Questions and Answers
Copyright © September 2009 by Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong
After the inception of the PreBabel site on July 14, 2009, it has caught many people's interest. An in-depth discussion on the PreBabel took place at "conlanger bulletin board." Many great questions and critiques were discussed there. The following is a brief summary of those discussions.
- Day one --- Summary of questions and critiques
- Day two --- Is a universal language possible?
- Day three --- What are the criteria for a universal language?
- Day four --- The history of finding the universal language root word set
- Day five --- The choices of roots for the universal language
- Day six --- Theoretical framework of a universal language
- Day seven --- Test procedure for validating a universal language
- Day eight -- The fuzzy logic and the PreBabel root word set
- Day nine --- Are all natural languages isomorphic among one another?
- Day ten --- PreBabel root word set is invented, not discovered
- Day eleven --- Private Language Thesis (PLT) and the types of language
- Day twelve --- Can any language be without verbs?
- Day thirteen --- The regression encoding procedure (REP) for PreBabel
- Day fourteen --- The attractor theorem and a universal language
- Day fifteen --- The innate meaning of a word token (of PreBabel) vs its semantic meaning
- Day sixteen --- Is English a universal language?
- Day seventeen --- A premise must be testable
- Day eighteen --- The method of handling any chaotic system, such as the system of natural languages
- Day nineteen --- Via PreBabel to learn any second language is to learn two instead of one, then, why do it?
- Day twenty --- A true Emperor cannot be discredited by any disbelieving person
- Day twenty-one --- Is Esperanto a universal language?
- Day twenty-two --- The strategy of constructing a universal language
- Day twenty-three -- Should PreBabel words be intuitive? And, the PreBabel a, b and c.
- Day twenty-four -- Can PreBabel (language x) be learned easier than the language x itself?
Day twenty-five -- About "words and concepts of one language are grouped differently in another language.
- Day twenty-six -- The PreBabel process is as easy as 1, 2 and 3.
- Day twenty-seven -- How and when can PreBabel (Proper) emerge?
- Day twenty-eight -- more about intuitiveness.
- Day twenty-nine -- about memory anchors on learning a language.
- Day thirty -- about tests for PreBabel.
- Day thirty-one -- about PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-two -- the debut of PreBabel (Chinese) at AP Annual Conference 2007 (CollegeBoard).
- Day thirty-three -- traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-four -- the first constructed language, the Lii character set.
- Day thirty-five -- phonological reconstruction vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-six -- more about the construction of the Lii character set.
- Day thirty-seven -- Published works on PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-eight -- more of traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day thirty-nine -- PreBabel methodology I -- equivalent transformation.
- Day forty -- Types of conlang and more on traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
- Day forty-one --- PreBabel epistemology: the Occam's razor.
- Day forty-two --- axiomatic domain, theory and system
- Day forty-three --- about Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
- Day forty-four --- About the differences among languages
- Day forty-five --- Reasons being in the dark
- Day forty-six --- about large and complex system
- Day forty-seven --- A constructed linguistic universe (I)
- Day forty-eight -- about China's language policy
- Day forty-nine --- Construced linguistic universe (II)
- Day fifty -- Constructed linguistic universe (III)
- Day fifty-one -- Constructed linguistic universe (IV)
- Day fifty-two -- Constructed linguistic universe (V)
- Day fifty-three -- Constructed linguistic universe (VI)
- Day fifty-four -- Constructed linguistic universe (VII)
- Day fifty-five -- Summary of constructed linguistic universe
- Day fifty-six -- Discovering the PreBabel principle
- Day fifty-seven -- Benefits of PreBabel
- Day fifty-eight -- the PreBabel procedures
- Day fifty-nine -- about Chinese Etymology
- Day sixty -- Can the parts be larger than the whole?
- Day sixty-one -- Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis revisited
- Day sixty-two -- The two step PreBabel procedures
- Day sixty-three -- Can linguistics be justified with math laws?
- Day sixty-four -- About heavily inflecting or agglutinating languages
- Day sixty-five -- Can any theory be based on only two highly atypical examples?
- Day sixty-six -- Can PreBabel encompass the Martian language?
- Day sixty-sevenCan the word 沫 be dissected and decoded with the PreBabel root set?
- Day sixty-eight -- Comparison the PreBabel (Chinese) with some old school ways
- Day sixty-nine -- Comparison (II)
- Day seventy -- Comparison (III)
- Day seventy-one -- Comparison (IV)
- Day seventy-two -- Comparison (V)
- Day seventy-three -- Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis again
- Day seventy-four -- the "center of gravity" for new linguistics
- Day seventy-five -- the reviews and the material facts on PreBabel (Chinese)
- Day seventy-six -- Is PreBabel just an oligosynthetic written Lojban?
- Day seventy-seven -- About the flexibility of language
- Day seventy-eight -- About the universal grammar
- Day seventy-nine -- The "Large Complex System Principle" (LCSP) & the Martian Language Thesis
- Day eighty -- The three tiers of axiomatic system hierarchy
- Day eighty-one -- Universal grammar -- the total freedom
- Day eighty-two -- Spider Web Principle and the Minimum Complexity Theorem
- Day eighty-three -- Life system is the Totality
- Day eighty-four -- SULT is a language continuum
Day thirty-one -- about PreBabel (Chinese).
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- ... that since all Chinese
logograms can be broken into a root set, and you have used this same
root set as the basis for PreBabel, then all Chinese logograms can be
broken down into PreBabel root words.
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- However, You have shown
that in PreBabel encodings, all characters must be arranged linearly,
and that the order of this arrangement is a distinguishing factor (for
example, (dot, horizontal divide) = above, while (horizontal divide,
dot) = below).
Answer -- This issue of root order is a bit more complicated,
especially for Chinese. In general, the "order" (either for roots
(forming words) or for words (forming sentence)) is discussed in my
paper "The theory and the method of constructing a true Universal
Language, http://www.prebabel.info/bab001.htm ). Seemingly, you missed
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- My question, then, is how you
systematically arrange the root radicals of Chinese logograms into a
linear chain as PreBabel requires.
Answer -- I do not truly understand this question. If you mean the
"word form" of Chinese character, then the linear writing style of
PreBabel vocabulary is a convention, not a requirement, as Chinese
character uses a two dimensional style. If the "linear chain" relates
to Law 1, then there is no difference between the Chinese characters
and PB (English) words.
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- As I am currently learning
Chinese, I will try to track down a copy of your book, as it will
probably be of great help to me in that process.
Answer -- You stated, "I have no reason to believe that learning
PB (Chinese) is any easier than learning Chinese." Now, you can check
out your statement with a test, not as an issue of believing any more.
