John DeFrancis, *The Chinese. Language: Fact and Fantasy*. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii. Press, ). Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Page 5. Page 6. Page 7. The Chinese Language has 65 ratings and 11 reviews. Christopher said: THE CHINESE LANGUAGE: Fact and Fantasy, by the legendary pedagogue of. title: The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy author: DeFrancis, John. publisher: University of Hawaii Press isbn10 | asin: print isbn

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I would have rated it higher if the second half hadn’t been so out of date. Still others are of such a degree as to raise the question whether the different forms of speech should even be grouped together.

The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy

This fundamental issue is so clouded by confusion and error that considerable effort is needed to separate fact from fantasy in order to arrive at a clear understanding about Chinese. As far as Chinese speech is concerned, since it has exhibited the tendency of all speech to change with the passage of time, there is considerable question as to whether it is even proper to talk about age. The term is therefore appropriate when applied in such expressions as Peking dialect, Nanking dialect, Sichuan dialect, and others of the innumerable mutually intelligible subdivisions of Mandarin.

Character 1 means “four,” character 2 “score,” and character 4 “seven. While hard to believe now, in previous centuries European intellectuals were enamoured with characters and even called them a universal writing system. What DeFrancis seeks to show here is that the Chinese character writing system is inefficient, unnecessary, and detrimental to mass literacy.

The specific requirements or preferences of your reviewing lamguage, classroom teacher, institution or organization should be applied. Oracle Bone Inscription This Shang dynasty inscription incised on an animal shoulder bone asks if there will be any languagr, notes the spirits’ affirmative answer, and reports later verification that calamities did indeed occur.

The Japanese member of the committee proposed instead that they follow the precedent initiated by his own countrymen in the evolution of their writing system.

The idea that Chinese is monosyllabic is shown as a myth, since the spoken language has and depends upon adn constructions to avoid redundacy and only in the thoroughly artificial written language could one see monosyllabism. Both terms, of course, emphasize the Chinese origins of the symbols. Consider beguiling examples such as these: The book discusses attempts to reform Chinese that occurred in the 20th century, as well as the development process of hanzi over time. There is indeed need for a thorough rethinking of the issues involved.


The component element occurs to the left of in the first character and above it in the fourth.

Describes some of the concepts underlying the Chinese language and writing system, and gives the author’s position on a number of ideas defrandis the language. How do we categorize the huge number of Chinese idiolects? Please enter the message. Dbaguti rated it really liked it Jul 31, He pointed out that lanvuage Chinese had done just this in rendering foreign names into Chinese in their early contacts with Westerners before they were forced to abandon the practice in the nineteenth century in treaties imposed upon them by the imperialist powers.

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Character 5 means “year.

The latter have been added on the right. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Chen, University of California, San Diego If any readers are lured by the title of this book to expect detailed discussion dedrancis the syntax, semantics, or phonology of Chinese, they will be disappointed: Hieroglyphic Symbols as Phonetic Signs Hieroglyphic text, interlinear transliteration, and word-for-word translation of the opening lines of a popular funeral book of about B.

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. As he himself was only semifacetiously fond of saying, he was for a while the only speaker of the Chinese national language.

The Chinese language : fact and fantasy

Retrieved from ” https: The nonrelationship of Chinese to these languages, the relationship it does have with some other languages, and its division chinfse regionalects and dialects are summarized in Table 2. In retrospect it is clear that my original expectation that they would be able to penetrate my ploy was quite unreasonable. Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions.

Yet the linguistic difference that separates a Cantonese speaker from his compatriot in Peking is not exacerbated, as it is in Canada, by religious differences that further separate French Catholics from English Protestants. The book closes with Part IV Chaps. It is languags on the basic phonological elementsthat is, on the consonants, vowels, and tones.

The Chinese language : fact and fantasy (eBook, ) []

A recently coined synonym for “Chinese characters” is “sinographs” Rogers Walton wrote that DeFrancis “admirably succeeded in” simultaneously dealing “with a language tradition jkhn back over a millennium” and providing interest for specialists of Chinese, “and has provided some new and invigorating conceptual insights as well. Putonghua It is clear that among the eight regionalects defracis one designated as “Northern” is by far the most important numerically.


Confusion in the use of the term “language” to mean both speech and writing is sometimes avoided by those aware of the difference between the two defrancks referring to the former as “spoken language” and the latter as “written language. A complete popularization is impossible, however, since the complexity of the subject and the need for concrete detail require careful analysis based on extensive research.

An important langguage within Mandarin is that between “sharp” and “round” sounds Chao Here much of the disagreement centers on a controversial question: Many linguists prefer to describe Chinese sentences as of the topic- comment type.

The non-Chinese languages are spoken by fifty-four national minorities with a total population of some 50 or 60 million. It was almost painful to read it and I had to skip over a lot of unnecessary and repetitive ramblings. Its chief virtue lies in using one word in place of two. Chinese language ths Psychological aspects.

The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy – John DeFrancis – Google Books

Disparities existed then as they do today, and though the various forms currently in existence share a common ancestor, this archetype is not to be found in a single dialect as recent as the seventh century. Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt. While acknowledging the existence of such variant pronunciations of the same written symbol, Kim Mun-yi remarked that they defeancis no more numerous in English than in his own language.

In the same period smaller numbers of speakers of Mandarin migrated to the United States and other countries in the wake of derfancis migrants who came chiefly from the southeastern coastal areas. There are no consonant clusters in Chinese, so that the single English syllable “splints” would have to be represented by four syllables: From Yuwen Xiandaihua no.