A Thousand Word Essay On Character

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The reviews are not looking good for the actor's latest comedy.

In theaters Friday, Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words is already receiving some pretty harsh criticism.

The film, which was actually shot in 2008, follows a fastpace literary agent (Murphy) who gets a hard lesson in the importance of each word spoken.

When he finds a mysterious Bodhi tree on his property, Murphy's character realizes that every word he utters will cause a leaf to fall, bringing him and the tree closer to death. The Dreamworks film co-stars Kerry Washington, Allison Janney and Cliff Curtis.

STORY: 'A Thousand Words' Film Review

However, the comedy is enduring a whole lot of criticism, with a resounding sound of undesirable reviews.

As The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck said in his review of the film, "This long-delayed, purported comedy is the latest example of how the talented performer’s poor choice of material continually undercuts him." 

"He puts great effort into this feature-length version of charades, with his wild gesticulations and constant mugging occasionally scoring mild laughs," Scheck commented about Murphy's performance.

All the critics seem to agree, and as Claudia Puig of USA Todaybluntly puts it: “It doesn't take much verbiage to sum up A Thousand Words: bad.”

Taking a shot at Director Brian Robbins, Andy Webster of The New York Times said, “Perhaps as a result of his prime-time pedigree, (Robbins) has so carefully engineered this manipulative machine that little emotional residue remains — only a product inoffensive, unsurprising and uninspiring.”

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But it is the excessive product placement that gets Michael Phillips of the The Los Angeles Times. “Its product placement ("This coffee is incredible!" Murphy says at one point, holding up a cup that says STARBUCKS) is so galling you wait for the punch line,” Phillips said. "One that never arrives."

Reviews were so unflattering, in fact, that Rotten Tomatoes rated the Murphy flick with a whopping zero percent. Landing the project among the six worst reviewed films in the site's history.

In addition, since the movie was actually filmed nearly four years ago, Rotten Tomatoes concluded, “Dated jokes and removing Eddie Murphy’s voice -- his greatest comedic asset -- dooms this painful mess from the start.”

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Still, according to a Rotten Tomatoes poll at the time of publication, 66 percent of the moviegoers liked the movie (out of 8,000 audience ratings).

The bottom line: As THR's Scheck said, “Eddie Murphy should have said the word 'No' to this tired, formulaic comedy."

The Thousand Character Classic (Chinese: 千字文; pinyin: Qiānzìwén), also known as the Thousand Character Text, is a Chinese poem that has been used as a primer for teaching Chinese characters to children from the sixth century onward. It contains exactly one thousand characters, each used only once, arranged into 250 lines of four characters apiece and grouped into four line rhyming stanzas to make it easy to memorize. It is sung in a way similar to children learning the Latin alphabet singing an "alphabet song." Along with the Three Character Classic and the Hundred Family Surnames, it formed the basis of literacy training in traditional China.

The first line is Tian di xuan huang (simplified Chinese: 天地玄黄; traditional Chinese: 天地玄黃; pinyin: Tiāndì xuán huáng; Jyutping: tin1 dei6 jyun4 wong4) ("Heaven and Earth Dark and Yellow") and the last line, Yan zai hu ye (Chinese: 焉哉乎也; pinyin: Yān zāi hū yě; Jyutping: yin1 zoi1 fu1 jaa5) explains the use of the grammatical particles "yan", "zai", "hu", and "ye".


There are several stories of the work's origin. One says that Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty (r. 502–549) commissioned Zhou Xingsi (simplified Chinese: 周兴嗣; traditional Chinese: 周興嗣; pinyin: Zhōu Xìngsì, 470–521) to compose this poem for his prince to practice calligraphy. Another says that the emperor commanded Wang Xizhi, a noted calligrapher, to write out one-thousand characters and give them to Zhou as a challenge to make into an ode. Another story is that the emperor commanded his princes and court officers to compose essays and ordered another minister to copy them on a thousand slips of paper, which became mixed and scrambled. Zhou was given the task of restoring these slips to their original order. He worked so intensely to finish doing so overnight that his hair turned completely white.

