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Classical Languages of India and China. Implications of phonetic vs. pictographic languages in cultural evolution. Sanskrit: The Phonetic Root of Indic Languages. Sanskrit ( Devanagari ). the 50 aksaras (indestructibles) Phonetic logic: 14 vowels are first, followed by 36 consonants.

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classical languages of india and china

Classical Languages of India and China

Implications of phonetic vs. pictographic languages in cultural evolution

sanskrit devanagari
Sanskrit (Devanagari)
  • the 50 aksaras (indestructibles)
  • Phonetic logic: 14 vowels are first, followed by 36 consonants
india an oral aural culture
India: An Oral/Aural Culture
  • primacy of the spoken word
  • the living word over the dead letter
  • emphasis on the sound over the meaning
  • being in the presence of God(s) and teachers (darsan)
chinese a diverse spoken language
Chinese:A Diverse Spoken Language

Chinese dialects

  • Cantonese and other regional dialects (8 / 26 / 8,000 ?)
  • "Mandarin" Chinese:  the "common" dialect

普通話 (putong hua)

written chinese

A Common Written Language

Written Chinese

Xiang

漢字

Hakka

漢字

漢字

漢字

Cantonese

Minbei

Wu

漢字

漢字

Gan

漢字

Mandarin

Minnan

漢字

漢字

mythical origins of written chinese
Mythical Origins of Written Chinese

Cang Jie 倉頡

(minister to the Yellow Emperor)

“observing the footprints of birds and beasts”

... 文

culture

writing

civility

discovering “culture” in “cosmos”

Sculpted bronze figure,

Library of Congress , 1939

the pictographic basis of chinese characters
The Pictographic Basis of Chinese Characters

Oracle bones from about 1400 BCE

typology of chinese characters
Pictographs

Ideographs

Lexigraphs: Meaning-meaning Combinations

Phonetic Lexigraphs: Sound-meaning Combinations

Typology of Chinese Characters
1 pictographs
1. Pictographs

日ri sun/day

月yue moon/month

田tian field

口kou mouth

水shui water

人ren person

2 ideographs
2. Ideographs

上shang up/above

下xia down/below

中zhong middle/center

一yi one

二er two

三san three

凹ao concave

凸 tu convex

3 lexigraphs meaning meaning combinations
3. Lexigraphs: Meaning-meaning Combinations

日 (sun) + 月 (moon) is 明 (bright)

女 (woman) + 子 (child) is 好 (good)

乃 (breast) + 子 (child) is 孕 (pregnant)

手 (hand) over 目 (eye) is 看 (look)

手 (hand) with 手 (hand) is 拜 (worship)

人 (person) in the 山 (mountain) is 仙 (immortal)

Three 木 (trees) is a 森 (forest)

Three 蟲 (insects) in a 血 (bowl) makes 蠱 (poison)

When you die, thousands of bugs stream from your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth! -- especially used by wives and other (bureaucratic) subordinates

4 phonetic lexigraphs sound meaning combinations
4. Phonetic Lexigraphs: Sound-meaning Combinations

水 (water) + 羊 (yang) is 洋 (ocean)

火 (fire) + 登 (deng) is 燈 (lamp)

金 (metal) + 同 (tong) is 銅 (copper)

雨 (rain) + 允 (yun) is 雲 (cloud)

slide16
Kangxi Zidian

康熙字典

Character Dictionary of the Kangxi Reign Period (1716)

49,030 characters

Literacy: 2,000

University degree: 5,000

chinese romanization
Chinese Romanization

Systems of romanization:

(representation of a word or language with the Roman [i.e. Latin] alphabet)

advantages of a pictographic system
Advantages of a Pictographic System?
  • in the face of dialectical diversity
  • in the face of geographical extent
  • in the face of temporal/historical scope
aural spatial vs visual temporal orientations
India

Sound

3 dimensionality

Presence

Seeing and hearing

devanagari(gods as origin of sound)

cultural disunity of a phonetic language system

China

Image

2 dimensionality

History

Textuality

characters (gods as origin of script)

cultural unity of a pictographic language system

Aural-Spatial vs. Visual-Temporal Orientations
note what you need to know for the first exam
Note: What you need to know for the first exam

General Concepts and Ideas (partial list)

  • de 德 (power, virtue in Confucian sense)
  • Tian-ming 天命 (the Mandate of Heaven)
  • three obediences (women’s roles)
  • xin 信 (reliability, trustworthiness)

Chinese Characters for Recognition (partial list)

  • 禮 (li: rites, propriety)       
  • 仁 (ren: co-humanity, benevolence)
  • 孝 (xiao: filial piety)
  • 恕 (shu: reciprocity)
  • 道 (dao: the “Way”)                   
slide21

General Concepts and Ideas (partial list)

  • de 德 (power, virtue in Confucian sense)
  • Tian-ming 天命 (the Mandate of Heaven)
  • three obediences (women’s roles)
  • xin 信 (reliability, trustworthiness)

Chinese Characters for Recognition (partial list)

禮 li (rites, propriety)       

仁 ren (co-humanity, kindness, benevolence)

孝 xiao (filial piety)

恕 shu (reciprocity)

天 Tian (Heaven)     

slide22

General Concepts and Ideas (partial list)

  • de 德 (power, virtue in Confucian sense)
  • Tian-ming 天命 (the Mandate of Heaven)
  • three obediences (women’s roles)
  • xin 信 (reliability, trustworthiness)

Chinese Characters for Recognition (partial list)

  • 禮 li (rites, propriety)     
  • 仁 ren (co-humanity, kindness, benevolence)
  • 孝 xiao (filial piety)
  • 恕 shu (reciprocity)
  • 道 Tian (Heaven) 
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