美国网民评论:中国汉字是未来而字母表是过时的 [美国媒体]

编辑: 2016-11-14 4150 次围观

原文地址:https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/11/chinese-computers/504851/#article-comments


The QWERTY keyboard was once the envy of the world but not anymore.


曾经英语键盘让全世界艳羡,如今荣光不再。


QQ截图20161114163115.jpg


On a bright fall morning at Stanford Tom Mullaney is telling me what’s wrong with QWERTY keyboards. Mullaney is not a technologist nor is he one of those Dvorak keyboard enthusiasts. He’s a historian of modern China and we’re perusing his exhibit of Chinese typewriters and keyboards the curation of which has led Mullaney to the conclusion that China is rising ahead technologically while the West falls behind clinging to its QWERTY keyboard.


晴朗秋晨,斯坦福大学

TOM MULLANEY正在跟我讲述英语键盘的问题。mullaney不是技术专家,也不是德沃夏克键盘爱好者,他只是个研究现代中国的历史学家,他展示中国的打字机和键盘,根据它们的信息处理方法得出结论,中国就技术上已经领先巴着英语键盘不放的西方国家。


Now this was and still is an unusual view because Chinese—with its 75000 individual characters rather than an alphabet—had historically been the language considered incompatible with modern technology. How do you send a telegram or use a typewriter with all those characters? How do you even communicate with the modern world? If you’re a Cambridge-educated classicist enamored with the Greeks you might just conclude Chinese scxt is “archaic.” Long live the alphabet.  


这个观点至今也不多见,因为中文里有七万五千汉字,英语只有26个字母,人们历来都认为中文和现代化技术格格不入。用汉字你怎么发电报或者打字呢?你怎么和现代社会交流?如果你是个接受剑桥教育,迷恋古希腊的古典主义者,你可以轻易得出结论,汉字什么的都是古老过时的,字母才是万年长青。 


But Mullaney argues the invention of the computer could turn China’s enormous catalog of characters into an advantage.


但是mullaney分辨道,计算机的出现将汉字的劣势转化为优势


Mullaney is the author of two forthcoming books on the Chinese typewriter and computer and we discussed what he’s learned while researching them. His argument is pretty fascinating to unpack because at its heart it is about more than China. It is about our relationship to computers not just as physical obxts but as conduits to intangible software. Typing English on a QWERTY computer keyboard he says “is about the most basic rudimentary way you can use a keyboard.” You press the “a” key and “a” appears on your screen. “It doesn't make use of a computer’s processing power and memory and the cheapening thereof.” Type “a” on a QWERTY keyboard hooked up to a Chinese computer on the other hand and the computer is off anticipating the next characters. Typing in Chinese requires mediation from a layer of software that is obvious to the user.


mullaney有两本书即将面世,都是写关于中国的打字机和电脑的。我们今天在一起讨论他研究过程里的心得。他的想法很妙,核心已经不仅仅是关于中国。它讲述了人和电脑的关系,电脑不仅是一种物理存在,还是联系人与无形软件的中介,当我们用英语键盘打字时,用的是最最原始的过程。你打个A,屏幕就出来个A。这里用不到什么处理能力,内存什么的也派不上用场,就是个很低级的活动。但是用英语键盘打中文时,你打个A并不会出来汉字,使用者们都明白打汉字就需要一个软件来作为中转。 


In other words to type a Chinese character is essentially to punch in a set of instructions—a code if you will to retrieve a specific character. Mullaney calls Chinese typists “code conscious.” Dozens of ways to input Chinese now exist but the Western world mostly remains stuck typing letter-by-letter on a computer keyboard without taking full advantage of software-augmented shortcuts. Because he asks “How do you convince a person who's been told for a century and a half that their alphabet is the greatest thing since sliced bread?”


换句话说,打汉字基本上就是输入一串代码指令供你检索特定汉字。mullaney认为中国的打字者是编程思维。现在已经有了好几种中文输入法,然而西方仍然停留在逐字输入的水平,没能好好利用软件优势创造更简捷的输入法。他说“对一个坚持字母是切片面包出现后最伟大的发明想法150年不变的人,你怎么劝都没用”


It’s China’s awkward history with the telegraph and the typewriter argues Mullaney that primed Chinese speakers to take full advantage of software when it came along—to the point where it’s now faster to input Chinese than English.


