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On Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 2:39 AM, Leo Ki <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
On Thu, 23 Apr 2009 23:46:29 -0700, Cheng-Zhong Su <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

>If you come from Korean, it is easy for you to understand that why the
>Korean people as well as Chinese people learn 3,000 Hanzi (or character) is
>equal an English person to learn one million words? I have to say, in the
>world, there is no one can master a vocabulary as big as one million words
>directly. Therefore, the Chinese Hanzi takes a different way and they can
>master the one million words indirectly. The problem is since the Chinese
>people only use it but don't understand why this happened, so there are
>plenty misusing. For this reason our argument is hopping both side of
>eastern and western to know it.

I made a new thread just for your project :)

I understand what you mean, but I'm sure you are aware that English or other
long-word languages do not actually have millions of words created
haphazardly. A great many of them are compounds, especially in the enormous
scientific word stock. Exactly as in Chinese. Even everyday words (such as
'everyday' or 'anybody') are transparent compounds some people will even
write spontaneously with spaces: 'every day', 'any body'.
Yes you are right. The question is that in this forum, it seemed no body has ever ask this question, so I have to say it in short as ‘English has millions words’. In fact, English has plenty compound words also. Since you asked the detail, I have to say the only different is the portion of compound words in these two language.  


On the other hand, many Chinese words are compounds that are as hard to
analyse as English words whose etymology has become obscure. Hanzi made it
easier to keep record of the etymology, but I guess it's not as systematic;
some characters have been used for different spoken words and there is no
way to keep track of that over five millenia.
That is right; the etymology of Hanzi is obscure. So I don’t study it, for I believe the same symbol could change its meaning dozens times through the years. Even now it is changing. We can’t catch any solid rule from this changing. What we can do is just like the structuralism tells us that regard any Hanzi or word as a symbol or a signifier. in this way we may find out the efficiency of any language. 


So, what is your project? I see you allude to it in several threads but I
can't see the whole picture. Have you already begun to list up all words and
concepts needed, and the way to combine them, and the syntax of the whole?
My own project needs one or two hundred (not thousand) primitive words, but
it's a freaklang :P
My project is looking for certain words but rather let people to know the trend of evolution of language. I believe that once they know it, they will improve their language automatically. The final target is find a language that ‘learning less knowing more’ for the world.
I believe any word can be a semantic primitive, if only it is used frequently enough. For instance, in English ‘young sister’ means a sister that younger than you, while in Chinese, there are no this Hanzi means sister. The 妹(mei) means ‘young sister’ and 姐(jie) means ‘old sister’. When we put them together, it is a compound word as 姐妹 = sister.
For this reason, I believe that the so called semantic primitives are in fact the most frequently used words in a certain language.