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Re: CHAT: Orthography and maggelity

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Friday, January 17, 2003, 15:12
Christophe Grandsire scripsit:

> > Chinese orthography is about the same, only 2000 years out of date > > instead of only 400 years. > > > > What is Chinese *orthography*?
Well, the overwhelming bulk of Chinese characters have two components, a radical (semantic indicator) and a phonetic ("sounds like"/"rhymes with" indicator). Of course, some characters are just radical or just phonetic, and some few (probably 5-10%) are made up in other ways, like the famous "two women" under "roof" that means "quarrel". However, a fair number of characters have bizarre radicals, and a very large number have obsolete phonetics -- after all, the phonetics have not budged over the last 2000 years of substantial sound changes, so the relationships they encode are strained to the breaking point. Here are tables for 3 phonetics each with a few radicals. This shows both sane and etab. parts of the system: the phonetics are mostly fairly sane, but the radicals are frequently a stretch. reading radical translation pi2 - skin/hide pi1 hand split open pi2 disease exhausted bi4 speech argue po4 stone break bo3 foot walk lame bo1 water wave bei4 clothing coverlet po1 earth slope/bank di4 - younger brother ti4 eye glance at ti4 knife shave ti4 water weep, tears di4 bamboo order, sequel gan1 - shield gan1 flesh liver gan4 sun dusk kan1 knife carve han4 sun drought han4 sweat water -- "No, John. I want formats that are actually John Cowan useful, rather than over-featured megaliths that address all questions by piling on ridiculous internal links in forms which are hideously over-complex." --Simon St. Laurent on xml-dev