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Thread: Extinct Sinoform Writing Systems from Chinese History3491 days old

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrDawud View Post
    Indirectly, it is related to Chinese history since China ruled Vietnam on and off from 111 BC - 938 AD. Chu Nom also incorporates expressions which are "pure Chinese"; that is completely unaltered Chinese characters.
    Chu Nom was developed hundreds years after Vietnamese Independence from China, so I dont get how can it be related to Chinese history? Surely, it borrowed Chinese character writing system to fit into its own need but don't mean it is part of the history of the borrowed country. I agree the parts with Khitan, Jurchen and Xixia(Tangut) since all three ethnics and the dynasties they founded were integral part of Chinese history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitefan415 View Post
    Chu Nom was developed hundreds years after Vietnamese Independence from China, so I dont get how can it be related to Chinese history? Surely, it borrowed Chinese character writing system to fit into its own need but don't mean it is part of the history of the borrowed country. I agree the parts with Khitan, Jurchen and Xixia(Tangut) since all three ethnics and the dynasties they founded were integral part of Chinese history.
    Just to be clear, I'm not saying that it's related to Chinese history, but rather that Chu Nom as a writing system is an offshoot of the Chinese character system.
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    I have always wondered why the Chinese never developed a writing system like the rest of the modern writing systems? with syllables instead of words...basically glorified pictographs which still kind of resemble early cuneiform.

    Could this be an example of culture slowing down innovation and improvement? Or worse..a failure of creativity putting the brakes on further evolution?

    For that matter, how come they never developed the fork?

    Innovation? Stagnation?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geto-Thracian View Post
    I have always wondered why the Chinese never developed a writing system like the rest of the modern writing systems? with syllables instead of words...basically glorified pictographs which still kind of resemble early cuneiform.

    Could this be an example of culture slowing down innovation and improvement? Or worse..a failure of creativity putting the brakes on further evolution?

    For that matter, how come they never developed the fork?

    Innovation? Stagnation?
    I think the answer for both the phonetic writing system and the forks is : they didn't feel a need for it.
    They had plenty of phonetic alphabets around them from early on, but didn't show any need to emulate it.
    Actually, the fact that the characters are the same (or nearly so) for most dialects of Chinese provide a muh greater sense of unity. With a written language that is about the same, different groups are able to all identify as Han. I am convinced that if the Chinese used a phonetic system, there wouldn't be a great unified China like we know it as the different dialects would be considered languages apart for real and would lead to different nations.
    Although, one of the other aspects is that using a non-phonetic writing system doesn't fix a pronunciation, and therefore the phonetic changes in the spoken language come much faster. So, my last point could be wrong, as those languages derived from older forms of Chinese would have changed much slower and would still be much more similar to each other.
    Even recently, there was a shift in Mandarin from [kʰi] to [tɕi] and [ki] to [tɕʰi] during the last century (hence why Peking is now known as Beijing, Nanking as Nanjing, Fukien as Fujian...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loxias View Post
    I think the answer for both the phonetic writing system and the forks is : they didn't feel a need for it.
    They had plenty of phonetic alphabets around them from early on, but didn't show any need to emulate it.
    Actually, the fact that the characters are the same (or nearly so) for most dialects of Chinese provide a muh greater sense of unity. With a written language that is about the same, different groups are able to all identify as Han. I am convinced that if the Chinese used a phonetic system, there wouldn't be a great unified China like we know it as the different dialects would be considered languages apart for real and would lead to different nations.
    Although, one of the other aspects is that using a non-phonetic writing system doesn't fix a pronunciation, and therefore the phonetic changes in the spoken language come much faster. So, my last point could be wrong, as those languages derived from older forms of Chinese would have changed much slower and would still be much more similar to each other.
    Even recently, there was a shift in Mandarin from [kʰi] to [tɕi] and [ki] to [tɕʰi] during the last century (hence why Peking is now known as Beijing, Nanking as Nanjing, Fukien as Fujian...)
    I thought it was most likely their preference, but why did everybody else switch to the more easier systems, which made literacy so much more easily attainable, and Asia did not?