In a Chinese language environment, a person can speak fluent Chinese
verbally about one year (some needs only six months). For Chinese
written part, however a language genius he is, he needs a few years to
gain the ability to read Chinese newspaper. Yet, with PreBabel
(Chinese), you can reduce those years into six months (in fact, 300
hours of good study). This is not a claim but is a guarantee. In
addition to as a universal language, the PreBabel has revolutionized
the way of language learning. One of the key point is that learning PB
(language x) needs not a "language x" environment. PreBabel has
transformed language from a way of living habit to a knowledge, similar
to geometry, chemistry, etc..
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- However, I still do not believe
that this system could form the basis for a universal language. It is,
apparently, quite well suited for applications to Chinese, but not all
languages behave the way Chinese does. More synthetic languages
(particularly those of the fusional variety) would be much more
difficult to "encode" using this root set (or any root set, really)
than Chinese is. Thus, given an "encoding" of such a language, students
would not be able to merely "figure out" grammar as you suggest is
possible in Chinese.
Answer -- For knowledge, it needs no belief. You either know it or not. I listed two criteria in my PreBabel paper.
- Criterion one (C1): Its scope and capacity must be in par, at least, with one natural language.
two (C2): It must be mastered to a literacy level similar to the
language skill of a 12th grader on his/her mother language by an
average person in 100 days with 3 hours of study a day, that is, a
total of 300 hours of study.
The PreBabel either meets these two or not. If not, then the
PreBabel is not a universal language, just as simple as that. There is
no faith nor believing about it.
These two criteria was the first paragraph of the first section of
the PreBabel paper. Yet, up to now (15 pages of posts), no one uses
them to discuss the issues. Those issues (being discussed),
- "I don't believe that universal
language is ever possible". Who cares about anyone's believe? PreBabel
is an issue of science (linguistics science), not a religion.
- "Why horse head, not horse?" So what? Indeed a problem, change it.
- "Tienzen is culturally biased." Is this making any difference for the validity of PreBabel as a science?
- "I don't get a mental image of (dot, stop) as "at"." So what? Which criterion will thus fail because of this?
- "People are all different!" Indeed, they are. But, what is the point? Which criterion will thus fail because of this?
- ... etc..
If you are truly going to learn Chinese, you have a chance to check out
these two criteria in person. Beliefs, you need them no more. If you
learn Chinese via the old school, then, we can talk three years from
now. If you learn Chinese via PreBabel (Chinese), you can make your
report here after 300 hours of good study.
Day thirty-two -- the debut of PreBabel (Chinese) at AP Annual Conference 2007 (CollegeBoard).
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- If PB's encodings do not provide
intuitive interpretations of their meanings, they have no advantage
over natural vocabulary.
Answer -- Intuitive, what do you mean?
In binary arithmetics, 1 + 1 = 10. Is this intuitive? not to me. I must learn it.
In Elliptic geometry, for any given line, there is no line can ever parallel to it. Is this intuitive? Not to me.
In Relativity theory, the time (the actual watch) will slow down in a speed travel. Is this intuitive? Not to me.
The Formal Logic is nothing but logic. Yet, many students fail this course.
The mathematics is nothing but logic. Yet, many people are afraid of studying it.
Everyone loves the football game. are the rules of the game
intuitive? If it is not, then must it not be understood by an average
If "intuitive" means not needing of learning and it comes with
birth, such as, knowing to eat, to sleep, etc., then PreBabel fails
your criterion. The PreBabel is a science which has some basic rules
which must be learned.
Question -- from "Trailsend" -- Firstly, because as mentioned, you have
not shared any data about the studies upon which you base the claim.
I have no reason to believe that learning PB (Chinese) is any easier than learning Chinese.
Answer -- Even facts are not intuitively knowable. I showed those
supporting links many times; yet, you still "have no reason to believe
that learning PB (Chinese) is any easier than learning Chinese." The
PreBabel (Chinese) was presented at AP Annual Conference 2007
(CollegeBoard) in Las Vegas on July 13, 2007 to over 90 Chinese
language professors and teachers (teaching Chinese language in American
universities and American high schools). The records of that event is
Day thirty-three -- traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
Question -- from "sangi39" -- ... As such, I believe that your
proposed etymology works almost exclusively using more modern character
forms where the original form has been essentially hidden and the
writing style becomes more standard in terms of brush strokes and so
Answer -- The word "modern" in your post refers to the year of 220
B.C. which is 220 years before Christ, and it is 2,230 years ago.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- Going back to the oracle bone script
and its reconstructed pronunciation as well as the later script forms
and their proposed pronunciation almost entirely overturns your Chinese
etymology for complex characters as well as some simple ones and also
works in line with already established linguistic thought ...
Answer -- The "Physics" written by Aristotle is still the treasure
of mankind today although most of its statements are wrong according to
the modern physics. For physics, the truth is written by the universe,
not by Aristotle. Thus, the truth on Chinese Etymology is determined by
the Chinese word system (word universe) itself, not by any "already
established linguistic thought." Any physics law is true only if it can
describe the universe on its behaves, its phenomena, its whatnot, etc..
Thus, the correct Chinese Etymology must be able to describe everything
about the Chinese word system, its word form structure, its phonetics,
its meaning arising mechanism, etc.. The "already established
linguistic thought" is as great as Aristotle's Physics but is simply
ignorant about the facts of the true Chinese Etymology.
I do not understand your statement, "...entirely overturns your Chinese
etymology for complex characters...." In Chinese Etymology, the more
complex character is, the more precise its innate meaning is depending
upon its morphic structure. The G2 (generation 2) word is more confined
than a G1 (generation 1) word, and G5 more than G4, etc.. Please see
the examples at,
Question -- from "sangi39" -- All in all, the Chinese people
haven't been taught written Chinese in the "break down a character"
method because ...
Answer -- Indeed, never, never, never for the past 5,000 years in
the China's history, all the Chinese people haven't been taught written
Chinese in the "break down a character" method, as no one ever knew
about the true Chinese Etymology. Chinese written system was viewed as
the most chaotic system in the world by both Western Sinologists and
Chinese linguists. In 1920s, the slogan was, "Without abandon the
Chinese written system, the China as a nation will surly perish." In
1950s, the simplified Chinese character system was launched to rid of
the shame of that "modern (in your term)" system. Yet, as I said in a
previous post, I am the inventer of "Chinese Etymology" but not the
inventer of the "modern" Chinese word system.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- Therefore, I generally cannot accept
your etymologies for various characters simply because they appear
almost exclusively to use the more modern forms rather than actually
going back further and looking at their original forms and
Finally, although a new approach may be needing in order to teach
Chinese characters, especially now where the phonetic and semantic link
between written form and spoken word has been lost, it may not be wise
or even correct to state that your new approach relates to Chinese
character etymology, especially since it so drastically departs from
linguistic theory as a whole and not just Chinese character
etymological theory, but should simply be called a new approach in
which characters are broken down into apparent constituent parts ...
