Thimbron

September 20, 2020

Notes on Chinese from gregorynyssa

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 5:30 p.m.

In this article I attempt to condense some interesting information about Chinese I’ve learned in my recent discussions with gregorynyssa, a scholar of Chinese, Greek, and Latin, much after my own heart but far more advanced in all of these studies than myself.

Sentence Structure

According to gregorynyssa speakers of Mandarin Chinese, a language significantly lacking in grammar (such as explicit case), use these tricks with sentences to express more complicated ideas.

Since Chinese does not handle embedded clauses very elegantly, often speakers have a tendency just to avoid them.

Here are three techniques used by Mandarin speakers to express more complicated ideas.

Comma Splicing

Join two complete sentences with a comma. A result of this is there is no consistent distinction between commas and periods in Chinese writing.

我使用那把从抽屉拿出来的刀,切开了水果。

Subject-periodic Construction

This involves combining sentences which share a subject.

我很喜欢去看电影,觉得很有趣

Pivotal Construction

If the object of the first sentence is the same as the subject of the second, omit the latter and join the two sentences with a comma.

我昨天看了一部电影,非常精彩。

Digraphic Verbs, Improper Digraphic Verbs, and Monographic Verbs

Monographic verbs can’t serve as nouns.
Improper digraphic verbs can’t serve as nouns.
Most but not all digraphic verbs can serve as nouns.

The upshot of this is that it is necessary to learn the the noun forms for all improper digraphic verbs. For example, 睡觉 may not serve as a noun. In that case 睡眠 must be used. This partially explains why there are so many two-character words in chinese where both characters, according to the dictionary, mean exactly the same thing.

Improper digraphic verbs generally have a second syllable indicating direction or result.

Minor Grammatical Points

来 before a verb indicates the infinitive.
得 is more idiomatic when used vefore adverbs.
来到 is an improper verb meaning “come to.”
迅速 is used more often as an adverb in declarative sentences than 快, which is most often used in an imperative sense.
去 may only be used before place names, non-monographic verbs, and before terms indicating general vicinity1.

Further Reading

According to gregorynyssa, reading Disyllabic Words in Chinese and
Metrical Phonology have helped him fundamentally understand the nature 普通话(Putonghua). I haven’t yet read these papers and as of yet have no comment on them.

For a better understanding of how 普通话(apparently of relatively recent origin) differs from Ancient Chinese, read Peasant and Merchant as well as Rule of Law.

  1. Thus it is necessary to append 那边 to nouns like 超市 when expressing “going to <non-place name> []

September 1, 2020

Chicken Lives Matter

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 4:48 p.m.

Pour one out for this chicken that was ritually sacrificed on behalf of my health sometime in the last few days by my Chinese ex-girlfriend’s1 priest/shaman somewhere in the godforsaken East.

I can already feel the chicken’s essence giving me power as its soul seeps slowly into my qi. I don’t know if this chicken will be enough for me to do the work to begin importing encyclopedia entries into mp-wp. It may take a few more chicken lives.

  1. I’ve left her on read for months but she persists []

April 13, 2020

Stuck on China

Filed under: authority, china, propaganda — thimbronion @ 1:02 a.m.

This article is going to be a bit disorganized. I’m stuck on how to proceed with quantifying Chinese influence on the USG, and this is an attempt to do a brain dump on what I’ve learned and to maybe get unstuck.

A while back it struck me that I should attempt to quantify the amount of USD it costs the Chicoms1 to buy US politicians. This is easier said than done. I did some digging and while I can put together a plausible narrative2, the numbers are harder to put down in any meaningful way.

For example: Mitch McConnell, the current senate majority leader, married 39 year old Elaine Chao in 19933. The McConnells then roughly 15 years later received a 5 million dollar dowry from the Chao family, who runs an international shipping company with close ties to the Chicoms. So did it only cost between 5 and 25 million4 dollars to buy influence with Mitch McConnell? To put this into context this is 7.88644 × 10-6% of all wealth measured in dollars at the most while Warren Buffet5 has 0.03%. This is how much it costs to purchase influence with supposedly one of the most powerful men in the world who influences the largest government budget in the world and who runs a governing body that can crush or grow (mostly crush) industries. This seems absurd, but it appears that most of Mitch McConnell’s wealth originates in China. Put in this light it is clear that congress’s incentives are aligned so as to crush US industry to the extent possible. Now this is not to exclude the influence of campaign donors. McConnell’s biggest donor as of now is NORPAC6 at $160,075, so you know, it’s not just China, there’s Israel too. So we have these numbers, but what do they mean? How to measure influence? The result is legislation passed, but calculating the shifts in wealth resulting from legislation is hard and it is an open question for me at this point as to how to do this. I could just categorize any legislation McConnell passed as favorable or unfavorable to China, but this seems unsatisfying. Numbers are much more satisfying.

