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Full text of "Modern Chinese Writing, In: The World's Writing Systems"

SECTION 15 



Modem Chinese Writing 



Victor H. Mair 



Since the great codification of the Chinese writing system at the end of the first cen- 
tury c.E. in Xu Shen's Shud wenjiezi 'Explanation of simple and compound graphs', 
the number of sinograms ('characters'; hdnzi, Jpn. kanji, Kor. hanja) has continued 
to grow steadily. Xu's dictionary included a total of 9,353 characters. In succeeding 
centuries, lexicographic works contained the following numbers of characters: 
11,520 (compiled during the period 227-239); 12,824 (in 400); 13,734 (in 500); 
22,726 (in 534); 26,911 (in 753); 31,319 (in 1066); 33,179 (in 1615); 47,043 (in 
17 16). The most recent dictionary of single graphs published in China, Hdnyuda zi- 
didn (1986-90) lists about 60,000. 

So long as the script is actively used, the number of sinograms will continue to 
grow because, unlike a phonetic script, the traditional Chinese writing system is 
open-ended. This is due to the fact that, as in any language, words are constantly be- 
ing added to the lexicon. Since the representation of these words is fundamentally 
logographic — or, more precisely, morphosyllabic — new sinograms must be invented 
when new morphemes arise in the Chinese languages or enter through borrowings. 

Although the characters are made up of recurring components, their shapes and 
proportions change in combination; hence each character is a distinct entity and must 
be stored as a separate unit in memories or fonts. But of course the number of char- 
acters in daily use is at least a factor of ten smaller than the total number in existence. 

Massive statistical studies of a wide variety of reading material in China during 
the last two decades have repeatedly demonstrated that 1,000 sinograms cover ap- 
proximately 90% of all occurrences in typical texts, 2,400 sinograms cover 99%, 
3,800 cover 99.9%, 5,200 cover 99.99%, and 6,600 cover 99.999%. The percentages 
are intriguingly similar for earlier periods of Chinese history when only Classical 
Chinese texts were normally composed and written (written Vernacular Chinese, a 
relatively late phenomenon, had not yet come into existence; see Mair 1994). It would 
appear that there is a natural upper limit to the number of unique forms that can be 
tolerated in a functioning script. For most individuals, this amount seems to lie in the 
range of approximately 2,000-2,500. Still, the command of 2,400 diverse signs — the 
number considered by educators as essential for basic reading and writing skills — is 
a formidable task. 

The vast majority of the graphs found in the largest Chinese character dictionar- 
ies are extremely rare. Many are so obscure that neither the sound nor the meaning is 



SECTION 15: MODERN CHINESE WRITING 

known, only the shape; others may only have been used once or twice in all of history. 
Unfortunately, they cannot be completely ignored by font-makers, lexicographers, 
and classicists. 

Many scholars, especially Unguists and Sinologists, now agree that the Chinese 
script may be described as an enormously large but phonetically imprecise syllabary, 
with strong visual and semantic quaUties (DeFrancis 1984, 1989). A few philosophers 
still insist that the Chinese writing system is pictographic and "ideographic" (Hansen 
1993). but their views have been effectively countered by empirical and historical ev- 
idence (linger 1990, 1993). Nonetheless, it must be admitted that Chinese characters 
function differently from a purely phonetic script in that they have a powerful ability 
to carry semantic weight in and of themselves — i.e., without entering into combina- 
tions, as is necessary for the elements of phonetic scripts to convey meaning. This can 
be seen in the semantic dissonance that occurs when they are used for transcriptional 
purposes. Thus, because of semantic interference, readers frequently misinterpret 
such expressions as ^ilftjSffi'R n Tend Gudngbo Didntdi as 'Special Acceptance 
Broadcasting Station' instead of as Turner Broadcasting Station'. 

All Chinese characters, whether they have one stroke or sixty-four strokes, are 
designed to fit into the same square frame; hence they are sometimes called 
fdngkudizi 'tetragrams' by the Chinese. (Chinese characters were not always written 
as single syllabic units occupying a square; but for over two thousand years there has 
been a fixed convention of writing each character, no matter how complex, in the 
same size square.) In premodem times, all genres of texts, including poetry, were cus- 
tomarily written from top to bottom, right to left, in long strips of unbroken, equidis- 
tantly spaced characters, with no indication of word breaks or punctuation. 
Punctuation became common in the twentieth century, although it remains unstand- 
ardized and not fully utilized. Except for a few unpublicized experiments, no attempt 
has been made to group syllables into words. There are still no established conven- 
tions for such things as emphasis and distinguishing proper names, although various 
devices (such as types of underlining or sidelining) have been invented. The direction 
of writing has largely shifted so that most Chinese books and journals now read hor- 
izontally from left to right, by way of accommodation to international usage. 

Examination and analysis of the 8,075 sinograms in the extremely popular 
Xinhua zididn 'New China character dictionary' reveal that 1,348 (17% of the total) 
may function independently or as semantic or phonetic components of other charac- 
ters, but 6,542 (8 1 %) are made up of a phonetic component plus a semantic "radical," 
of which there are approximately 200 (the number varies with different dictionaries). 
Only 185 (2%) do not function as components in other graphs and are not composed 
of such components (Zhou 1992: 179). 

