A note on Unger’s “What linguistic units do Chinese characters represent?”
Unger (2011) observes that Chinese characters do not observe a Zipfian distribution, and he uses this fact as evidence that Chinese characters do not represent words. He then goes on to suggest that they do not represent morphemes either. In this note I argue that Unger’s observation is neither new, nor is it necessary; and that, at least with respect to his claim about morphemes, it does not support the conclusion he wishes to make.
Keywords: Chinese, word, morpheme, character, phonogram, syllable, corpus, Zipf ’s Law, logogram
Published online: 08 March 2013