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Old 10-13-2009, 12:52 AM   #151
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... which would be the same intelectual glory the starting post imbued it with.

Rather approppriate, really.
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Let's calm down for a moment. The original poster, Luq, raised a hypothesis, which wasn't entirely unfounded. It's been tested in subsequent posts. There's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps it might have been clearer if he had added a question mark to the thread title, but he explained his intentions. I don't really see the point of all the sarcasm.
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:07 AM   #152
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I googled the term "book censorship in arab countries" and found this very interesting report by the Rand Corporation (pdf).

From the summary:
Three major barriers confront the dissemination and consumption of Arabic literature. The first barrier is censorship, which is a significant problem in the Middle East. Nearly all Arab Middle East countries employ government censors. Censorship is often aimed at stopping the publication or distribution of content deemed politically, morally, or religiously sensitive. Religious institutions, such as al-Azhar, Cairo’s center of Islamic learning, often assist government censors by recommending books to be banned. A second barrier is the small market for literary material in the Arab world. Book production and, presumably, reader consumption are relatively low in the Middle East in comparison to other regions with similar socioeconomic levels of development. One factor behind this low book-consumption rate is the region’s high rates of illiteracy, especially among the generations born before 1970. A final barrier is the poor internal distribution systems for books. This is compounded by the challenge of selling books across a vast number of countries all with their own censorship requirements, regulations, and tax codes.
All of these reasons, in various ways, provide rationales why Amazon either could not bring the Kindle to certain countries because of these barriers, or made a business decision that the potential profit was simply too low to justify the costs of doing so.

If any country insisted that every Kindle book go through a censorship review prior to being available in that particular country, do you blame Amazon for saying that doing business in that country probably isn't worth it, when you add that on top of the costs of the wireless service, the probable low rate of Kindle sales, etc.?
On the issue of illiteracy, I would like to provide some context. The local dialect (3amiyya) in the Arab countries can vary quite markedly from written, literary Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic, Modern Literary Arabic, Media Arabic, etc. derived from Fus7a or classical Arabic). As a result, literacy is not a simple matter of learning the alphabet and then applying it to the language that you speak in daily life. There are substantial pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammatical differences between MSA and, say, Moroccan dialect. These are considerable hurdles in the path to literacy. The Western North African dialects, in particular, are, according to some scholars, on the path to becoming distinct languages, leading to the phenomena known as diglossia, where there is a split between written and vernacular forms of the language.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:29 PM   #153
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That sounds similar to Ebonics in the USA. Literacy is the result of education no matter where you are in the world. More education gives rise to more literacy and speaking in more-or-less the proper form of the language. Yes, languages change over time but not at the pace suggested by the speech of illiterates.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:42 PM   #154
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That sounds similar to Ebonics in the USA. Literacy is the result of education no matter where you are in the world. More education gives rise to more literacy and speaking in more-or-less the proper form of the language. Yes, languages change over time but not at the pace suggested by the speech of illiterates.
I imagine it is less like Ebonics--whose arguable cousin Patois is rightly receiving increasingly more serious attention as a separate and unique dialect--and more like Cantonese.

It's a case of people speaking languages that, for cultural reasons, are never written... i.e.: Cantonese people (unless they actually learned to *speak* Mandarin) only speak Cantonese and only read/write Hanzi based on Mandarin.

Another good comparison might be Europeans speaking one language, but writing only in French or Latin. Many Europeans countries' *official* (i.e.: government produced), and often also private, written historical records are almost entirely in Latin until fairly late in history... because those who wrote rarely or never did so in the country's native language.

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Old 10-14-2009, 07:45 AM   #155
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Any country without the Kindle is lucky, because people will check out competing products that are much better.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:53 AM   #156
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I imagine it is less like Ebonics--whose arguable cousin Patois is rightly receiving increasingly more serious attention as a separate and unique dialect--and more like Cantonese.

