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语言变革文化思维 Turkey's Language Reform
语言变革文化思维 Turkey's Language Reformin 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由，毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:37 am
by fountainheadkc • 1.370 Posts
Turkey's Example in Abolishing Their Own Language
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
By Kai Chen 陈凯 (Reprint 10/10/2011)
Recognizing the defects of their own ancestors' legacy is one attribute 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 people's comprehension of truth and reality. With this respect, Turkey has provided the world and China with one example that a people did indeed have the ability and courage to recognize the ills and defects of their culture and change it in order to progress.
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)oriented despotic society into a progressing, modern democratic society left an ever-lasting impression in my consciousness.
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 in Arabic characters, (much like the Chinese'). 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 the Chinese). In 1928, the government established a new alphabet much like that of the West. It also ordered a language education program throughout the country and outlawed the use of Ottoman Turkish.
So there is 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 is one factor for such transformation to occur. But nonetheless, Turkey proves that such positive transformation can indeed occur due to the free will of a people toward progress and freedom, with the right tools.
Take a look at Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong have already been bi-lingal with English as the official language for legal matters and business transactions. Taiwan, with much of its elite educated in America and its Chinese language 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 and presence since the WWII. These Asian success stories should erect ample evidences that language supplantation and change is crucial to a society's progress from traditional, regressive one toward modern and democratic one.
However, Chinese language, due to its double defects - character-based pictorial written form, and single syllable sounding, is more difficult to reform: Vietman provides us with its example of such reform failure. Though after the French colonial period and having alphabetozed the written form in its own syllabic language, Vienam remains despotic in nature. The language reform failure is due much to its single syllable remaining intact. Alphabetizing the Chinese characters will have the same ill effect and render the reform in vain, for one still has to fit many meanings into a single syllable. Such stuffing meanings into one syllable will still render the language impotent in definitions and clarity. Muddy and opaque will still be the words featuring such "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 for the better, via a transformation of the tools they use to comprehend reality. Political will plus the right way of doing things will indeed prompt a traditional society into a modern, freedom-loving, democratic society. One thing at at time: Language supplantation first.
My notion of first supplanting English as the official language, in place of Chinese for China, in order to foster a people's clear thinking about reality and truth, before other positive social changes, STANDS.