Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us


They say that the internet and modern capitalism in general is producing so much stimuli that humans all around are becoming numb, developing tolerance towards normal things, and craving ever stronger stimuli. I admit it happens to me. The blogosphere has made me too numb to read normal sources of news. I am no longer satisfied with The Economist, or the Telegraph, or Instapundit. No, I need Moldbug, I need Steve Sailer, I need controversy.

And for Chinese news, I need Global Times. But the Chinese version. That's hardcore. Those are the ones pushing daily editorials saying "If Japan keeps pushing us we will bomb their asses". Or "The Great Leader of North Korea renews their strong-as-iron friendship with the Chinese People." Global Times is kickass, doesn't pull their punches. It's like reading newspapers from 1942. And it's state run, so you know it's not some keyboard fighter, some yellow War Nerd. No, its director Hu Xijin is a smart, thoughtful man, who just happens to want the best for his country.

He just scares the shit out of me every once in a while. I was just reading their editorial on the War in Mali, which China has approved. It says in the article that China has 2000 nationals living in Mali.

Wait a minute. 2000 Chinese? In Mali? Are you fucking kidding? China has more merchants in the ground that France has soldiers. What are they doing there?

In a way, it's good news because they might be trying what Francis Galton argued back in the day and colonise Africa with their thrifty genes. But on the other hand we are seeing 5th columns of a huge scary nation establishing themselves in every country on earth. Even freaking Mali. Here's hoping that the century-old nationalist project in China fails, and the Chinese devolve into their clannish selves. Then they can take over Africa as they please. It did much good in SEA.


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    • Are you serious? 1 billion thrifty high IQ people living all over the world coordinated to forward their own interests? It's madness.

    • I'm still not getting it. What are these bad consequences? China wins its territorial disputes, and becomes the preeminent power of Earth, a society high in culture as well as technology, whose levels of civilization all the other powers struggle to match.

      • True nationalist view non co-ethnics as garbage. Raw material to be used and discarded. To be abused and crooked if possible. Have you ever really thought about what its like to be on the losing side of a war against a bunch of nationalists?

        At the surrender of the Japanese to the Americans a Japanese remarked, "had we won, I don't think we would have been so generous."

      • ditto for all the above. It's not that simple. Civilisation is not a "level". There are different kinds. China is a cool place but I don't think we would like their hegemony.

  • I guess it's not only that you need controversy. I'll translate a favorite fragment, by Solzhenitsyn in "In the First Circle" , describing one inmate who has been behind the bars for over 20 years already:

    As Abramson kept telling himself, he was long past taking an interest in prisoners' disputes, confessions and tales. Any interest in things said across the cell, which he might have felt when he was young, he lost long ago. He could not find meaning in work: his passion for work burned out long ago. He could not find meaning in his family: his family did not live in Moscow, he was never granted family visits, and their letters, which had to pass the prison censor, were by their very authors involuntarily depleted and drained of the waters of life. Neither did he pay attention to newspapers: he had only to scan the headings and the meaning of any newspaper became clear to him. He could only listen to radio music for an hour a day. Programmes consisting of words were altogether too much for his nerves, as were the false books. ... Thus ... Abramson now preferred not books which seared him with truth, but books which amused him and helped him while away his endless prison terms.

  • Yellow peril. A phrase I was reintroduced to recently when my mother relayed that my great grandfather was fearful of it and took opportunity to inveigh against it. To think that after all we are being deluged none-the-less so that "education" institutions and big business can make some coin. And who can forget the opportunity for the bottom feeders - real estate agents and beta boys who shouldn't reproduce. The (EDITED: I don't like your language) . Australia in the Asian Century hey. Our elites should commit ritual suicide in shame. Caveat: I am not exaggerating on the miscegenation. A lot of these men are middle aged and borderline physically deformed and hence only the most desperate and indigent women will cohabitate and, sigh, produce offspring with them. Of course there are nerdier types with less overbearingly repulsive women who could make fine providers and husbands but our wonderful and effulgent White women are told they deserve better of course.

    • Cut it out. This is not a white supremacist blog. Eurasians are cool for all I care. If you have proof that those Eurasians are degenerate monsters by all means upload some pictures and let us judge.

      • There used to be a lot of superstimuli in the Baltimore Sun, going back to the interwar and belle epoque! It's only now that MSM has got so simultaneously boring and off-putting. Since you hail from foreign parts (or is it I who hail from foreign parts), I'll fill in the reference: this was Mencken's paper.

