From: Kenneth Whistler (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Feb 19 2004 - 21:27:09 EST
Michael Everson asked:
> At 14:14 -0800 2004-02-19, John Jenkins wrote:
> >As a rule, no. Strokes are fragments of characters, not characters
> >in their own right. There are some Chinese strokes encoded for
> >various reasons, but there is no intention of ever providing an
> >exhaustive catalog of strokes.
> But of the 64 entities in that list, how many are encoded, and how
> many are "standard" enough to merit consideration? I think that's
> what the questioner was asking.
Of the 64 entities listed on the page:
*none* of them are encoded, and *none* of them are "standard"
enough to merit consideration -- if by consideration you mean
separate encoding as characters.
If you read the page, you can see that it is arguing the case
for a graphemic analysis which posits 8 basic strokes for
Chinese characters, which then have a bunch of allographs.
So, in our terminology, we are talking about allographic
entities of glyphs, rather than abstract characters.
And you should be very, very suspicious that there are exactly
8 allographs listed for each of 8 basic stroke types. This is
the kind of superstitious numerology that infests some kinds
of traditional analyses. It just happens that '8' is a
very lucky number in Chinese, does it?
If you want to know how many stroke types there really are
and how their forms are modified in context in various
Chinese characters, you should consult with Tom Bishop and
Richard Cook, who have an extensive catalog of basic stroke
types and forms based on the usage of CDL in the Wenlin
system for constructing Chinese character glyphs.
*Any* proposal for encoding strokes for Chinese characters
as characters in and of themselves would need to be based
on an IT argument for their use as characters. (E.g. an
information processing system that needed codes for strokes,
in addition to codes for radicals and components, for
discussing and constructing Chinese character forms. Wenlin
is itself such a system, of course.) And a proposal
would need a comprehensive modeling behind it to explain
and justify the particular collection of strokes to encode.
Appeals to printed tables of lists of these things from
calligraphy sites in insufficient.
The dots are an interesting case. There is really just one
stroke here, but its exact shape is conditioned by its
position and order in the drawing of a character. The details
of the shape depend on position of the brush when it first
touches the paper, whether the angle of the brush is moved
during the dot, what angle the brush is pushed down at to
make the body of the dot, how heavily the brush is pushed
down, and whether the brush is then simply lifted back up
from the heavy part of the dot, or whether the tip of the
brush is trailed out of the dot as part of the trajectory
to the next stroke. (In cursive styles, the tip may actually
be dragged across the paper to the beginning of the next
stroke, so in the third exemplar in the dot chart, you
would drag the tip across from the leftmost dot until you
reached the start point of the righmost dot, and then
press down the heel of the brush to finish that dot.)
This is the kind of detail that comes from calligraphy,
and which influences Chinese character font design -- but
all that level of detail is *not* what needs to be
distinguished in coming up with an appropriate set of
stroke primitives for representation of Chinese character
structure in IT processing, for example.
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