So, in conclusion, I wouldn't personally accept this as a Chinese
etymology, i.e. the developmentally history of Chinese characters in
relation to form, meaning, and pronunciation, but I would accept this
as a new method of teaching Chinese characters specifically.
Answer -- If a person is writing a thesis on "the history and the
evolution of the modern technology" while he puts all his efforts on
studying the technology of Roman time exclusively, he will definitely
conclude that the links from the ancient to the modern has been lost.
If he begins his study from 18th century, he might see more lights. The
oracle characters, the seal characters and the bronze characters were,
indeed, parts of the history of the Chinese written system. Yet, there
was a "revolution" in 215 B.C.. "Revolution" means drastically
departing from the old. Using the pre-revolution facts to measure the
post-revolution facts is doomed to fail. This is what the "already
established linguistic thought" is all about. This is why that no one
ever knows that the Chinese word system is a PreBabelized (axiomatic)
system. If you do not know about that revolution, I will inform you
about it in my next post.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- This "universal" language may better
be termed "a new approach to learning Chinese characters in light of
lost links between phonology and semantics with modern Chinese
characters and the various Chinese languages" rather than "an etymology
of Chinese characters" or "a universal language".
Answer -- For three long months, we were talking about PreBabel, a
universal language, never talking about Chinese Etymology until very,
very recently. The PreBabel is not Chinese Etymology. The Chinese
Etymology is PreBabel (Chinese). If you don't know the difference
between the two, you should know it now. At least, you are told now.
Day thirty-four -- the first constructed language, the Lii character set.
Question -- from "sangi39" --The "revolution" in the Chinese
script in c. 220BC was an attempt at the standardization of the Chinese
script under the rule of the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang removing
variation amongst the characters of the Zhou dynasty version of the
script and across now unified China. The standardization also occurred
alongside the standardization of writing technique, changing the form
which the majority of characters took, making the older, more
transparent phonetic and semantic association difficult to see.
However, there is little or no evidence suggesting this standardization
involved any change in the way characters were actually viewed, that
is, the characters were written as a whole as they had been before, but
the form had changed drastically.
Answer -- From your writing, it shows that your knowledge on
Chinese characters is much, much better than any native Chinese
colleges graduate. Thus, I am truly surprised at the fact that you do
not know that the so-called "modern" Chinese characters have very
little to do with that historical event which is described in your
For the 2,000 years before 220 B.C., the Chinese written characters
did evolve from the "Oracle scripts" to "Bronze scripts", to "Large
seal scripts", to "Small seal scripts". Although the time span was long
(2,000 years), it was a "continuous" evolution. In 220 B.C., that
"standardization" event did occur, and it was implemented by the Prime
Minister ( 李 斯 ) of the Qin Empire. This "standardization" used the
"Small seal scripts" as the standard. Indeed, this was still a part of
the continuous evolution, began from the Oracle to, ..., to Small Seal
Yet, there was another event happening at the same time. Mr. Wang (
王 次 仲 ), a hermit, invented an "entirely different" system of
written characters. Emperor Qin Shi Huang read about this and was
greatly impressed. The Emperor asked Mr. Wang to come out from his
hermitage and to serve the government many, many times, but Wang
declined all those invitations. Although the Emperor was very angry, he
was unable to change Wang's mind. Mr. Chang ( 程 邈 ) was a high
officer and a highly revered scholar in the Empire. Yet, Chang was in
jail for some reasons at that moment. So, the Emperor gave Chang an
assignment of refining and completing Wang's work. If Chang is
successful, he will be pardoned and will return to his high office.
With 10 long years (in jail), Chang worked day and night on Wang's
system and finally "constructed" 3,000 new characters. The Emperor was
extremely satisfied, and Chang was put back to a high position. Chang's
system was, then, used as the written system for the governmental
papers, and it spread very quickly to commoners. At that time, most of
the servants who did the chores of copying governmental papers were
drafted commoners or prisoners, and they were call Lii ( 隸 ). As Chang
was also a prisoner once and as his system was used by Lii, this new
system was named as Lii characters. Very, very soon, the Small Seal
characters were no longer used as a communication tool, and it became
an art, not a language any more.
Of course, nothing can be truly invented out of the blue. The Lii
system, of course, used many Small seal characters or parts of those
characters as roots. Yet, the two systems (old evolved system and Lii)
are completely different. The old characters (from Oracle to Small
Seal) are arbitrary vocabulary with every word as a stand alone blob.
The new system (Lii) is a root word based system.
Although these two events happened at the exact same time, around
220 B.C. to 210 B.C., there is, in fact, a break, a divide and a huge
canyon between the two. Using the old system to explain the new one is
the same as describing the human evolution with the facts of
Neanderthal, and this is exactly what the "already established
linguistic thought" is all about.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- You're break-down of the Chinese
character system into 220 root characters may provide some benefit in
the learning of Chinese characters since it provides a new way of more
easily remembering what the characters mean after 2000 years of a
relatively opaque writing system.
Essentially, what I'm saying is, this system is not an "etymology"
because it doesn't take into account the full history of the
characters. However, breaking the individual characters down, it may
provide character learning with some advantages, but breaking a
character down into 220 roots is not an etymology, it is more a
analytical analysis of form. In final, you are thus not the "inventor
of Chinese etymology" (since you don't actually deal with full
character history) but the "inventor of a promising method of more
easily learning Chinese characters through breaking them down into
apparent root characters" since that is more accurately what you do.
Answer -- Mr. A established the knowledge of "Anatomy" which
enables him to dissect all animals correctly and efficiently. Yet, Mr.
A did not invent the body structure of those animals. Without the body
structure of those animals, there cannot possibly establish Mr. A's
knowledge of Anatomy. You are confusing the effect as the cause. If the
Chinese character system is not a root word based system, it cannot be
dissected with a given set of root words in a consistent way.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- The problem is, your Chinese character
"etymology" isn't actually a full etymology, i.e. it doesn't take into
account the full history of the writing system and actually includes
"facts" that have little evidence to support and you overplay the
stylistic script change during the early Qin dynasty in order to
support the idea that older versions of the script can be completely
ignored, or it seems to be this way in your writing anyway.
