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LINGUIST List 21.762

Fri Feb 12 2010

Books: General Linguistics/Phonology/Writing Systems: Button

Editor for this issue: Fatemeh Abdollahi <fatemehlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Ulrich Lueders, Phonetic Ambiguity in the Chinese Script: Button

Message 1: Phonetic Ambiguity in the Chinese Script: Button
Date: 25-Jan-2010
From: Ulrich Lueders <lincom.europat-online.de>
Subject: Phonetic Ambiguity in the Chinese Script: Button
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Title: Phonetic Ambiguity in the Chinese Script
Subtitle: A Palaeographical & Phonological Analysis
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Chinese Linguistics 08
Published: 2010
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Chris Button
Paperback: ISBN: 9783895866326 Pages: 111 Price: Europe EURO 43.20

Rejections of ideographic Huiyi graphs, whose composition belies membership
of the Xingsheng category of phonetic compounds and the Xiangxing category
of pictographs that form their phonetic base, may be questioned on the
basis that Xiangxing and Huiyi cannot be clearly distinguished in the
earliest inscriptions. However, once these original Huiyi graphs have
become firmly entrenched as Xiangxing graphs and viable entities for the
production of Xingsheng graphs, it does seem unlikely that new graphs would
be created irrespective of their pronunciation.

The reasonable premise, that Chinese writing essentially consists of
Xiangxing graphs with their Xingsheng derivatives, means that the issue is
not whether Huiyi is a viable distinction but rather whether explanations
via polyphony are viable alternatives. A role for polyphony in the Chinese
script is without doubt, yet any notion that polyphony was a fundamental
driving force in the creation and development of the script differs
fundamentally from these sporadic cases of graphic convergence or synonymic
interchange. More thorough palaeographical analyses, combined with more
sophisticated reconstructions of Old Chinese, vindicate suggestions that
Huiyi is an artificial distinction without requiring any recourse to

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
                            Writing Systems
                            Chinese Linguistics
                            General Linguistics

Written In: English (eng )

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