      • I criticise a section of White males and in a broad sweep generalise White females in a negative light. Hardly supremacy. I was harsh on a section of Asian females admittedly. It would hardly be proper for me to head down to my local shopping centre and take photos of said offspring and it would be remiss of me to hunt down photos on the net to prove a point. I hardly think of Eurasians or Asians as inferior. They make model citizens for the most part which for a safe society at least is a positive. There must also be, for me, a distinction between the waves of immigrants that arrived decades ago and those arriving now. The latter being the source of my grievances and inspiration for my egregious language. Mea culpa.

        • I've been down under, so I understand your frustration. But calling them " beta boys who shouldn’t reproduce" is uncalled for. Cut them some slack. There are tons of bigger problems with China than ugly Chinese women marrying ugly Australians. And anyway are those resulting kids that ugly? I've seen plenty of unseemly interracial couples but the kids tend to turn out ok. And smarter than the equivalent couples you so often see in the beaches of Thailand.

          • Going off appearances of course. Late age of parents at conception (male late 40's to mid 50's, female mid 30's) equals gametes with high mutational load. Parental facial assymetry, obvious differences in limb length etc. Offspring have higher prevalence of thicker glasses, knock kneed, pigeon toed, etc. Admittedly anecdotal evidence based on my observations and then located to areas proximal to my locale. Also that they stand out so obviously to me is probably evidence of how uncommon the couplings are but I have noticed an increase in frequency and spread. I see it far less with other types of pairings.

            My issue is that affirmative action scenarios mean that society will be forced to bend over backwards for these people while Sharlene whose mother drank while she was in the womb is mocked rather than supported. It may be a small issue but the hypocrisy of the leftist facade does gnaw away at me more than it should some times.

            • Well call me when those yellow mutants outnumber your Abos. I think you have worse problems to care about (those Chinese that don't marry your old betas). I mean if thick glasses and knock kneed is your definition of deformed mutant, well you're describing half China and big chunk of Korea and Japan. They're part of the landscape, along with short stature and flat asses. They don't look as nice as Aussie big babes, for sure, but I wouldn't panic. I guess I just got used to it but I rather prefer them to the white whales you see too often in the Anglosphere.

              Don't panic until you get invaded by these:

              • Yes but at least on occasion an aboriginal makes a great sporting star and we can all feel warm and fuzzy inside for it. I cannot defend said white whales but I will say that I don't like the yard stick to be set low. It shouldn't be set impossibly high but by saying X isn't as bad as Y doesn't justify X any more than it does Y. It seems to me that kowtowing to lowest common denominators so as to avoid hurting feelings is leading to a degeneration of standards.

                Is the lesbian on the far right checking out the one in the middle?

  • As long as there is no major internal turmoil, this trend won't be stopped. And there isn't likely to be any. Chinese are timid and driven to be used to authoritarianism for thousands of years. some sporadic cases can't cause mass-scale effects, as long as Chinese youths are kept away from indoctrination of Hollywood movies with subliminal liberal craps. As much rat-alike as the general public are in China, elites are the driving force for China. That's why we are getting more more and harsh laws and enforcement in China, whipping the asses of the rats so that they piss where they are supposed to piss. Not sure if it works well in Europe, but surely it works like a champ in China.

  • Well, it doesn't take long for the locals to go all Ugandan on their Indians or Tanzanian on their Arabs when the conditions are right (ever see Africa Addio?) Or for that matter, South Central Los Angelino on their South Koreans. Also, there's Amy Chua's (the Tiger Mother herself), "World on Fire."

    Market dominant ethnic minorities rely on strong institutions and the rule of law and a government that will actually defend their rights to protect them from pogroms and a bit of the ol' ultraviolent redistribution retribution.

    Or, at least, a Giant Brother abroad they can call upon for assistance when things go South - Levant-Christians-and-the-Crusades style.

    One of the reasons we've got AFRICOM is, purportedly, to "balance" (certainly not "thwart", from my information) China's long-term strategic ambitions in the resuscitated "Scramble For Africa!" (We must protect our precious cobalt supply chain!). The whole idea is profoundly ill-conceived, and we'll get about as much for our cycles of year-long deployments of battalions to every one of their countries (we're doing this now instead of Iraq, or didn't you hear about it?) - as the Israelis got out of giving Idi Amin his airborne wings.

