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

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: ANE-2 In Response To: Peter Daniels On: Chinese Writing From: Bruce Peter has previously, but on that occasion privately, chided me on my suggestion about
    Message 1 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
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      To: ANE-2
      In Response To: Peter Daniels
      On: Chinese Writing
      From: Bruce

      Peter has previously, but on that occasion privately, chided me on my
      suggestion about date nomenclature. I may as well repeat here the gist of my
      earlier answer to him:

      ME: Chinese chronology is disputed earlier than the year 0841 (this is a
      culture-neutral way of writing 841 BC);

      PETER: No, it is not. It is an immensely confusing perversion of the
      phenomenon of the meaningless leading zero -- precisely because we have
      learned from our earliest age to disregard leading zeros!

      ME: Non sequitur. It is culture-neutral because the standard conventions in
      English, BC or BCE, both *assume* English, that is, they are abbreviations
      of English words and thus culturally centered in English. Those conventions
      do not adequately represent French (where a different phrase is in use), or
      German, or in fact anything other than English. I always recommend that
      conventions in any subject should be as widely based, or as widely
      acceptable, as is reasonably possible. The other neutral device (that is,
      the other device not based on words in a particular language) which one
      sometimes encounters is a minus sign prefixed to BC dates. The troubles with
      this are two: (1) it does not allow for convenient hyphenation of dates (if
      Confucius was born in -551 and died in -479, how would you give his
      lifespan, without running into hierarchic hyphen problems on the page?), and
      (2) it conflicts with established astronomical usage, which differs by one
      from "historical" usage. Since astronomical dates are frequently cited in
      ancient studies (eclipses are important evidence), that conflict cannot
      easily be shrugged off. All in all, then, it seems to me that the leading
      zero convention, which raises neither of these practical problems, and also
      does not rub Englishness in the faces of other language speakers, has a good
      deal going for it. Respectfully suggested, to those capable of entertaining
      such suggestions in tranquility.

      As to Peter's substantive objection, minus "perversion" and other somewhat
      unscientific lexical items, we, or at least a good many of us, have NOT
      "learned to disregard leading zeroes." They are increasingly common, and we
      often have to pay attention to them in daily life. Those citing an ISBN
      number, to take only one instance, will disregard the leading zero at their
      and/or Amazon's peril. It is precisely this greater familiarity with leading
      zeroes in modern life (including modern banking) which makes a leading zero
      convention less strange to the ordinary citizen, and thus more practical as
      a general convention, than it would have been 30 years ago. There will
      always be people who like what they have, and Peter has signed on as one of
      them. His distaste for this specific suggestion may or may not be widely
      shared, but his arguments in support of that distaste don't strike me as
      having general weight.

      Now we come to Chinese writing.

      ME: the Jou conquest of Shang was within 50 years or so of 01000, and
      writing was introduced to China three or four
      centuries before that.

      PETER: That's highly unlikely. By the time Chinese writing is first attested
      (Oracle Bone Inscriptions, ca. 1250 BCE), it is a (functionally speaking)
      fully developed writing system, and in the other known cases of script
      invention (Sumerian and Mayan), it took many, many centuries to achieve that
      status -- in both cases, moreover, the mediation of writing in other
      languages was certainly (Sumerian) or probably (Mayan) involved, which
      provided the impetus for full phoneticization. We might then expect the
      first experiments with Chinese proto-writing to reach back close to the 3rd
      millennium.

      ME: That timescale might fit that hypothesis, but that hypothesis itself
      doesn't convince me. It is agreed that Chinese oracle bone writing emerges
      rather full-blown. That suggests one of two things: either (1) Chinese
      writing went through a long period of local development which, and the
      social concomitants of which, are both utterly lost to us, or (2) it arose
      and quickly developed, in idiosyncratic local form, but as the result of
      stimulus from outside.

      It may be objected that Chinese is typologically different from all the
      other Asian writing systems which might have suggested it. That, to my mind,
      implies stimulus (knowledge of the *idea* of writing, without any guidance
      as to method, and thus a local resort to rebus procedures, much as in
      Kipling's story) rather than direct imitation. But the distances involved do
      not make that a less likely possibility. As for the missing alphabet, at
      least one scholar (Pulleyblank) has suggested that the seemingly meaningless
      series of cyclical (calendrological) signs, in two series of 10 and 12,
      totaling 22, may be distributed across the phonological system in such a way
      as to suggest an original consonantal set. If so, that possibility was not
      followed in the further development of the script, and represents a fossil
      rather than a fairway. But it might provide evidence of a sort of
      typological transition.

      The stimulus theory is anathema to the Chinese government, and thus to most
      Chinese scholars and indeed citizens, numbering in the millions, most of
      them passionately involved. But if one can get off in some quiet corner to
      consider the matter, it would seem that the stimulus hypothesis is subject
      to test as well as to feelings. The test might run this way: Is there any
      other cultural item which also arises rather suddenly in China, at about
      that same time, and have we any indications as to the provenance of that
      item? I would say, Yes and Yes, respectively.

      2. Bronze casting of remarkable quality and sophistication. Even some
      leading Chinese scientists (such as An Jr-min) now concede that, both
      technically and typologically, this is most intelligible as an introduction
      from the West, and not as an independent evolution. For one thing, no such
      evolution is attested, and with such hard items as bronze sacrificial
      vessels, likely to be preserved in tombs or concentrated at ritual centers,
      we would expect it to be.

