Re: writing Chinese dialects

From: Douglas Davidson (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2007 - 11:28:19 CST

  • Next message: John H. Jenkins: "Re: writing Chinese dialects"

    On Jan 29, 2007, at 7:24 AM, wrote:

    > Most Chinese charcters have two parts one for the sound and one for
    > the meaning, and the sound part is usually bigger. Therefore the
    > person looks at the sound part and makes a guess. Someone who comes
    > from the area will proablely get the pronunciation right ( ie they
    > have heard of the place and put two and two together to make four).
    > ANyone else wouls just be guessing and proablely get it wrong.
    > Place names are very difficult to guess, take "Xiamen" for example,
    > the first character "xia" is pronounced "sha" when used for
    > anything other than the place name.

    It might be noted that alphabetically written languages are not
    immune to this sort of problem--compare, for example, the states of
    Kansas and Arkansas, Arkansas City and the Arkansas River. See also
    intuitive_pronunciations>. Toponyms are often survivals or otherwise
    idiosyncratic, even more so than other names, whatever the writing

    Douglas Davidson

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