It is these invariant units of sound and meaning that are represented by distinctive logographs. A second reform simplified the characters by reducing the number of strokes used in writing them. The logographic principle eliminates that ambiguity by providing one character for one meaning.
The problem is intensified by the fact that neither the sound property nor the semantic property of the characters is of much help in the recognition of a character. Two morphemes that sound the same would, in English, have at least some similarity of spelling; in Chinese they are represented by completely different characters.
The relation between the written Chinese language and its oral form is very different from the analogous relation between written and spoken English. Although it was possible to make up simple signs to represent common objects, many words were not readily picturable. The basic stock of characters are simple graphs, some of which represent the names for objects or parts of objects, such as river, fish, man, and woman, and others of which stand for more abstract terms, such as yield, love, quarrel, prince, and the like.
This acrophonic principle played a similar role in the development of hieroglyphic and cuneiform writing. Indeed, it has been suggested that if this principle had been applied consistently, the Chinese would have ended up with a syllabic rather than a logographic system.
However, because of the enormous number of Chinese words that sound the same, to have carried through the phonographic principle would have resulted in a writing system in which many of the words could be read in more than one way. Since the communist revolution the grammar and vocabulary of modern Mandarin Chinese has served as the standard written language.
Unlike English, in which morphemes combine to make new words e. Then, if you like what you see, click again to buy it then instantly download it. The Chinese language has clearly distinguished syllables that are easily recognized in speech and hence easily represented by a sign. A literate Chinese person knows perhaps 4, of the most important characters.
The radicals are arranged in modern dictionaries according to the number of strokes used in writing them. There are approximately 1, of these simple characters or graphs.
In this manner Chinese logographs form a common medium of communication for a vast country because they can be read by people who speak mutually incomprehensible dialects or languages.
To represent such words the phonographic principle was adopted. The system was not intended to replace the logographic script but to indicate the sounds of graphs in dictionaries and to supplement graphs on such things as road signs and posters. Consequently, as the relations between the characters and what they represent are largely unknown to readers and writers of the language, the graphs are seen as groups of lines and angles that make up repeated visual units, just as readers of English recognize whole words without analyzing them into their constituent letters.
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