Contemporary Go Terms/discussion

Sub-page of ContemporaryGoTerms

Mistakes/Oddities

In all occasions (half-point, half-eye etc. in CN, JP, KR) where the edtiors wanted to print the character (Chin.: bn half) they wrote a wrong character. The first two (inclined) strokes are wrongly turned by 90 deg., resp. left and right strokes are exchanged.
I.e., the inclined characters look like in chn (dust / dirt / earth) while the vertical/horizontal strokes remain the same.

The funny thing is, that such a character does not seem to exist in Chinese (and I suspect neither in Japanese, I checked "2001 Kanji" by De Roo). The question is, how do you produce a Kanji that does not exist? (not with Unicode, I guess).

Correction: I have several fantizi-jiantizi conversion tables.
None shows above character. Two 40 year old Chinese having had their university education in China (proving their literacy) told me that they would not know this character. However, a British, teaching Chinese history in Leiden told me that it does exist (although being archaic, obsolete?).

  • Indeed my Taiwanese copy of Matthews' Chinese-English dictionary of 1931 (sic) shows this character with the different inclinations (and in all other composites too).

Similar these two books show this particuliar form of the character:

  • "Analysis of Chinese Characters" by G.D. Wilder & J.H. Ingram, Dover 1974, unabridged republication of 2nd ed. of College of Chinese Studies in China 1934, 1st ed. 1922 (sic) and
  • "Chinese Characters - Their origin, etymology, history, classification and signification " by Dr. L. Wieger (or. French), Dover 1966, unabridged and unaltered republication of 2nd ed. publ. by Catholic Mission Press in 1927 (1st ed. 1915)

Conclusion: It is a pity that not those characters are employed which are most widely used nowadays (jiantizi). This is a serious drawback. The complicated fantizi used in the book are sometimes not easy to decipher and recognize, because their print is small and thin and fantizi use more strokes than jiantizi.


Intermission with usagi-sama nidan:

usagi: As a quick note, I would like to confer the idea that fantizi vs. jiantizi (complex vs. simplified characters) is more of a political argument than anything else. However. Outside of China, where the English reader is far more likely to meet Chinese speaking people than any else it should be understood those communities are going to use complex (fantizi) characters - jiantizi is largely confined to China proper. In addition, please understand any Chinese speaking reader who would be interested in such a book is probably not in the PRC, because there are similar books in jiantizi Chinese without large stretches of English, which would be more appropriate to someone who does not need nor want English in their book.

Therefore the choice for fantizi makes sense in this book, even though a discussion of why does not make sense in a book review. Please don't discuss this any further, it makes no sense and you could only use a subjective argument anyways. For example, more strokes could be considered better, due to the pictographic/artistic nature of the pictograms. From the perspective of printed works it also matters little. And it does not make sense at all that it is easier to remember one picture versus another because of the colors used or the number of brush strokes. There are many reasons why and why not jianti or fantizi would be used - in the end, you should agree with what most scholars agree, that the two will merge. If you note there are many very common handwritten forms which are wildly different than fantizi and even jiantizi. At any rate, I strongly request that the comments about fantizi versus jiantizi be removed. They make no sense and have no place in a book review. I'll let this sink in for a couple of weeks before I delete them myself, if no one else complains.

And now, let's continue...

tderz: Chris, I moved these parts of the coments to the discussion page. It's of course up to the publisher` and author which market they would like to address. It is only that I do not understand their choice.
I didn't intend to make any political statement and also in retroperspective I cannot recognize one in my preference of Jiantizi over fantizi. If rather is basically a market share and customer interest question. The market can be subdivided into the countries of buyers mother tongues and their direction of translation (CN->EN, EN->CN, KR-EN etc.). We can notice that KR->EN would be quite reciprocal to EN->KR, but CN is actually either fan- or jiantizi. Now, my main argument was based on a business decision w.r.t the biggest market:

  • in any direction CN(jiantizi) is bigger and more important:
    • there are many more tournaments, players, magazines, books in the area where jiantizi is used than resp. for fantizi.

Secondly, Asian Character readers might be used to small fonts (there are some dictionaries with extremely small ones), however to me it does not look good.


The book wants to address the Asian reader too (as stated in the book).
For me the question arises why a potential, guessed 1.3 billion customer market is left out. The fewer potential customers from Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong who learned and use fantizi, also easily can read the simpler jiantizi. It is true that many Mainland Chinese may be used to read fantizi as well, despite that they only learned jiantizi at school.

This scenario does not hold for the non-Asians (say Westeners). Some of us perhaps learned only some jiantizi and had to consult every time a comparative table in order to decipher a text in fantizi. Having in mind that also the market of publications is way bigger in Mainland China (jiantizi), I conclude that the editors should have chosen to give both: fantizi and jiantizi (despite any possible, hard-to-understand preference by the editors).
Not to forget the diacritic signs on the pinyin:

  • it also helps the Chinese speaker of another dialect than putonghua ("Mandarin"), let alone the "Westeners"

Most of the people just want to use this book as a reference and will not investigate as I do.
For most of the readers this book is not (as much) the help they wished to have if
i) fantizi differs much from jiantizi and
ii) they are wishing to read a text in jiantizi (e.g. from Mainland China).

Normal Chinese text is already a puzzle if you did not study Chinese, hence why complicating the process?


Conclusion: The western reader will find here many, many entries which are useful for understanding Asian texts. Thereby reading Magazines is much tougher than even a Fuseki book, because they might talk about everything (e.g. their last vacation/trip or hobbies) when commenting on a game, whereas Fuseki teaching might be still purely technical.

Mutatis mutandis above holds for the Asian reader.
I cannot imagine many Asian readers wanting to subscribe to Western Go literature instead of the more available and profounder Asian literature. Yet there might be - literally - many, who might like to communicate in English (as the "lingua franca" to quote the author) even among the Asians (CN, KR, JP).


Contemporary Go Terms/discussion last edited by tderz on April 16, 2006 - 11:51
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