The popularity of the book in the Tang dynasty is shown by the fact that there were some 32 copies found in the Dunhuang archaeological excavations. By the Song dynasty, since all literate people could be assumed to have memorized the text, the order of its characters was used to put documents in sequence in the same way that alphabetical order is used in alphabetic languages.[3]

The Buddhist Uyghur Kingdom of Qocho used the thousand character classic and the Qieyun and it was written that "In Qocho city were more than fifty monasteries, all titles of which are granted by the emperors of the Tang dynasty, which keep many Buddhist texts as Tripitaka, Tangyun, Yupuan, Jingyin etc."[4]

In the dynasties following the Song, the Three Character Classic, the Hundred Family Surnames, and 1,000 Character Classic, came to be known as San Bai Qian (Three, Hundred, Thousand), from the first character in their titles. They were the almost universal introductory literacy texts for students, almost exclusively boys, from elite backgrounds and even for a number of ordinary villagers. Each was available in many versions, printed cheaply, and available to all since they did not become superseded. When a student had memorized all three, he could recognize and pronounce, though not necessarily write or understand the meaning of, roughly 2,000 characters (there was some duplication among the texts). Since Chinese did not use an alphabet, this was an effective, though time consuming, way of giving a "crash course" in character recognition before going on to understanding texts and writing characters.


Wani, a legendary Chinese-Baekje scholar,[6] is said to have transmitted the Thousand Character Classic to Japanese along with 10 books of the Analects of Confucius during the reign of Emperor Ōjin (r. 370?-410?). However, this alleged event precedes the composition of the Thousand Character Classic. This makes many assume that the event is simply fiction, but some[who?] believe it to be based in fact, perhaps using a different version of the Thousand Character Classic.


The Thousand Character Classic has been used as a primer for learning Chinese characters for many centuries. It is uncertain when the Thousand Character Classic was introduced to Korea.

The book is noted as a principal force—along with the introduction of Buddhism into Korea—behind the introduction of Chinese characters into the Korean language. Hanja was the sole means of writing Korean until the Hangul script was created under the direction of King Sejong the Great in the 15th century; however, even after the invention of Hangul, most Korean scholars continued to write in Hanja until the late 20th century.

The Thousand Character Classic's use as a writing primer for children began in 1583, when King Seonjo ordered Han Ho (1544–1605) to carve the text into wooden printing blocks.

Forty-four legends from Cheon (heaven) to Su (water) among Thousand Character Classic were inscribed one by one on the reverse of Sangpyung Tongbo (a Joseon Dynasty Korean coin).

The Thousand Character Classic has its own form in representing the Chinese characters. For each character, the text shows its meaning (KoreanHanja: 訓; saegim or hun) and sound (Korean Hanja: 音; eum). The vocabulary to represent the saegim has remained unchanged in every edition, despite the natural evolution of the Korean language since then. However, in the editions Gwangju Thousand Character Classic and Seokbong Thousand Character Classic, both written in the 16th century, there are a number of different meanings expressed for the same character. The types of changes of saegims in Seokbong Thousand Character Classic into those in Gwangju Thousand Character Classic fall roughly under the following categories:

  1. Definitions turned more generalized or more concrete when semantic scope of each character had been changed
  2. Former definitions were replaced by synonyms
  3. Parts of speech in the definitions were changed

From these changes, replacements between native Korean and Sino-Korean can be found. Generally, "rare saegim vocabularies" are presumed to be pre-16th century, for it is thought that they may be a fossilized form of native Korean vocabulary or affected by the influence of a regional dialect in Jeolla Province.

South Korean senior scholar, Daesan Kim Seok-jin (Korean Hangul: 대산 김석진), expressed the significance of Thousand Character Classic by contrasting the Western concrete science and the Asian metaphysics and origin-oriented thinking in which "it is the collected poems of nature of cosmos and reasons behind human life".[7]

Manchu texts[edit]

Several different Manchu texts of the Thousand Character Classic are known today. They all use the Manchu script to transcribe Chinese characters. They are utilized in research on Chinese phonology.