It must be pointed out that neither the semantic nor the phonetic components of 
the sinograms provide an exact indication of meaning or sound, but only give a vague 
approximation. Thus, ^ We 'sprain [ankle]' is a combination of the radical JS zu 
'foot' with the phonetic Jft bi 'shabby'— which, in combination with other semantic 



202 PART IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 

elements, gives the pronunciations bie, bie, pie, pie. Readers must guess or memorize 
the appropriate sound of the phonetic for each character in which it occurs; they must 
also associate the graph with a word that they already know. Only then can they arrive 
at the meaning of the sinogram in question. In many cases, phonetic components have 
much wider latitude than in bie 'sprain'; some have as many as a dozen or more dif- 
ferent pronunciations depending on the characters in which they are found. Often a 
large number of pronunciations exist for the same sinogram, e.g., 5S has the following 
possibilities in MSM: wei, kdi, ndi, wei, yi,ji, kdi, di, m<9, gdi. In such cases, the vari- 
ant pronunciations may indicate multiple meanings of the graph. Conversely, hun- 
dreds of different characters may be used to represent the same sound, though with 
different meanings. For example, yi is the MSM pronunciation of -^ or S 'one', ^ 
'clothing', fi< 'depend on', He 'iridium', f^ 'he/she' (used regionally), also a sur- 
name, l# partof a word meaning 'squeak' or 'babble', B 'physician', R 'tantamount 
to', J§ 'to bow with hands clasped in front', © 'alas' (interjection), ^ or 31 'ripple', 
If name of a district, and so on. In earlier times, many of these sinograms would have 
had distinctive pronunciations, but through a long and complicated process of pho- 
netic reduction, they have collapsed into a single sound. 

Relationship to the Chinese languages 

One of the most difficult problems in dealing with Chinese characters (zi) is that they 
are frequently confused with words (ci), the assumption being that Sinitic languages 
are exclusively monosyllabic (allegedly, one graph = one syllable = one word). On 
the contrary, even in the artificial classical or literary written language (passages are 
not intelligible when read aloud unless previously memorized), there were many 
polysyllabic words. The Lidnmidn and Citong dictionaries compiled in the twentieth 
century list thousands of examples drawn from ancient texts, such as hudie 'butterfly', 
zhizhu 'spider', shdnhu 'coral', weiyi 'self-possessed, nonchalant', and weichi 'sinu- 
ous, winding' . The latter two words can both be written with many different combi- 
nations of characters; this demonstrates the primacy of sound over symbol, and of 
word over graph, even in Chinese where the characters are so powerful. 

In modem Mandarin, the average length of a word has been shown to be almost 
exactly two syllables. Typical words art feiji 'airplane', ddziji 'typewriter', 7 m^77 
'economies', y day dng 'to swim', cuifei 'to fatten', feicui 'jadeite, halcyon', and tuifei 
'decadent'. The non-monosyllabic nature of Sinitic languages is even reflected in 
some deviant features of the script itself, where unofficial but widely used characters 
such as ^ tushugudn 'library', ^ qidnwd 'kilowatt', and It] wenti 'question' show 
that speakers clearly recognize these words as polysyllabic, in spite of the strongly 
monosyllabic features of the script. 

The script is well suited for writing Classical Chinese, but it is poorly equipped 
to record the vernaculars and the regional variants (fdngydn). This defect was already 
evident toward the end of the second century c.e., when the first attempts were made 



SECTION 15: MODERN CHINESE WRITING 



TABLE 15. 1 : Phonological Variation through Time 





600B.C.E. 600 C.E. 


1008 


1250 


dao 

de 

jing 


1993 


H 'way, track' 

1^ 'virtue, doughtiness' 

M. 'classic, file' 


*drog taw^ 
*dugh t9j" 
*gwing kiq 


tfiaw^ 

t35k 

kjiajq 


daw' 

t9k 

kejq 


[dau] 
[d3ii]] 


TABLE 15.2: Phonological Variation through Space 








MSM (Northern) 


Suzhou 


Wenzhou 


Canton 


Amoj 


^ 'tea' 

i^ 'thousand' 

fS 'uncle' 


cha [tg'a] 
qian [tQ^ien] 
bo/bai [bv/bai] 


cts'ii 

PO?o 


cdzo 

ctc'i' 


etfa 

ctf'in 

pok, 


cta/cte 

ctf'in 

pok^/pak^ 



by Buddhists to write integral vernacular texts (Mair 1994). Before that time, only the 
barest snatches of vernacular ever appeared in writing, and there were really no con- 
ventions for composing anything other than Literary Sinitic. Still today, and even for 
Pekingese (which is the current foundation for Mandarin, the lingua franca), authors 
complain that it is impossible to write out all their favorite expressions in characters. 
In the nonstandard, regional languages, it is all the more difficult to write out unadul- 
terated speech in characters, since many of the most frequently used morphemes are 
not represented in the standard set of 60,000 sinograms. Consequently, to write lan- 
guages such as Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Shanghainese, it is necessary to invent nu- 
merous nonce characters — or simply to resort to romanization, as has often been done 
since the late nineteenth century, particularly under the influence of Western mission- 
aries. 

Another difficult problem caused by the sharp disjunction between spoken word 
and written script in China is that the latter has remained relatively stable for over two 
millennia — while the former, like all living languages, has evolved steadily. Although 
there have been stylistic variations since the standardization of the characters during 
the Qin dynasty (221-207 b.c.e.), their basic shapes and construction have changed 
little. In contrast, the sounds of the Sinitic languages, and consequently the pronun- 
ciations assigned to individual graphs, have changed dramatically through time and 
space (see tables i 5.1 and 15.2; diacritics preceding and following syllables indi- 
cate tone). 