      3. The war chariot. It was conceded by Shaughnessy, in a remarkably candid
      article some years ago in HJAS, that the Chinese war chariot is not only
      without local precedent, but is closely similar to the Mesopotamian war
      chariot. See the recent book by Robert Drews, with references.

      4. Wheat. I think it was the Russians who found that the particular strand
      of wheat used in Shang China has no species width in China, and thus does
      not look like a local domestication. The same strain of wheat is found along
      a sort of crescent, reaching from Mesopotamia up a little, and then down
      into North China. Species width obtains in Mesopotamia (as I recall), and
      thus domestication there is a plausible scenario. Wheat in early Chinese
      culture was exclusively an elite foot; the general populace ate millet. This
      makes three items so far which are restricted to the military elite culture
      of Shang.

      5. Horses. As is I think by now pretty well known, the horse (and without a
      horse, there is no great amount of use in the war chariot) is known all over
      East Asia by some version of a word which seems closely cognate to IE
      (specifically, OHGm) marah. Horses are also restricted to elite culture.
      Remarkably, the Chinese did not ride horses for the first thousand years of
      their acquaintance with horses. They only drove them. This is narrowness of
      use is perhaps typologically a little like the species narrowness of wheat;
      see above.

      Each of these items, though undoubtedly controversial in large sections of
      the planet, seems nevertheless fairly convincing when examined purely on the
      evidence. What is additionally convincing, at least to me, is that together,
      they all have the same character, which is not the character of a gradual
      local evolution, they all come in at roughly the same time, and thus suggest
      a culture complex rather than a group of disconnected culture traits
      requiring to be independently accounted for, and they all point in the same
      direction outside of China.

      I might add that it would be of great utility to Chinese studies (which as
      it stands is ill-equipped to deal with these questions in their fullness) if
      a knowledgeable ANE person or two got involved in the other ends of these
      equations. If there are any volunteers, I will be glad to hear from them,
      preferably off-line.

      Bruce

      E Bruce Brooks
      Research Professor of Chinese
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    • George F Somsel
      I don t know why people get so exercised with the chimera of cultural neutrality. I suppose that it s an aspect of political correctness. If I say
      Message 2 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
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        I don't know why people get so exercised with the chimera of cultural neutrality. I suppose that it's an aspect of "political correctness." If I say something happened 200 B.C. and my Jewish friend says something happened 200 B.C.E. we both know what is meant. We operate from different presuppositions which causes me to express the date in terms of the (erroneously determined) birth of Christ. My Jewish friend doesn't center his life around Christ and therefore refers to it as the "Common Era." We nevertheless communicate -- he expressing his presuppositions and I mine. If he really wanted to express his viewpoint he might rather enter the year today as 5766. My Moslem friend, however, has a different view since their calendar is based on the date of the Hegira. Thus even expressing the date as 0200 rather than 200 B.C. or 200 B.C.E. is not culturally neutral. I see no reason for us to get "bent out of shape" by a simple matter of dating when what is intended is
        quite clear and each can understand it in his own manner.

        george
        gfsomsel


        ______________


        E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...> wrote:
        To: ANE-2
        In Response To: Peter Daniels
        On: Chinese Writing
        From: Bruce

        Peter has previously, but on that occasion privately, chided me on my
        suggestion about date nomenclature. I may as well repeat here the gist of my
        earlier answer to him:

        ME: Chinese chronology is disputed earlier than the year 0841 (this is a
        culture-neutral way of writing 841 BC);

        PETER: No, it is not. It is an immensely confusing perversion of the
        phenomenon of the meaningless leading zero -- precisely because we have
        learned from our earliest age to disregard leading zeros!

        ME: Non sequitur. It is culture-neutral because the standard conventions in
        English, BC or BCE, both *assume* English, that is, they are abbreviations
        of English words and thus culturally centered in English. Those conventions
        do not adequately represent French (where a different phrase is in use), or
        German, or in fact anything other than English. I always recommend that
        conventions in any subject should be as widely based, or as widely
        acceptable, as is reasonably possible. The other neutral device (that is,
        the other device not based on words in a particular language) which one
        sometimes encounters is a minus sign prefixed to BC dates. The troubles with
        this are two: (1) it does not allow for convenient hyphenation of dates (if
        Confucius was born in -551 and died in -479, how would you give his
        lifespan, without running into hierarchic hyphen problems on the page?), and
        (2) it conflicts with established astronomical usage, which differs by one
        from "historical" usage. Since astronomical dates are frequently cited in
        ancient studies (eclipses are important evidence), that conflict cannot
        easily be shrugged off. All in all, then, it seems to me that the leading
        zero convention, which raises neither of these practical problems, and also
        does not rub Englishness in the faces of other language speakers, has a good
        deal going for it. Respectfully suggested, to those capable of entertaining
        such suggestions in tranquility.

