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Comment PhD Inflation isn't the issue. (Score 1) 11

You should continue your education, and get that PhD. While we do seem to be suffering from "PhD Inflation" globally, and specifically in the science/technology sectors, there is a reason for that - Our world is driven by science and industry. If you think that there are too many PhD's out in the world, think about how many people only have a BA. I mean, look at companies like Nordstrom, etc. They won't even higher you to sell their shoes without a BA (ridiculous, I know.)

I tend to think of a BA as a 'mid level' belt in some martial art (green belt, lets say.) You know the basics, and some pretty cool stuff, but still have a long way to go toward 'mastery.'

Comment Polishing a turd... (Score 2, Informative) 111

This seems pretty appropriate for Chinese Society and Government at large. I have to wonder if logic enters into the decision making process at all.

Take for example when I was living in an Apartment in Beijing where we were having issues with a light fixture in one of my roommates room. After several weeks of prompting to repair guy to sort it out, he comes over at 7am, while I'm getting ready for work, enters the roommates room... Stands on his bed (with his dirty shoes on) WHILE my roommate is still sleeping, and begins dismantling the fixture, dropping paint flakes etc from the ceiling onto the bed... all while smoking.

Or a more direct comparison is the Chinese solution to pollution right before the Olympics: Turn off the factories for a few days...

Didn't think "Hey, maybe we should keep the factories from polluting so much ALL the time..."

Comment Re:4 to 1 (Score 1) 432

I've thought about this for quite some time... Because of my personal history with China.

We have a much much better trained military then China, so in theory, if we got into a war where ground fighting became an integral part (because lets be honest, they have enough people to where they could conscript, and then use their people as bullets,) we could still probably take them. Provided we don't fight them in the mountains, or jungle.

I'm not advocating war with China mind you, because that would definitely be a clusterf***, but let's be honest -- China's largest accomplishment aside from the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony is that they make our shoes and ipods, and as we all know from dealing with Apple customer care, they suck at that job pretty hardcore.

Comment Re:And let the war begin (Score 5, Informative) 432

Wong wong wong... I mean wrong.

China had a republic for a few years after the end of the Qing dynasty (1912-1949 to be exact.) Had they stayed with it, this conversation probably would not even be happening right now.

The revolution was violent sure... But far less people died overthrowing the Qing than have been killed by the Communist Government in even the last 20 years (Uygurs, Tibetans, Zhuang, Falun Gong, etc. have all been victimized by the government in all manner of ways including straight up murder.)

China's current political stability is a ruse, nothing more, you go into southern China (Guangxi, Yunnan) and it's basically the wild west right now.

I lived in Yangshuo (Guangxi) for almost three years, and Beijing for one year, and lost count of how many times I saw government personal of one for or the other behaving like heshehui (mafia.) I can elaborate more if people care, the point is, the China's government is hurting its people.

Google isn't exactly doing right by them, but at least they're taking a moral stand.

Comment Re:Relationship between sound/shape? (Score 1) 237

Well it is, and it isn't.

Many of the simplified characters we already in existence prior to the PRC standardizing the language as such, and were part of the reason China decided to standardize, in order to promote literacy and eliminate the confusion that arose from having too many characters for the same semantic concept.

Even with simplified characters, most Chinese aren't even technically 'literate' in their language until their mid-to-late teens, which is also part of the reason they use Pinyin and Wade-Giles to transcribe Mandarin and Cantonese (respectively) in Latin Characters.

Also, not that anyone really gives a toot, but I find this particularly interesting: Cantonese is closer to what linguists would call 'proto-chinese' then Mandarin.

The later started off mainly as a pigeon dialect from when the Mongols started interacting with the Chinese, and through time Mandarin lost it's hard stops at the end of words (p's, t's, k's) and its voicing distinction (e.g. Mandarin truthfully doesn't have a [b], instead it is an unaspirated [p], but with a very short voice onset time.) This loss of contrast in voicing, as well as the neutralization of certain finals is part of the reason the tone system developed, as more perceptual cues were necessary.

BUUUT I digress.

Comment Chinese orthography and the way to approach it (Score 1) 237

Being a linguist, I have some suggestions, sorry if i come across as condescending, but there are some things to be addressed first. Orthography NEVER, EVER, EVAAAR correlates to genuine sound in natural language because there is no direct analog to represent sound via writing (yes, even the IPA [international phonemic alphabet] fails to do this.) The reason is simple - We use a different part of the brain to process written language (The Visual Word Formation Area being one of them -- Posterior occipito-temporal lobe.) Chinese characters do however have a logic behind them -- Most of the basic (i.e. first few THOUSAND) characters use radicals which imply the semantic relationship and topic of the character. for concrete objects, these often have radicals which were derived from their sources (much like the latin alphabet and runes were once ideographs that closer represented real world items.) Dog (gou3) for example has two main radicals - the left most being "claw" the right being a variation of 'mouth' (probably closer to jaws or maw semantically.) My advice is thus multi fold: 1) Have the students learn the radicals in tandem with the character 2) Also stress the semantic side of the characters - Use antonyms (semantically separate) for adjectives/adverbs/verbs, as well as homonyms and semantically grouped items (i.e. chair, couch, etc. for things you sit on) 3) Learn some chinese with them, and use it! Chinese uses a similar syntax (not identical mind you) to English, so you can learn basic nouns and verbs and use them when communicating with your children -- This will reinforce their aural/oral skills, but also help improve the rate at which the VWFA can process information as the pathways between brocas, weirnicke's, audio processing and VWFA are all intertwined. 4) Have them label EVERYTHING in the house with chinese -- The more they read a character, the easier it'll be... and since the characters are generally composed of one or more radicals, it will help them process more complex characters.

Comment Re:Uh oh... (Score 1) 148

Yeah, back in the day when I used to IRC there was a bot that operated similar to this called "devinfo" but instead of surfing the web, It observed/recorded conversations within the chatroom. It was rudimentary and not really AI as much as it was a parrot (it would spit out random factoids if someone said something which matched an entry in the database.) The principle is interesting, but I'm curious as to how it's implementing aspects of the Universal Grammar.

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