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2112Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins

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  • Peter T. Daniels
    Aug 7, 2006
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      See what I mean? There's stuff here that no one else has written down before. A few comments added below, most content deleted (but carefully saved for future use).

      --
      Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...



      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Robert M Whiting <whiting@...>
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, August 7, 2006 5:59:49 PM
      Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


      On Sun, 6 Aug 2006, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

      > ----- Original Message ----
      > From: Robert M Whiting <whiting@...>
      > To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 6:06:49 AM
      > Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins

      > ********
      > PTD: Thank you for this exposition. (How many times do I have to ask you
      > to write down everything you know about cuneiform in a single monograph?
      > You know more about certain things than anyone else alive. Or are we
      > supposed to gather your Scripta Minora after you're gone, to piece an
      > account together?)

      What I know is dwarfed by what I don't know. Besides, I see no point in
      writing down things that should be obvious to anyone who has studied the
      script in contrast to reading one or more books about the script.
      ********
      Years ago, you told me it came from day-to-day familiarity with the tablets themselves, the human artifacts: a familiarity that few Assyriologists have. Things like knowing the shape of the stylus and how to hold it.
      ********

      4) 'conjoining the sense': These are compounds of the KAxA = NAG2
      ('mouth' + 'water = drink) type (what I call "word pictures").
      According to WWS, in Chinese, "In origin actual characters are never
      formed this way; this is an artificial, retrospective category." In
      Sumerian, however, signs were often formed this way, at least until
      the signary was closed.
      ********
      An exaggeration: even Branner, who is more doctrinaire about this than Boltz, admits that 'forest' represented by <three trees> belongs in this category.
      ********
      5) 'redirected characters': A usage category, not a category of
      character formation typology; Boltz seems unsure what this category
      reflects, and I confess that I'm not entirely sure either. In any
      case, I can't think of a Sumerian parallel. I would think that the
      parallel should be the use of a sign for associated words in other
      semantic domains (e.g., the use of the sign for 'sun' to write the
      words for 'day', 'time', 'bright', 'shining', 'hot', 'dry', etc., but
      this is not clear from what Boltz says.
      ********
      No Sinologist can say what was intended by this category, but it's in the list of categories.
      ********

      To get an idea, look at a realy good
      sign list (I recomment Deimel, $L part I; Labat leaves too much out and
      Borger lacks the paleography).
      ********
      Nearly 35 years ago, when I had my first exposure to cuneiform, they (I don't think my teacher, Michael Rowton, specifically) said not to bother with Deimel, because it was old and outdated and unreliable.
      ********
      I have always maintained that it is
      extremely fortunate that knowledge of the Chinese script was never lost,
      because the only way to decipher a script is to be able to break into the
      phonetic code and the phonetic part of the Chinese characters is so well
      hidden that it would have been a real bear to decipher.
      ********
      Except that the OBI were deciphered _before_ "Archaic" Chinese was reconstructed by Karlgren (and his work improved on by several generations of Sinologists since).
      ********

      > PTD: If you can't suggest when this closing happened, the suggestion
      > that it occurred isn't of much help for any such "stimulus." But surely
      > this closing happened before the mid 3rd mill.?

      I would say so; probably somewhat earlier than that but not more than a
      century or two.
      ********
      Which makes it way too early to be relevant to the origin of Chinese writing, which is where this got started.
      ********
      > And please don't try to claim that Gelb advocated for this "stimulus" --
      > his argument for outside influence on Shang China comes down to nothing
      > more than the view held in the 1930s (when most of Gelb 1952 was
      > written) that Shang China was "characterized by so many foreign
      > innovations that many scholars regard it as a ready made imported
      > civilization" (219); and what he very tentatively suggests -- not in the
      > text, but only in the chart (1952 endpapers, 1963 front matter) -- is
      > Proto-Sumerian to Proto-Elamite to "Proto-Indic" (= Indus Valley) to
      > Chinese (involving two unknowns, so any typological similarity between
      > PSum and PChin isn't relevant).

      Gelb just started with Sumerian and started walking East. The only real
      argument for the sequence is the correlation between the time and distance
      displacement of the appearance of the script as one moves eastward. The
      real problem is lack of evidence because Proto-Elamite and "Proto-Indic"
      are undeciphered, the sterotypical "Proto-Indic" inscriptions are problaby
      just the tip of an iceberg that was written on perishable materials; and
      the earliest Chinese script shows a stage that already reflects what is
      likely to be several centuries of development of which we have no record.
      ********
      I'm glad you said that -- since the claim of Gelb's support on that question is the principal feature of V. H. Mair's review of Henry Rogers's Blackwell textbook on Writing Systems (2005) in the latest issue of Word (56/1) -- my reply to which was accepted for publication yesterday afternoon, so I can now say that what I wrote yesterday morning was based on it.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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