Reform / 

Various Chinese scholars, since at least the twelfth century, have recognized the cum- 
bersomeness of their morphosyllabic script and the superior efficiency of phonetic 
scripts for conveying the sounds of language (Mair 1993). However, because of a gen- 
eral conservatism of the culture and a strong emotional attachment to the characters, 
they never developed a fully functioning phonetic script of their own. 



204 PA^T IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 

Around the end of the Ming dynasty (first half of the i6th century), with the ar- 
rival of the Jesuits in China, many progressive ideas became current, including the 
concept of romanization. The first schemes were created by Matteo Ricci (1605) and 
Nicolas Trigault (1625). During the ensuing centuries, the notion of phonetic scripts 
for Sinitic languages matured, especially with their widespread adoption by Christian 
missionaries for the previously unwritten regional varieties. Around the end of the 
nineteenth century, there was a great wave of protest against the moribund policies of 
the Manchu government in the face of foreign encroachment, and a vigorous push for 
reform in all areas of intellectual, poHtical, and social life took place; many proposals 
for phonetic scripts were then put forward by Chinese patriots as means for the sal- 
vation of their country (to make China "wealthy and strong," as they put it). The first 
such proposal was advanced in 1892 by Lu Zhuangzhang (1854-1928). Lu's alphabet 
was keyed to the language of his native Amoy, but he declared that it could be applied 
to Mandarin and all the other varieties. 

The fall of the Manchu government, and with it the dynastic structures that had 
lasted for more than two thousand years, came quickly (191 1). Soon thereafter, the 
new Republican government replaced Classical Chinese with Mandarin as the official 
written language of the state, thus setting the stage for further linguistic reforms. 

One of the most influential script reforms was the creation of a National Phonetic 
Alphabet (Gudyin Zimu, also called Bopomofo; table 15.3) under the Repubhc of 
China in 19 13. This has been very useful in the movement to extend the use of Man- 
darin nationwide; many books, newspapers, and journals published in Taiwan still 
employ it in a Japanese furigana-like fashion, as a sound-annotating device for the 
characters. 

With the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, script reform in the 
1950s and thereafter basically took a two-pronged approach: simplification of the 
characters, and application of romanization to more and more spheres of activity. 
Simpler variants of the characters had been used among the populace for many cen- 
turies as a way to cope with their time-consuming script. Thus they used S for ^ bdo 
'precious', JH for M ni 'consider', ^ for ft ti 'body', and so on. The Communists 
made simplification a matter of state policy and promoted it energetically, with the 
result that thousands of characters and their components took on a wholly new look. 
Since most of the Chinese outside of the mainland still use the complicated forms of 
the characters, the script has assumed a very different appearance (see "Comparison 
of Sinitic Characters" on page 252). It has now become a task for the people of China 
to read and write the unfamiliar complicated forms of the characters. In contrast, it is 
hard for the people of Taiwan to read and write the alien simplified script of China. 

The commonest romanization used for Mandarin in the West (and to some extent 
in China) was for many years the Wade-Giles system. However, the official PRC ro- 
manization known Sispinym has made great strides in specific applications during re- 
cent decades. It is now used for Chinese Braille, telegraphy, shipboard semaphore, 
road signs, brand names, computer input, elementary education, and a host of other 



TABLE 15.3: Bopomofo, 


with Pinyin 


Equivalents 


(Chinese Language Library 1985) 


Initials 


Finals 


^ 


b 






- 


i 




X 


u U u 


k 


P 


Y 


a 


- Y 


ia 




X Y 


ua 


n 


m 


r 











xr 


uo 


c 


f 


f 


e 


-tt 


ie 






Utt lie 


yj 


d 


y\ 


ai 








x^ 


uai 


t: 


t 


"V ^ 


ei 








X"V 


uei 


~h 


n 


i; 


ao 


— ^ 


iao 








"h 


1 


X 


ou 


— X 


iou 








« 


g 


^ 


an 


-^ 


ian 




xz=^ 


uan U H uan 


^ 


k 


H 


en 


-h 


in 




XL; 


uen U 4 tin 


r 


h 


± 


ang 


-± 


iang 




x± 


uang 


i\ 


J 


Z- 


eng 


-z. 


ing 




XA 


ueng 


( 


q 


XA 


ong 


UA 


iong 








T 


X 


;l 


er 












Mi 


zh 
ch 
sh 
















f 


Tones 


r 


- 


- = 1 


/ 


- = 2 




V 


^ = 3 \ :i = 4 





r 


high level 


high 


rising 




low 


dipping high falling 


p 


z 
















■^ 


c 
















A 


s 

















uses (for comparison of pinyin and Wade-Giles romanization, see table 15.4). Pin- 
yin has been recognized by both the United Nations and the International Standards 
Organization as the standard form of romanization for Mandarin. With the elabora- 
tion of an official set of orthographical rules (Yin and Felley 1990; Zhou 1992: 289- 
301), pinyin is now poised to take on the role of a full-fledged script. For political and 
practical reasons, the government cannot now advocate such a move. Yet the facts are 
inescapable: while not yet securely established as an auxiliary script, pinyin has long 
been widely accepted as a handy notational system, and China may be said already to 
have entered a policy of digraphia, with pinyin and the sinograms used in comple- 
mentarity. Whether or not pinyin gradually displaces sinograms remains to be seen. 
The pressures of technology and information processing pose severe challenges 
for all users of sinograms (Unger 1987). While valiant efforts are being made by lin- 
guists, engineers, and programmers to meet these challenges, it is inevitable that 
economies of cost effectiveness will require additional adjustments in the script. 
Nonetheless, whatever exciting developments take place during the twenty-first cen- 
tury, they are unlikely to bring about the total elimination of the traditional characters, 
which will certainly always be used in classical studies. 



