the government stamped out back in the days of culture-annihilating socialism.

    For what it's worth, my English handwriting isn't that good either. How often do I even write English these days? Not much!

  • School leavers handwriting skills are getting worse year on year based on what I have seen - in the past month I have met with 4 17 year olds who have handwriting that I would expect from a 10 year old, yet they can type quite well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ledow (319597)

      My mother stormed into my school about 23 or so years ago and gave them a right rollicking. They were marking me down for bad handwriting, but I always got top-marks for the right answers. Her reasoning was thus: it wasn't a handwriting test, the work wasn't for display, the writing was legible enough for them to tell I had the right answer and the right working-out (they had marked it correct, after all) and I was one of the best students in the class academically. Did it REALLY matter what my handwriti

  • by mutherhacker (638199) on Friday August 27, 2010 @04:59AM (#33390330)
    Elders always complain about youth not knowing history or spelling or this and that. That's how it's always been and that's how it's always gonna be. People just need to realize that even if youth are forgetting to write characters they are gaining other skills i.e. The ability to quickly navigate between the entries of a pop-up menu, or the ability to input text fast via a mobile-phone keypad. You lose something you gain something. Society is changing/evolving and the fact that youth are changing too is not a bad thing.
  • by dido (9125) <dido@@@imperium...ph> on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:16AM (#33390374)

    This hardly a new phenomenon. In Japan it was noted ever since Japanese-language word processors began to be widely used, so much so that a term: 'waapuro-baka [jisho.org]' was coined for them. Literally meaning 'word processor-stupid', it refers to someone whose kanji-writing ability has suffered due to over-reliance on the kanji conversion systems used to input Japanese text in a word processor or computer. I can imagine that waapuro-baka can only have gotten more prevalent in recent days, and perhaps might be a driver for orthographic reform in the countries that use the Han characters. The Koreans have all but abandoned the use of the Han characters (Hanja) in favor of their phonetic Hangul script and their use is now very much limited (and in North Korea has been completely forbidden). The Japanese have more inertia, from the looks of things, as it seems they have even recently increased the number of general-use kanji taught in their schools, rather than reducing their use in favor of the kana syllabaries instead. The Chinese don't have any native alternatives, and so what direction their orthographic reform will take is unclear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by booyabazooka (833351)

      Literally meaning 'word processor-stupid', it refers to someone whose kanji-writing ability has suffered due to over-reliance on the kanji conversion systems used to input Japanese text in a word processor or computer.

      English speakers could find a similar use for this term, describing people who have forgotten (or never learned) how to spell due to relying on spell-checkers.

  • good for them. it's a good system, easy to learn, and it serves the purpose they need it for (communicating). what took them so long? reminds me of that Seinfeld joke, "the chinese farmer wakes up, eats his breakfast rice with some chopsticks, and then goes out to work on the field with a pitchfork". now if only english started making sense phonetically, life would be so much easier.

  • by bruthasj (175228) <bruthasj AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:21AM (#33393064) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recall_(memory) [wikipedia.org]

    I've been studying Chinese off and on for 16 years; living in the region for 10 years. I speak fluently, I read at an advanced level and I input characters at a good pace on the computer. But, I write like I'm still in primary school.

    Our brains are literally offloading the recall function to external computational devices. But, as we play video games, watch TV and read, our recognition systems are tuned and trained to a fine degree.

    Look forward to what cognitive studies come out of this. I doubt we'll see a total loss, but if we lose the assistance, it'll be interesting to see how humans cope as the skill gap between recall and recognition gets wider.

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