What linguistic units do Chinese characters represent?
Using the Internet and spreadsheet software, it is now easy to compare word and character counts for modern and literary Chinese based on very large corpora. It turns out that word counts comply with Zipf’s Law whereas character counts do not. This constitutes novel statistical evidence against the persistent claim that Chinese characters are logograms. It thus casts doubt on the practice of categorizing the elements of various writing systems as ‘phonograms’ or ‘logograms’ without regard to context, and a fortiori characterizing entire writing systems as ‘phonographic’ or ‘logographic’. Keywords: Chinese; word; character; morpheme; syllable; phonogram; logogram; Zipf’s Law; corpus
Published online: 08 September 2011
Cited by 1 other publications
Lin, Ying-Ching & Kai-Yu Wang
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 11 november 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.