Writing Systems in the East

Report
Writing
Systems in the
East
LINGFEI ZHOU; JINGYU GUAN; SHUO WANG; QIN LI.
PRO. W A. JOHNSON
GREEK CIV, DUKE KUNSHAN UNIVERSITY
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Step 1

What is the East Writing System?
2
Oracle Bone Script
3
Development in Shape
日
Sun
月
Moon
4
Development in Sound

single syllable

zero-consonantal syllable like “啊”,
pronounced Ah, IPA[A]

limited variety in pronunciation
5
Development in Meaning
比(to compare)
“water”
河 river
会” is “huì(IPA[xei])”, “绘” “烩”
are both pronounced “huì”
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Dongba Symbols
Origin and development
The Dongba script appears to be an independent ancient writing system,
though presumably it was created in the environment of older scripts.
According to Dongba Revolution in China, the use of Dongba was
discouraged.In 1957, the Chinese governmreligious fables, the Dongba
script was created by the founder of the Bön religious tradition of Tibet,
Tönpa Shenrab (Tibetan: ston pa gshen rab) or Shenrab Miwo (Tibetan:
gshen rab mi bo). From Chinese historical documents, it is clear that dongba
was used as early as the 7th century, during the early Tang Dynasty. By the
Song Dynasty in the 10th century, dongba was widely used by the Naxi
people. It continues to be used in certain areas; thus, it is the only
pictographic language in the world still actively maintained.
After the 1949 Communist ent implemented a Latin-based phonographic
writing system for Naxi.During the Cultural Revolution, thousands of
manuscripts were destroyed. Paper and cloth writings were boiled into
construction paste for building houses. About half of the dongba
manuscripts that survive today had been taken from China to the United
States, Germany and Spain.
Today Dongba is nearly extinct, and the Chinese government is trying to
revive it in an attempt to preserve Naxi culture.
Usage
The script was originally used as a prompt for the
recitation of ritual texts. For inventories, contracts, and
letters, the geba script was used. Milnor concludes it is
"unlikely that it [the Dongba script] would make the
minor developmental leap to becoming a full-blown
writing system. It arose a number of centuries ago to
serve a particular ritual purpose. As its purpose need
not expand to the realm of daily use among nonreligious specialists—after all, literate Naxi today, as in
the past, write in Chinese—at most it will presumably
but continue to fulfill the needs of demon exorcism,
amusing tourists and the like."
Tourists to southern China are likely to encounter
Dongba in the Ancient City of Lijiang where many
businesses are adorned with signs in three languages:
Dongba, Chinese, and English
Structure and form
Dongba is both pictographic and ideographic. There are
about a thousand glyphs, but this number is fluid as
new glyphs are coined. Priests drew detailed pictures to
record information, and illustrations were simplified and
conventionalized to represent not only materialistic
objects but also abstract ideas. Glyphs are often
compounded to convey the idea of a particular word.
Generally, as a mnemonic, only keywords are written; a
single pictograph can be used to recite different phrases
or an entire sentence.
Examples of Dongba rebus include using a picture of
two eyes, to represent fate ,a rice bowl for both 'food'
and 'sleep', and a picture of a goral stands in for an
aspectual particle.
Step 2
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Chronological Order
Some Signs (7000
BC)
“日”“月”“X”“
#”、“∞”
“▽”“△”
Hieroglyph (3400 BC)
A sign “X”(5000BC)
Cuneiform(3200BC)
Hieroglyph (3000 BC)
Oracle (14century BC)
LinearB (1500-1200BC)
bronze inscription 金文(1300BC)
《the book of songs》诗经
(11century)
《Homer》(9-8century BC)
Greek Alphabet(800BC)
Hsiao chuan小篆(221BC)
《Iliad》(760-710BC)
隶书(Qin Dynasty)
Greek
Chinese
When and where

Did they go their separate ways?
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14

Until the moment of Linear B, still similar

Meaning: signs represent something
Shape-forming: abstraction of pictures
Pronunciation: single syllable
(Chinese Oracles at that time probably did so, but
remain a hypothesis).
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But what on earth happened later?
Why did they become different and why?
Did you know that the a group of people’s passion
for making money had saved the Greek
language?
Let’s explore.
“WE LOVE MONEY!”