What else is interesting about all this is just how widely it is known and tolerated. This information is widely available in pantsuit publications. I can only assume almost everyone in Washington knows and accepts that China is running the show.

  1. orig. []
  2. This is the narrative I see. US businesses sought cheap labor in China and moved production there, making the Chicoms wealthy. The Chicoms used measly percentages of this money to buy US politicians, who then cause more and more manufacturing to be moved to China, who then use more measly sums to buy more influence in a feedback loop that will ultimately result in the collapse of the US economy. []
  3. Who in the hell with any money or power nowadays marries a nearly 40 year old woman? Unless maybe they’re a homo? The marriage is predictably unfruitful. I’m seriously trying to get into the mindset. OK your wife is now 45 and dried up. You still have some libido left, and lots of money. What do you do? You use lube? Or you don’t have sex with her anymore? Or you just don’t have sex? Or you have an affair? But then whoever you have the affair with has leverage on you, or their brother does or whatever. But if you don’t get married everyone thinks you’re gay and it’s hard to get elected in some states (I suspect especially in Kentucky) while gay. Or Maybe you’re just really easily aroused and a post menopausal woman still does it for you. But what does that say about you? I don’t even know. Maybe you like “influence” more than sex. But what kind of fucked up person likes influence more than sex? What perverted shit are they going to do? What does the country they run look like? Does it look like pre-revolutionary China with a bunch of low-to-no-t eunuchs running the imperial household? []
  4. orig. []
  5. Another eunuch? His current wife Astrid Menks is 74 years old. []
  6. orig. []

January 4, 2020

How the Communists fucked up Chinese even more, or what I found out researching the dative case in Chinese

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 7:29 p.m.

A question occurred to me the other day that I wouldn’t have asked had I not studied Greek: How is the dative expressed in Chinese?

It was not easy for me to find the answer. I mean, try asking the average Chinese grad student or massage girl1: “Hey, you know the dative? How do I do that in Chinese?” No, I’m not learning Chinese from DuckDuckGo, but yes, I searched for “Chinese dative” and found only a graduate research paper from Taiwan in the form of a pdf. Luckily, while at home where I have a book called “Mandarin Chinese - a functional reference grammar”2 I remembered I was trying to figure this out and looked up “Dative” in the index. There was one entry, and it said “See Indirect Object.” It dawned on me3 that that is what I should have been searching for all along, because even more so than English, and unlike Ancient Greek, which is synthetic, Chinese is an analytic language.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to know how to properly express the dative in Chinese is because I have been finding it awkward4 to express sentences where I use something to do something, or I do something for someone or something. Here is what I found.

It is messy. Just as in English, there’s no unified concept5. Different prepositions apply in different contexts. Wei is sort of like “for” and must be used when you are doing something “for” somebody, but it can’t be used if you are doing something “to” somebody. For that there is “bei”, but “bei” can only be used when what is being done to somebody is detrimental in some way.6 To express something in the passive voice that is not detrimental to the subject, well, just omit the agent and use a verb that doesn’t require one! Like if you want to say in Chinese that your book was published, just say “my book publish.”

When expressing indirect objects, there are three classes of verbs to consider. One class requires what is called a “coverb”7 in the form of the verb “gei (give) to be prepended. For another class “gei” is optional, and for yet another class “gei” is forbidden. How am I to remember which verbs belong in which class? I don’t know, but hopefully it will help to document them here.

Gei Required

   
di bring to
fen allocate
na, dai bring to
ji mail
jiao deliver, hand in
mai sell
diu, reng toss, throw
shu lose
xie write
zu rent to
liu keep, save
da telephone
ti kick
ban move
tui push

Gei Optional

   
song, zeng give
jiao teach
shang, ci bestow
jia add on
chuan pass
huan return
pei compensate, pay back
fu pay
xu promise to give
jie lend

