In the node China
claimed that China
is underdeveloped technologically because there is no phonetic alphabet
, making acronyms
impossible and impeding the spread of knowledge
. This reminds me of a course I took last semester
on ancient scripts
. Many articles I've read in that class
quoted the spread of the alphabet
as a main factor of the development of mathematics
and even democracy
around the world. Hogwash
These "scholars" often claim that the alphabet is easier to learn and hence knowledge is spread quicker due to the higher rate of literacy. Herein lies the first flaw of their argument. The Chinese script, despite its lack of phonetic elements, is no harder to learn than any other language. It has been scientifically proven that youngsters in the ages between 2 and 4 are in their "linguistic prime", learning new languages faster and better than any other time in their lives. Just because those scholars find it difficult to learn Chinese or Japanese it does not mean that a 3 year old child has the same feeling.
May I remind these people that China was the world leader in technology for well over 1000 years before falling behind in the 1500's? While Europe languised around in the Dark Ages, China and the Arabic countries were speeding ahead technologically. Chinese inventions include the compass, paper, gunpowder, printing (Gutenburg didn't invent the press, we did), and lots of medical discoveries. We did fine with the Chinese character system.
I think the whole idea that the alphabet is superior was raised with the advent of the computer, more specifically the keyboard. Not that it matters anyways, because voice input is poised to replace typing input in the future anyways, and there has been several alternatives developed for Chinese computer input.
I'm digressing. But since those "scholarly opinions" were all written in the era of imperialism, I can imagine the degree of which those people were indoctrinated to the idea of Christian and Western superiority. The extension of the idea that the Western phonetic alphabet leads to the development of democracy and science is ludicrous at best, and stinks of old-day imperialist attitudes.
I learned Mandarin as a second-language with no problems whatsoever. May it be that those scholars were intellectually challenged with the new-fangled non-phonetic Chinese language and quickly retreated to the "superior" English language?
:P. Of course, I'm not accusing anyone. I'm just pointing out the absurdity of these "scholarly" claims, thats all.