        As to Peter's substantive objection, minus "perversion" and other somewhat
        unscientific lexical items, we, or at least a good many of us, have NOT
        "learned to disregard leading zeroes." They are increasingly common, and we
        often have to pay attention to them in daily life. Those citing an ISBN
        number, to take only one instance, will disregard the leading zero at their
        and/or Amazon's peril. It is precisely this greater familiarity with leading
        zeroes in modern life (including modern banking) which makes a leading zero
        convention less strange to the ordinary citizen, and thus more practical as
        a general convention, than it would have been 30 years ago. There will
        always be people who like what they have, and Peter has signed on as one of
        them. His distaste for this specific suggestion may or may not be widely
        shared, but his arguments in support of that distaste don't strike me as
        having general weight.

        Now we come to Chinese writing.

        ME: the Jou conquest of Shang was within 50 years or so of 01000, and
        writing was introduced to China three or four
        centuries before that.

        PETER: That's highly unlikely. By the time Chinese writing is first attested
        (Oracle Bone Inscriptions, ca. 1250 BCE), it is a (functionally speaking)
        fully developed writing system, and in the other known cases of script
        invention (Sumerian and Mayan), it took many, many centuries to achieve that
        status -- in both cases, moreover, the mediation of writing in other
        languages was certainly (Sumerian) or probably (Mayan) involved, which
        provided the impetus for full phoneticization. We might then expect the
        first experiments with Chinese proto-writing to reach back close to the 3rd
        millennium.

        ME: That timescale might fit that hypothesis, but that hypothesis itself
        doesn't convince me. It is agreed that Chinese oracle bone writing emerges
        rather full-blown. That suggests one of two things: either (1) Chinese
        writing went through a long period of local development which, and the
        social concomitants of which, are both utterly lost to us, or (2) it arose
        and quickly developed, in idiosyncratic local form, but as the result of
        stimulus from outside.

        It may be objected that Chinese is typologically different from all the
        other Asian writing systems which might have suggested it. That, to my mind,
        implies stimulus (knowledge of the *idea* of writing, without any guidance
        as to method, and thus a local resort to rebus procedures, much as in
        Kipling's story) rather than direct imitation. But the distances involved do
        not make that a less likely possibility. As for the missing alphabet, at
        least one scholar (Pulleyblank) has suggested that the seemingly meaningless
        series of cyclical (calendrological) signs, in two series of 10 and 12,
        totaling 22, may be distributed across the phonological system in such a way
        as to suggest an original consonantal set. If so, that possibility was not
        followed in the further development of the script, and represents a fossil
        rather than a fairway. But it might provide evidence of a sort of
        typological transition.

        The stimulus theory is anathema to the Chinese government, and thus to most
        Chinese scholars and indeed citizens, numbering in the millions, most of
        them passionately involved. But if one can get off in some quiet corner to
        consider the matter, it would seem that the stimulus hypothesis is subject
        to test as well as to feelings. The test might run this way: Is there any
        other cultural item which also arises rather suddenly in China, at about
        that same time, and have we any indications as to the provenance of that
        item? I would say, Yes and Yes, respectively.

        2. Bronze casting of remarkable quality and sophistication. Even some
        leading Chinese scientists (such as An Jr-min) now concede that, both
        technically and typologically, this is most intelligible as an introduction
        from the West, and not as an independent evolution. For one thing, no such
        evolution is attested, and with such hard items as bronze sacrificial
        vessels, likely to be preserved in tombs or concentrated at ritual centers,
        we would expect it to be.

        3. The war chariot. It was conceded by Shaughnessy, in a remarkably candid
        article some years ago in HJAS, that the Chinese war chariot is not only
        without local precedent, but is closely similar to the Mesopotamian war
        chariot. See the recent book by Robert Drews, with references.

        4. Wheat. I think it was the Russians who found that the particular strand
        of wheat used in Shang China has no species width in China, and thus does
        not look like a local domestication. The same strain of wheat is found along
        a sort of crescent, reaching from Mesopotamia up a little, and then down
        into North China. Species width obtains in Mesopotamia (as I recall), and
        thus domestication there is a plausible scenario. Wheat in early Chinese
        culture was exclusively an elite foot; the general populace ate millet. This
        makes three items so far which are restricted to the military elite culture
        of Shang.

        5. Horses. As is I think by now pretty well known, the horse (and without a
        horse, there is no great amount of use in the war chariot) is known all over
        East Asia by some version of a word which seems closely cognate to IE
        (specifically, OHGm) marah. Horses are also restricted to elite culture.
        Remarkably, the Chinese did not ride horses for the first thousand years of
        their acquaintance with horses. They only drove them. This is narrowness of
        use is perhaps typologically a little like the species narrowness of wheat;
        see above.

        Each of these items, though undoubtedly controversial in large sections of
        the planet, seems nevertheless fairly convincing when examined purely on the
        evidence. What is additionally convincing, at least to me, is that together,
        they all have the same character, which is not the character of a gradual
        local evolution, they all come in at roughly the same time, and thus suggest
        a culture complex rather than a group of disconnected culture traits
        requiring to be independently accounted for, and they all point in the same
        direction outside of China.

        I might add that it would be of great utility to Chinese studies (which as
        it stands is ill-equipped to deal with these questions in their fullness) if
        a knowledgeable ANE person or two got involved in the other ends of these
        equations. If there are any volunteers, I will be glad to hear from them,
        preferably off-line.

