Character based language seems like such a wonderful concept; Instead of describing concepts in multiple symbols using an alphabet, and decode the symbol based on sounds(then throw in a bunch of context based exceptions, to throw us off and effectively make the words useless unless you already know them, so we end up reading them in familiar blocks anyway).
We can theoretically just encode the meaning into single characters and decode them at constant time from a single glance if we already know them, which is nice since we have a limited eye focus, and longer words take longer time to recognize and decode.
The benefits are obvious
- Less ink is needed to print text.
- Text takes up less space, so we need less page thrashing in the event that an idea gets split up across multiple pages and we need to look back/forward multiple times to make sense of it.
The symbols are language independant, in that any language can replace any of their alphabet-words that they find they use too often, and end up taking too much space, with the character, and then people from any language can decode the symbol if they have learnt what it means. You don't need to know what it sounds like to know what it is. There's no reason in English that we can't replace the word "language" with 语, which definitely takes up less ink, and it's possible to simplify it further by finding another unique character that uses up less ink.
The symbols are easier to recognize if you already know it, since our focal point is fairly small, so instead of having to take in multiple focal points of text, we can take up as much information as possible out of a single focal point of text.
Knowing these advantages, I have two questions(and a less relevant third one);
(1) why do many translators/dictionaries translate "语言"/language, "餐饮"/food, "随机"/random, "商业"/business, when there are single-character symbols for them already - 语, 馈, 乱, 勾 respectively?
(2) why are there some words that are really useful that are not in any online translator/dictionary I've seen so far, for example the color "cyan"/青色 is a very important color that is the compliment of red, yet does not seem to have a single-character chinese symbol for it.
(3) does there exist a character set that overcomes these limitations, or is Chinese the best we got so far?
I ask because I wanted an existing system of characters to encode some commonly used longer words(mostly colors, directions, terms), and due to these two reasons, it gets really tricky to do such mapping without getting into situations where I have to invent new characters(how would one go around inventing a symbol for cyan or magenta?), or decide which of the characters better fits what I want to encode.
Apparent Observations and side-questions:
One part of the reason is that Chinese characters are not as language-independent as you think and do, in fact, represent Chinese pronunciation. That is why you have a "horse" 马 component in the yes/no question marker 吗 (which in itself shows that Chinese characters are also tied to Chinese grammar).
[question 1]. Does 马 and 吗 have the same or similar pronunciation among all dialects, or is this a case of it only making sense at a radical level to the "primary/majority dialect".
[question 2]. Is it known why the way the character sounds was emphasized by the character rather than its' meaning? Is there really no inherent relationship between 马 and 吗 other than sound hint?
I would translate 乱 as disorderly or chaotic (with rather negative connotations) and cyan as 青 (but then 青 and 青色 can be anything between blue and green and 青 can also mean "young"). This is part of the reason why two-character words are also preferred in written Chinese - because single characters tend to be too ambigious.
[question 1]. Is this negative/positive connotation preserved among different dialects, or do different dialects and regions using same dialect decide the connotation.
[question 2]. Is this case of 青 meaning ambiguity of young/cyan/green/blue preserved among different dialects or regions using the same language, or does it vary?
[question 3]. Is this ambiguity in meaning of single-character words based on phonetic collision, or overloaded/multiple meaning based on context?