中国使用电报和打字机的历史很尴尬,所以当mullaney得知中文输入速度已经快过英文输入速度时,他认为软件的使用已经让中文输入走在了前面。

  

In the beginning it really was awkward.


最初的历史确实很尴尬。


When the telegraph came to China in 1871 the Chinese first had to bend their language to Western technology. The solution devised by a Dutch astronomer and a French customs officer was to assign a four-digit code to each character which was then translated into the dots and dashes of Morse. This worked but it put Chinese at a disadvantage. Numbers in Morse code contain five dots or dashes and letters only one to three which made Chinese telegrams both more expensive and less efficient. By some accounts when former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was on the road sending telegrams was his biggest expense.


自1871年电报技术首次传入中国,中文首次不得不向西方技术屈服。一位荷兰天文学家和一位法国海关官员提出了解决方案。他们让每个汉字对应四位代码,然后转成摩斯密码里的点线。方法奏效了,但是让中文处在相当不利的位置。因为摩斯密码里的每个数字要五个点或者线,而字母只需要1-3个,这就让中文电报既昂贵又低效。据说中国前总理周恩来四处奔波时,最费钱的事情就是拍电报 


The Chinese typewriter was a cumbersome obxt too. It had a tray bed of more than 2000 common characters. A typist sexted characters by maneuvering a chassis on top of the tray bed pushing a lever that struck the chosen character against the page. If you wanted to type an uncommon character you had to go hunting for it among thousands in a secondary tray bed.


中文打字机也是相当繁琐,它有一个托盘用来放置2000多个常见汉字块,托盘上方有一个可移动的底盘,打字员推动底盘在汉字块上方移动,找到目标按动杠杆然后被选中的字快可以在纸上印上字迹,如果你要打一个不常见的字,那就要打开第二层的字盘在成千上万的字块里搜寻


At the same time dozens of inventors tried their hand on better ways to send telegrams or build typewriters. To do so they had to come up with new ways of indexing Chinese characters breaking them into subunits. Take for example the “four corner method” which notes the shape in each corner. Ten different shapes are assigned a number 0 through 9; going around the corners in a clockwise direction gives you a four-digit code to send telegrams or to organize characters in a typewriter. If you don’t write Chinese this might not seem particularly profound. But in fact it is a complete rethinking of the Chinese character.


与此同时,人们也在想法为电报和打字设计更佳方案。人们将汉字分解成亚单元,提出新的方法来做汉字索引。比如四角法,根据汉字四角形状进行分解,最终拆成10种不同形状,用0-9进行编号,四角按顺时针方向可以得出四位代码,然后就可以就此来发电报打字。如果你不会写汉字,可能感受不会很深刻,实际上这就是人们对汉字进行彻底反思的开端。 


It would be like if instead of spelling an English word letter by letter you represent it by noting the number of letters that are ascenders (d b l h) descenders (p y g j) or neither. The idea of choosing characters by inputting an abstract code was part of Chinese technology from the start.


就好比你不用逐字拼写的方式输入英语,你将每个英语字母用数字标注,按顺序或者降序排列。从一开始这种用抽象编码选择汉字的方式就是中国技术的一部分。


So when the computer comes along the number of ways to input Chinese just exploded in the “input wars of the 70s and 80s” says Mullaney. Different input methods require different ways of thinking about Chinese characters. You might do it based on the four corners or three corners or radicals (subunits of Chinese characters) or stroke order. Others experimented with pronunciation-based systems that used the QWERTY keyboard taking advantage of software to translate letters into characters. And in a real breakthrough these systems were now predictive. You might for example input a string of characters by typing just the first letter corresponding with each character. In other words it’s predictive text.


所以,mullaney说,电脑问世后,七八十年代中文输入法大战如火如荼。不同的输入法代表着对汉字分解的不同思路。你可以用四角法 三角法 部首法,笔顺发等等的,还有些人想到了基于发音系统,结合英语键盘,通过软件来用字母解读汉字。一个真正的突破是,这些系统现在都是预言性的。你可以试试,只输入一串汉字对应的首字母(那叫拼音。。。),然后就会出来一串汉字。换句话说,这就是一种预知性文本。 


The Chinese way of inputting text—the software-mediated way—will win out says Mullaney. Actually it’s already won out. Our mobile phones now have predictive text and autocomplete. It took the constraint of mobile to get Westerners to realize the limits of the simple what-you-type-is-what-you-get keyboard. But even then you could only get Americans to go so far.