206 PA^T IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 



TABLE 


15.4: Mandarin Transcription Systems^ 








Pinyin 


W-G 


IPA 




Pinyin 


W-G 


IPA 




a 


e 


[e] 


In ian = ien = [ien] 


m 


m 


[m]^ 






a 


[a] 


before ng, u: lao = lao = 


n 


n 


[n] 










[lau] 


ng 


ng 


[q] 






a 


[a] 


elsewhere 








[u] 


After a: lao = lao = [lau] 


b 


P 


[b] 









[0] 


before u\tou = t'ou = [t^ou] 


c 


tz' 
ts' 


[tsl 


Before /: ci = tz'ii = [ts*"*] 
elsewhere: cu = tz'u = [ts^u] 




u 


[u] 


before ng\ zhong = chung = 
[d2^uq] 


ch 


ch' 


m 


Note chi = ch'ih = [t§'j] 







[V] 


elsewhere: p(9 = p'o = [pV] 


d 


t 


[d] 




P 


P' 


[pi 




e 


e 


[9] 


Before nasals: ben = pen = 
[bsn] 


<? 


ch' 


[e] 


Before i, m: <7W = ch'u = 

[t^V] 




eh 


[e] 


after /, w, >': n> = t'ieh = 


r 


rh 


[I] 


Final: er = erh = [yj] 








[i\e] 




J 


[i] 


elsewhere; note ri = jih = [j] 




e 


[e] 


before /: we^ = wei = [wei] 


s 


ss/sz 


[s] 


Before i: si = ssii = [si] 




e/o 


[V] 


elsewhere: he = he/ho = [^y] 




s 


[s] 


elsewhere: si< = su = [su] 


f 


f 


[f] 




sh 


sh 


[?] 


Note shi = shih = [§j] 


8 


k 


[g] 




t 


t' 


[t1 




h 


h 


[xi 




u 


u 


[y] 


After q, j, x, y: qu = ch'u = 


i 


ih 


W 


After ch, r, sh, zh: chi = 








[teV] 








ch'ih = [tg'^j] 




u 


["u] 


after /: diu = tiu = [diuu] 




u 


[i] 
[li] 


after c, 5, z: d = tz'ii = [ts^i] 
after gu, ku\ kui = k'uei = 




u 


[u] 


before a vowel: kua = k'ua 
= [kV] 








[k'uii] 




u 


[0] 


before n: sun = sun = [sun] 




i 


[i] 


before/after vowels: lai = lai 




u 


[u] 


elsewhere: mu = mu= [mu] 








= [lai] 


a 


u 


[y] 


After /, n: nU = n\X = [ny] 




i 


[I] 


before n, ng: bin = pin = 


w 


w 


[w] 










[bin] 


X 


hs 


[Q] 


Before /, u: xu = hsii = [qy] 




i 


[i] 


elsewhere: // = li = [li] 


y 


y 


[y] 




J 


ch 


W^] 


Before /, u: ju = chii = [d^y] 


z 


tz 


[dz] 


Before /: zi = tzu = [dzi] 


k 


k' 


M 






ts 




before u: zu = tsu = [dzu] 


I 


1 


[1] 




zh 


ch 


m 


Note zhi = chih = [d2^j] 



a. The four basic tones are written a, a, a, a in pinyin, 
here for clarity. 



a}, a2, a^, a.^ in Wade-Giles (W-G). Pinyin is italicized 



SECTION 15: MODERN CHINESE WRITING 2 



Sample of Chinese 



/. Sinograms: 

2. Piny in: 

3. Transcription: 

4. Gloss: 



chang 
tg'dr) 

PAST 



nian 
nien 
think 



^ H :^ * 

Zhongguo wen zi, 
&zpr] guo won dzi 



/. 
2. 

4- 



bei, 
bei 
prepare 



yi 



zui fan 
dzuei fan 



China 



nan. 
nan 



scnpt 



also most manifold difficult 



2. ri 

3> 
4. day 

/. I« ^ 
2. dii 
3' dii 



du5. 
du5 
many 



zi diSn 
dzi dien 
dictionary 



m 

su5 
su5 

REL 



shou, 

§ou 

receive 



Cang 
ts'ar) 
Cang 

ram 

SI wan 
Si wan 
40,000 



Shi 
scribe 



zui 

dzuei 

most 

yi 

since 



wei 
wei 
be'^ 



m^i 
m6i 
beautiful 



Jiang, zi 
d^aq dzi 



yu 

jy 

surplus 



zi. 

dzi 

graph 



ru 
multiply 

± A 
shi ren 
gj jsn 
scholar 



shu, 
?u 



bi 
bi 



sheng 



4. study lifelong 



bu 
bu 
not 



neng 

nog 

can 



Jin 

d^in 

complete 



shi. 
recognize 



'I have thought that, while Chinese characters are the most beautiful and 
complete, they are also the most complicated and difficult. Since the time of 
Cang Jie [the mythical inventor of Chinese characters], they have grown and 
multiplied day by day. Those which are gathered in dictionaries are more than 
40,000. Scholars who read books for their whole lives cannot recognize all of 
them. ' - Preface to Cai Xiyong 1896, cited in Ni Hdishu 1959: 34. 



