Cultural History and Notes to Romance Novel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This page is notes to go with the Inescapable Days and Unspoken Nights romance novel of mine. It contains cultural history and interesting facts.

Submitted: June 22, 2010

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Submitted: June 22, 2010

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** Notes to my romance novel **

The purpose of this is to fill in the cultural history for a better understanding of the time period and place the story is based upon. It also contains cultural information in general of other topics for those who like to learn more about culture and history.

[ Hopefully it does not throw the sentences out of order. Trying to change font style and size to be easier to read seems to be too difficult of a task on here without it having to throw everything out of place. ]

** Touch of Culture and History **

There are over 300 dialects in the Chinese language. Everything written in Romanized characters or the English alphabet are phonetics based on a certain dialect. The 2 major dialects of this language are Mandarin and Cantonese. They are spoken the most around the world. Since they are major, it is common for many who speak other dialects to usually know one of the two if not both dialects as a way to communicate more efficiently. There are R sounds in Mandarin. There are not any in the Cantonese dialect. Many times words with a Y sound in Cantonese becomes a R sound in Mandarin.

Just like every other culture, everyone has a different accent even if they speak the same dialect. Someone may speak the dialect well, but if your ears are not familiar with the language and that dialect well enough, it would be difficult to understand what that person is saying.

It is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn even if you are born and raised in China. The speaking, reading and writing are all separate. Someone who can speak may not necessarily know how to read and write unless they took the time to study the language. Someone who can read may not necessarily know how to write. Someone who can write may not necessarily know how to speak, but can definitely read. It is because there are so many dialects that it helps to know how to read and write as a way to communicate. The writing is the same regardless of how the words are pronounced. Different words may be used in a specific dialect, but it is still the same language. Similar to the idea of saying hello, salutation, hi, hey, greetings and so forth. It is a different way to greet, but they still fall under the English language regardless of which region someone is from or what accent they have.

It is much easier to read and pronounce Chinese properly using the English alphabet if they would keep each word separated the way it should be. One Chinese character is a word. Each word only has one syllable. Not two or part of another. It is clean for a lack of a better word. As in no letter is hanging onto the word that should begin another word. There is slurring two words together, but I would not suggest that in any language since that only causes confusion.

For example, Bei(North) Jing(Capital). If you put the 2 words together, some may read it as Beij-Ing as opposed to Bei-Jing. The bei part is clear sounding. No other letter hanging off of it. No single word ends in a R sound. If it does then it is a whole other word/character and most likely the Mandarin dialect. They should change Peking to Buk Ging since that is the way it is pronounced in the Cantonese dialect.

All these unnecessary commas, hyphens and marks associated with the Chinese language written in the English alphabet are not necessary. It also does not fit into the English language structure either. There are marks to point out the different tones only if you study that. If not, nobody would have any idea what the accent mark would mean. This is why with most restaurants, stores and such, you do not see any accent marks for a reason. One, the natives do not use them or understand the reasoning to that. Two, unless you've studied the language with the accent marks, it means absolutely nothing to anyone and they will still butcher the pronunciation.

The Chinese language is based on a 5 tone system. Even if you read the phonetic such as "ma," it does not mean anything unless you use it in a sentence of some sort. What tone you use makes it a different word. It's unlike English in which you can pronounce the word in any way and it would still be the same word. There are also many homonym words too.

The reason why it's confusing for many in the U.S. to read the phonetic is because it was not set up by anyone from the states. It was done by the French. Unless you think in the French language more than a Germanic one, all the words with X, Z, Q, TS and use of vowels will throw someone off. I am not going by the with that version. Instead I go with the one that is most fitting for a proper pronunciation. I am having it printed the way it should had been printed in the first place. Reason why they hired the French to set it this way is because they did not want the Americans to learn the language.

All the accent marks used is for Westerners. No other Asian nation uses that to learn the Chinese language. If you're to learn it, learn it the old way. The only reason why Vietnamese is not in characters of their own is because the French settled there for a while. Before that, the Chinese ruled in nations South of what you see on the map now.

Many times if you see the letter A, it's pronounced "Ah" and the On and Ong is "Oh" more so than an "On" sound. Sometimes the letter O is used to replace the A since most would not pronounce it correctly. Tang is pronounced Tong. This is why it is spelled that way sometimes. This is a given in most European languages. But not here in the states.

They really should change Chang An to Cheung Ahn. At least with the H added, there is that Ah sound. The word long is pronounced "Cheung" more so than "Chang." When the proper letters are used and people read the letters the way it should be then it becomes a lot easier to read and the pronunciation is much more precise or close to it. As if it is not difficult enough to communicate in another language, the scholars make it too complicated and the ones who do not study or understand a language well enough cut the letters short forgetting about the tones.

I have studied both European and Asian languages which is how I am able to point out the tid bits of information that they usually do not point out in class or by speakers of the specific language since it takes time to notice these small details. I prefer to clear up any confusion since the world gets along much better when they understand one another, not jump to conclusions or ride on the rumor wagon.