Users of this upswing language were a group of
people extremely good at navigation and making
money, even better than Jewish.

They were brave, aggressive and intelligent,
engaged in trade around the Mediterranean.
Everything involves making money attracted
them to struggle for, whatever it was normal
business or slave trade.
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Logical train

business boomed

“official language”-cuneiform, was not
convenient at all(in accounting , etc).

The cuneiform was blocking their rapid
speed of blossoming
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19
So they quickly created some new
“signs” directly representing some
consonants that could help them
recognize words at the soonest, even
this list of signs were absent from
vowels.
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In fact, these non-vowel signs was a creative
combination of Babylon cuneiform signs which
evolved from Sumerian cuneiform and Egyptian
hieroglyph signs. Later on, this so-called “alphabet”
invention was so succinct and effective that it was
used broadly, even affected Greek people who were
in the lack of writing system, crying for the loss of
Linear B.

Actually this intelligent
and profit-minded
group of people were
called Phoenicians, who
had no idea that their
great passion for
making money had even
saved Greece.
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So that was exactly what
happened.

The Greek language rebirthed by adopting this new
mode of thinking and new signs of recording their
vocal language.

use some visual signs to “record” and “spell”
their vocal language instead of giving each of them a
syllable and making them represent something.

unlimited words, more adaptive and easier to learn
that the latter one. Then, Greek people added vowels
in it, making this alphabet more suitable for Greek
language and adjusted its number, finally making it a
24-letter complete alphabet writing system of Greek
language.
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
While Chinese writing
system kept developing
in the sense of logograph,
using signs, that is,
characters to represent
things and give them
pronunciation.

What wonderful in
Chinese characters is the
cultural deposit they
preserved in the long run
of history and through
what we can see
ancestors wisdom and
their world view.
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
Basically, it is now clear that
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it was the loss of Linear B and the
accidental appearance of Phoenician
which they adopted later successfully that
made these two writing system begun to
go their separate ways.

Then story on these two continents changed as well.
How can you do that?

They are all languages in nature, which adopted to
their unique environment with different
approaches to solve problems. You can go fishing
with either your rod or your net.
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Poems

It is the mares that bear me, as
far as my heart desires, may you
be very happy when you set out
in the light of dawn…. May you
mount the chariot and have the
road open before you. May the
Wind Monarch and the Rain
Legions wet down the road [to
reduce the dust]. … May the
Green Goddess travel at your
side. with the maidens,
Daughters of the Sun, hurrying
to escort me, having left behind
the House of Night for the light,
pushing the veils from their
heads with their hands.
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
In a felicitous year and a good
month, an auspicious day and a
fortunate hour, as the divine
maidens place me upon the
auspicious path of the Dragon, a
path that can carry a man with
understanding as far as the
stars. Thereon am I borne, as
the wise mares strain to pull the
chariot … May the White Tiger
help you advance. May the
Vermillion bird [the sun] lead
you. May Xuanwu [god of night
and darkness] be your
companion. … May you have joy
without end….
Shape and Sound
Pictographic
(ideographs)
Logography
Phonography
Cuneiform
Chinese Bone Script
Hieroglyphic
Early Syllabaries
Phoenician
Alphabet
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bei and bei
北
North
背 Back
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通假字
六书
Six Categories
形 声
shape
sound
字
word
East Han Dynasty
(25-220)
9000+ words
82% 形声字
Southern Song
Dynasty(11271279)
23000+ words
90% 形声字
Modern Chinese
7000+ words
80% 形声字
(Commonly used )
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Spectrum


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English
“Not until modern times
has English

and
French Orthography abandoned
Chinese
Greek hyperphoneticism
to return to
a partly semasiographic and
logographic writing.” Powell. Page 244


Pseudoscience…
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THX

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