ISSN: 2534-5192


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ISBN: 978-2-9570549-0-9
e-ISBN: 978-2-9570549-1-6

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On the Nature of Unmotivated Components in Modern Chinese Characters
Tereza Slaměníková ORCID iD icon
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Abstract. From an etymological perspective, the graphics of Chinese characters are in general supposed to encode at least semantic, but primarily both semantic and phonetic information concerning the recorded linguistic unit. This attribute of the Chinese writing system is often pointed out, even when referring to the composition of the graphemes used in modern Chinese signary. A careful look, however, at the individual characters suggests that, in view of the current meaning or sound of the characters, the relationship between the graphic and linguistic structure might be partly or entirely missing. This means, in other words, that apart from semantically and phonetically motivated components, unmotivated constituents can be identified in the composition of modern Chinese characters as well. Although the phenomenon of unmotivated constituents has been discussed in a number of grammatological studies, it is often viewed as a peripheral issue. This paper argues that these units deserve much more attention than they have so far received. Based on a new model of the classification system for Chinese characters, it demonstrates that there are two different types of unmotivated constituents to be distinguished, and thus it provides deeper insight into the characteristic features of the modern Chinese writing system.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36824/2018-graf-slam


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   TITLE = {{{\schinese 汉字形义分析字典} [Analytic Dictionary of Chinese Character Graphics and Meanings]}},
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Tereza Slaměníková ORCID iD icon (2019), On the Nature of Unmotivated Components in Modern Chinese Characters, in Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018 (Yannis Haralambous, Ed.), Brest: Fluxus Editions, 209–226

@INPROCEEDINGS{gla1-slam,
   AUTHOR = {Slaměníková, Tereza},
   EDITOR = {Haralambous, Yannis},
   TITLE = {{On the Nature of Unmotivated Components in Modern Chinese Characters}},
   BOOKTITLE = {{Proceedings of Graphemics in the 21st Century, Brest 2018}},
   PUBLISHER = {Fluxus Editions},
   ADDRESS = {Brest},
   YEAR = {2019},
   PAGES = {209--226},
   DOI = {https://doi.org/10.36824/2018-graf-slam},
}