        Bruce

        E Bruce Brooks
        Research Professor of Chinese
        Warring States Project
        University of Massachusetts at Amherst
      • Peter T. Daniels
        ... From: E Bruce Brooks To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2006 10:45:56 AM Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing
        Message 3 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
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          ----- Original Message ----
          From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
          To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2006 10:45:56 AM
          Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


          To: ANE-2
          In Response To: Peter Daniels
          On: Chinese Writing
          From: Bruce

          Peter has previously, but on that occasion privately, chided me on my
          suggestion about date nomenclature. I may as well repeat here the gist of my
          earlier answer to him:

          ME: Chinese chronology is disputed earlier than the year 0841 (this is a
          culture-neutral way of writing 841 BC);

          PETER: No, it is not. It is an immensely confusing perversion of the
          phenomenon of the meaningless leading zero -- precisely because we have
          learned from our earliest age to disregard leading zeros!

          ME: Non sequitur. It is culture-neutral because the standard conventions in
          English, BC or BCE, both *assume* English, that is, they are abbreviations
          of English words and thus culturally centered in English. Those conventions
          do not adequately represent French (where a different phrase is in use), or
          German, or in fact anything other than English. I always recommend that
          **********
          Like it or not, the international language of scholarship is currently English, and if either French or German has adopted a non-Christian way of referring to the Eras, I haven't heard of it yet: the expressions are still "avant j.-c." and "vorchristlich."
          **********
          EBRUCE: conventions in any subject should be as widely based, or as widely
          acceptable, as is reasonably possible. The other neutral device (that is,
          the other device not based on words in a particular language) which one
          sometimes encounters is a minus sign prefixed to BC dates.
          **********
          We certainly don't encounter that in ANE studies, which are quite aware of astronomical practice.
          **********
          EBRUCE: All in all, then, it seems to me that the leading
          zero convention, which raises neither of these practical problems, and also
          does not rub Englishness in the faces of other language speakers, has a good
          deal going for it. Respectfully suggested, to those capable of entertaining
          such suggestions in tranquility.
          **********
          When I reviewed the 1998 Mair volumes (Sino-Platonic Papers 98 [Jan. 2000]: 4-46), I essentially had to state that your article was unreadable and uninterpretable, because of your bizarre date formulations, your bizsrre citation style; and your idiosyncratic transliteration (or transcription?) of Chinese, referenced only to a (then?) unpublished manuscript.
          **********
          EBRUCE: As to Peter's substantive objection, minus "perversion" and other somewhat
          unscientific lexical items, we, or at least a good many of us, have NOT
          "learned to disregard leading zeroes." They are increasingly common, and we
          often have to pay attention to them in daily life. Those citing an ISBN
          number, to take only one instance, will disregard the leading zero at their
          **********
          ISBNs begin with "1" for books in English, "3" for books in German, etc. Perhaps "0" is used for books in Chinese?
          **********
          EBRUCE: and/or Amazon's peril. It is precisely this greater familiarity with leading
          zeroes in modern life (including modern banking) which makes a leading zero
          convention less strange to the ordinary citizen, and thus more practical as
          a general convention, than it would have been 30 years ago. There will
          always be people who like what they have, and Peter has signed on as one of
          them. His distaste for this specific suggestion may or may not be widely
          shared, but his arguments in support of that distaste don't strike me as
          having general weight.

          Now we come to Chinese writing.

          ME: the Jou conquest of Shang was within 50 years or so of 01000, and
          writing was introduced to China three or four
          centuries before that.

          PETER: That's highly unlikely. By the time Chinese writing is first attested
          (Oracle Bone Inscriptions, ca. 1250 BCE), it is a (functionally speaking)
          fully developed writing system, and in the other known cases of script
          invention (Sumerian and Mayan), it took many, many centuries to achieve that
          status -- in both cases, moreover, the mediation of writing in other
          languages was certainly (Sumerian) or probably (Mayan) involved, which
          provided the impetus for full phoneticization. We might then expect the
          first experiments with Chinese proto-writing to reach back close to the 3rd
          millennium.

          ME: That timescale might fit that hypothesis, but that hypothesis itself
          doesn't convince me. It is agreed that Chinese oracle bone writing emerges
          rather full-blown. That suggests one of two things: either (1) Chinese
          writing went through a long period of local development which, and the
          social concomitants of which, are both utterly lost to us, or (2) it arose
          and quickly developed, in idiosyncratic local form, but as the result of
          stimulus from outside.
          **********
          The origins of Chinese civilization are vastly off-topic for ANE-2 List, and nothing here is unfamiliar; I would refer you to the article by Michael Puett in the same Mair volume, on the scholarly pendulum regarding "outside influence" on China in the 2nd millennium. He argues for a middle ground, recognizing that some characteristics are imported and some are native. He does _not_ consider writing as a phenomenon influenced by the outside, and with very good reason ...
          **********
          EBRUCE: It may be objected that Chinese is typologically different from all the
          other Asian writing systems which might have suggested it. That, to my mind,
          **********
          What "all the other Asian writing systems" of the 2nd millennium are those? The graphonomist [I have switched to Hockett's term from Gelb's "grammatologist" because of Derrida] is struck by its typological _similarity_ to Sumerian and Mayan writing.
          **********
          implies stimulus (knowledge of the *idea* of writing, without any guidance
          as to method, and thus a local resort to rebus procedures, much as in
          Kipling's story) rather than direct imitation. But the distances involved do
          not make that a less likely possibility. As for the missing alphabet, at
          least one scholar (Pulleyblank) has suggested that the seemingly meaningless
          **********
          Pulleyblank abandoned that suggestion decades ago.

