The origin and early development of the Chinese writing by William G. Boltz

By William G. Boltz

Initially released in 1994 (hardcover now out of print), this quantity has been reprinted in a brand new paperback layout that would make it extra appealing and cheap to be used within the lecture room. The paintings sketches with striking precision the heritage of the chinese language writing process from the overdue Shang (ca. 1200 b.c.) while chinese language characters are first in facts right down to the script's standardization and codification a millennium later within the Ch'in and Han (221 b.c. a.d. 220). Prof. Boltz takes partially a comparative method of the starting place and early constitution and improvement of chinese language writing, suggesting that during its basic ideas the method used to be matched pari passu incidentally writing first arose in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and one of the Mayas (for instance, that the chinese language script files the sounds of phrases, no longer ideas). the writer additionally examines the query of why the chinese language script by no means grew to become alphabetic, inspite of tricks of such trends within the 3rd and moment centuries b.c.

Kidder Smith, of Bowdoin collage, acknowledged of the unique book: ". . . this booklet may be hugely valued through a person enthusiastic about the relationships of language to writing, and may turn into the purpose of reference for all discussions of those questions as they pertain to old chinese language" (Religious experiences overview Vol. 21, No. four, October 1995).

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Extra resources for The origin and early development of the Chinese writing system

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And as such, attempts to match them with known characters and to translate them into meaningful sentences are unlikely to be productive in most cases. (Chang 1980: 245) 38 The Origin and Early Develapment of the Chinese Writing System There are two prima facie reasons to agree with Chang and to doubt that the neolithic marks have any direct relation to Shang characters. First, identification based solely on graphic similarity is notoriously risky and inconclusive, all th e morc so when the graphs are very simple angular configurations of strokes.

Writing in Chinese 43 marks corresponds typologically to Keightley's distin ction between the northwest and the east·coast neolithic cultures. The key word in Keightley's statement of his hypothesis about men· suration and the invention of writing is might. Needs associated with the demands of precision in the measuring and manufacturing of secular or re· ligious objects might have had something to do with the invention of writing in China, but there is as far as I know no tangible or direct evidence that they did.

Site dated by C-14 tec hniques to 48004200 B. C. (From Qiu 1978) x + I f o FIG. 5. C. (From Qiu 1978) Jil&: in Ransu province. Ma chia tl II n -- 1/11 X + /\ L • o FIG. 6. 111 • . Chinghai province . Ma chia )'200 glj{1j; culture. site dated to 2400- 2000 B. C. (From Qiu 1978) I x FIG. nf near modem Hang-chou, Chekiang provin ce . Liang chu culture; C-14 dating of site not available. but said by Qiu Xigui Lo be contemporary with Lung shan ftLlJ culture. ca. C. C. , the origin of Chinese characters, thus making the advent of writing in China as much as a millennium earlier than in either the Near East or Egypt (Ch 'en 1978, Ho 1975, YU 1973).

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