Cai Xlydng (i 847-1 897) was a scholar, diplomat, educator, and reformer in the late Qing dynasty. 



208 P^^T IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 

1993. "Cheng Ch'iao's Understanding of Sanskrit: The Concept of Spelhng in China." In 



A Festschrift in Honour of Professor Jao Tsung-i on the Occasion of His Seventy -fifth Anniver- 
sary, pp. 33 1-4 1. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

1994. "Buddhism and the Rise of the Written Vernacular in East Asia: The Making of Na- 



tional Languages." Journal of Asian Studies 53: 707-51 
Mair, Victor H., and Yongquan Liu, eds. 1991. Characters and Computers. Amsterdam: lOS Press. 
Ni HSishu {^MM. 1959. Qing-md hdnyupinyin yunddng (Qieyinzi yunddng) bidnnidns hi [Yearly 

chronology of the Late Qing Sinitic spelhng movement (tomogrammic movement)] if 7^/f t^ 

^=§UW] iWa-^MWl) li^^. Shanghai: Shanghai renmin chubanshe. 
Norman, Jerry. 1988. Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
Pulleyblank, Edwin. 1991. Lexicon of Reconstructed Pronunciation in Early Middle Chinese, Late 

Middle Chinese, and Early Mandarin. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 
Ramsey, S. Robert. 1987. The Languages of China. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 
Schuessler, Axel. 1987. A Dictionary of Early Zhou Chinese. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 
Unger, J. Marshall. 1987. The Fifth Generation Fallacy: Why Japan Is Betting Its Future on Artificial 

Intelligence. New York: Oxford University Press. 
. 1990. "The Very Idea: The Notion of Ideogram in China and Japan." Monumenta Nipponica 

45:391-411. 

, 1993. Communication to the Editor. Journal of Asian Studies 52: 949-54- 



Xinhua zididn [New China character dictionary] ffH^ft- I957. I992. Beijing: Shangwu. 

Yin Binyong and Mary Felley. 1990. Chinese Romanization: Pronunciation and Orthography Pe- 
king: SinoUngua. 

Zhou Yduguang Jfl Wt^. 1992. Zhongguo yuwen zdngheng tan [Desultory discussions of Chinese 
language and writing] ^MtaXM^"^^- [Beijing]: Renmin jiaoyu. 



Comparative Table 
of Sinitic Characters 



The following list is intended to give a sampling of Chinese characters that have 
more thian one form in current use: Traditional (used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sin- 
gapore, and other overseas Chinese communities). Simplified (used in the People's 
Republiic of China), and Japanese. In addition, the list illustrates the differences in 
pronunciation that are found as one goes from Mandarin Chinese (in pinyin roman- 
ization) to Japanese on and kun readings (in the Hepburn romanization) and to Korean 
(Yale system). Items are arranged alphabetically by the pinyin forms. Data were pro- 
vided by Victor H. Mair, Janet S. (Shibamoto) Smith, and Ross King. 



PY 


Tr. 


Si. Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On Kun 


Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 


ai 


m 


^ silly obstinacy 


:^(ho) 




— 


ai 


a 


#love 


S:ai 




ay 


bing 


M 


^ together, moreover 


M hei nami 

naraberu 
narabu 
narabi ni 


line up, equal 


pyeng 


bu 


m 


i^h supplement 


If ho oginau 




po 


cai 


m 


^ just, then 


jg (san (wazukani) 
/zan/sai) 


a little, a small 
quantity 


cay 


can 


# 


# blend, confused 


# san maim 


three 


cham 


chan 


m 


tt" cut into, carve 


(sen) (surudoi) 


going, coming 


(chan) 


chan 


m 


li bind up, involve 


IS (ten) (matou) 




cen 


ch^n 


m 


f produce, estate 


M san umu 

umarem 
ubu 


+ childbirth 


san 


chan 


'K 


tf to regret, ritual 


« (zan) 




cham 


chang 


w 


^ to taste, past 


'S (sho) (namem) 




sang 


chang 


m 


M intestines 


Sgcho 




cang 


chang, 


s 


^ long, to grow 


;5 cho nagai 




cang 


zh^ng 












ch^ng 


m 


r shed,storehouse,factory |^ (sho) 




chang 


che 


$ 


$ cart, car 


^ sha kumma 




cha, ke 


Chen 




<^ dust 


^ chin chiri 
jin gomi 




cin 


chen 


M 


M inner garments 


M (shin) 




chun 


chen, 


m 


i^ fitting, suitable 


W^ (sho) 


name, title 


ching 


cheng 












chi 


m 


iS slow, late 


M chi okureru 
okurasu 
osoi 




ci 


chi 


m 


# teeth 


M shi ha 




chi 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF SINITIC CHARACTERS 



PY Tr. Si. Chinese Gloss Jp. On Kun Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 



chong 


m 


K^ collide, rush against 


«sho 


chwung 


ch6ng 


m 


% kindness, grace 


ft (cho) 


