We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR
title

Asia's Orthographic Dilemma

William C. Hannas

Publication Year: 1997

With the advent of computers and the rise of East Asian economies, the complicated character-based writing systems of East Asia have reached a stage of crisis that may be described as truly millennial in scope and implications. In what is perhaps the most wide-ranging critique of the sinographic script ever written, William C. Hannas assesses the usefulness of Chinese character-based writing in East Asia today.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.6 KB)
p. -

read more

Foreword

pdf iconDownload PDF (48.2 KB)
pp. vii-ix

This study of the use of Chinese characters in the writing systems of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam is, amazingly, the product of a single scholar who may well be the only person to have ever achieved command over all....

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.6 KB)
pp. xi-

I wish to thank a few people who helped make this book possible. My debt to Professor John DeFrancis is enormous. I was introduced to his work on East Asian writing reform early in my academic career and have been trying in vain...

Part 1 History and Structure of Writing in East Asia

read more

1. Chinese

pdf iconDownload PDF (274.1 KB)
pp. 3-25

Among East Asia’s cultural artifacts nothing stands out as so peculiarly Asian as the unique system of writing shared by China, Japan, Korea, and until recently Vietnam. To the Westerner coming to grips with this economically dynamic region of the...

read more

2. Japanese

pdf iconDownload PDF (188.0 KB)
pp. 26-47

Westerners untrained in East Asian languages have no difficulty distinguishing between materials printed in Chinese and in Japanese. Although both make use of Chinese characters, with the exception...

read more

3. Korean

pdf iconDownload PDF (259.8 KB)
pp. 48-72

On the continuum from full use of Chinese characters to no use, Korean occupies an intermediate position. It can optionally be expressed in a mixed character-phonetic script, as is done for some types of writing in the South. Or the language can be written in a phonetic alphabet entirely, which is the practice for most nontechnical...

read more

4. Vietnamese

pdf iconDownload PDF (259.3 KB)
pp. 73-100

Of the four major languages that have used Chinese characters, Vietnamese is the only one to have abandoned them completely for all-phonetic writing. Nevertheless, Vietnamese has been largely ignored in this regard. One reason...

Part 2 Critique of Chinese Character-Based Writing

read more

5. Representation

pdf iconDownload PDF (175.3 KB)
pp. 101-124

Of the four major languages that have used Chinese characters, Vietnamese is the only one to have abandoned them completely for all-phonetic writing. Nevertheless, Vietnamese has been largely ignored in this regard. One reason...

read more

6. Learning and Literacy

pdf iconDownload PDF (192.6 KB)
pp. 125-152

If opinions are mixed on what Chinese characters represent, they are also divided on their usefulness as a tool of learning. Westerners who have studied languages that use Chinese characters are typically put off by the need to learn thousands of symbols simply to read and write a language. In their view, mastering...

read more

7. Reading

pdf iconDownload PDF (124.9 KB)
pp. 153-173

Until recently, linguists believed that “meaning-based” Chinese characters and “sound-based” phonetic scripts were processed by readers in different ways. Readers of alphabetic and other types of phonetic writing were thought to recode written symbols into their corresponding sounds, and then go...

read more

8. Appropriateness to East Asian Languages

pdf iconDownload PDF (194.1 KB)
pp. 174-206

The best arguments for Chinese characters revolve around what many see as their “appropriateness” to Chinese language and by extension to the Sinitic vocabularies of other East Asian languages. Chinese itself, with its alleged “monosyllabic” structure, is regarded as uniquely suited to a form of representation...

Part 3 Forces for Change

read more

9. The Chimera of Reform

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.2 KB)
pp. 207-230

We have seen in the first several chapters of this book that users of Chinese characters everywhere have sought by one means or another to transform this cumbersome writing system into a serviceable artifact. In China, these efforts...

read more

10. Language, Speech, and Writing

pdf iconDownload PDF (166.5 KB)
pp. 231-257

The formal relationship between writing and speech has been debated by linguists for nearly a century. One school of thought treats writing as derivative of speech and maintains that writing’s true and only function is to represent speech sounds...

read more

11. Computing with Chinese Characters

pdf iconDownload PDF (126.5 KB)
pp. 258-276

Technology’s cutting edge is two-sided. While enhancing our ability to shape nature, technology also highlights defects in mechanisms whose limitations were not universally recognized. Progress is served in both cases. The present chapter...

read more

12. Chinese Characters and East Asian Culture

pdf iconDownload PDF (150.4 KB)
pp. 277-300

Discussing East Asia’s linguistic culture as a single entity is simply asking for trouble. For starters, different people beginning with the principals themselves define “East Asia” by different criteria. Some would include Mongolia and Tibet, others would question my including of Vietnam, while still others...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (127.3 KB)
pp. 301-316

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (103.7 KB)
pp. 317-330

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.7 KB)
pp. 331-338


E-ISBN-13: 9780824861537
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824818425

Publication Year: 1997