Answer -- As I already showed, you used a history which is not
relevant to the issue. I just showed you the history which is the story
about this "modern" system.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- This character break-down may have
promise in the teaching of Chinese characters, but may fall down in
regards to grammatical processes and pronunciation. The advantage comes
from making the characters more transparent, but a different kind of
transparency not based on phono-semantic combinations, rebus-system use
and ideographs, but purely on the breakdown of an individual character
into proposed roots character combinations
Answer -- I showed you links about the phonetics of Chinese character system, at least, twice in my previous posts.
Indeed, I did not talk too much about the grammar issues thus far
for PreBabel in terms of a universal language. This is, indeed, a very
important issue. For PreBabel, there are, at least, two issues,
- PreBabelizing the vocabulary of language x.
- PreBabelizing the grammar of language x.
As soon as we hash out all issues on the vocabulary level, we could move to the grammar level.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- (although a few of these actually make
little sense in relation to the final meaning and thus rely on the
changing of meaning of the root character).
Answer -- The final meaning of a word is, often, arrived from a
usage, the semantic meaning, and there is no need of any kind for
changing the meaning of any root character for explaining any final
Day thirty-five -- phonological reconstruction vs PreBabel (Chinese).
Question -- from "sangi39" -- A statistic you seem to miss
again and again is that using phonological reconstruction of older
forms of the Chinese languages, it can be shown that 90% of Chinese
characters are derived from a semantic element and a phonetic element
(which may also carry added semantic meaning).
Answer -- I do not truly understand this statement. If the "older
forms of the Chinese languages" means the traditional Chinese
characters (the Big 5), then the number should be 100%. In general,
Chinese characters are divided into a few groups, the sense
determinator words and the phonetic loan words are the two largest
groups. Many people say that the phonetic loan word group accounts for
the 90% of all Chinese words, and it is simply wrong. Although I did
not say it out loud before that the sense determinator process is the
dominating force in the constructing the Chinese word system, I want to
make it clear now that phonetic loan procedure is only an auxiliary
process. As 90% sense determinator words do carry sound tags, the old
schoolers are simply mistaken them as phonetic loan words.
In "Lesson three" of my book "Chinese Etymology", it showed 4-dimensional growth paths for the Chinese characters.
The details of this is available at,
- Vertical growth,
- Horizontal growth.
- Silent growth
- Phonetic growth
The following is a quote from "The Columbia History of the World".
What it said is simply "wrong". Those authors had no idea about Chinese
On page 112, The Columbia History of the World, ISBN 0-88029-004-8,
"Structurally, the Chinese writing system passed through four distinct
stages. No alphabetic or syllabic scripts were developed, but each word
came to be denoted by a different character. The earliest characters
were pictographs for concrete words. A drawing of a woman meant a
woman, or of a broom a broom. Such characters were in turn combined to
form ideographs. A woman and a broom became a wife, three women
together treachery or villainy. The third stage was reached with the
phonetic loans, in which existing characters were borrowed for other
words with the same pronunciation. The fourth stage was a refinement of
the third: sense determinators or radicals, were added to the phonetic
loans in order to avoid confusion. Nine-tenths of the Chinese
characters have been constructed by the phonetic method. Unfortunately,
the phonetics were often borrowed for other than exact homophones. In
such cases, the gaps have widened through the evolution of the
language, until today characters may have utterly different
pronunciations even though they share the same phonetic. The written
language, despite its difficulties, has been an important unifying
cultural and political link in China. Although many Chinese dialects
are mutually unintelligible, the characters are comprehended though the
eye, whatever their local pronunciation. One Chinese may not understand
the other's speech, yet reads with ease his writing."
Question -- from "sangi39" -- I have recently been told by one of
my friends studying the etymology of Chinese characters at Sheffield
University (not as a course but as a module) that the phonetic element
may also give a semantic hint.
Answer -- Although phonetic is only an auxiliary process, it does
play some important roles. Again, the following is quoted from "Lesson
three" of "Chinese Etymology."
Again, this is available at,
- As the sound of all sound modules does not
arise from their composing roots, their meanings are inferred from
their composing roots only.
- The meaning of any word which does not carry a sound tag explicitly is inferred from its composing roots.
For phonetic loan words, the sound tag is acting only as an ID
differentiator. By knowing the silent root or module, we know the
entire word group. We know one; we know 100.
- For sense determinator words:
- If it does not carry a sound tag, its meaning is inferred from its composing roots only.
- If it does carry a sound tag,
its meaning is inferred from its composing roots together with the
meaning of the sound tag while the phonetic component of the sound tag
does not make a direct contribution.
- its meaning is inferred from its composing roots together with the sound tag while the phonetic plays a major role.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- I never said Chinese characters couldn't
be broken down into constituent characters, what I am saying is that
the 3,000 characters developed by Chang (and by the way I'd like a
source or two from other authors to clarify that event's occurrence)
are more likely to have been created using semantic and phono-semantic
elements based on the 3,300 standardized Small Seal characters of Prime
Minister Lisi under the First Emperor Qin Shi Hunagdi, rather than only
using a set of 220 root characters (of which I'd also like a source
from another author to back up the claim) although breaking them down
in such a way in the form they exist in today may act as a mnemonic to
remember the form of the character itself. In my opinion you seem to be
taking this idea of a character breakdown to create a mnemonic a step
too far in claiming that such a method was actually used to create the
characters in the first place.
Answer -- I talked about this issue in my previous post. The
Creator created this universe. We physicists invent Physics. They are
two different things. My physics, the "Super Unified Theory" (US
Copyright number TX0001323231, issued on April 18, 1984) and Prequark
was invented 30 years ago. As soon as the "Large Hadron Collider" at
CERN in Geneva gets its act together, there is a chance to test the
validity of that physics. If it is wrong, it will be in the trash can
in no time. Before then, my physics is not in the trash can but in a
freezer, on the bookshelf of many university libraries. If it is proved
to be true, then my invention is identical to the Creator's method.
Yet, He did his while I did mine. I did not peek into His notebook. It
took many years of my youth life to dream up my physics. Did the
Creator drew up those physics laws before He did His act? I don't
really know but don't think so. He probable just did without thinking
while I did quite a bit of thinking day and night for many years.
On the same token, I think that Chang constructed those 3,000
characters without the 220 root word set on his desk. If he had it, he
would have been able to construct those 3,000 characters in days, not
This 220 root word set is my invention which can describe all Chinese
characters, all 60,000 not just Chang's 3,000. The Kangsi dictionary
did come up a 214 radical set, but that choice was and is not good. For
2,000 years, every Chinese character is viewed as an arbitrary blob.