          He, Mair, and Cyrus Gordon spoke back to back to back at the 33rd ICANAS in Toronto in 1990 on exactly the same topic, and none of them ever provided the slightest hint of convincing evidence.

          On the notion of "stimulus" and "rebus procedures," see any number of articles of mine, including, of course, my explanation of why writing came to be independently invented in exactly three locations that we know of: Sumer, China, and Mesoamerica. Bibliography can be provided if requested. In every known instance, "stimulus" results in a syllabary, not a logography.
          **********
          series of cyclical (calendrological) signs, in two series of 10 and 12,
          totaling 22, may be distributed across the phonological system in such a way
          as to suggest an original consonantal set. If so, that possibility was not
          followed in the further development of the script, and represents a fossil
          rather than a fairway. But it might provide evidence of a sort of
          typological transition.

          [I delete the political comments and the descriptions of various phenomena that plausibly were borrowed into China, as even more irrelevant to ANE-2.]
          --
          Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Peter T. Daniels
          PS: Henry Rogers in the textbook *Writing Systems* (Blackwell, 2005) uses NEW and OLD (in small capitals) to identify the eras. It seems a bit silly.
          Message 4 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
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            PS: Henry Rogers in the textbook *Writing Systems* (Blackwell, 2005) uses "NEW" and "OLD" (in small capitals) to identify the eras. It seems a bit silly.

            (Please don't copy an entire earlier posting!)

            --
            Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...



            ----- Original Message ----
            From: George F Somsel <gfsomsel@...>
            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2006 11:18:08 AM
            Subject: The Chimera of Cultural Neutrality (was Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins)


            I don't know why people get so exercised with the chimera of cultural neutrality. I suppose that it's an aspect of "political correctness." If I say something happened 200 B.C. and my Jewish friend says something happened 200 B.C.E. we both know what is meant. We operate from different presuppositions which causes me to express the date in terms of the (erroneously determined) birth of Christ. My Jewish friend doesn't center his life around Christ and therefore refers to it as the "Common Era." We nevertheless communicate -- he expressing his presuppositions and I mine. If he really wanted to express his viewpoint he might rather enter the year today as 5766. My Moslem friend, however, has a different view since their calendar is based on the date of the Hegira. Thus even expressing the date as 0200 rather than 200 B.C. or 200 B.C.E. is not culturally neutral. I see no reason for us to get "bent out of shape" by a simple matter of dating when what is intended is
            quite clear and each can understand it in his own manner.

            george
            gfsomsel

            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • E Bruce Brooks
            To: ANE-2 On: Previous Thread From: Bruce We seem to be in an irascible zone, but herewith a few notes for any irenic lurkers. PETER: Like it or not, the
            Message 5 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
            • 0 Attachment
              To: ANE-2
              On: Previous Thread
              From: Bruce

              We seem to be in an irascible zone, but herewith a few notes for any irenic
              lurkers.

              PETER: Like it or not, the international language of scholarship is
              currently English.

              BRUCE: Just so, and it behooves an international language to behave with
              diplomatic tact. If its conventions can be adjusted to be more comfortable
              for non-natives using that international medium, so much the nicer.

              PETER: ISBNs begin with "1" for books in English, "3" for books in German,
              etc. Perhaps "0" is used for books in Chinese?

              BRUCE: Without leaning over very far at my desk, I find A Cohen (ed), The
              Psalms [Hebrew Text and English Translation], 2ed Soncino 1995, ISBN
              1-871055-65-2 (formerly ISBN 0-900689-32-3), part of a 14v set whose current
              ISBN is 0-871055-70-9); also Erhard S Gerstenberger, Psalms: Part 1 / With
              an Introduction to Cultic Poetry, Eerdmans 1988, ISBN 0-8028-0255-9; also
              Michael Goulder, The Prayers of David: Psalms 51-72, Sheffield 1990, 2001;
              Clark 2004, ISBN 0567082180 [sic; PB]. Doesn't look particularly Chinese to
              me.

              PETER: The origins of Chinese civilization are vastly off-topic for ANE-2
              List, . . .

              BRUCE: Not for the original Cherubim topic, it would seem. I trust we have
              at least succeeded in clarifying the dragon question as it affects that
              discussion. As to the general principle, let me put it this way: the next
              ANE conference to be organized on the principle of divine kinship might with
              interest include representatives who can speak to the case of India, that of
              China, and for that matter, the later stages of Alexander's career.

              PETER: [on Chinese writing] I would refer you to the article by Michael
              Puett in the same Mair volume, on the scholarly pendulum regarding "outside
              influence" on China in the 2nd millennium. He argues for a middle ground, .
              . .

              BRUCE: Michael had an interesting function at that conference. It was to be
              the peacemaker, and for that reason he was spotted as the critical speaker
              on the final, and public, morning of the conference. Nobody with an
              experience of diplomacy will miss the symbolism. I thought Michael did it
              very well, and told him as much at the time. But his overview might not be
              the last word on any one of the specific points which it included.

              PETER [on Chinese language]: The graphonomist . . . is struck by its
              typological _similarity_ to Sumerian and Mayan writing.