Gei Forbidden8

   
gei give
gaosu tell
daying promise
huida answer
wen ask
tou steal
qingjiao ask for enlightenment
ying win
qiang rob
duo snatch
  1. Hey they both have student visas! []
  2. This is a very nice book, especially for those who eschew hieroglyphs []
  3. I wasn’t taught about the dative in my education in English, only things like direct and indirect objects. I wasn’t taught about the concept of case at all. Why I was not taught about case isn’t clear to me because it’s not like even though most nouns in English don’t change based on case case isn’t a thing. []
  4. And it’s weird because often times I might read about a way to express something in a language, but something inside my brain won’t trust this information unless I actually hear a real person say something in a real context that confirms or demonstrates it - even then subconsciously there is a verification process akin to asking “Is this person just dumbing things down for me?” []
  5. Interestingly the literal translation of the Chinese word for dative in Chinese - “yu ge” - is “give case.” For those who know Latin I suppose that’s not all that interesting. []
  6. However this appears to be changing. From my grammar text: “a markedly increased use of the passive has perhaps been one of the striking syntactic trends in the development of Modern Chinese…. There has been a great deal of translation from foreign languages into Chinese during the past half century, including a perfect flood of Marxist material, which the Soviets translated and sold far below cost and which had a profound and continuing impact upon Chinese intelligentsia. The great majority of the translators were hacks, equipped with neither any real linguistic sophistication nor even a very secure grasp of the languages involved and their stylistic niceties. They had learned another language in the most straightforward and mindless fashion: Here is a Russion verb ispoljzovan [which means ‘is used, utilized’]. What’s the chinese for that? Bei li-yong [where liyong means ‘to take advangage of someone or something for one’s own benefit’] and ever thereafter, when the Russion ispoljzovan crops up, it is doggedly translated bei li-yong, with never a thought that there might be some possibility of recasting the sentence to put it into idomatic Chinese, avoiding the passive. Such patterns become enshrined in ritually-admired literature and thence they are imitated in other literature and are read aloud; and in no time people are speaking that way, with no idea that they are participating in radical linguistic change.” []
  7. A coverb is a word that may serve as a verb, but must occur in at least some contexts where it can’t be interpreted as a verb []
  8. For these verbs, the indirect object must precede the direct object. So a literal example in English for the verb ask (wen) would be “I ask him some questions” []

December 22, 2019

Xi Jinping Thinks You're Stupid

Filed under: bitcoin, china — thimbronion @ 7:29 p.m.

I have so far two unpublished translations of Chinese articles related to Bitcoin. One is left unpublished due to me not knowing exactly what to do with it. There is nothing new to me in it about Bitcoin per se, and although it is interesting to see a not terrible run down of Bitcoin that was both produced and consumed within China, there are no either intelligent or retarded arguments that I haven't already seen countless times in Western media. Not to mention the quality of the English version is low. I could go through and correct the grammar mistakes, but I don't know if this is the right thing to do given my current skill level in Chinese. That leaves me with something that is both a pain to read for my readers, and also uninformative.

The other is unpublished due to being, well, not what I wanted. There was some kerfluffle a while back about Xi Jinping endorsing "crypto" and I wanted to find out exactly what he said. It turns out that, unless you were physically there at the party meeting, or whatever they call it, there is no way to know. The only texts that Mia could find were not direct quotes, but summaries by no one I ever heard of of what he said.

After seeing these, I explained that I really wanted to know exactly what he said, and asked her if she could maybe find a video of the event. Now, she did find a video of the event, but there was no audio of Xi Jinping, just a voice over by, again, someone I've never heard of, "summarizing" what Xi Jinping "said."

This obfuscation has to be intentional. This technique of only providing summaries of what Xi Jinping said by other people who no one ever heard of allows Xi Jinping never to have to say anything stupid or wrong, because if it turns out that whoever summarized what he said said something wrong, that's on him, not Xi Jinping.

So, although I consider these two translations to be negative results, perhaps there is still some value to them. The first thing I have learned is perhaps a question to ask, rather than some new information: "How do you best work with a translator that knows Chinese better than English?" The second thing I have learned is (although I always suspected this to be true) not only that English language news about "crypto" coming out of China is total trash, but specifically why, which is that until I see some counter evidence I must assume that all news articles are based on summaries in Chinese by no names, and that it cannot be assumed that these summaries are sourced from original content by anyone with any sort of reputation.

I am left, at this point, with no great desire to continue digging through the dung heap remotely. As for what's next, I am considering having Mia try to attend a Bitcoin meetup near where she's located and write up a report, or going to China myself and attending one.

October 18, 2019

A Bitcoin Missionary in China

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 3:14 p.m.

I found this post to be interesting. It's just not the sort of thing you usually see coming out of China in any medium. Judging by the quality of this translation which is rather low in my opinion, she struggled with it. Here is a note from her:

this paper is really longer and harder to translate than before. Comparing to previous work, the acadmic paper or news takes less time to translate as it have strong logic. But the logic of this post is disordered to some extent, and it takes me nearly 4 hours to translate.