It's a case of people speaking languages that, for cultural reasons, are never written... i.e.: Cantonese people (unless they actually learned to *speak* Mandarin) only speak Cantonese and only read/write Hanzi based on Mandarin.

Another good comparison might be Europeans speaking one language, but writing only in French or Latin. Many Europeans countries' *official* (i.e.: government produced), and often also private, written historical records are almost entirely in Latin until fairly late in history... because those who wrote rarely or never did so in the country's native language.

- Ahi
A little off topic, but Hanzi are not really based on Mandarin, they fit any other dialect just as well as Mandarin. The characters are just pronounced differently, for Cantonese you sometimes use a slightly different syntax and some additional characters, that are not used in Mandarin. I think you really shouldn't call the Chinese dialects dialects. They are really different languages, in many cases even basic things like the numbers one to ten are totally different. And unless you have studied them, the ones I call "languages" are totally incomprehensible to a Mandarin speaker. Italian and Spanish are a lot closer than Cantonese and Mandarin.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:56 AM   #157
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A little off topic, but Hanzi are not really based on Mandarin, they fit any other dialect just as well as Mandarin. The characters are just pronounced differently, for Cantonese you sometimes use a slightly different syntax and some additional characters, that are not used in Mandarin. I think you really shouldn't call the Chinese dialects dialects. They are really different languages, in many cases even basic things like the numbers one to ten are totally different. And unless you have studied them, the ones I call "languages" are totally incomprehensible to a Mandarin speaker. Italian and Spanish are a lot closer than Cantonese and Mandarin.
I'm aware of Cantonese and Mandarin being different languages. Is Cantonese widely written though? My understanding was that most Chinese people (regardless of whether they spoke or easily undestood spoken Mandarin) wrote "Mandarin Hanzi" if you will, and that writing Cantonese with Hanzi was done but was the exception rather than the rule.

Is this not the case, or an oversimplification?

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Old 10-14-2009, 11:13 AM   #158
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The Hanzi are the same everywhere -- but they are not connected to Mandarin. So "Mandarin Hanzi" is a misnomer, it must be "Chinese Hanzi" (since the Han 漢 actually stands for the Han people that is, of course, repetitive). Mandarin really is only the dialect of the Beijing/Tianjin region. Hanzi are covering all of China. Hanzi were historically the only way to communicate for Chinese from different regions, before Mandarin was taught in schools all over the country. Every character is pronounced differently by a Cantonese speaker than the same character is pronounced by a Mandarin speaker, but the meaning is the same (quite often there are similarities in pronunciation but not always). Chinese characters are symbols, and every Chinese dialect/language affixes a different pronounciation to each character. Every Chinese can read 一 二 三 and knows it means 1,2,3. But in Mandarin it will be pronounced "Yi Er San"; in Cantonese "Yat Yi Sam" and in Hokklo/Taiwanese "Ji Neng Sa". In writing all 3 languages are mostly the same, except for some of the differences I pointed out. Remember, the characters are not phonetic symbols.

People in Hong Kong have created a number of special characters that only they use to cover some local expressions. Some grammatical constructions are different. So if a Mandarin speaker reads a HK newspaper he/she has no problems understanding it, it just may seem a little strange sometimes. Because the paper will be written "in Cantonese".

Some Chinese dialects actually only are dialects (take Sichuanese, for example). The pronounciation is a little off. The tones differ sometimes, they have some unique local vocabulary, but a Mandarin speaker will do fine. After a day or two in the region you can get almost everything when overhearing locals' conversations.

Last edited by HansTWN; 10-14-2009 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:29 AM   #159
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Hmmm... isn't this article saying something closer to what I suggested? (Albeit not going quite as far perhaps.)

