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Day thirty-four -- the first constructed language, the Lii character set.


      Question -- from "sangi39" --The "revolution" in the Chinese script in c. 220BC was an attempt at the standardization of the Chinese script under the rule of the First Emperor Qin Shi Huang removing variation amongst the characters of the Zhou dynasty version of the script and across now unified China. The standardization also occurred alongside the standardization of writing technique, changing the form which the majority of characters took, making the older, more transparent phonetic and semantic association difficult to see. However, there is little or no evidence suggesting this standardization involved any change in the way characters were actually viewed, that is, the characters were written as a whole as they had been before, but the form had changed drastically.

            Answer -- From your writing, it shows that your knowledge on Chinese characters is much, much better than any native Chinese colleges graduate. Thus, I am truly surprised at the fact that you do not know that the so-called "modern" Chinese characters have very little to do with that historical event which is described in your post.

            For the 2,000 years before 220 B.C., the Chinese written characters did evolve from the "Oracle scripts" to "Bronze scripts", to "Large seal scripts", to "Small seal scripts". Although the time span was long (2,000 years), it was a "continuous" evolution. In 220 B.C., that "standardization" event did occur, and it was implemented by the Prime Minister ( §õ ´µ ) of the Qin Empire. This "standardization" used the "Small seal scripts" as the standard. Indeed, this was still a part of the continuous evolution, began from the Oracle to, ..., to Small Seal characters.

            Yet, there was another event happening at the same time. Mr. Wang ( ¤ý ¦¸ ¥ò ), a hermit, invented an "entirely different" system of written characters. Emperor Qin Shi Huang read about this and was greatly impressed. The Emperor asked Mr. Wang to come out from his hermitage and to serve the government many, many times, but Wang declined all those invitations. Although the Emperor was very angry, he was unable to change Wang's mind. Mr. Chang ( µ{ Âä ) was a high officer and a highly revered scholar in the Empire. Yet, Chang was in jail for some reasons at that moment. So, the Emperor gave Chang an assignment of refining and completing Wang's work. If Chang is successful, he will be pardoned and will return to his high office. With 10 long years (in jail), Chang worked day and night on Wang's system and finally "constructed" 3,000 new characters. The Emperor was extremely satisfied, and Chang was put back to a high position. Chang's system was, then, used as the written system for the governmental papers, and it spread very quickly to commoners. At that time, most of the servants who did the chores of copying governmental papers were drafted commoners or prisoners, and they were call Lii ( Áõ ). As Chang was also a prisoner once and as his system was used by Lii, this new system was named as Lii characters. Very, very soon, the Small Seal characters were no longer used as a communication tool, and it became an art, not a language any more.

            Of course, nothing can be truly invented out of the blue. The Lii system, of course, used many Small seal characters or parts of those characters as roots. Yet, the two systems (old evolved system and Lii) are completely different. The old characters (from Oracle to Small Seal) are arbitrary vocabulary with every word as a stand alone blob. The new system (Lii) is a root word based system.

            Although these two events happened at the exact same time, around 220 B.C. to 210 B.C., there is, in fact, a break, a divide and a huge canyon between the two. Using the old system to explain the new one is the same as describing the human evolution with the facts of Neanderthal, and this is exactly what the "already established linguistic thought" is all about.

      Question -- from "sangi39" -- You're break-down of the Chinese character system into 220 root characters may provide some benefit in the learning of Chinese characters since it provides a new way of more easily remembering what the characters mean after 2000 years of a relatively opaque writing system.

      Essentially, what I'm saying is, this system is not an "etymology" because it doesn't take into account the full history of the characters. However, breaking the individual characters down, it may provide character learning with some advantages, but breaking a character down into 220 roots is not an etymology, it is more a analytical analysis of form. In final, you are thus not the "inventor of Chinese etymology" (since you don't actually deal with full character history) but the "inventor of a promising method of more easily learning Chinese characters through breaking them down into apparent root characters" since that is more accurately what you do.

            Answer -- Mr. A established the knowledge of "Anatomy" which enables him to dissect all animals correctly and efficiently. Yet, Mr. A did not invent the body structure of those animals. Without the body structure of those animals, there cannot possibly establish Mr. A's knowledge of Anatomy. You are confusing the effect as the cause. If the Chinese character system is not a root word based system, it cannot be dissected with a given set of root words in a consistent way.

      Question -- from "sangi39" -- The problem is, your Chinese character "etymology" isn't actually a full etymology, i.e. it doesn't take into account the full history of the writing system and actually includes "facts" that have little evidence to support and you overplay the stylistic script change during the early Qin dynasty in order to support the idea that older versions of the script can be completely ignored, or it seems to be this way in your writing anyway.

            Answer -- As I already showed, you used a history which is not relevant to the issue. I just showed you the history which is the story about this "modern" system.

      Question -- from "sangi39" -- This character break-down may have promise in the teaching of Chinese characters, but may fall down in regards to grammatical processes and pronunciation. The advantage comes from making the characters more transparent, but a different kind of transparency not based on phono-semantic combinations, rebus-system use and ideographs, but purely on the breakdown of an individual character into proposed roots character combinations

            Answer -- I showed you links about the phonetics of Chinese character system, at least, twice in my previous posts.

            Indeed, I did not talk too much about the grammar issues thus far for PreBabel in terms of a universal language. This is, indeed, a very important issue. For PreBabel, there are, at least, two issues,
               1. PreBabelizing the vocabulary of language x.
               2. PreBabelizing the grammar of language x.

            As soon as we hash out all issues on the vocabulary level, we could move to the grammar level.

      Question -- from "sangi39" -- (although a few of these actually make little sense in relation to the final meaning and thus rely on the changing of meaning of the root character).

            Answer -- The final meaning of a word is, often, arrived from a usage, the semantic meaning, and there is no need of any kind for changing the meaning of any root character for explaining any final meaning.


Signature --
PreBabel is the true universal language, it is available at
http://www.prebabel.info

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