favor, affection chong 


chdu 


m 


5. deformed 


M shu minikui 


ugliness chwu 


cM 


m 


^ place 


Misho 


Che 


cong 


ri 


A follow, from 


t^ ju shitagau 
sho shitagaeru 


cong 


d^ng 


m 


^ political party 


^to 


tang 


di 


m 


il hand in/to, exchange 


jI tei 


chey 


dong 


M 


^ east 


^ to higashi 


tong 


dong 


ft 


^ to move 


W) do ugoku 
ugokasu 


t5ng 


er 


^ 


jL infant, boy 


Eji 


a 


er 


« 


Mi two, second 


^ ni 


1 


fa 


m 


^ put forth, start 


^ hatsu 

hotsu 


pal 


m 


M 


^ hair (of the head) 


^ hatsu kami 


pal 


fei 


m 


IS to fly 


M hi tobu 
tobasu 


pi 


feng 


m 


jxL wind 


JE fu kaze 
fu kaza 


phwung 


feng 


m 


^ abundant 


^ ho yutaka 


phwung 


fen 


m 


^ grave, cemetery 


i^ fun 


pwun 


fen 


m 


^ spirited, earnest 


# fun furu 


pwun 


feng 


a 


jxL phoenix 


E(h6) 


pong 


fo 


m 


^ Buddha 


ils futsu hotoke 


pwul 


fu 


® 


J^ skin 


If fu 


pwu 


fu 


m 


M. cover 


S fuku ou 
kutsugaesu 
kutsugaeru 


+ overthrow; pok 
overturn 


fu 


m 


K again, repeat 


^fuku 


pok 


fu 


m 


% double garment 


W. fuku 


double pok 


fu 


m 


ja woman, wife 


*»fu 


pwu 


gan 


^ 


Tdry 


^ kan kawaku 
kawakasu 


kan/ken 


gan 


# 


^ attend to, tree trunk 


^ kan miki 


tree trunk kan 


ge 


m 


^ a measure word 


Sko 


kay 


gu 


« 


# grain 


^koku 


kok 


gua 


m 


M to blow (of wind) 


i^ katsu/ 
kechi 


— 


gu^ng 


m 


r broad 


jX ko hiroi 

hiromam 
hiromeru 
hirogaru 
hirogeru 


kwang 


gud 


m 


S country, kingdom 


H koku kuni 


kwuk 



PY 


Tk SL Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On 


Run 


Jpn. Gloss ifdijf. 


Korean 


guo 


lit M pass by, exceed 


jgka 


sugiru 
sugosu 
ayamatsu 
ayamachi 


error; excess 


kwa 


ha 


m HTfrog 


^(a) 


(kaeru) 




ha 'shrimp' 


hai 


m Estill 


jS kan 




return 


hwan 'return' 


han 


m ?X Chinese 


ylkan 






han 


hao 


^ ^ appellation, mark 


-^go 






ho 


heng 


1S fl constant, persevering 


tiko 






hang 


hou 


ti: Jn after 


f*go 
ko 
fn (ko/g( 


nochi 




hwu 


hou 


J^ jg queen 


3)(kisaki) 




hwu 


hua 


¥ ^ splendor, China 


¥ka 

ke 

Hga 


hana 


+ flower 


hwa 


hua 


M M picture 






hwa 






kaku 






hoyk 'stroke' 


hua 


tU M to carve, mark 


f!| (kaku) 




hoyk 


huai 


fS t^ bosom, to cherish 


^1^ kai 


futokoro 
natsukashii 




hoy 








natsukashimu 










natsuku 












natsukeru 






huan 


#: %X rejoice, happy 


©Ckan 






hwan 


hui 


# ^ assemble, meet 


^kai 


au 




hoy 


huo 


^ ^ to reap 


e 
^kaku 






hoyk 


hu6 


^ iilC comrade, partner 


^(ka) 


obitadashii 


immense 


kwa 


jl 


il I/La mechanism 


liki 


hata 




ki 


ji 


/i4 chicken 


Hkei 


niwatori 




kyey 


jl 


^ IR accumulate 


W, seki 


tsumu 
tsumoru 




cek 


jl 


^ ^ attack, beat 


W geki 


utsu 




kyek 


jl 


g U utmost, extreme 


S kyok 
goku 


u kiwameru 
kiwamaru 
kiwami 




kuk 


JI 


H JL how many, a few 


mki 


iku 




ki 


jl 


Pf W border, limit 


^sai 


kiwa 


+ time, occasion 


cey 


jl 


li ^ connect, continue 


likei 


tsugu 




kyey 


jia 


^^ t^ clasp under the arm 


Rkyo 


hasamu 
hasamaru 


+ put between. 


hyep 
insert 


ji3 


fg Ji false, borrow 


fSka 
ke 


kari 


vanity; tempo- 
rary, provisiona' 


ka 
I 


jia 


fH ifi^ price, value 


ffika 


atai 




ka 


jian 


II M hardship, calamity 


IS (kan) (nayamu) 




kan 


jian 


m M firm, hard 


^ken 


katai 




kyen 


jian 


^ i^ prison, oversee 


^ kan 




official; director 


kam 


ji^n 


W ft frugal, economical 


Ptken 


kewashii 


steep; severe 


kem 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF SINITIC CHARACTERS 



PY 


Tr. 


