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I think it is a common puzzle for ESL,especially for Chinese,since English is more abstract than Chinese, using which we can feel some specific patterns flashing in our brain. For example, when I see 笑(which means smile), I feel it is smiling to me. What do you feel when you see "smile"?

  • This is not opinion-based question, I want to find the general thinking pattern of native English speakers – Lai Dec 18 '13 at 11:50
  • I have changed the question style to objective one ! – Lai Dec 19 '13 at 2:52
  • @Lai The concept I associate with 笑 is halfway between a laugh and a smile, so it's not exactly the same as what I associate with smile in English, but I think in principle the same kinds of associations are possible with different writing systems. At least, I don't see any reason why they wouldn't be. – snailplane Dec 19 '13 at 3:07
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Chinese characters do not constitute an alphabet or a compact syllabary. Rather, the writing system is roughly logosyllabic; that is, a character generally represents one syllable of spoken Chinese and may be a word on its own or a part of a polysyllabic word. The characters themselves are often composed of parts that may represent physical objects, abstract notions,1 or pronunciation.2 (WP) [emphasis added]

On the other hand, "(t)he modern English alphabet is a Latin alphabet consisting of 26 letters" (WP), the individual letters or sometimes their combinations (supposedly) representing specific sounds of the word's pronunciation.

So you see that Chinese pictographs do indeed represent "things" that one can associate with and recall, English alphabets merely provide a clue to pronunciation, with no relation to the meaning.

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  • So there is not some pattern in your brain when you see a English word, Even though you are speaking in English?? – Lai Dec 18 '13 at 10:08
  • @Lai I think the same sorts of associations are possible, but it's difficult to know what you really mean by "patterns flashing in your brain", so it's hard to say, really. – snailplane Dec 18 '13 at 10:21
  • @snailboat I do know it is hard to say, But I think it is essential to non-native speakers. it is useful to link the native language to English, which means I can learn English using English thinking method. you see? – Lai Dec 18 '13 at 11:46

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