Sunday, December 7, 2008

预兆即将成为事实:写在墙壁上的字 The Writing on the Wall

*注:英语The Writing on the Wall 直译是‘写在墙壁上的字’,真正的意思是指很明显的预兆(多指不祥的预兆)即将成为事实。一语双关的意图明显。
More and more westerners seem to be quite concerned with Asians’ lack of creativity. One of them is Mr William C. Hannas.
Hannas who speaks 12 languages, blames the writing systems of China, Japan and Korea for what he says is the East Asia’s failure to make significant scientific and technological breakthroughs compared to the Western nations.
He has written books, such as ‘Asia’s Orthographic Dilemma’, ‘Writing On The Wall’, which, according to one Internet Website, are ‘based on the scholarship in cognitive science and linguistics, and the author's intimate experience with East Asian languages’, and provide ‘a balanced and thoughtful account of one of the important problems facing modern Asia in the age of globalization.’
In the Chinese writing system, each character corresponds to a syllable of sound. It is a system of ‘syllabaries’.
In comparison, the western alphabetic systems rely on letters that by themselves are pure abstractions since a single letter does not represent a syllable of sound.
Because the Eastern Asian writing systems lack the abstract features of alphabets, they hamper the kind of analytical and abstract thought necessary for scientific creativity. He is also concerned that children who are immersed in a character-based culture are at a huge disadvantage because such writing systems do not cultivate the ability for abstract thought.
He noted that Asian immigrants to the West, who work in an alphabetic system, do innovative work and make money by taking and applying the fruits of science that the West creates at great expenses.
One has good reason to believe him when he insists that he is not criticizing Asians and claiming that they lack intellect.
His own writing on the wall is also loud and clear: East Asians should switch to the alphabetic system.


chrix gan said...

Hi J.T

I am Chris Gan from KL, an in-law of your cousin J.K. I disagree with the finding that Asians fail to make scientific breakthrough because of their non-alphabetic learning. We need to note from history that it was the Chinese who was way advanced than their western counterpart in 1400s and before when they made gunpowder, paper, the hardest metal swordblade, flamethrower, had the largest ships even by today's standards during Zhang He's time, etc. I believe Chinese innovations died after that period not because the Chinese cannot think in abstract (the YiJing and Dao De Jing are very abstract), but I believe more so because of the suppressive regime the people is subject to, and also because the Chinese were constantly living in the warring period - situation which are hardly condusive for scientific breakthrough, and also misguided ideologies such as Communism has stunted intellectual growth. But today, the Japanese who uses characters similiar to Chinese are in the forefront of electronics and car technology - see the Toyota Prius, the Honda Asimo, etc. Western products pale comparitively to the Japanese, isn't that so?

Joon Tai 运开 said...

Well said - I agree with you totally.... I am sure many people including many from the west do not agree with the finding.
While Mr Hannas' motive is clearly written on the wall, but I do not think the Chinese today bother even to look at the wall.