5?. Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On 


Kun 


Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 


ji^n 


w 


'^ cocoon 


M (ken) (mayu) 




kyen 


ji^n 


M 


M visiting card, to select 


^ (kan/ (erabu) 




kan 








ken) 








jian 


M 


# introduce, recommend 


M sen 


susumeru 




chen 


jian 


M 


£ see 


Mi ken 


mini 

mieru 

miseru 




kyen 


Jiang 


m 


>|^ take, presently 


# sho 




+ commander 


cang 


Jiang 


m. 


# ginger 


M (kyo) (hajikami) 




kang 


ji^ng 


m 


i^ explain, lecture 


^ko 






kang 


jie 


m 


15^" Steps, levels 


Ptkai 






kyey 


jie 


m 


^ heroic, eminent 


M ketsu 




excellence 


kel 


jie 


Iff 


Ti joint, festival 


IB setsu 
sechi 


fushi 




eel 


JIn 


m 


fX barely, just 


m (kin) 


(wazuka) 




kun 


jIn 


ffi 


.^ barely, utmost 


S jin 


mama 


as it is 


. 


Jin 


^ 


^ exhaust, uttermost 


>^ jin 


tsukusu 




} cin 


Jin 


m 


if advance, enter 


M shin 


susumu 
susumeru 




cin 


jing 


m 


i^ past, a classic 


^kei 
kyo 


heru 


longitude; sutra; 
pass, elapse 


kyeng 


jing 


m 


W. terrify, alarm 


Mkyo 


odoroku 
odorokasu 


+ surprise 


kyeng 


jiu 


m 


IRold 


10 kyu 


kwu 






jue 


« 


^ perceive, feel 


^ kaku 


oboeru 
samasu 
sameru 


+ remember; 


kak 
awake 


kai 


Bi 


Jp open 


Mkai 


hiraku 
hirakeru 
aku 
akeru 




kay 


lai 


S5 


^ come 


^rai 


kuru 

kitaru 

kitasu 




nay 


li^ng 


ffi 


i^ two, tael 


S ryo 






Vang, 
nyang 


lU 




ij^ donkey 


m (ro) 






'ye 


m^i 


M 


^ to buy 


Kbai 


kau 




may 


mai 


# 


^ wheat 


^ baku 


mugi 




mayk 


mai 


« 


M to sell 


^ bai 


urn 
ureru 




may 


m6n 


PI 


n door 


n mon 


kado 




mwun 


n3o 


'i 


^ vexed, resentful 


tSi no 


nayamu 
nayamasu 


distress; illness 


noy 


qi 


W 


^ equal, even 


^ sei 






cey 


ql 


Mi 

.a 


S how (rhetorical) 


^(ki) 






ki, kay 


ql 


Jg^ 


jp to open, divide 


^ (kei) 






kyey 



256 P^^T IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 



PY 


Tr. 


Si. Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On 


/^Tmh 


Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 


qi 


M 


# reject, discard 


*(ki) 






ki 


qi 


m 


% breath, air, temper 


^ki 


ke 




ki 


qian 


m 


jgp to ascend, transfer 


M sen 




chen 


qi^n 


m 


tie shallow 


^ sen 


asai 




chen 


qiang 


m 


Ife rifle 


it (so) 




spear, lance 


I 


qiang 


m 


iiwall 


m (sho) 


(kaki) 




cang 


qiao 


m 


llf bridge 


1Sky5 


hashi 




kyo 


qiao 


m 


^ aperture 


m (kyo) 






kyu 


qi6 


m 


^ steal, pilfer 


^ setsu 




secret, stealthy 


eel 


qin 


m 


M relation(ship) 


M shin 


oya 

shitashii 

shitashimu 


intimacy; 
parents, relative 


chin 


qing 


m 


^ congratulate, lucky 


^kei 






kyeng 


qiong 


m 


^ poor, exhausted 


Hkyu 


kiwameru 
kiwamaru 




kwung 


qudn 


m 


H authority, power 


ft ken 


gon 




kwen 


que 


^ 


^ deficient, vacancy 


^ ketu 


kakeru 
kaku 




kyel 


qu 


m 


E region, to distinguish 


Kku 






kwu 


Aag 


m 


it waive, yield 


Mjd 


yuzuru 




yang 


KlO 


M 


^ wind around 


^(jo) 




surround 


yo 


th 


is 


^hot 


Wi netsu 


atsui 




yel 


Thn 


i 


iX recognize 


M nin 


mitomeru 




in 


sheng 


m 


P sound 


^ sei 
sho 


koe 
kowa 




seng 


sh6u 


m 


longevity 


# shu 


kotobuki 




swu 


sM 


m 


M belong to 


M zoku 






sok 


sul 


m 


W bits, petty 


# sai 


kudaku 
kudakeru 


break, smash 


sway 


tiao 


m 


^ strip, twig 


^jo 




article, clause 


CO 


tiS 


m 


^ iron 


ife tetsu 






chel 


ting 


m 


JT hall 


/tcho 




gov'ment office 


cheng 


w6i 


m 


11 to surround, enclose 


H i 


kakomu 
kakou 




wi 


wei 


^ 


^ to do, make 


^ i 


(tame) 


+ welfare 


wi 


wu 


m 


^ not, without 


#imu 
bu 
S gi 


nai 




mwu 


XI 


m 


#1 sacrifice 






buy 


xi 


w 


^ practice, habit 


® shu 


narau 




sup 


XI 


m 


M joke, theater 


«gi 


tawamureru 


buy 


xian 


m 


Jlc salty 


m (kan) 






ham 


xidn 


m 


1^ leisure, idle 


PbI kan 
ken 


aida 
ma 


interval, space 


ban 


xidn 


Mr 


M obvious 


m ken 






hyen 


xian 


m 


M. contribute 


M ken 






hen 



COMPARATIVE TABLE OF SINITIC CHARACTERS 



PY 


Tr. 


