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Where there is a will, there is a way.

 
 
 

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年过半百,经历坎坷.少年遇"文革",下乡八载,虽历经磨难,唯斗志不减,农耕间隙自学不辍,终守得云开日出,考进大学.大学毕业后先后经历了中学执教,国企管理,外企高管,最后回归重执教鞭.目前在家精心培养有志掌握英语的中小学生. 我最大的愿望就是看到孩子学有所成,桃李天下.

我新发表的文章《珍惜汉字》  

2013-09-23 10:29:28|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 前言:在一个日益被电脑和智能手机统治的世界里,人的书写能力迅速退化。我的学生在记录英语单词写汉语词义时,经常连很普通的汉字都写不出来。照这样的态势发展,10年以后的高考语文题目将只有 一个内容:写出100个汉字。汉字是世界上唯一将形声意完美结合起来的文字。每个汉字都有故事。例如”安“,它的本义是,家里只要有女人就平安,可现在还有多少人了解汉字后面的故事呢?牙膏的”膏“是每天都看见的字,可是,我曾经测试过无数人,从小学生到研究生,大约80%以上的人写错。多数人将中间的”口“漏掉了。如果学过一些汉字构造原理,这样的错误是不可能的。”膏“是一个形声字,上面的”高“表示它的读音,而下面的”月“(其实不是”月亮“的月,而是表示”肉“的意思)是表示意义的。”膏“本指”脂肪“,后来泛指一切”膏脂“状物品。

我相信,汉字书写能力的下降不可能有利于国家的整体创新能力提高。遏制这种下降刻不容缓。中央台和河南台举办的汉字书写比赛可谓正当其时。

Cherish Chinese characters

Wu Guangqiang

 

OUR world is increasingly digitalized and automatized with the wide use of smart gadgets: computers, smartphones and the like. It’s a familiar sight to see nearly everyone on sidewalks, public transportation or in cafes hooked on a trendy gizmo, usually a tablet computer or a smartphone, busily sending messages or playing online games while totally oblivious of what’s going on around them.

 Speaking of the younger generations, who have grown up with the accompaniment of countless modern inventions, some would say: “They are indeed brighter than their elders.”

 Yes, they sure are, if judging by the fact that teenagers became adept with modern devices seemingly at birth while their parents seem to be dazzled by the whizzing pace of constantly upgrading hardware and software. Older people are often considered “computer illiterate” — or “modern device illiterate,” to be more exact.

Without a doubt, young people who master advanced knowledge and technology including the Internet, Internet of Things and 3-D printing have splendid futures within their grasp.

 Yet, it’s highly dubious that the so-called “computer generations” are inevitably more intelligent and creative. There have been concerns about over-emphasizing high-tech training at the expense of developing cognitive ability in Chinese people. Many negative consequences have already emerged; among others, the ability to correctly write Chinese characters and pen decent essays in the native language is decreasing among most Chinese, particularly teenagers. Unless redefined, the abilities to read and write have been the foremost criteria for literacy.

I’ve been fretting that such degradation will, in time, result in an overall regression in cognitive competence among the Chinese, which may in turn undermine the capacities for learning and innovation of the Chinese nation as a whole.

 That’s no exaggeration given the origin, nature and features of Chinese characters. With a history of 3,000 years, Chinese characters, also known as square-shaped characters, create the world’s most unique writing system because of their magical methods of word-formation and expressive functions of shape, tone and meaning. Originating as pictographs, the earliest Chinese characters represented objects in pictorial forms, such as (the sun) and (the moon). To tackle the increasing numbers of new characters, four methods for forming Chinese characters were developed, thus making the system more complicated and complete.

One of the most fascinating parts of Chinese characters is that almost every character reflects the thinking of ancient culture. For instance, the character (peace) shows that the peace can be achieved when there is a woman in a house according to the character’s two components, the upper of which means a house and the lower a woman.

Some historians owe, at least partly, the thousands-year-long unity and continuous civilization of the Chinese nation to the presence of Chinese characters, because diverse spoken languages encourage tendencies toward independence while a unified written language holds different social groups together. That may partly explain why there are hundreds of tiny nations in Europe, while China has so many different ethnic groups speaking a variety of dialects living together in harmony for thousands of years.

 Unfortunately, more and more Chinese people are losing contact with this language of beauty, wisdom and philosophy. The habit of writing Chinese with a writing instrument has given way to that of typing and clicking on a computer, leading millions to being unable to write Chinese competently, not to mention fluently.

 More than 80 percent of the respondents in a 2012 survey said the Chinese language is suffering a sharp fall in its application levels. Nearly 61 percent of respondents said that was a “crisis for Chinese.”

 One of my frequent quizzes proves the seriousness of the problem. Very often, I ask people, old or young, primary pupils or high school students, or even students with college degrees, to write out a simple Chinese character: (meaning fat, paste or cream). It is so frequently used in words such as yagao (toothpaste) that everyone sees it every day. Surprisingly, however, more than 80 percent of people I ask write it incorrectly.

Fortunately, authorities have come to recognize the dangerous decline and are beginning to take action to reverse the trend. CCTV and Henan TV are holding programs to rekindle the public’s interest in knowing and writing Chinese characters.

China would no longer be China without its beautiful characters.

 

(The author is an English tutor and a freelance writer.)

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