Updating Bernhard Karlgren's research

--Why consider it?:
  • Publishing in peer reviewed journals is how you make or maintain your reputation.
  • You will find below an opportunity for a joint paper based on an original angle.
  • What can best advancing pure phonetics through practical findings with applications to teaching Chinese?
--What has been done:
------A computer expert trying to learn how to read Chinese, I have analyzed all Chinese characters listed in the Pocket Oxford Chinese Dictionary
  • All shapes whose repeated use within characters tends to indicate a phonetic role have been registered under the corresponding sounds.
  • The sounds have been structured according to initial consonants followed by endings
  • Initial consonants have been listed in a two dimensional table optimized with the following claims to originality
    • the phonetic spread of each shape is strongly guided according to columns and rows
    • as computed over all the markers the average phonetic spread is minimized
    • and so the phonetic information carried by markers is maximized
  • This result is achieved by
    • using an original table, whose detailed layout differs from the many tables known to the author
    • especially using holes in the layout as holding places wherein adjacent consonants can expand
    For illustration, use Firefox to see the naked consonant table and for instance the phonetic spread of shape 也,
    and look up for more details on the methodology used
--What could be done:
------ You could use your academic knowledge of Chinese linguistics to
  • make explicit the linguistic underpinning of this empirical approach, and compare the results with past research.
    For instance see how Karlgren found the phonetic spread of shape 佥 (K1078) "very irregular" while empirically it appears strongly regular.
  • use this approach to quantitatively assess the validity of the simplification process,
    which more often that not, but not always, follows marker-based structure (see how it failed in creating simplified 陈 (K1146)).
  • make explicit recommendations on the derivation of new characters.
    For instance 烃 combines shape and sound into a highly consistent creation.
  • help the author to correct his mistakes and resolve the remaining difficulties
  • and further expand the Chinese character set under consideration
--Next step:
December 2014
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