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Sidestepping Spelling Reform - Monosyllabic Characters

From:Steve Cooney <stevencooney@...>
Date:Sunday, February 1, 2004, 23:24
Yes, Han is not *purely* ideographic -
( glyphs avoids phonetic (mis)uses
for characters) but to say "it's not ideographic" is
disingenuous. It's is all at the same time - depending
on the origin of the character - pictographic,
logographic, and ideographic.

"Monosyllabism" seems to go hand in hand with
characters being logographic --presumably, over time,
the use of pictograms move a language toward
monosyllabism.  Yes, Chinese uses syllables in
combination to form larger terms, but each
(legal)syllable, with no exceptions, is matched to a
charachter and a meaning.

So, just because Chinese uses monosyllabic words in
combination like "mei-guo" ("Great country"-America),
it seems disingenuous to say that Mandarin (as a
specific example) is not "monosyllabic".  Perhaps I us
the wrong term - logographic is better from the point
of view of the characters, as they relate to the
language, but it says nothing from the point of view
of syllables -- which was Gary's topic.

I think people understood my meaning, and statements
in contradicting me (without real explanation) were
merely a semantic argument against the terms I used --
which in fact, were not invalid, except by a very
narrow definition.

As I see it.

--- jcowan@REUTERSHEALTH.COM wrote:
> Steve Cooney scripsit: > > > Actually, Han characters arent a syllabary - > > Indeed. I was using Han as an example of how much > people are able > to learn in order to read, not as an example of a > syllabary. > > > theyre an > > ideographic characterset for a whole bunch of > > monosyllabic languages. > > In fact, Han is not ideographic nor are Sinitic > languages > (and most especially Mandarin) monosyllabic.
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Nik Taylor <yonjuuni@...>