EDIT: Also:

Quote:
Cantonese is unique among non-Mandarin regional languages in having a written colloquial standard
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Last edited by ahi; 10-14-2009 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:56 AM   #160
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Greetings All,

I don't think this is due to potential censorship, given that it can be purchased in Myanmar, Bhutan (which has strict policies regarding external media), Russia, India, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe all of which have issues with censorship.
I wasn't aware of issues with censorship with literature in Zimbabwe. (Local freedom of the press against the government is probably a seperate issue altogether).
I think one can buy and/or read any normal book - that is of course if a bookshop or library has either bothered to import it or was able to afford to import it. There are no strange or unusual bans or whatever on importing books. The only problem I can think of is affordability,since Zimbabwe has (I think) the highest inflation rate in the world.

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Old 10-14-2009, 12:05 PM   #161
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Ahi, that article contains quite a bit of nonsense. You cannot write Taiwanese in "bopomofo", only Mandarin. You can write Taiwanese phonetically using the "TongYong PinYin", just as you can write Mandarin in that PinYin version or the regular PinYin. But the regular written language of Taiwanese, Cantonese and every other Chinese language is Hanzi.

"Cantonese is unique among non-Mandarin regional languages in having a written colloquial standard" -- I am sure what he is referring to is exactly what I have pointed out. Some special characters unique to Cantonese and sometimes a different syntax. An example (not a very nice one, but it will suffice) would be:

Mandarin "我把這個給你" "Wo ba zhe ge gei ni" Wo = I; Zhe ge = this thing, Gei = give, Ni = You. The use of "Ba" is a special construction needed in Mandarin when forming this sentence.

Cantonese "我給這個你" "Wo gei zhe ge ni" (Mandarin pronunciation of these characters). Actually most Cantonese speakers carry this over into Mandarin, but in Mandarin it is wrong. Sometimes different words are used. In Mandarin "電梯" "Dian Ti" stands for both escalator and elevator. In HK they use the same for escalator, but "升降機" "Sheng Jiang Ji" (literally = the machine that goes up and down) for elevator.

But it is written in Hanzi and can be easily understood by any Chinese reader (even by some 80 year-old in Taiwan who grew up learning only Taiwanese and Japanese, never even learning Mandarin). Just a few minor differences, but more pronounced than for other Chinese languages. Chinese when they communicate in writing always communicate in Hanzi , no matter what dialect they use. But when they read it out loud it becomes Cantonese, Taiwanese or whatever.

Last edited by HansTWN; 10-14-2009 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:07 PM   #162
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But it is written in Hanzi and can be easily understood by any Chinese reader (even by some 80 year-old in Taiwan who grew up learning only Taiwanese and Japanese, never even learning Mandarin). Just a few minor differences, but more pronounced than for other Chinese languages. Chinese when they communicate in writing always communicate in Hanzi , no matter what dialect they use. But when they read it out loud it becomes Cantonese, Taiwanese or whatever.
Thanks, Hans. Sometimes it seems the more I learn the less I understand this subject.

Is that different then from somebody trying to learn to read Hanzi by only knowing the English meaning of the characters and character combinations, along with idioms of course? Or with some of the Chinese languages/dialects is it basically somewhat like that?

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Old 10-14-2009, 04:38 PM   #163
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I wasn't aware of issues with censorship with literature in Zimbabwe. (Local freedom of the press against the government is probably a seperate issue altogether).
I think one can buy and/or read any normal book - that is of course if a bookshop or library has either bothered to import it or was able to afford to import it. There are no strange or unusual bans or whatever on importing books. The only problem I can think of is affordability,since Zimbabwe has (I think) the highest inflation rate in the world.
What inspired my comment was the recently lifted ban on the BBC and the crackdowns on the Opposition which occurred before the recent political rapprochement. The latter may have allayed Amazon's concerns, if there were any to begin with.
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Old 10-14-2009, 05:57 PM   #164
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I am sure Amazon would gladly take any Muslim's money, if they could!
Bingo!
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:07 PM   #165
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P.S. Just saw your post above. You may have kind of a point regarding the more orthodox Muslim countries (god forbid someone downloads The Satanic Verses from Amazon,) but I would still guess it may have to do more with publishing rights and restrictions.
The Satanic Verses is not available at Amazon. Maybe they're also anti-anti-Muslim.
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