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    Well, I think the politically unifying factor has been a strong aspect.
    Also, Chinese is the only big language in East Asia that uses the Chinese characters exclusively.
    Most Korean is written using a phonetic system. And Japanese has reduced its official use of character to less than 3000, and often replaces characters with phonetic writing to make for easier and simpler reading.
    Mao's China has also simplified many characters. Still you have proponents of replacing the characters with a phonetic system, however I don't think it will happen any time soon, as the characters are a cultural institution and a pride of the Chinese.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loxias View Post
    And Japanese has reduced its official use of character to less than 3000, and often replaces characters with phonetic writing to make for easier and simpler reading.
    The simplification of Kanji is nice when in comparison to the Chinese systems I've seen, but the phonetic(Katakana and Hiragana) are only really frequent in conjugation and particles, from what I've learned so far. I find these types of writing systems to be a boost in reading comprehension though. It adds an extra level of detail and style, but at the cost of simplicity. In Japanese at least, there are some practical reasons to not use a phonetic system exclusively, such as homonyms for example.
    Last edited by Stefan; 2010-02-10 at 03:37.

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    They had plenty of phonetic alphabets around them from early on, but didn't show any need to emulate it.
    Actually, the fact that the characters are the same (or nearly so) for most dialects of Chinese provide a muh greater sense of unity.
    Creating a phonetic system would have been quite a daunting task in the older days. Even as late as the 19th century the ministers at court sometimes had difficulty understanding each other, because of differing regional dialects and accents. This problem reportedly so infuriated the Kangxi Emperor, that he set up schools in the South in order to teach people the "received" pronunciation based on the court speech of Beijing. The highly formal and standardized writing system was the only thing which allowed more effective communication between people from a vast empire.

    Even within the Mandarin dialect, there are different pronunciations which would have to be spelled differently in writing, and these differences are even greater across the different Sinitic languages.

    However I don't think it will happen any time soon, as the characters are a cultural institution and a pride of the Chinese.
    The practical monetary cost of converting to a phonetic alphabet would be almost enormous, as well.
    Last edited by DrDawud; 2010-02-10 at 03:45.
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    Creating phonetic alphabets wasn't so compliated for the Korean and the Japanese. And besides so many Chinese characters are based on phonetic components rather than ideograms. Using solely those phonetic components could have been an option.

    Also, do you think that if the Chinese had adopted a phonetic system when they still spoke Middle Chinese or even earlier, the different dialects would have developed much slower since there was a fixed phonetic?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loxias View Post
    Creating phonetic alphabets wasn't so compliated for the Korean and the Japanese. And besides so many Chinese characters are based on phonetic components rather than ideograms. Using solely those phonetic components could have been an option.

    Also, do you think that if the Chinese had adopted a phonetic system when they still spoke Middle Chinese or even earlier, the different dialects would have developed much slower since there was a fixed phonetic?
    I think the reason that Japanese and Chinese evolved phonetic alphabets was that it was more necessary for them than it was for Chinese. Well into the 20th century, and even into the end of the Japanese occupation, Korean still used Chinese characters (Hanja) in their writing (in fact, the current ROK constitution is written in Hanja/Hangul mixed script). Systems like Hangul and Hiragana were created to express grammatical endings which had no meaning on themselves, while words with meaning were written in Chinese Characters. For example:



    Chinese, as oppose to Korean and Japanese is also a largely isolating language. Therefore, the syllabic writing system based on characters was better suited to Chinese. And since neighboring countries also used it, there must have been less of a need to adopt the alphabetic system in either case.

    I don't think that a phonetic alphabet would have prevented the progress of dialects, although it may have been slowed somewhat. However, alphabets do not necessarily fix a phonetic to a symbol. There are still differences between Eastern and Western Armenian, where for example the letter Բ is pronounced as "b" in Eastern Armenian and pʰ in Western Armenian, and "Ճ" is prounounced tʃ or dʒ in Eastern and Western, respectively. The Tibetan language developed a script in the 800's, and today they still have divergent dialects, yet, while most words are spelled the same, the dialects of Khams are distinct from the Ladakhi dialects. Even in the short time that quốc Ngữ has been used in Vietnam, there have developed differences in Northern and Southern dialects.
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