The Kangsi set did pull a head (the leading radical) out of those
blobs, but the remaining body of the blob remains to be a blob. Yet, my
220 root word set show the exact anatomy of every those blobs.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- The thing is, we're essentially
criticizing your work on the basis of a lack of external referencing,
i.e. referencing the work of other authors and historical works to
positively support your claim, that is, the use of past and historical
sources which actually agree with you fully rather than using negative
critiques of past work (basis a claim on negative evidence is a bit of
a no-no where I come from), as well as the lack of linguistic and
psychological terminology in place of mathematical formulae and
no-like-for-like analogies and an overall lack of large-scale and
in-depth testing over a long period of time.
Answer -- I am not here to seek praise but to seek critiques. The
more flaws you can find for me, the better the PreBabel is going to be.
I am a bit disappointed that your critiques are based on lack of
external referencing, ... of other authors and historical works to
positively support your claim, ... lack of linguistic and psychological
All (each and everyone of them) old schoolers do not know,
The Lii character set is a mutant of the Small Seal set. That is, they
are different spices. As I said, what they are doing is the same as
describing the human evolution with the finding of Neanderthal.
- Every Chinese blob character has an internal structure.
How can I find any positive support from them? The PreBabel is a
science. The PreBabel (Chinese) is also a science. That is, both of
PreBabel (Chinese)'s claim are testable.
- Claim one: each and every Chinese
character can be dissected with the 220 (+ 50 some variants) root
words. This is a very simple test, simply try out one word at a time.
- Claim two: While learning 3,000 Chinese
characters takes 5 to 10 school years for a native Chinese kid via the
old school way, it needs only 300 hours of good study for a 10 year old
American kid if he learns Chinese characters via the PreBabel
(Chinese). We already have many cases for anyone to study. Of course,
more tests can be done.
Day thirty-six -- more about the construction of the Lii character set.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- ... until both your physics,
your "etymology" of Chinese characters* and your work on PreBabel is
tested and supported by positive historical evidence to show the
hypothesized character construction, I think the best we can do right
now is agree to disagree and leave the argument until the results and
support come through.
Answer -- Of course, you have the right to disagree anything of your choosing.
It took over 10 billion US dollars to build the Large Hadron Collider
(LHC) and over one billion dollars to run it. So, my physics has to
To test the "claim 1" of Chinese Etymology (CE), it can be done with
any 10 year old kid. I do not know what you are waiting for. Simply go
and get one page the current Chinese newspaper and ask a 10 year old
American kid who knows not a single Chinese word to check out "each"
Chinese word on that page with the 220 (+ 50 variants) word roots to
see whether he can dissect those words with the set. Just simple like
Question -- "sangi39" -- However, if one of the component characters
consistently occurs in characters of similar reconstructed
pronunciations and that phonetic component has a similar pronunciation
as the individual character itself, then it could be suggested the
process continued under the rule of the First Emperor.
Answer -- I do not understand this statement. The roots in the CE
root word set consistently appear in the Big 5 set (traditional Chinese
character set). In Lesson 2 of "Chinese Etymology", the roles of
phonetics and the relation between the phonetics and the characters are
described in details. The "reconstructed pronunciations and whatnot"
are your stuff which I do not have any idea about them and would not be
able to comment on them.
At the time of the First Emperor, there were three events happened about the same time, from 220 B.C. to 210 B.C..
- Event 1: the standardization of the Small Seal set by the Prime Minister Li.
- Event 2: the construction of the Lii character set (the Wang - Chang set).
Event 3: a few years after the debut of the Lii set, the Small Seal set
went extinct, not a living language any more. It survives to today as
an art, not as a living language.
So, What process are you talking about?
Question -- from "sangi39" -- That is, various linguistic studies
including phonological reconstruction and oracle bone research has
shown 90% of Chinese characters were created using phonetic character
borrowing and later disambiguity using semantic clues.
Such research rarely indicates any mysterious semantic build up of
characters from a limited 220 root characters, especially since such a
number is exceeding in the oracle bone script.
Answer -- Not "rarely", but never. They never did. They simply did
not know. Yet, that mystery is not hard to be checked out one word at a
time, as the 220 root set is now available.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- It is the apparent continuity in
Chinese character formulation which appears in both of their works
which forms the basis of my ideas and leads me to disfavor yours.
Answer -- Thanks for providing the links on Pulleyblank's "Middle
Chinese: a study in historical phonology" and Baxter's "A Handbook of
I did not read their works; so I cannot comment on them. Yet, the
"Chinese Etymology" is 100% successful on dissecting and decoding all
characters of Big 5 set while without knowing their work.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- This "universal" language may better be
termed "a new approach to learning Chinese characters in light of lost
links between phonology and semantics with modern Chinese characters
and the various Chinese languages" rather than "an etymology of Chinese
characters" or "a universal language".
Answer -- In PreBabel (Chinese), there is no "lost links between phonology and semantics with modern Chinese characters".
Workbook: lists over 8,000 Chinese characters according to the roots, the dissection and the decoding.
- Lesson 1: root word set, dissection and decoding
- Lesson 2: phonetics on dissection and decoding
- Lesson 3: advanced topics
Of course, there is "lost links between phonology and semantics
with modern Chinese characters" for them. Otherwise, they will be the
one to write those lessons.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- ... This character break-down may have promise in the teaching of Chinese characters, ...
... I would accept this as a new method of teaching Chinese characters specifically.
Answer -- Thanks for these comments. The claim 2 of PreBabel
(Chinese) is that everyone (10 year old or older) can learn Chinese
written language with only 300 hours of good study. If someone tried it
at the beginning of this thread, he has learned a new language already.
Question -- from "SLiV" -- ... about conlanging. ...
It is a good way to educate and enjoy oneself, and explore the depth of linguistics.
Answer -- How so true this is, indeed. Now, we know that the Big 5
set is, in fact, a constructed language, perhaps, the first one in the
world. It might be worth a while for us conlangers to see the
constructing principle of this ancient conlang which became a living
Day thirty-seven -- Published works on PreBabel (Chinese).
Question -- from "sangi39" -- As a final critique of your
work, though, (following the structure of other critiques I have read
and written) ...
... rather than a constructed purely ideographic script as
suggested by you and as a final critique of your work (which I have
already stated) I cannot at the moment favour your work since it
projects a "find" in the traditional Chinese characters in use today
projected onto the past and creation of those characters and is in
essence based on perceived negative evidence and an apparent lack of
reading in regards to other ideas. I have read through your online work
and I find it disjointed and lacking in consideration for other ideas
and evidence, concentrating solely on the presentation of your own
ideas stating other ideas in one vast sweep as simply wrong straight
off with very little explanation as to why.