mullaney说中国的文本输入方式-软件媒介方式-将会胜出。事实上它已经胜出。我们的手机现在有预测文本和自动完成功能。移动端的约束让西方人认识到单纯“输入即所得”键盘的极限。但即使认识到这点,美国人也无法做出改变。


The introduction of T9—the predictive texting system on early cell phones—illuminates that cultural gap. When the Seattle-based Tegic company first developed T9 it created a new letter arrangement on cellphones. The standard had always been 2 = abc 3 = def 4 = ghi and so on. As T9 users will surely remember several different words often match the same set of numbers so you might hit “4663” and have to key through “good” “home” and “hoof” before finally arriving at “hone.” But Tegic had initially developed a new way of assigned numbers to letter—not QWERTY or alphabet-based—optimized to prevent overlaps.


T9(在早期手机上的一种文本预测系统)的介绍显露出了这种文化差异。西雅图的特捷公司首先开发出T9,它创立了一个新的手机键位安排方式。标准以前一直是2=abc3 = def4 =ghi等等。就像T9用户肯定知道的, 以前有些不同的单词通常匹配相同的数字,所以你得按“4663” 然后依次跳过“good( 好)”“home(家)”和“hoof(蹄)”最后才能选择“hone(磨炼)"。“但特捷当年发明了一种新的数字键分配方式——不是QWERTY或其他基于字母表的优化键盘——以防止单词重叠。


It didn’t fly. “One of our early stage investors said ‘You are not going to change the letter arrangement on mobile keyboards’” recalls Tegic cofounder William Valenti. “We had to accept a less efficient input system because we had to be in the constraints of the existing letter arrangement.”  


它并不快捷。”我们的一个早期投资者说,‘你们不能改变移动键盘字母排列‘ ”特捷共同创始人威廉·瓦伦蒂回忆说。“我们不得不接受一个低效率的输入系统,因为我们必须受现有的字母排列的约束。”




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美国网友评论:

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Arundo Donax R26; a day ago +16

Tom Mullaney has it exactly backwards. Chinese has to use predictive text because otherwise it's totally unworkable. English is efficient enough that it doesn't need predictive text except where it's a bit more convenient.


与Tom Mullaney说的正好相反。中文必须使用预测文本(智能输入)否则它完全行不通的。而英语是足够有效率的,它不需要预测文本让它更加方便。



John Smith  @Arundo Donax R26; 18 hours ago

You're right but he also says the Chinese were forced to innovate and now can (apparently) input faster than English while we've been complacent with our early advantage and can't innovate if we needed to.

Faster digital communication will probably become more important in the future though that's debatable.


你是对的,但他也说,中文一直面临着创新的压力,现在它的输入速度可以(很显然的)比英语更快,我们却一直自满与我们早期的优势不去创新,而这正是我们需要的。

虽然这是有争议的,但更快速的数字通信在未来可能会变得更加重要。



Riley 1066  @John Smith R26; 11 hours ago +2

I doubt anything this article says is true.


我怀疑这篇文章的是不是真的。 



Lewis Goudy  @Riley 1066 R26; 10 hours ago

I was immediately skeptical when the disclaimer "not a technologist" prefaced a long screed about the structure and prospects of a technological domain.


当这篇有关技术领域结构和前景的冗长的文章开头,就说自己不是这方面的专家来进行免责,我立刻就怀疑了(这篇文章的真实性)。



Arundo Donax  @John Smith R26; 12 hours ago +1

I'll suggest that the quality of what people say is more important than how quickly they can say it.


我觉得人们说话的质量比他们能说的多快更加重要。



hailexiao  @John Smith R26; 10 hours ago

Faster how? In what way? Is Chinese predictive input faster than English predictive input or just English non-predictive input?


它(中文)是如何更加快速的?以什么样的方式?是中文的智能输入法快过英文的智能输入法还只是英文的非智能输入法?



John Smith  @hailexiao R26; 2 hours ago

The writer says this in paragraph 6 but without any source and I can't find data backing it up. However this explains how hard it is to determine it: https://www.quora.com/What-is-th ... -Simplified-Chinese


作者在第6段中说的话没有任何来源,我也找不到数据支持它。不管怎样,这里的解释来确定结论是牵强附会的:

https://www.quora.com/what-is-th…-简体中文



Chris Crawford  @John Smith R26; 17 hours ago

As I explain in detail below no system for entering Chinese scxt can match the overall speed of any alphabetic language under similar conditions.


