Myers (2019) – Précis of The grammar of Chinese characters

Précis of The grammar of Chinese characters
James Myers
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July 2019
The title of Myers (2019) [The grammar of Chinese characters, Routledge] is meant literally: Chinese characters really do seem to have a mentally active and productive grammar, with striking similarities to the morphology and phonology of signed and spoken languages. This paper simply sketches out the key points made in the book, one section per chapter. Section 1 outlines previous analyses of Chinese characters, which already reveal grammar-like properties. Section 2 argues that characters have morphological operations akin to affixation, compounding, and reduplication. Section 3 argues that characters also have phonology (of a silent sort, as in sign languages), which describes abstract formal regularities in strokes and overall character shape. Section 4 provides corpus-based evidence for the productivity of many of the above regularities, and Section 5 provides experimental evidence. Section 6 first considers possible explanations for character grammar and then sketches out how the idea might be useful beyond theoretical linguistics.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004682
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Summary of book published by Routledge; more material at
keywords: chinese, orthography, writing, grammar, morphology, phonology