Translation

When I decided to ask passers-by for exchanging Bitcoin to RMB during the National Day holiday, I suddenly remembered a news a few years ago. It was a foreign family, exchanging all of their money and property to Bitcoin, and then preaching Bitcoin globally.

I did not understand why they did that at that time, and I had no interesting in Bitcoin. Abnormal behavior often contains a truth that one does not know, which is what I learned later from reading The Structure of the Scientific Revolution. I hope I could influence others to get to know Bitcoin through my effort, even only just one person.

However, I underestimated the ability of the police. Just after talking with a few people, I was arrested on the first day. Not because I preached bitcoin, but disturbed the order of the scenic spot.

Yesterday I went to Hedacheng (a shopping mall in Hangzhou). A Menswear shop owner was very interesting for my topic. I asked her if she supported Bitcoin
She said that she had heard of Bitcoin, but she did not support it!
I told her "If you support, I will buy more clothes." She still said no.
I asked her for the reason and told her it is very simple. Just need to download a wallet and I would send her Bitcoin. She shook her head and let me go.

Sometimes I really want to know the reason that why they I refuse me?

I pretended to go to Fred Square to have lunch in order to follow two students of National People's Congress all the way. I pretended that I had not eaten a meal for a long time, because no one wanted to exchange RMB with me.
They wanted to get rid of me a bit. But their way back to the school was the same as going to Fred Square with me. I took the opportunity continue to say a lot about Bitcoin.
"You can try to get to know Bitcoin, in case this thing is useful to you. 20 RMB can't be a huge loss. I also graduated from your university, major in computer “. One of them seemed to have been moved by me but just for sympathy, not because they want to know Bitcoin. For the reason that I said that I am very hungry and I had not eaten for a long time.

"Our company is recruiting now. Even if one of the interviewers said he had Bitcoin, we would hire him, because he at least took the initiative to get to know and buy Bitcoin, not afraid of new things. I think such people are brave. You could also consider block chain as your future internship direction. There are very few talents in this area. The block chain comes from Bitcoin.”

Then, one of them would like to buy a bowl of noodles for me, and the other one would like to know, but did not want to exchange Bitcoin. I asked him whom bought me the noodle to download the wallet. I sent him 20 Bitcoin and told him to remember the password.

I was thinking about how to introduce Bitcoin in five minutes or so, and what the difference between Bitcoin and Alipay or WeChat payment. I told them there was an upper limit of Bitcoin but no upper limit for RMB issuance. However, they did not get any interest about that.

I told them to learn and understand the principles and knowledge of Bitcoin and block chain and recommended them some books about that, warning them not to speculate in the Bitcoin market. However, they wanted to end the conversation with a stranger like me and left without waiting me to eat the noodle.

I didn't know what they would talk about when they went back. Were they surprised, curious, awkward, or really thought this is an opportunity. On the way back, I thought for a long time, why they would refuse me?

People live in the familiar environment all the time. Most of them have not thought about whether some habits or cognition is reasonable and whether people could have better choices and living environment. I believe people are worth to improve themselves in lots of aspects, but they do not realize it. The fundamental is that people do not try to think about the abnormal things that are different from the routine, just live in the familiar environment.

I wanted to go back but reluctant. I was really tired and sat by the side of the subway with paper. I hope that passers-by can look at me and ask what Bitcoin is. But no one stopped.

I walked over to a couple who were taking pictures and told them that I could give you double bitcoin if you would like to exchange money with me. He shook his head and let me go. Then, I met a college student who was researching block chain. But he didn't want to exchange and regarded me as a liar. But I really thought he was a liar.

There were four passengers played by the roadside. I asked them weather they would like to exchange Bitcoin. They said four times that they were not interested, with mockery.

Was I discouraged? Not, it was all expected.

People gave me some comments on the Weibo. Some comment that they want to exchange with me and some want to cheer me up. Some people think my behavior could only make passersby hate bitcoin more and I could not get any benefit.

I decided to go back. When I was waiting for the subway, I asked the stuff about the time of the last subway. The stuff told me 11 o'clock. I took the opportunity to talk with him about Bitcoin and the purpose why I come here. He was still not interested about Bitcoin.

Walking out of the subway, I took a photo and told myself to continue tomorrow. I know that the result of tomorrow is still the same, but I still have to do something.

Although I know that there is no effect, I still have to do it.

Source

October 1, 2019

Chief Analyst of Guosen Securities Financial Industry: Central Bank R&D is a kind of digital cash, not a digital currency independent of the RMB.

Filed under: china, news, propaganda — thimbronion @ 4:00 p.m.

