Weishenme Zhongwen zheme TM nan?

David Moser’s essay Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard — which is one of the most popular readings here on Pinyin Info, with perhaps half a million page views to date (nothing to d? p?ntì at!) — has been translated into Mandarin: Wèishénme Zh?ngwén zhème TM nán? (???????TM??). (Gotta love the use of Roman letters there.)

Although the translation has been online for only 24 hours or so, it has already received more than 150 comments.

A suggestion for readers and translators looking for something similar: Moser’s Some Things Chinese Characters Can’t Do-Be-Do-Be-Do.

5 thoughts on “Weishenme Zhongwen zheme TM nan?

  1. Finally finally finally!

    For so many years I’ve wanted to share this article with my Chinese friends. Now I can.

    Thanks for posting about it!

  2. Re: Some Things Chinese Characters Can’t Do-Be-Do-Be-Do.

    The author cannot possibly really think that: “The result is that China effectively has no tradition of realistically notating vernacular speech. Wenyanwen ???, classical Chinese, exerted a virtual stranglehold on written literature up until the early twentieth century, and even then, most writers did not attempt to accurately represent common speech…”

    People were writing in various forms of the vernacular from the Tang on. The amount of fiction and drama written in some from of vernacular from the Song on is truly massive. Yes, certain genres were always written in some register of literary Chinese, but does it really make sense to ignore ????????????????etc., etc.? It really is surprising how people fully swallow the extraordinarily narrow orthodox May Fourth view of the history of literature in China.

    The “Why Chinese…” piece is popular and interesting, but conflates spoken and written languages is a way that is ultimately confusing and even deceptive.

  3. @CapnKernel: Good idea. It’s finally ready.

    @Michael: The page has disappeared. But IIRC correctly a larger percentage of the commenters on the piece were more sympathetic than I might have expected. Now that it’s online here I’ll probably start getting mail on it. (I receive a lot of messages of appreciation for the English original.)

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