There is more to the language end, but will leave this out since this is to be notes to learn something about history and culture that may clear up any confusion. Not meant to be an essay or report of some sort.

The fork was invented in China, but the locals did not find it as useful as the chopsticks made in various sizes.

The clock was also invented in China. It was huge and not as common to see back then. The Europeans made a smaller version of it to be carried around with a little more ease over time. The sixth Ching Dynasty emperor, Kien Long/Chien Lung had a fancy for interesting clocks and the collection can be seen at The Palace Museum in Beijing.

What ever you think is a Western invention may have roots in China to start. Who perfected something, refined it or changed it a bit is usually the one that gets the credit more so than the original people often times. People travel around the world and so do ideas, recipes, languages, customs and so forth. Ever listen to the instrumental music of Spain, Turkey, Persia and neighboring areas? Some music carry over. Every other nation always has something added to their culture due to battles and diplomatic relations. Yes, the sushi we are familiar with now is perfected in Japan. But how many know where it really originated? It's because the way it was made originally has not gained popularity that the credit goes to the land that has perfected the art of making this. Fusion food is not a new concept. It's quite an ancient concept that was never marketed at the rate it is now. Then of course nothing was marketed to the extreme till the 20th Century.

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~ More about names, translations, words/characters ~?

People from scholars to writers and every other person usually do not point out that a lot of the "Names" are not names at all, but titles. In the Western nations, many of the nobles and royals have long names. They are actual names without the titles added. In many Asian nations, the name is quite short. Everything else is a title of some sort. If you take a close look at the pattern, you can get the idea that it is a title more so than a name. Unlike Western culture, Asian culture are usually not too keen on giving their children some sort of name derived from a relative or ancestor.

In Chinese culture, a name is usually in 3 parts (Surname, Middle, Last). There are some with 4 and 2 parts. If it is 2 then it is surname plus last. When you call out their name, it can be the middle part, last part or both middle and last. It depends on the meaning of the name. Using both means that the middle and last do not make any sense alone.

In Japanese culture, the name varies in characters. The set up is a lot different and more confusing. It also does not follow the same pattern as it would in Chinese. The characters used are more random as opposed to all the words combined to have a certain meaning.

I should use the word character instead of word since below you can see what I mean when something is translated. A single, English word or any other Western language does not mean it is one character in Asian languages. It can take more than one depending on the word. Why this is has to do with the characters being set to use in a variety of combinations.

In English, there are compound words and then there are words that are made up along the way to fit the time. For example, E-mail meaning electronic mail. Football, baseball, sunset and so forth. I doubt anyone in the Middle Ages would know what a compact disc is that goes into a stereo or DVD player. Words get added to the language over time. Even if it is not added, the language changes regardless. The original meaning is replaced or someone uses words a different way to mean something that already has a word to it.

In Asian languages, the characters are the same throughout the ages for the most part. Maybe some added over time, but still it is mostly the same. How do you create new words using ancient characters? You start thinking of what you are holding, using and etc.

The words "remote control" gives you the idea of 1 item. It is a single object. As you can see, it takes 2 words to create the image in your head. The words are not new, but someone decided to combine them to represent a specific type of object. You can say remote control all you want in the 1200's and they would wonder what that is.

A cellphone would be 4 characters in Chinese. It would translate to "hand held electronicspeech" or "walking electronicspeech" and other terms. Phone itself would translate to "electronic speech." Lets back up. More of the word electricity, but to make better sense when translating, it would be the word electronic. You see how the word goes from electricity to electronic in English when it is the same character in Chinese? This is what makes translation difficult because the ones unfamiliar with the language would not know what to end it in. English is an easy language to learn, but difficult to master even if you speak it all your life.


Qin Shi Huang Di = 1st Emperor of Chin

Huang/Wong = Imperial or Royal Wong Di = Emperor

Chin = Name of the kingdom he ruled under until he had all the kingdoms join as one to become the first united China.

Q is to be a Ch sound, but who would think of that if they are thinking in English?

Chin is not the 1st emperor of the land we know as China. He was the 1st one to rule a united land. Before him there were other rulers.

People argue that he was the most ruthless, but do not stop to think he was not any different than the others before him. The less structured society you have, the more barbaric they become. He had to rule with an iron fist more so if he wanted to keep every part of the nation together as one. Sometimes there is too much focus on how cruel he was and less on what he created that had been used throughout the centuries.

The writing varied from kingdom to kingdom and he made it a set way so that it would be easier to read. He changed the way it looked and enforced the same characters to be used so that there would not be so much confusion. He also created a set currency which gives the ruling party more control over the people.

Yes, he went a bit off the edge, but then so would anyone who deals with a lot of assassination attempts. It also did not help for him to consume mercury either. He did that to prolong his health, but instead that cut it short and also made him crazy. There is not any way to dodge being a target when one is in a high seat. Not then, now or in the future. There will always be others around the corner who wants the seat and will literally kill to get it.




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