Wednesday, March 30, 2011

语言变革文化思维 - 土耳其摈弃传统语言的例子 Turkey's Example in Abolishing Their Own Language

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Reforms 土耳其的变革


语言变革文化思维 - 土耳其摈弃传统语言的例子
Turkey's Example in Abolishing Their Own Language

"Free Beings" vs. "Chinese" Series

价值一语: Words of Value:

The preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all the property of the rich men in the country. --- John Quincy Adams

使社会最底层的人们拥有取得知识的途径比全部在社会中富人的财富重要得多。 --- John Quincy Adams


Kai Chen 陈凯 (Written 6/30/2006, Reprint 3/30/2011)

Recognizing the defects of their own ancestors' legacy is one attribute/aspect the Chinese still have to grasp and to acquire in their struggle to catch up with the modern world. But without this courageous recognition, China will continue to lag behind the world in its population's pursuit/comprehension of truth and reality. In this regard, Turkey has provided the world and especially China with one stunning/shining example that a people did indeed have the will, ability and courage to recognize the ills and defects of their own culture/language, and change it in order to progress toward a better future.

I visited Turkey in 1977 representing China to play a basketball tournament there. The country's ability to transform itself from a backward-thinking, Ottoman Turkish-language (character-based) dominated despotic society into a progressive, modern democratic society left an ever-lasting impression in my mind.

Situated between Europe and Asia, Turkey is the only democratic nation among the Muslim world that is pro-West. It has allied with America and joined NATO. For centuries, Turkey's written language was Ottoman Turkish, a complicated language written/based in Arabic characters, (much like the Chinese character-based syllabic language). It included words and grammar from the Arabic and Persian languages. Ottoman Turkish was so difficult that only scholars and the ruling class learned to read it, (much like what happened in the Chinese society). In 1928, the government established a new alphabet from scratch which is much like that of the West. It also ordered a language education program throughout the country and outlawed the use of Ottoman Turkish - a drastic/extreme measure indeed.

So now we have an established example that a traditional society can indeed recognize its own cultural and linguistic defects, thus actively has done something to change it. Surely being closer to Europe was one factor for such transformation to have occurred. But nonetheless, Turkey proves that such positive transformation can indeed occur due to the free will of a people yearning for freedom and a better tomorrow. Only with the right tools in their hands/mind, such a transformation can be possible.

Take a look at Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong have already been bi-lingual with English as the official language for legislative functions, legal matters, educational purposes and business transactions. In India - a democratic society, official language is English since the colonial days. Taiwan, with much of its elite educated in America and its Chinese-language material mostly nowadays based on English translation, is another Asian country with success story in transforming its own society. South Korea and Japan's transformation has been much due to American occupation/protection and presence since WWII. These Asian success stories should provide ample evidences that language sup-plantation/adoption (specifically from local language to English language) is crucial to a society's progress from traditional, regressive and despotic one toward modern, free and democratic one.

However, the Chinese language, due to its double defects - character-based pictorial written form and single syllable sounding, is more difficult to reform.

Vietnam provides us with its example of such reform failure: Though after the French colonial period, having alphabetized the written form in its own syllabic language, Vietnam remains despotic in nature. The language-reform failure is due much to the fact that its single syllable sounding remains intact. Alphabetizing the Chinese characters will have the same ill effect and render the language reform in vain, for one still has to fit many meanings into a single syllable. Stuffing/inundating meanings into a single syllable will still/always render the language impotent in defining meaning therefore negatively affect its clarity. Muddy and opaque expressions will still be featuring such a "reformed" language.

With 98% of Turkey's population as Muslim, the country has transformed itself away from the majority of Muslim countries, closer in essence to modern, Western societies. This amazing achievement is much due to the people's strong will to change themselves, away from their own ancestors, for the better, via a transformation of the tools they use to comprehend reality. Political will, reason/rationality, plus a belief of human freedom can indeed transform a traditional society into a modern, progressive, democratic society. One thing at a time: Language sup-plantation/adoption first.

My notion of first and foremost sup-planting/adopting English language as the official language (to replace the Chinese language), as the legal, educational and business tool (in order to foster clear thinking/grasp of reality and truth for the Chinese people), STANDS.

Kennedy Comments on Turkey 肯尼迪褒扬土耳其变革

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