Answer -- My work, which work? I done a lot of works, physics,
mathematics, poetry, translation of Laotze, translation of Yijing,
If you are talking about the "Chinese Etymology," I wrote three books,
Book 1: "Chinese Word Roots and Grammar" (in simplified Chinese,
300 pages, 10 chapters, 4 appendixes) which discusses: general and
comparative linguistics, the history and the historical writings on
Chinese etymology, the critic of those works, the introduction of
Chinese word roots, the rules and the growth of Chinese character
system, the phonetics of Chinese characters and its history, the
interaction of phonetic laws and semantic laws which gives the meaning
and the sound of each character, the examples of those interaction and
laws, the axiomatic linguistic systems (English and Chinese), the
comparison between the two axiom systems, the grammar of English and
the grammar of Chinese, etc..
Note: the phonetic and semantic interaction of character accounts over half of the book.
Book 2: "Chinese Etymology" (in English, 326 pages, intended as a
textbook for American kid who knows not a single Chinese at the
beginning) which has three Lessons and one character list (about 8,000
- Lesson 1: 220 root words, 1100 G1 (generation 1) words and about 1,000 higher generation words.
- Lesson 2: 300 sound modules, 250 four-tones and about 3,000 descendent words of those sound modules.
- Lesson 3: very briefly describes the theory of
Chinese Etymology, 50 variants of the roots and the exceptions from the
- Word list: lists about 8,000 words under the roots, the genealogy, the ways of their dissection pathway, etc..
Note: as a textbook for a beginner, it contains only about 10% the etymology theory in comparison to the Book 1.
Book 3: "Chinese Etymology -- Workbook One" (280 pages) which has:
Part one: 220 roots and 1,100 G1 words. The students must dissect
those 1,100 words the first time with the knowledge of roots only
without the concern the meaning of the words. After he learned part
two, he must re-dissect those G1 words the second time and tries to
read out their innate meanings. Then, he must look up the meaning (the
semantic meaning) of the words with a dictionary and compare them with
his decoded innate meanings. Then, he must explain the gap between the
innate and the semantic (the usage) and the underlying logic of the
leap (from the innate to the usage).
Part two: 300 sound modules and 250 four-tones. The ways of
dissection and decoding of those 300 sound modules are provided, and
they are as the examples for student to do the Part one works.
My websites are ad-flyers. If all you read about my work are from
those websites, you do not know about my work on Chinese Etymology, not
even 1/10 of one-percent.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- If you're serious about your work
regarding Chinese etymology and intend to argue strongly for your ideas
then reading opposition ideas is key, ...
... it doesn't seem from your work that you have even entered a
full scholarly debate with any other Chinese language etymologists but
that you've rather dismissed their work as out-of-date and incorrect by
default simply because it opposes your ideas
Answer -- The "Book one" was reviewed by over 50 Chinese
universities. Over 20 Presidents of those Chinese universities
(including the President of Beijing Chinese language university) wrote
to me with great praises, and their letters are available at,
If Pulleyblank's and Baxter's works are about the interaction
of Chinese phonetic and semantic, they cannot be an opposite idea of
mine. Over half of the "Book one" talks about that interaction. In
"Book one", all issues of that interaction are resolved, no un-answered
question. Their work could be the best wonder pill for the issue, but I
need it not. Only when a person is ill, he needs doctors and wonder
Question -- from "sangi39" -- Chang created 3,000 or so new characters through use of 220 roots, ...
I find your work to hold to a similar principle that crops up in
archaeology, i.e. that you are projected back onto the past patterns
which you have found in the present. By this I mean, you have been able
to show a mnemonic method of learning the forms of Chinese characters
in their present form and have then gone on to project this mnemonic
onto the very creation of the characters using very vague historical
evidence to support the idea.
To sum up (as I always try to) you seem to be projecting a modern
mnemonic regarding the form of Chinese characters onto the actual
creation of the characters themselves,
Answer -- Are these your statements or statements about me? If
they are simply your statements, you, of course, have the right to say
whatever you please. If they are statements about me, many times, you
put your foot into my mouth and scream about it.
I said very clearly in my previous posts, I did not know that how
Wang - Chang constructed the Lii set, as there is no historical record
about that "process" although the event (the encounter of the Emperor,
Wang and Chang) was documented in detail.
My "guess" is that Wang came up the idea and constructed a
"handful" of examples which was enough to impress the Emperor. Wang
"might" be not fully confident about the task of converting all 3,000
small seal characters with his method; so, he declined the invitation
of the Emperor. Then, Chang spent 10 years in jail to finish the task.
If Chang has the 220 roots together with the rules of interaction of
those roots, he could have finished the task in days, not 10 years.
After finishing his work, I "think" that he could summarize a system
which is the same as or similar to my work, the Chinese Etymology. But,
no such record is found.
The fact is that Wang - Change constructed the Lii set, and I
invented the etymology for the Lii set. They did theirs, and I did
mine. For many people, this difference is, seemingly, not important,
but it is. For any scholastic work, it is supremely important to point
out the lines: I know, I know; and I don't, I don't. If I must make a
guess, I must point it out clearly that it is just a guess.
In many previous posts of yours, you have put too many "feet" into my mouth and scream about them.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- .. then exactly how were the other
4,000-54,000 characters created when Chang worked, essentially, in
"secret"? Did their creation occur in a similar way (220 roots) or did
each creator have their own method?
Answer -- All characters in Big 5 set (the modern Lii set) are
followed the ways of the original 3,000 words as examples. How and who
did, I don't know, but not with my etymology (I am sure about that).
Question -- from "sangi39" -- ... you seem to be talking about the
Chinese written language as the basis for the spoken language here.
... since it wouldn't be based on the pronunciation of a natlang but rather human thought.
... Finally, if the Chinese character system were built on 220 roots
then it would be the only natural fully developed script used to
represent a language (or in this case a group of languages) on the
planet to have survived for 3,400 years without, in any way,
representing the sounds of the spoken language which it represents.
Answer -- These are your big "FEET".
Lii set was constructed in 220 B.C. and people spoke many, many
years before then. Although the Lii set is a written language, it
"encompasses" all phonetics of Chinese language. If the Lii set failed
to encompass the verbal language, it could not be of anything, let
alone to be a living language for 2,230 years. I don't know what you
are talking about.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- So, history has shown that fully
developed scripts used to write a spoken language are universally at
least partly phonetic in some way or another rather than representing
the mental processes behind the language, which would obviously fall
into the now largely unfavoured Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
... indicating the Chinese script is dramatically different from
other complex scripts and script in general, representing only
underlying thought rather than speech and ideas, without looking at
those characters in relation to their reconstructed pronunciation at
the approximate time of their creation.
Answer -- What is the point? My "work" deals with these issues in details.
