Posted by Dr Fro 2:04 PM
That above is “It ain’t gambling” in Chinese. While in Hong Kong, I learned that many moons ago, there were many competing dialects/languages in China. The emperor wanted a standard written language which really didn’t exist at the time. So he rolled out the written language that still basically exists today. He did not take the Latin, Arabic or Germanic approach of having the written language represent the pronunciation of the word. Rather, the symbol represents the actual word (or idea represented by the word).
To put it plainly, if I give you an English word you have never seen before, like “apodictic” you can somewhat ascertain how to pronounce it. However, you would have almost no clue (short of prefixes, suffixes and Latin/Greek roots) as to what the word actually means.
Conversely, if I gave a Chinese word/symbol to a Chinese reader, they may well be able to ascertain the meaning of the word (although not as easily as we ascertain the pronunciation) but would not have the first clue as to pronunciation.
This becomes interesting because Cantonese and Mandarin speakers can’t have a conversation with each other any better than I could converse with a Swede. Unlike me and the Swede, though, they would be able to read the exact same book without a problem.
So due to all this, my Chinese co-worker gave me a puzzled look when I asked “did you write that in Cantonese or Mandarin?” It is written in both.