    We just don't have any long-term comparative advantage in the eyes of your generic corrupt "webenzi" ruling elite. China can give them everything we can at a fraction of the price, in a quarter of the time, and with no strings attached. You think China Rail cares about environmental assessments or property rights (or quality) when it sends a few thousand compatriots to lay track abroad and zero-interest finance somebody buying their old crap? It's a conspiracy of predator and parasite (like what calls itself government these days in the West). "How about I bribe you a few dozen million and we both screw over your people, sound good?"

    Next to that, we've got nothing. There are plenty of people who realize this, but their hands are tied, so it all ends up worse than futile. Might as well put the same ropes around our necks.

    • Downloading right now, thanks for the tip.

      I was reading some Chinese websites on the migrants to Africa, and it's funny how law abiding the Chinese are. There's a certain He Yongxian, who went to Botswana in the 80s, and made some money. He called his son, He Liehui to come join his business, but the kid couldn't get a visa for Botswana, so he want to Ghana instead, where he made it BIG, and is now a billionaire or something. The guy couldn't get into Botswana for lack of a visa? He couldn't just sneak in? Botswana? It's bizarre. It's hard to call clueless a guy who made millions in Ghana, but this kind of cluelessness are what gets them killed in pogroms like 1998 in Indonesia.

      Why don't they arm themselves? If they're smart it shouldn't be hard to develop a working defence without being too conspicuous.

      Anyway, we should get a torrent server running with things like Africa Addio, the Vice Guide to Liberia and other subversive hatefacts. Could you talk that when you do the webzine meeting at DC?

  • Nationalism is a western concept only recently introduced to China 1-200 years ago. Traditional chinese culture was bound by the concept of 華夷之辨 (the differentiation of the central culture and the barbarians), which is not based on race but a system of cultural ettiquette, namely Confucian and the chinese writing system. When the barbarians settled down and adapt the chinese writing system and not be offensive to the Confucian scholars, they became part of the chinese. Chinese was a mix-pot of races and cultures, and the ancient chinese never had a national identity as much as a dynasty/kingdom/clan/imperial-exam identity. Chinese kings/emperors also engage in wars with neighbouring "barbarians", but that was more out of concern of security rather than the desire to pillage. In fact chinese emperors usually treated friendly barbarians much better than their own people. The mindset of chinese leaders are usually about "as long as you pay me respect and are under my control and make me good money and sex, I will leave you alone" rather than "to expand our race / culture / ideologies and conquer the world and save humanity". Chinese _really_ like their "face" and to be respected, especially after the humiliating century this desire had turned pathological consumed some 憤青 (angry youths)'s minds and they did some really stupid things. But all it takes to satisfy them is to have a chinese Hollywood to put westerners in awe/shame, some poor African pals they can help, an Olympic in which they sweep the medals, the Japanese to apologize for their past mistakes, some nobel prizes, etc. But I've almost never seen chinese suggest that they should have retribution, or to spread some muslim/liberalism equivalence.

    If China does become the sole superpower, which I highly doubt, it will probably operate more in line with the traditional emperors rather than western nationalist superpower. And don't even compare the chinese and the japanese. In many ways chinese and japanese are polar opposites of each other. The japanese are all about rigidity and doing things to extreme, while the chinese emphasize fluidity and 中庸之道 (the middle path). I regard the combination of the Taoist philosophy of 無為而治 (rule by doing nothing) and the 法家 (legalism)'s philosophy of rule and order as the epitome of chinese wisdom. So far only the dynasties of 漢 and 唐 implemented them to some significant extend. The current chinese leadership don't have enough wisdom to understand the 無為而治 part and often botch the rule and order part.

    That said, the chinese while not much of inventors are very good at adaptability, sustainability and assimilation of both it into others and others into it. While not physically strong they tend to have very good immunity system and endurance in mind and body and are fairly street smart. You can see that the chinese are not much of a hero of humanity like the ancient greeks or the renaissance/scientific-revolution europeans or great conquerors or great explorers, nor stupid destroyers like [insert the people/ideologies you hate most], just a bunch of highly evolved pragmatic adaptive mixed-blood bastard creatures who never really lose out in any game. In the long run the chinese may "win" in spreading to every corner of the world, not because they actively engage in cooperation and conquest, but simply because they don't actively kill themselves, have decent financial planning, and keep breeding.