Day thirty-eight -- more of traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
From Tienzen Gong: With two PreBabels, PreBabel (English) and
PreBabel (Chinese), we, now, can revisit the issue of universal
language with a bird-eye view. Of course, we should go over the
historical attempts on the universal language once more for this
I think that the second point is practically very important. Yet,
50% or 100% easier might not do the job. If it is 10 times easier, then
a possibility will come alive. I think that Esperanto's claim of how
easy it can be learned is exaggerated, and it is far below the
threshold of 10 times mark.
- The "Formal Logic" pathway is the most
important attempt for constructing a true universal language. Although
it fails to construct a natural language-like universal language, it
did create a true universal language which is the foundation for all
computer languages. Thus, the question of whether a universal language
is possible is, at least, partially answered, although the bigger
question that whether a natural language-like universal language is
ever possible remains an open issue.
- The Esperanto pathway is trying to address that
bigger question. In reality, Esperanto has failed thus far. The Babel
divide is simply too great for such an effort to bridge over. Yet, its
two tactics do give some lights for the issue.
- Seemingly, only a politically neutral language has a slim chance to be accepted as a "common" language in this practical world.
- This new language must be very easy to learn.
After the Babel divide, the difference among natural languages is
enormously great, on their appearance (the lexicon, the verbal sound,
etc.), on their framework (the grammar, etc.), on their metaphysics
(perceptual vs conceptual), on their contexts (culture and history
differences, etc.), etc.. Seemingly, there is no possible way to unify
those differences. And, any attempt of trying to "replace" those
languages with a single language is doomed to failure, regardless of
however powerful the political and economical supremacy that single
language carries. In this sense, a true natural language-like universal
language, if ever possible, must be a constructed language. During the
last few days, we have learned that the Lii set is, in fact, a
constructed language. Thus, it can be a model for our effort.
- How did a constructed language become a living natural language?
- What kind of problems did it encounter?
- How did it resolve those problems?
These are, indeed, huge issues, and I will try to discuss them later.
Now, we should first answer the question of whether the huge divide of
the Babel can ever be bridged. If it could, then how.
The key for the whole issue is a single word, "bridge." The Babel
divide cannot be covered over, cannot be removed and cannot be ignored
but can be "bridged." The solution for the divide is the divide itself.
For a person of nation A to learn a language of nation B, he must swim
one stroke at a time to go across that mammoth divide, and many people
fail at the get go. If we can build an easy bridge for the crossing,
then the divide is there no more. And, very soon, those "bridges" form
a single bridge, that is, the true universal language comes alive.
I think that there is no issue of right or wrong on this approach but
has an issue of whether such a bridge (or bridges) can possibly be
built. And, this was the issue which we have talked about during the
past three months.
On this issue, I do not have test data for PreBabel (English). Yet, I am quite confident about the Law 1.
Law 1: Encoding with a closed set of root words, any arbitrary
vocabulary type language will be organized into a logically linked
On the contrary, I do have test data on PreBabel (Chinese) which
reduces the learning time from several years (5 to 10 years) to 300
hours. These data is available at
Question -- from "sangi39" -- However, I have managed to find a
single writer who, although not actually agreeing with you, does make a
similar point, although not about Wang-Chang which I still have to
actually find a source for since as of yet (having gone through 10
books regarding Chinese etymology and Old and Middle Chinese I can't
find a single mention of it despite it being apparently important), ...
Answer -- The Emperor - Wang - Chang encounter was documented in
detail in "History Record" ( 史 記 ) , written around 140 B.C., in the
article "the First Emperor's Record" ( 秦 始 皇 正 紀 ).
If the Wang - Chang "process" was ever documented, it will be
underground somewhere. It cannot be found anywhere on the surface of
Question -- from "sangi39" -- Thus, while you guess that Wang-Chang
was developing a new method of developing Chinese characters spending
10 years in jail developing such a method from an original handful of
Answer -- I said many times, "God did God's, I did mine. They did
theirs, I did mine." No, I did not say that "that Wang-Chang was
developing ... from an original handful of roots,..."
Perhaps, I better give one understandable example to explain this point. Using a GM car as one example,
- My book is the instruction book for the
assembly factory to build that GM car. By following my book, a car
comes off that assembly line in 2 hours, from the first piece being put
on the line to it being driven off the line.
- The developing process for that GM car could take
5 to 10 years, from the concept development, drawing the prints, making
tools, making prototype samples, finding vendors, building factory,
hiring workers, etc..
No, my book and that developing process are completely different
animals. Of course, if anyone is interested in reconstruction of that
developing process, my book will definite be a good "check list" for
it. If its finding can result only with a Ford car, then it is simply
wrong, as my book knows the bolts and nuts to every single one of them
for that GM car.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- put more simply - 220 basic roots
> combination > Chinese character > use as semantic or
phonetic element > combination > new Chinese character
or even more simply:
Character-Z=(Sound-Z) or (Meaning-Z)
Character-C=(Sound-C) or (Meaning-C)
Thus regardless of the actual pronunciation of Sound-Z it must represent a meaning in Character-M.
Answer -- You are almost getting it. I will show you a much better
description than this soon. Yet, this is my idea. Is this also Wang -
Chnag's idea, I don't know, but I don't think so.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- I've also been told to never "guess"
but to provide evidence of processes occurring under similar
environments and conditions and using that evidence to suggest a
Answer -- All (each and everyone) hypotheses are guesses. From
hypotheses, we construct theory. From theory, we make predictions. With
predictions, we design tests. With tests, we prove or disprove the
hypotheses. Who taught you about the meaning of guess? You should ask
him to relearn the science methodology and epistemology. Of course, not
every guess turns into a hypothesis. If everything is known, this will
be a static world, no further advancement possible. "Guessing" is the
engine for "all" human advancements. Yet, only making a "guess" as a
"fact" is wrong, and this "was" my point.
Question -- from "sangi39" -- So, you either do know about them but
were either confused by the term "reconstructed pronunciation" or
simply did not which to go into in detail or you did not fully
understand the results of historical and comparative linguistics
regarding the Chinese languages at the time you wrote your book, ...
Answer -- I will talk about this soon.
Day thirty-nine -- PreBabel methodology I -- equivalent transformation.
From Tienzen Gong: It is to my great surprise that this thread has lasted this long. I must say thank you to all before go on.
Now, I would like to look back briefly in order to move forward and to give the new readers a quick history of our discussions.
My claim that the PreBabel is a universal language was discounted with a few lines of critiques.
- As the PreBabel (English) is only a cipher, the claim fails.
- As the PreBabel root word set is flawed, the claim fails.
- As the (dot, stop) = "at" is not 100% intuitive on its mental image, the claim fails.
- As the differences among languages are too great, the claim must fail.
