Thursday, May 12, 2016

The End of Critique

It is now impossible to criticize anyone because the subject of the criticism will appeal to his minority status in defense. Thus Obama can't be a bad president because you're racist. Hillary Clinton can't be a crook because you're sexist. Gender-neutral bathrooms can't be a bad idea because you're transphobic. If you find you can't identify any privileged group with which to claim affinity, just ascribe the critic's comments as being a personal attack.

I would tell you that the Chinese writing system is inefficient, but this article points out that any such criticism is racist. Evidently, the only reason to think that rote memorization of 10,000 symbols is less efficient than rote memorization of 26 symbols is because you hate Asians.

The article has a lot of criticism of Western mockery of Chinese typewriters without actually specifying how a Chinese typewriter works. There are a few different systems, but the most common involves...an alphabet. Specifically, typing in the Pinyin and then selecting from the characters that share that Pinyin spelling. So critics say "characters don't work well with keyboards" and this writer says, "How DARE you?!" and then doesn't admit that characters don't work well with keyboards.

Chinese is inefficient because you must be educated in a field to read anything to do with that field. I know a man who has perfect command of Chinese. Someone asked him if he could read a newspaper. He said, "It depends on the topic. If it was about finance, yes. If it was about chemistry or biology, no." When you come across a word you've never seen before, with an alphabet you can sound it out, but with characters it's an inaccessible black box of meaning.

I'm going to continue learning Chinese, but don't tell me that I'm racist because I have legitimate criticisms of the inefficient way written Chinese accomplishes its purpose of facilitating communication.

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