    • I don't know, I have seen 愤青 argue for conquering Okinawa, and irredentism towards outer Manchuria is quite popular.. Agreed that Nationalism is not in China's cultural DNA (it's really implausible to construct the Han as a "nation"), but some people really do operate in a 1930s mindset.

      I largely agree with your argument though. Your last sentence is very good. Have you been abroad for long? It's not often that one encounters such a good example of 自知之明. It normally requires familiarity with foreign cultures.

      • Arguments of conquering Okinawa are extreme rare and should not be taken serious. As for Manchuria, well technically the Soviet did screw up china a lot, much more than Japan; and Manchuria did properly belong to China. So it is natural that some angry youth will advocate it. But they will never have the ball to start a war to retake it. More than likely they are busy masturbating in their closets.

        Nationalism, along with economic development, is the new game of the Party, after communism failed. You see, the Party was essentially an illegit organization gained power by killing the then legitimate government which just heroically defeated the japanese at a great cost to itself. It was morally despicable. To justify their action, the Party promised the communistic utopia, which not only failed miserably killing tens of millions but also introduced the cultural revolution which mind-fucked hundreds of millions. But it was the "mistakes of the dead foregoers", and the sons of the foregoers cleanse their hands preparing to take the country as their legitimate inheritance. To maintain their legitimacy, they need economic development to keep people in hope, and nationalism to distract pended up anger and direct it outwards.

        Chinese are masters of double speak, with thousands of year of practice. They say things to achieve some pragmatic results rather than mean what they literally mean. The chinese version of Global Times says things to assuage and consolidate people, and the english version says things they want the westerners to hear. But you should never believe what it write on face value. Even the editors don't believe it themselves.

        • "just heroically defeated the japanese at a great cost to itself" Huh? You mean "barely managed to hold out while the Americans won the war for them". Granted that the CCP was a band of bandits but the KMT had it coming. They got hyperinflation running just 3 years after the Japanese left. That's some talent.

          • Technically they did defeated the japanese, together with US. A victory is a victory. It was still heroic, in the sense that they really sacrificed a lot and tenaciously held on to defend their people. Many other governments would've given up already.

            • -2 kids are beating the shit out of you. -After 3 broken ribs and a lot of blood your big bro comes over and chases them away

              You won the fight? I don't think so. Chiang didn't give up because it would have meant Unit 731 opening branches in every city of China. It's hard to argue with certain death. Still the ton of troops that Japan had in the mainland were very courteously escorted to eastern ports and let go with little hassle. At least the commies sent them to Siberia and tried to convert them to communism.

              Chinese throw away the word 胜利 way too liberally. You might have seen these posters around the streets saying 热烈庆祝十八大胜利召开! What's all this victory? Against whom?

              • Well this is the Japanese mindset; they've never admitted they lost to China. But I'd say that a simplistic way of thinking.

                Wars and politics are not 1-on-1 sports with simplistic rules. It is a win if you get what you want. China by definition is one of the victorious countries of WWII, and by fact it did successfully defend the country against an invader. The end result is a direct product of Chiang's government's work [along with the US]. For the chinese it did its work and get the desired result, that's enough to claim a victory. Dragging on the war, attriting the Japanese [he knew/bet that the Japanese cannot last long and the chinese can out last them] and waiting for some significant change of event [most importantly waiting for the help of US] was Chiang's plan all along, and he bet right. If Chiang had did things in some worse ways [not that he did very good in the first place], the end outcome may be very different. The author of the Art of War would say that this is a victory; messy, but still victorious.

                Chiang was not a very smart person, clearly outmatched by the communistic leaders; and his mind might have been further ruined by his education and christianity, filling him with rigidity and moral rules. He was a bad military high-commander and political leader [but still better than his japanese opponents, who are either crazy or brain dead I'd say]. But he've got strong principles and conviction in the national matters, and in the Japanese invasion he probably did what very few other leaders could do.

              • >Chinese throw away the word 胜利 way too liberally. You might have seen these posters around the streets saying 热烈庆祝十八大胜利召开! What’s all this victory? Against whom?