我仔细的解释是这样的:在相同的条件下,没有一款录入中文scxt的系统(可能是个扫描录入系统)能够比得上任何字母语言的速度 



JedRothwell  @chris Crawford R26; 10 hours ago

You wrote: "As I explain in detail below no system for entering Chinese scxt can match the overall speed of any alphabetic language under similar conditions."


你说“根据以下详述,在同等条件下,中文输入速度不可能快过任何字母文字”


I expect you are right for keyboard methods but voice input goes at the same speed in all languages and it is much faster than typing in any language. So this technical problem will eventually fade away.


键盘输入的情况下我同意你的说法,但是如果是语音输入,那所有语言都差不多。语音输入也比打字快多了,所以随着科技的发展,这些问题也都不再是问题了。



Chris Crawford  @JedRothwell R26; 7 hours ago +1

Yes I agree entirely. At the level of speech all languages are essentially equal in overall performance. Each language has some interesting strength in one or two areas but overall there is simply no basis for arguing that any language is better than any other.


很同意。在语音输入方面所有语言总体表现不分伯仲,每个语言也许在一个或者两个方面有其独到之处,但总体来讲,没道理说某个语言更出色 


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RobertSF R26; a day ago +11

I'm not buying the argument. In the end simplicity always wins out. The Western alphabet has won not because it is Western but because it is simpler.


我觉得完全没有必要争论。最终简单总会胜出的。西方的字母表会赢,不是因为它是西方的,而是因为它比较简单。


Let's just look at the Western world. One of the reasons English is dominant is the fact that it is the only language with a Latin alphabet that uses no modifiers. It has an alphabet of 26 single-character letters. No double consonants like in Spanish. No cedilles no accents no bars tildes slashes or umlauts on its simple letters.


让我们开看看西方世界。英语居于主导地位的原因之一是它是唯一用了拉丁字母而又没有修饰符的语言。它只有26个单字符的字母。在简简单单的字母上面没有西班牙语那样的双辅音。没有变音符号、没有口音、没有横杠、没有发音符号、没有斜杠和变音。



finnmcgowan  @RobertSF R26; a day ago +10

I think English is dominant because that happens to be the language of the dominant global power.


我认为英语占主导地位因为它正好是占主导地位的世界强国所用的语言。


The pain saved by skipping accents and umlauts is more than paid for by the exasperating complexities and inconsistencies in English grammar and pronunciation.


比起英语语法中气人的复杂性和矛盾性所付出的代价,因为没有口音和变音而减少的痛苦要更多些。 



mashabell  @finnmcgowan R26; 21 hours ago +3

Initially English became dominant because of the reach of the British empire. This was furthered by the expansion of US influence. Its exceptional grammatical simplicity has also helped to make it the world's most used second language. - It owes this mainly to the Norman conquest of 1066 which led to the upper classes switching to French and leaving English for nearly 300 years as the main language of just the lower classes who rid it of all the Latin grammatical complexity which still encumbers other European languages: http://englishspellingproblems.b ... glish-spelling.html


起初英语占统治地位是因为大英帝国的巨大疆域,后来美国的崛起又进一步加强了英语的影响。英语的语法极其简单,这也助其成为世界最大的第二语言。这还得归功于1066的诺曼征服英格兰,在那之后贵族们有近三百年时间摒弃英语改说法语,英语成了底层人民的主要语言,然后人们就剔除了英语中比较难的拉丁语法部分,到现在很多欧洲语言还受拉丁语法拖累。看视频 http://englishspellingproblems.b ... glish-spelling.html


Sadly when after 1430 it became controlled by the educated elite again its spelling was made increasingly chaotic and unfathomable


可惜啊,1430之后,那些教育良好的精英们又把英语捡起来了,然后英语的拼写就越来越奇葩


 and led to English literacy acquisition becoming extremely difficult. That's why to this day 1 in 6 Anglophones don't even learn to read proficiently and nearly half have only very basic mastery of spelling.


掌握英语书写也开始变得很难了。所以现在盎格鲁撒克逊居民读写很烂,六分之一的人不能熟练阅读,近一半的人只会拼写基础单词

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