ZenPundit
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
 
BARNETT vs. KAPLAN III: TURNING A GLITTERING EYE TOWARD CHINA

Dave Schuler of the Glittering Eye who, like Curzon of Coming Anarchy, speaks Chinese, has weighed in on the call by Robert D. Kaplan for a second Cold War against China. Dave offers some sage advice to the Sinophobes:

"I'm stealing my own thunder but the points I'm trying to make in my as-yet-unfinished “China's time bombs” series are that

1. China has problems of its own.

2. China is focused on China in a way that Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have never been.

3. We should be encouraging China to solve its problems rather than worrying about what China's plans for us might be."

Well said. Read the whole thing.
 
Comments:
Actually, I believe Curzon speaks Japanese, not Chinese. As for glittering eye, he may have a point, but the metaphor he uses to make it is simply wrong. Besides, he even used the wrong ideograms for China. Mainland China uses simplified characters and Zhong Guo as he wrote it, is in traditional.
 
Hey Jing

I'm a diplomatic historian and not a linguist or a Chinese history specialist so forgive my not knowing what you mean by " simplified" and " traditional"

Are you saying Dave is using a character format used in Taiwan ? Or that he's using archaic ideograms ? Or neither ?

If he learned Chinese pre-1980 or so I believe language programs here were more " old school", transliterated according to Wade-Giles instead of Pinyin rules etc. Things changed as China opened up and travel betwen the two countries became common. But I'm hazarding a guess here.

Dave, if you are out there.....
 
Here's the full disclosure on my limited skills with Chinese. Indeed, my study of Chinese predates 1980. By quite a bit. I read the Thousand Character Classic. I could read a newspaper (with difficulty). What skills I had have atrophied ago.

Simplified Chinese was introduced on the mainland starting in 1954 and proceeded in several phases. It's used mostly on the mainland and in Singapore. Traditional continues to be used in Taiwan and elsewhere.

I learned the traditional writing system not the simplified. So I'll plead “not guilty” to the charge of wrong but plead guilty to the charge of dated.

Wen Jiabao, for example, is 62 years old. He learned traditional as did many of the other Chinese senior leadership.

Studying Chinese made a powerful impression on me. And I believe strongly that language, writing, culture, and belief are all intricately intertwined. Not Sapir-Whorf determinative but intertwined. They influence each other.





I continue to be fairly fluent in Russian and can read newspapers and most books with ease.
 
To complete the rundown:

My first language was English. My second French which I studied for four years. My third, Latin which I studied for four years; Russian—8 years; Greek—2 years;Chinese—4 years. I lived and worked for a while in Germany and can make my way around in it. I have a smattering of Hungarian and Japanese. I taught myself a little Hebrew. I'm teaching myself to read Arabic (Modern Standard).
 
hey Dave,

While I have overestimated your Chinese fluency I seem to have greatly undestimated your linguistic skills. That's an impressive and eclectic array of languages ! Are they directly related to your work or are languages an interest ?
 
I started out in life to be a linguist. I didn't take that path but languages remain an interest for me.
 
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