                It is funny you mentioned it. The chinese communists invented a whole set of figures of speech and jargons, and a whole style of conversation and writing. These was originally invented to brainwash the peasant. Like anything they've invented, it is pure crap. Like anything said officially, it is not meant to be taken literally or seriously. No intelligent one believes a single word they've said themselves in formal occassions, all real matters are discussed privately.

                It is a pity, because what used to be a beautiful elegant chinese language was first bastardized by the 白話文運動 and then utter shitted on by the communists.

              • Correction: I didn't mean the transition from 文言文 to 白話文, which happened long before the 白話文運動, were the bastardization. It is the peculiarities introduced by the literary leaders at that time which IMO mess up the language for worse. They even advocated latinization of chinese writing, which if implemented, would'd lead to disastrous result.

    • "Nationalism is a western concept only recently introduced to China 1-200 years ago"


      If nationalism is a by-product of outbreeding past the point of solely familial, local or regional loyalties then all countries that industrialize (which tends to undermine traditional close-cousin marriage) will start to develop nationalism. Japan in the 30s, China now.

      I'm not against this btw. Anything is better than globalism.

  • Insofar as modern hyperstimuli, it's a popular theme over at Mangan's place, especially with regards to pornography and food, for instance, his latest, and a long-form post.

    I left some comments at this post which I'll just reproduce below:

    What is scarce is everyone's time, attention, and money. In competition for that, producers of anything at all much constantly be seeking to one-up the competition and create something - almost by definition - "more irresistible". The holy grail is to make something people can't stop themselves from consuming even if they know it's bad for them, to be overwhelmed by the total depravity of the flesh and their animal nature.

    Technological progress ensures the ratcheting effect, whether it's new games, designer-drugs, hyper-palatable foods, instant-response social-media etc. It's a more abstract phenomenon than just porn, like Paul Graham says, "The World Is Getting More Addictive." And that's bound to be harmful both individually and socially. Addictive / Obsessive personality types will be the first to succumb, and those born with either extremely high levels of discipline and self control and/or naturally numb to the titillation will experience disparate success rates in their lives from the perma-ultra-stimulated mass.

    And if you're opposed to any of this, seriously consider what it would require to do anything about it, and how away we are from that.

    You can look at the rise of Game as a extension of the accelerating addictiveness principle. Now, I don't want to get too German with you - finding that one organizing explanation for everything and that one solution, but in this case the shoe fits. Alpha-male behavior patterns are just like a drug - stimulating and attractive to women, despite the fact that most of the men who naturally display such behaviors will end up abusing and burning these women in the end (mostly by cheating on them and abandoning them as single mothers).

    Economists label this sort of low time-horizon, impulsive, and ultimately self-destructive in the long-term behavior - "time-inconsistent preferences". We live in an age where the things people want are so much more available and irresistible than ever before. Old Liberalism is about giving people what they want. New Liberalism is that plus spreading an orthodoxy that denies the very possibility that getting what you want might be harmful - that people might make bad choices, and that judging those indulgent behaviors as good or bad, or even considering the detrimental societal externalities of those bad choices is, basically, evil.

    • Yes, I remember reading your comment. The article by Paul Graham makes a lot of sense.

      In the end the only effective countermeasure against addiction is family pressure, which is another element pushing towards the retribalisation of society. Non-organised individuals are merely prey against organised marketing firms.

  • "It is a pity, because what used to be a beautiful elegant chinese language was first bastardized by the 白話文運動 and then utter shitted on by the communists."

    Yeah, Slitty Eye always says that too. I don't know, I am quite fond of the early 1920s 白話 literature. There's something to say for vernacular writing. And I find most HK/Taiwan writing quite cryptic and artificial. But I am slowly gaining an appreciation towards the classical language. I guess it takes time.

  • Do you know 猫城記? It is a satire of 30s China. (I can't read Chinese, I read it in translation.) The last chapter even refers to the Japanese invasion. I believe this is the paragraph where Lao She compares the Japanese to the Chinese:


    • Lao She is great. Easily the best Chinese writer of his period. Although Baker may resent his plebbish vernacular.

      The quoted line resonates very well with Cochran's "your country isn't your blood theory." Lao She being Manchu hadn't had his altruism bred out of him yet. He was killed for it.

      • Nah, my distaste has nothing to do with being vernacular but with the grammar and presentation style itself. But I don't feel like writing essays about it.

        • It's how they actually speak in Beijing. Which is the whole point of a "vernacular", not the stylised Nanjing gentry dialect of the 红楼梦 et al.