              BRUCE: The typical Chinese character is made up of two elements, one
              conventionally called the "radical" in the belief that it represents the
              root meaning, and the other conventionally called the "phonetic." Best
              current thinking is that the "radical" is what at least some Near
              Easternists call the "determinative" or semantic-area designator, and the
              "phonetic" carries not only the sound, but [as in all languages] the meaning
              associated with the sound. It would be nice to know exactly what NE script
              is closest to this system, given that the "phonetic" part is pictorial
              rather than alphabetic. Peter implies Sumerian. Does that find general
              agreement on this list?

              PETER: . . . any number of articles of mine, including, of course, my
              explanation of why writing came to be independently invented in exactly
              three locations that we know of: Sumer, China, and Mesoamerica. Bibliography
              can be provided if requested. In every known instance, "stimulus" results in
              a syllabary, not a logography.

              BRUCE: Bibliography welcome. As for "stimulus" resulting in a syllabary, it
              seems to me, from what little I know of writing systems in general, that the
              most general tendency is for cultures to take one step at a time. We have a
              syllabic system of writing in China, but not a syllalbary (a transition to
              pure phonetic script). That step was later taken when Chinese writing was
              borrowed into Japan [I trust nobody will take offense at this notion], and
              there used not only in its original form, but in a reduced and abbreviated
              form as a syllabary (still in use today). Presumably the third step, perhaps
              more easily taken when ideas cross a frontier than when they do not, is from
              a syllabary to its single-sound constituents, producing a further economy in
              the inventory. That seems to have happened in Korea.

              GEORGE SOMSEL: My Moslem friend, however, has a different view since their
              calendar is based on the date of the Hegira. Thus even expressing the date
              as 0200 rather than 200 B.C. or 200 B.C.E. is not culturally neutral.

              BRUCE: Point taken. I might better have said "linguistically neutral." But
              even that may be something, in a sometimes difficult world.

              E Bruce Brooks
              Warring States Project
              University of Massachusetts at Amherst
            • Peter T. Daniels
              ... From: E Bruce Brooks To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2006 5:31:43 PM Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing
              Message 6 of 27 , Aug 5, 2006
              • 0 Attachment
                ----- Original Message ----
                From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
                To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Saturday, August 5, 2006 5:31:43 PM
                Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                PETER: [on Chinese writing] I would refer you to the article by Michael
                Puett in the same Mair volume, on the scholarly pendulum regarding "outside
                influence" on China in the 2nd millennium. He argues for a middle ground, .
                . .

                BRUCE: Michael had an interesting function at that conference. It was to be
                the peacemaker, and for that reason he was spotted as the critical speaker
                on the final, and public, morning of the conference. Nobody with an
                experience of diplomacy will miss the symbolism. I thought Michael did it
                very well, and told him as much at the time. But his overview might not be
                the last word on any one of the specific points which it included.
                ********
                I was in Chicago, and had no means of attending the event. I'm not sure why Victor chose me to review the book, but I found the linguistic papers extremely fruitful for commentary.
                ********
                PETER [on Chinese language]: The graphonomist . . . is struck by its
                typological _similarity_ to Sumerian and Mayan writing.

                BRUCE: The typical Chinese character is made up of two elements, one
                conventionally called the "radical" in the belief that it represents the
                root meaning, and the other conventionally called the "phonetic." Best
                current thinking is that the "radical" is what at least some Near
                Easternists call the "determinative" or semantic-area designator, and the
                "phonetic" carries not only the sound, but [as in all languages] the meaning
                associated with the sound. It would be nice to know exactly what NE script
                is closest to this system, given that the "phonetic" part is pictorial
                rather than alphabetic. Peter implies Sumerian. Does that find general
                agreement on this list?
                ********
                The _only_ typological difference between Chinese and Sumerian is that the combination of radical and phonetic was fused into a single item in Chinese -- the characters -- while in Sumerian, they remained separate (thus the thousands of Chinese characters vs. the several hundred in cuneiform).
                ********
                PETER: . . . any number of articles of mine, including, of course, my
                explanation of why writing came to be independently invented in exactly
                three locations that we know of: Sumer, China, and Mesoamerica. Bibliography
                can be provided if requested. In every known instance, "stimulus" results in
                a syllabary, not a logography.

                BRUCE: Bibliography welcome.
                ********
                The _fons et origo_ is my chapter in *The Linguistics of Literacy*, ed. Downing, Lima, and Noonan (Benjamins, 1992) [a 1988 Milwaukee conference]; a more accessible treatment is in Blackwell's *Handbook of Linguistics* ed. Aronoff & Rees-Miller (2001, though contributors' copies were distributed already in mid-2000). A very extensive review article is about to be published on LINGUIST List, which contains more recent bibliography; see also *Israel Oriental Studies* 20 (2002) and *Written Language and Literacy* 9 (2006).
                ********

                BRUCE:As for "stimulus" resulting in a syllabary, it
                seems to me, from what little I know of writing systems in general, that the
                most general tendency is for cultures to take one step at a time. We have a
                ********
                "Cultures" don't devise scripts, individuals do. In every example we know of (the earliest being Sequoyah; at least a dozen followed over the next two centuries), when the script-creator ("grammatogenist") merely knew of the existence of writing, but knew nothing of how it worked, the invention was a syllabary. (Sometimes they tried doing a logography, with a different symbol for every word, but they soon, or eventually, discovered that no memory was adequate for such a scheme.)