Wang Jianwen, chief analyst of the financial industry of Guosen Securities Economic Research Institute, analyzes how to understand the central bank's1 digital currency2. Wang Jian pointed out in the article that the emergence of Bitcoin means a new currency different from the sovereign currency of each country. Bitcoin is based on blockchain technology. There is no single issuer, and all transactions are recorded at all nodes of the network, which is difficult to tamper with. Bitcoin also wants to control its circulation and maintain its currency by limiting the amount of future issuance. But precisely this kind of goodwill has deviated from the essence of money. This new type of digital currency, which is completely different from the original sovereign currency, is called "digital currency.” Obviously, central banks that have the right to issue currency rights in various countries will not welcome this new thing aimed at depriving them of their currency distribution rights. Therefore, it is obvious that the central bank is researching to launch digital cash, not digital currency. Although it caters to the public, it is also called "digital currency.” At the end of the article, Wang Jian also indicated that although Bitcoin itself has deviated from the essence of money3, the introduction of blockchain technology has made it possible to control the risk of double-spending. The application of the blockchain enables the entire network to identify the only transaction, thus basically eliminating the risk of illegal copying of digital cash, and greatly improved the security of circulation. Adding the function of the smart contract and some personalized functions of the transaction could also help the currency circulation, reduce transaction costs, and improve the service level of the payment link. Therefore, he believes that the central bank is developing a digital cash that uses a new circulation technology rather than a digital currency independent of the RMB.

Source: https://www.8btc.com/article/489732

  1. 'Central Bank of China', which develops and implements monetary policy in China []
  2. This is the specific project referred by by 'R&D' in the title.  The translator clarified when asked what the name of the project might be: It is not mentioned in the article, but as far as I know, the central bank set up a specific team several years ago, called Digital Currency Research Department, focus on researching Digital Currency. And recently the Central Bank announced they researched and developed a digital currency, which is a kind of digital cash. The entire article is talking about Wang Jian's interpretation of the digital currency which is researched and developed by the Central Bank. []
  3. Bitcoin is deviant, you see!  And money has an essence, and I, Wang Jian, know what it is! []

September 30, 2019

A Year of Not Total Failure

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 2:13 a.m.

Let it not be said that 2019 was a year of failures.  This evening I managed to establish direct contact via e-mail with a certain Ms. Du, who is a Chinese translator located in Mainland China.  She has agreed to translate one short news article for me on a weekly basis indefinitely.  Of course no one is interested in reading the typical fluff broadly available, but I hope to learn from and maintain the relationship so that in the future when more substantial content has been located, she will be available to aid in translating it.

September 20, 2019

Preparing to join #ossasepia

Filed under: bitcoin, china — thimbronion @ 5:26 p.m.

Having spent some cycles following through with this comment, I've come up with the following.

I am interested in China and the Chinese.  I like how they play by their own rules wherever they go.  They are a good group to have connections with for obtaining dirty fiat cash, or building things.  I want more Chinese connections, specifically connections that grok Bitcoin.

I am persuaded that the news about Bitcoin coming out of China is filtered through a very specific class of characters - mainly bilingual diaspora Chinese such as Hong Kongers and Singaporeans, or the kind that have been merit-washed via the Ivies.  I suspect that the perspective of mainlander Chinese who don't speak English is not coming across.

In order to get that perspective, I would like to find or create a network of resources in China that can supply me with this perspective.  I would like to share this perspective via news stories in English.  I would also like to publish likbez in Chinese, just to see what I can dredge up from behind the firewall.

I am prepared to accept that there may be absolutely no thinking whatsoever concerning Bitcoin happening behind the firewall - this would also be good to know.

September 17, 2019

How I'm Learning Chinese

Filed under: china — thimbronion @ 6:17 p.m.

I am using the approach suggested in the log1 on at least one occasion.  I believe the best way to learn a language is to live in a country that speaks that language.  I can't live in China right now for many stupid reasons.  However, I do live in a Chinese colony which you may know of as California, although the people who actually own their houses here call it 加州.

In my particular region there are many Chinese run massage parlors.  Many of the women there speak English poorly, in fact poorly enough that they prefer to converse with me in Chinese, poorly though I speak it.  So I pay a small fee, get an hour long conversation session + a great massage.  I supplement this with an app called Du Chinese, that has graded readings and a built in flash-card system that can generate cards from characters in the readings.  I have made a good deal of progress over the past year, such that I can get by days at a time using only Chinese with my 情人(lover).

  1. Although on re-reading, which I should do more of, I am perhaps doing it wrong []
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