          But yeah let us not dispute taste.

          • IMO the Beijing dialect is a bad dialect. It okay if one want to write in the same way as they speak. But the point of 白話文運動 was to make this dialect and their perculiar taste and inventions as the standard, correct way of writing for all chinese, and succeeded in doing so. Today it is "wrong" to not write in their style; students lose score for it.

            • As you might undertand, they didn't get that idea out from their asses. Most nation states have a standard language based on the vernacular speech of the capital. The idea was that eventually the whole country would speak the same way. Which was a stupid assumption to make in a country as big as China, but the 1910s wasn't a very rational time.

              They might had more success if Hong Kong had stopped producing better quality movies and music.

              • This does not distract my original opinion that 白話文運動 created an inferior version of modern chinese. Granted it is a personal opinion, but it is an opinion backed by experience not by emotion (I learnt mandarin and minnan before cantonese and speak all with native fluency).

      • The quoted line resonates very well with Cochran’s “your country isn’t your blood theory.” Eh? Where? A people needs some altruism, otherwise individuals cannot cooperate and will eventually be destroyed, each 只知道自己 (literally "going his very own way" I believe).

        • Dunno how's the official translation you read, but here's mine. I'll try to be literal.

          "我不能承認這些矮子是有很高文化的人,但是拿貓人和他們比,貓人也許比他們更低一些。 I can't admit that those midgets have a very high culture. But compared with them, the cats are even worse. 無論怎說,這些矮人必是有個,假如沒有別的好處,國家觀念。 Whatever you say, this midgets have, even if they don't have anything else to say for them, they have a concept of country. 國家觀念不過是擴大的自私,可是它到底是“擴大”的;貓人只知道自己。" The concept of country is nothing else than an extension of the ego. But at least it's an extension. The cats know nothing but themselves.

          • I see, thanks. This makes more sense than the translation I read. But I still don't get your Cochran reference — your translation of the quote says almost in as many words that "your country is an extension of your blood"!

            • Which is why the Chinese don't have a sense of country. Because by having had a country for so long, those who had a sense for it died in wars ages ago, and those who are left are the clannish fuckers who only think of themselves. Cochran said that the oldest a civilisation the less a sense of nation the people would have. Hence Iraq, China.

              • An interesting thought. I guess I'll have to look up Cochran's article. To cheer up a bit, countries and peoples do not exist from time immemorial (though the various nationalists sure love to paint it that way). There is no physical law precluding the formation of new nations, and plenty of precedents. This is why I find "The Diamond Age" interesting: Stephenson imagined what the process and the result might look like in modern times.

  • I didn't know you could read Chinese. Can you speak it as well? I ask because I heard that spoken and written Chinese can be like 2 different languages. I've also heard that writing and computer typing Chinese can almost be like separate languages. That is, you can read Chinese and or speak Chinese while having trouble or not being able to write it.

    You mentioned above that you can read Chinese newspapers and novels. How many characters do you need to know to be able to comfortably read them? Can you read them easily or do you need significant dictionary use?

    • Well yes to some extent you could do that with any language. Thing is the language is a very old one so it is full of classical expressions that are only understandable if you know the characters, so it's worthwhile learning to speak and write at the same time.

      I can read without much problem. Never counted them but they say you need 5k to read a newspaper.

      • You need to know 5K to read a newspaper? I had heard that 2K or 2,5K represented like "99%" or some stat like that of written material and that that much was sufficient to read basic reading material like newspapers and so forth. I guess that's misleading and more are actually necessary?

        What about Japanese? I heard that around 2K characters were necessary. Is that an underestimation as well?

        • Japan has a legal limit of 2k characters they teach in schools, so you're not supposed to know more than that.ōyō_kanji

          Again I never counted them, but reading a Chinese newspaper it feels it has way more characters than a Japanese one, so it must be way more than 2k.

          It's not a problem anyway. Once you get a handle on the first 1k, learning the rest becomes easy.

          • How come it gets easier after knowing the first 1K?

            Any tips for learning them? Did you learn them through brute memorization? Are there any particularly good methods or books for learning them?

            Did you study the languages in university or through immersion or something? They say Chinese and Japanese are among the hardest languages to learn, so it is quite impressive that you know them both.