                Only when a language is monosyllabically oriented does an attempt at logography succeed, because only then can symbols for one word be reapplied, rebus-fashion, for very similar or identical but unrelated words, using the symbols for their sound-value alone.

                And why is that? Because, as psycholinguists have repeatedly shown, the most salient stretch of speech is not the segment (consonant/vowel/etc.), but the syllable. Hence ancient grammatogeny in Sumerian, Chinese, and Mayan, but not in any Semitic or Indo-European language; hence my conviction that Egyptian hieroglyphs were not an independent invention but the result of some, inadequate, knowledge of Sumerian writing. And hence my preference for Dravidian, and not Munda (and of course not Indic) as the language behind the Indus Valley script.
                ********
                BRUCE: syllabic system of writing in China, but not a syllalbary (a transition to
                ********
                It's misleading to call Chinese "syllabic," precisely because it isn't a syllabary.
                ********
                BRUCE: pure phonetic script). That step was later taken when Chinese writing was
                borrowed into Japan [I trust nobody will take offense at this notion], and
                there used not only in its original form, but in a reduced and abbreviated
                form as a syllabary (still in use today). Presumably the third step, perhaps
                more easily taken when ideas cross a frontier than when they do not, is from
                a syllabary to its single-sound constituents, producing a further economy in
                the inventory. That seems to have happened in Korea.
                ********
                The kana are only diachronically, but not synchronically, related to the kanji, so it's misleading to suggest that Chinese writing :"is used in a reduced and abbreviated form as a syllabary."

                I dare you to produce a single alphabetic script that developed, a la Gelb, from a syllabary.

                The background to the invention of the Korean alphabet was both Chinese linguistic theory (which identified the initial, rime, and tone of each syllable) and knowledge of hPags pa (and maybe even Sanskrit directly) -- no syllabaries.
                ********
                GEORGE SOMSEL: My Moslem friend, however, has a different view since their
                calendar is based on the date of the Hegira. Thus even expressing the date
                as 0200 rather than 200 B.C. or 200 B.C.E. is not culturally neutral.

                BRUCE: Point taken. I might better have said "linguistically neutral." But
                even that may be something, in a sometimes difficult world.
                ********
                Yet one other thing: there's nothing about "0" that says "remember to count backwards" as an era label or even a minus sign does.
                ********
                E Bruce Brooks
                Warring States Project
                University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                --
                Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • E Bruce Brooks
                To: ANE-2 In Response To: Peter Daniels On: Writing From: Bruce Does anyone else have the sense that this discussion is dissipating in small quibbles? Here are
                Message 7 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                  To: ANE-2
                  In Response To: Peter Daniels
                  On: Writing
                  From: Bruce

                  Does anyone else have the sense that this discussion is dissipating in small
                  quibbles? Here are some replies, with the excuse that general principles of
                  interest may sometimes be involved.

                  PETER: "Cultures" don't devise scripts, individuals do.

                  BRUCE: In the absence of a known individual to ascribe a script to, I
                  suggest that "culture" is a reasonable makeshift designation.

                  PETER [on the inventors of scripts]: (Sometimes they tried doing a
                  logography, with a different symbol for every word, but they soon, or
                  eventually, discovered that no memory was adequate for such a scheme.)

                  BRUCE: In that case the rule that invented scripts are always syllabaries
                  vanishes. As for logographic memory, in my field we are supposed to be able
                  to handle 50,000 different signs. What stopped Sequoyah?

                  PETER: It's misleading to call Chinese "syllabic," precisely because it
                  isn't a syllabary.

                  BRUCE: In Chinese, the character corresponds to the syllable. When a word,
                  such as the famous "butterfly" (hudye), has two syllables, two characters,
                  not one, are used to write it. A syllabary is where there is only one way of
                  writing each phonetic syllable in the language; in Chinese, there are *many*
                  different ways of writing the same phonetic syllable depending on what word
                  (or word fraction) it represents. The concept "syllabary" seems well
                  distinguished from "syllabic" in this sense, and I doubt that anyone has
                  been seriously misled.

                  PETER: The kana are only diachronically, but not synchronically, related to
                  the kanji, so it's misleading to suggest that Chinese writing "is used in a
                  reduced and abbreviated form as a syllabary."

                  BRUCE: Don't understand the statement about kana/kanji relation. My sense of
                  the situation is that Chinese characters had acquired abbreviated forms in
                  the Chinese calligraphic tradition before Japan (presumably some individual
                  Japanese or two, but don't I don't happen to know their names, so I default
                  to the next higher level) made contact with them. The Japanese innovation,
                  never attempted in China either then or since, was to adopt a set of these
                  short forms, one for each CV syllable in the Japanese of that time (Nara
                  period), and to write the language with them, abandoning the semantic
                  distinctions offered by the characters, but gaining whatever advantage
                  inheres in a more phonetic approach, including a much easier instructional
                  scenario. Kana did not replace characters in Japan, which were and still are
                  used alongside them (and some texts continued to be written wholly in
                  Chinese: the Chinese language, not just the Chinese wordforms).