These are, indeed, all genuine critiques. Thus far, I tried
only to make my points more clear without truly addressing these
issues. Now, I would like to discuss them from a more fundamental
basis, my methodology, epistemology and my metaphysics on these issues.
"The Equivalent Transformation" is a very important concept in
mathematics. For many mathematic questions, they are written as
equations. The only way to solve the questions is to get answers for
those equations. The general procedure is,
- Re-write the original equation(s)
into a different and new expression with the Equivalent Transformation.
That is, there is no substance change between the two equations.
- Place this new equation on a line below the first line (the second line).
This a) to b) process is called "Equivalent transformation." Then, we
repeat this a ---> b procedure many times, until we get the answer.
This "Equivalent transformation" is so powerful, and it is almost
the only procedure to solve all math questions. Although the PreBabel
(English) can rightfully be called as a cipher, it is, indeed, an
"Equivalent transformation." And, such a transformation is, in general,
not done in vain. It can lead to some great consequences, the final
solution. For examples:
- (dot, stop) = at
- (come, stop) = arrive
- (transform, stop) = this
These are ciphers, indeed. Yet, in PreBabel (Proper), (dot,
stop) can be "used" as "arrive"; (transform, stop) be used as "at",
etc.. These could be seen as the negative points for the PreBabel
claim. It is almost un-imaginable that "at, arrive and this" can be
synonyms in English.
Indeed, this kind of homonymy is a big problem for some languages. Yet,
it is a very powerful feature in the Chinese written language. In fact,
it is the result of a constructed language, especially based on a very
small set of root words. As we are going to talk more about the
features of the Lii set, the first constructed language, we will
understand the dynamics of homonymy soon.
One major issue in our discussion is about how to determine that a
statement is true. This is the subject of epistemology. The statement
of "I believe that ..." or "I am quoting from the book, ..." is not a
statement of truth. I will describe the epistemology which I know and
use in some future posts and am looking forward to read yours. In this
way, we can, then, discuss issues on the same platform.
Day forty -- Types of conlang and more on traditional Chinese etymology vs PreBabel (Chinese).
From Tienzen Gong: There are, at least, two types of conlang.
The PreBabel is obviously a written centered conlang, and it has, at least, two stages.
- Verbal centered with the written as the carrier.
- Written centered, and then, it has three choices.
- keep it mute, as a silent language.
- create its own verbal.
- adopt an existing verbal language.
Stage 1: adopting its hosting verbal as its verbal language, such
as, PreBabel (English) will speak in English, and PreBabel (Japanese)
will speak in Japanese.
Stage 2: creating its own verbal when the PreBabel (Proper) emerges.
Yet, we have just discovered that the Chinese Lii set (the Big 5
set) is, in fact, a constructed written language. Thus, it can be a
good model for us to understand its process of adopting an existing
verbal language, and its process is, seemingly, different from the
crude procedure that the PreBabel (language x) is using.
For every vocabulary of a language, it has four parts.
- The word form -- the word token.
- The word sound -- the pronunciation of the word token.
- The word meaning -- the meaning of that word token.
- The word usage -- the word meaning under some grammatic rules (which include the context circumstances).
At this point, I would like to analyze only the first three
parts and exclude the grammatic dynamics on the words. Yet, the
dynamics of these three parts cannot easily be described with the above
terms. So, I will use a new set of terms for their dramatic effect, and
these are "Equivalent Transformations."
- word token -> blob
- word sound -> plop
- word meaning -> glob
If we know the internal structure of the "blob", it is a
transparent blob (t-blob), otherwise an opaque blob (o-blob), so as
(t-plop, o-plop) and (t-glob, o-glob). Using the word "book" as an
- As we are unable to know that (b,o,o,k) means book, it is an o-blob.
- As we always know that "book" pronounces as book, it is a t-plop.
- As the meaning of "book" to be book is assigned, it is an o-glob.
With the above definitions, we can now analyze the Lii set (the Big 5 set).
- With the Kangsi leading radical set, every Chinese
character has a head (leading radical) which carries an o-blob body.
Thus, every Chinese character is still an o-blob.
- Without the pin-ying (or some other external
sound marks), no one knows the pronunciation of a character from the
blob. So, every Lii set character carries an o-plop.
- With the o-blob and the o-plop, every Lii set character is also an o-glob. The meaning of the blob is assigned.
Thus, the Lii set character is an arbitrary designed o-blob which carries the assigned o-plop and o-glob.
As both Pulleyblank and Baxter know the Lii characters only as
o-blobs, their works on the phonology reconstruction are the studies of
the evolution of o-plops vs the evolution of the o-globs. Of course,
this kind of study is important and can produce many good knowledge on
On the contrary, my "Chinese Etymology" is significantly different
from their works. The fundamental difference is that the characters of
Lii set are not o-blobs but t-blobs in "Chinese Etymology." Thus,
- word token -- t-blob (B), with internal structure, composed with roots.
- word sound -- t-plop (P), a sound tag (radicals, composed of roots) is found in the word token.
- word meaning -- t-glob (G), an innate meaning of the word token can be read out loud from its composing roots.
In "Chinese Etymology," there are,
- 220 word roots (+ 50 variants)
- about 500 P (sound modules, 300 are listed in the book Chinese Etymology).
Thus, the "construction" equations for the Lii set are as follow,
- B = root(s) + one P, the pronunciation of B is P.
- P = root + root(s), the pronunciation of P is assigned, as sound module.
- G = there are two cases.
- G = root(s) + one P, the sound of the P is not part of the meaning.
- G = root(s) + one P, the sound of the P plays some or important roles for the meaning.
Yet, there is one advanced equation.
- B(a) = root + root(s), without a P.
- G(a) = root(a) + root(s) is a synonym of B(x).
- P(a), the pronunciation of B(a) = P(B(x))
This is the most bizarre equation in linguistics that I have ever seen.
By knowing these detailed equations, "Chinese Etymology" has
transformed Chinese written language from the most difficult language
to the easiest language to learn in the world.
Now, it is the time to tell a story. There is a security room in a
bank, and it has 10 locked steel doors one after another. Inside the
room is a treasure map. Mr. A knew all the combinations for all 10
locks and got the treasure map long ago. One day, Mr. B yelled "Eureka,
I just figured out the combination for the first door" and demanded Mr.
A to buy his new discovery.
What do you think about this short story? This is my story about Pulleyblank's and Baxter's work, an Eureka, indeed.
Let's get back to the point. By knowing the Lii set equations, we are,
now, having some guiding lights for our own effort of constructing the
Note: Declaration -- the Lii set equations are my invention for the
Lii set as it is. I have no idea that whether either Wang or Chang knew
about these equations or not, but I don't think so.