The Man han ciyan dzi wen (simplified Chinese: 满汉千字文; traditional Chinese: 滿漢千字文; pinyin: Mǎn hàn qiān zì wén; Jyutping: mun5 hon3 cin1 zi6 man4) written by Chen Qiliang (simplified Chinese: 沉启亮; traditional Chinese: 沈啓亮; pinyin: Chénqǐliàng; Jyutping: cam4 kai2 loeng6), contains Chinese text and Manchu phonetic transcription. This version was published during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor.[8]

Another text, the Qing Shu Qian Zi Wen (simplified Chinese: 清书千字文; traditional Chinese: 清書千字文; pinyin: Qīngshū qiān zì wén; Jyutping: cing1 syu1 cin1 zi6 man4) by You Zhen (Chinese: 尤珍; pinyin: Yóu Zhēn; Jyutping: jau4 zan1), was published in 1685 as a supplement to the Baiti Qing Wen (simplified Chinese: 百体清文; traditional Chinese: 百體清文; pinyin: Bǎi tǐ qīngwén; Jyutping: baak3 tai2 cing1 man4). It provides Manchu transcription without original Chinese. It is known for being referred to by Japanese scholar Ogyū Sorai for Manchu studies as early as the 18th century.[9]

The undated ciyan dzi wen which is owned by the Bibliothèque nationale de France is a variant of the Qing Shu Qian Zi Wen. It is believed to have been used by the translation office of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. It contains Hangul transcription for both Manchu and Chinese.[10] It is valuable to the study of Manchu phonology.



See also[edit]

  • Chengyu (traditional Chinese four-character parables)
  • Pakapoo (the use of the Thousand Character Classic as a lottery)

Similar poems in other languages[edit]



External links[edit]

Thousand Character Classic used as style dictionary : each character is given in different styles in each column
Japanese book of 1756
  1. ^Wilkinson, Endymion (2012). Chinese History: A New Manual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 9780674067158. , pp. 295, 601
  2. ^Abdurishid Yakup (2005). The Turfan Dialect of Uyghur. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 180–. ISBN 978-3-447-05233-7. 
  3. ^Encyclopedia Nipponica"王仁は高句麗(こうくり)に滅ぼされた楽浪(らくろう)郡の漢人系統の学者らしく、朝廷の文筆に従事した西文首(かわちのふみのおびと)の祖とされている。"
  4. ^Lee (이), In-u (인우); Kang Jae-hun (강재훈) (2012-01-03). . The Hankyoreh (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  5. ^Ikegami Jirō (池上二郎): Manchu Materials in European Libraries (Yōroppa ni aru Manshūgo bunken ni tsuite; ヨーロッパにある満洲語文献について), Researches on the Manchu Language (満洲語研究; Manshūgo Kenkyū), pp.361–363, Publish date: 1999.
  6. ^Kanda Nobuo 神田信夫: Ogyū Sorai no "Manbunkō" to "Shinsho Senjimon" 荻生徂徠の『満文考』と「清書千字文」 (On Ogyū Sorai's "Studies of Written Manchu" and "The Manchu Thousand-Character Classic"), Shinchōshi Ronkō 清朝史論考 (Studies on Qing-Manchu History: Selected Articles), pp. 418-431頁, 2005.
  7. ^Kishida Fumitaka 岸田文隆: On Ciyan dzi wen/Ch'ien-tzu-wen (千字文) in Bibliothèque Nationale (I) (パリ国民図書館所蔵の満漢「千字文」について (I); Pari Kokumin Toshokan shozō no Mankan "Senjimon" ni tsuite (I)), Journal of the Faculty of Humanities Toyama University (富山大学人文学部紀要; Toyama Daigaku Jinbungakubu Kiyō) No.21, pp.77-133, 1994.


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