        • IIRC you need to know 3K chinese characters to read newspapers, 5K to be a professional, 7-9K to be a literary. Any more you would be counting ancient characters. Compared to english one needs 7K words to read newspapers, 12K to be a professional. Traditional chinese characters are more regular than english words and from the combinations of 3K basic characters one can flexibly build a vocabulary of tens of thousands. Overall I feel that learning chinese vocabulary is easier than english.

          • But the 3K, 5K, 7-9K for Chinese are individual characters, right? Doesn't most Chinese vocab consist of multiple character compounds? So you'd need to know the 3K individual characters, plus some number of character compounds made from those 3K individual characters, in order to read newspapers. Meaning you'd need to know more than 3K words to read newspapers.

            • A chinese word is quite different from an english word and cannot really be directly compared in count. A chinese word is made up of one or more characters. Almost all single characters are a meaningful word by itself, but characters can be flexibly combined to make up more words. There is no strict rule of combination, and people routinely make up new combinations. So if you count all possible meaningful combinations chinese word count would shoot into millions. But since compound words largely derive their meaning from the underlying characters one don't really need to learn and memorize anything new to understand the new words, which is not comparable to english words. eg pork = 豬肉 = pig-meat, 感動 = sensational-and-moving, 安靜 = calm-and-quiet.

              • But that sort of poetic license isn't going to be the norm though, right? Especially for materials like newspapers. Most of the words in the text will be common compounds. A new Chinese learner wants to learn Chinese words, the common compounds that are already regularly used, not so much the potential words that clever wordsmiths can devise. That's more for advanced learners, or literary learners.

                There are compounds in English as well. "Restroom" for example. A new English learner might learn "rest" and "room" separately but not really understand that "restroom" means a place for using the toilet.

              • > That’s more for advanced learners, or literary learners.

                Word smithing is quite common, sometimes almost unnoticably since the line between compound words and grammatical constructs can be quite blurred.

                > “Restroom” for example. A new English learner might learn “rest” and “room” separately but not really understand that “restroom” means a place for using the toilet.

                That's the main difference between english and chinese words. In english new words are usually non-obvious new spelling or combination, while most of the chinese compound words are highly regular and can be readily understood and memorized with the assistance by their component characters, usually without the need of a dictionary. (The non-obvious compound words are mostly imported foreign words and usually appear quite contrived.) As a new learner you would begin by learning words instead of individual characters, so it may seem highly complex at first. But once you get a good grasp of the basic meanings of the commonest 1-2K characters the rest of learning become easy. Also, most compound words are 2 characters in length, so even by brutal memorization it is only a 2 unit memorizing effort, compared to english words which is usually 3-4 units.

  • The compounds arguably take some distinct mental space by themselves, instead of being logically derivable from their characters, of course. Still as Baker says most of them are quite obvious by themselves. If you now the character for pig 猪, and the character for meat 肉, well 猪肉 must be pork. And it is.

    When Baker says that Chinese vocabulary is easy, he really means it. Take most technical vocabulary, say medical. If you have a liver inflammation, in Chinese you call it 肝炎, which is a liver 肝 inflammation 炎. In English you have to learn some weird Greek coinage "hepatitis". Which doesn't make any sense if you haven't learned it first. In contrast, 肝炎 is pretty obvious just by their characters.

    It's not always this simple, but most of the time it really is. China had to create a lot of new vocabulary in the 19th century to translate all the Western science corpus, and for the most part they took the easy route and just made easily readable compounds.

    Learning characters gets easy after the first 1k because 1. Characters are all made of pieces called 'radicals', so the 10k characters are all made of 200 or so radicals. You quickly get a handle on that. 2. Many words are obviously related by shape/phonology, and you also get a handle on that.

    Still you shouldn't learn characters by themselves. Learn the spoken language, and especially with Chinese, the characters fit in quite nicely. Japanese is a different story altogether.

  • What's the best method for learning Chinese aside from total immersion?

    Is there an especially good book series for it? For listening/speaking, are Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone any good for Chinese?

    For the characters, there seem to be good iphone/android flashcard apps that remember which ones you know better and less well to train you more efficiently.

    • You should invest in Baker's kick-ass natural language AI. She can teach you to your needs.

      I didn't use any english language material, so I can't really say. In my experience it doesn't matter what you use, just put enough time and motivation into it. Eventually you'll be able to tell what makes sense and what doesn't.

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