SL Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On 


Kun 


Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 








kon 








xian 


w 


3: district 


IS: ken 






hyen 


xian 


m 


^ constitution 


M ken 






hen 


xiang 


m 


^ village 


IE|5 kyo 

crr\ 




+ native place 


hyang 


xi^ng 


m 


P|nl noise, echo 


go 
#kyo 


hibiku 




hyang 


xie 


Izw 


1^ mutual, to aid 


tiS kyo 






hyep 


xi6 


m 


^ to write 


^ sha 


utsuru 
utsusu 


copy, picture 


sa 


Xing 


m 


^ prosper, originate 


Mko 
kyo 


okoru 
okosu 


+ interest, enter- 
tainment; revive 


hung 


xudn 


m 


^ elect 


?1 sen 


erabu 




sen 


xue 


m 


^ learn, study 


^ gaku 


manabu 




hak 


xiin 


m 


# seek 


# jin 


tazuneru 


+ ask 


sim 


y^ 


^ 


3E ugly, inferior 


M a 




rank next 


a 


yi 


m 


IS medicine 


gi 






uy 


yi 


s 


-t one 


^ ichi 






il 


yi 


m 


f^ etiquette, rites 


ligi 






uy 


yi 


m 


W interpret, translate 


IR yaku 


wake 




yek 


yi 


m 


X righteousness, mng. 


^ gi 






uy 


ying 


m 


j^ ought, correspond 


iSo 






ung 


yu 


m 


fefish 


M gyo 


uo 
sakana 




e 


yuan 


m 


HI circular, a dollar 


Ren 


marui 




wen 


yun 


M 


m transport 


31 un 


hakobu 




wun 


zha 


m 


tL write out, a memorial 


+L satsu 


fuda 


paper money 


cap/cha; chal 


zhai 


M 


^ abstain, foot, a shop 


^ sai 






cay 


zhai 


m 


M owe, a debt 


ft sai 






chay 


zhan 


m 


^ rough felt, as for rugs 


K (sen) 






cen 


zhan 


Sc 


i*fjc alarmed, to fight, war 


11 sen 


ikusa 
tatakau 




cen 


zhao 


m 


M. hasten to, a surname 


m (cho) 






CO 


zhe 


m 


Jff to fold, document 


iff setsu 


oru 
ori 
oreru 




cep 


zhe 


M 


iithis 


jI (sha) 




crawl, creep 


ce 


zheng 


m 


tiE testify, summon 


ffisei 






cing 


zh^ng 


* 


#■ wrangle, contest 


#- so 


arasou 




cayng 


zheng 


m 


^ a surname 


iP (tei) 






ceng 


zhi 


M 


K measure word 


A (si) 


(tada) 


only; free 


chek 


Zhl 


fi 


^ seize, grasp 


#1 shitsu torn 




cip 










shu 






zhi 


m 


IR office, official duty 


^ shoku 


I 




cik 


zhI 


ffi 


R only 


ffi (gi) 




national god 


ci 'respect' 


zhong 


m 


#|i cup 


a (sho) 




gather; collect 


cong 


zhong 


m 


# bell, clock 


M sho 


kane 




cong 


zhdng 


m 


# kind, seed 


a Shu 


tane 




cong 



258 P^RT IV: EAST ASIAN WRITING SYSTEMS 



PY 


Tk 


Si. Chinese Gloss 


Jp. On Kun 


Jpn. Gloss ifdiff. Korean 


zhong 


m 


ik crowd 


^ shu 
shu 




cwung 


zhou 


m 


g daytime 


M chu hiru 




cwu 


zhou 


m. 


i^ crape, wrinkled 










m 




IK (shu) (shiwa) 




chwu 


zhii 


m 


^ construct 


^ chiku kizuku 




chwuk 


zhuan 


* 


^ special 


M sen moppara 


mainly, solely 


cen 


zhuang 


m 


JS sedate, estate 


ffiso 
sho 
ee sho level' 




cang Villa' 


zhui 


M 


^ to fall, sink 


K tsui 




chwu 


zhuo 


m 


fi turbid, stupid 


JS daku nigoru 
nigosu 




thak 



Kokuji 

The following are characters created in Japan, following the structural principles of 
Chinese character formation (more or less); some of them have on-readings. 



Jpn. On 



Kun 



Gloss 



A. On the joyo-kanji list 



m do 


hataraki 
hataraku 


work, effect 


m 


toge 


mountain pass 


m 


hata 
hatake 


field, one's specialty 


a 


komu 


be crowded; get into, 




komeru 


include, concentrate on 


# 


waku 


frame, framework 



B. Not on the joyo-kanji list 



shitsuke upbringing 

kamishimo samurai; ceremonial garb of samurai 

yuki sleeve length 

tsuma skirt 






THE WORLD'S 
WRITING SYSTEMS ■•='«™* 



William Bright