                  I now try to get to a larger issue. What interests me about the evolutionary
                  picture here is that the step from characters to kana syllabary units was
                  not taken as long as the characters remained in China (despite the existence
                  in China of short written forms); this occurred only when they were
                  transmitted to Japan; that is, when they crossed a boundary and acquired a
                  different cultural context. My comparison would be to an introduced plant or
                  insect that goes wild when transferred to a place where its natural pests
                  are lacking, or where its natural food is plentiful. This seems to be a
                  model with many applications. Among them: The technology of ocean navigation
                  (the compass, the sternpost rudder) was developed in China, but did not lead
                  in China to an age of exploration or of maritime commerce. Once these tools
                  became known in Italy and Iberia, precisely that age did occur. Again, the
                  potential of an idea when taken out of its original context.

                  It's hard to think of things; cultural historians sometimes underestimate
                  this. The Chinese drove horses for a thousand years before it occured to
                  them to sit down on a horse, and even then (mid and late 04c), they didn't
                  really think of it, they copied it in desperate self-defense from the steppe
                  archers. I seem to remember that those archers also earned the healthy
                  respect of Rome. In any case, this is why the classic Chinese military
                  literature never mentions cavalry; it didn't exist when those texts were
                  written. Cavalry turns up a century or so later, in the third generation of
                  military writings.

                  PETER: Yet one other thing: there's nothing about "0" that says "remember to
                  count backwards" as an era label or even a minus sign does.

                  BRUCE: Nor is there anything in the shape of letter A that suggests a
                  following B. One learns these things by exposure. 0345 is in the backward
                  series; 345 is in the forward series. It's not very difficult. People do
                  that sort of thing all the time.

                  The leading zero idea, to avoid BC and all other acronyms whatever, does not
                  get rid of counting backward. It would be nice to get rid of counting
                  backward (does anybody else have trouble subtracting uphill?), but that more
                  radical change involves impractical consequences. Leading zero is thus an
                  admittedly partial solution, a mere mitigation, but with Voltaire, I figure
                  half a loaf is better than no bread. Recommended accordingly.

                  E Bruce Brooks
                  Warring States Project
                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                • Robert M Whiting
                  ... A certain amount of simplification here, since if I remember DeFrancis correctly (not having it here in front of me), this covers only one category
                  Message 8 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                    On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

                    > BRUCE: The typical Chinese character is made up of two elements, one
                    > conventionally called the "radical" in the belief that it represents the
                    > root meaning, and the other conventionally called the "phonetic." Best
                    > current thinking is that the "radical" is what at least some Near
                    > Easternists call the "determinative" or semantic-area designator, and the
                    > "phonetic" carries not only the sound, but [as in all languages] the meaning
                    > associated with the sound. It would be nice to know exactly what NE script
                    > is closest to this system, given that the "phonetic" part is pictorial
                    > rather than alphabetic. Peter implies Sumerian. Does that find general
                    > agreement on this list?

                    A certain amount of simplification here, since if I remember DeFrancis
                    correctly (not having it here in front of me), this covers only one
                    category (although perhaps the largest and hence the "typical" group) of
                    Chinese signs.

                    As I remember it, all the sign types identified by DeFrancis are found in
                    the Sumerian script, if not necessarily in the same proportions.

                    There are both iconic and indexical pictograms with no overt phonetic
                    marker. Iconic examples include UTU 'sun' [a picture of the sun rising]
                    and signs like GI 'reed' and $E 'barley' representing plants or MU$EN
                    'bird' or KU6 'fish' or SAG 'head' or KUR 'mountain'. Indexical
                    pictograms include DUMU (a picture of female breasts to indicate 'child')
                    and A (wavy lines to indicate water). Pictograms that represent an object
                    pars pro toto fall somewhere between icons and indices and include SAL (a
                    picture of the female pubic triangle for 'woman') U$ (NITA) (a picture of
                    the male sex organ for 'male', 'man') the head of an animal for the entire
                    animal (GUD, 'bull', 'ox'; AB2, 'cow', PIRIG, 'lion'; GIR3 (AN$E) 'equid';
                    KA5 'fox'; etc.). Also indexical is the use of a picture of a foot to
                    indicate actions associated with the foot (e.g. GIN 'go', 'walk'; TUM3
                    'bring'; GUB 'stand'), but not for the word 'foot' itself None of these
                    signs have any explicit phonetic content (i.e., the phonetic sequences
                    that they represent are supplied by the reader from his knowledge of the
                    language).

                    Iconic and indexical pictograms are also extended indexically to include
                    related concepts (e.g. UTU 'sun' --> UD / U4 'day' / 'time'; BABBAR
                    'white'; DAG2 'shining', 'bright'; KUM4 'hot'; AH3 'dry'; TAM (DAM2)
                    'clean'; etc. or KUR 'mountain' --> '[foreign] country'), still without
                    any explicit phonetic indication in the sign itself.

                    Another category of sign creation is the combination of two iconic or
                    indexical pictograms into a new sign. For example, KUR, 'mountain',
                    '(foreign) country' is combined with the signs NITA ('man'), SAL
                    ('woman'), and GUD ('bull') to make NITAxKUR (ARAD2, 'slave'), SAL+KUR
                    (GEME2, 'slave-woman'), and GUDxKUR (AM, 'wild bull'). Similarly, A
                    'water' and AN 'sky' combine into A+AN (AM3 / $EG3, 'rain' / 'storm').
                    There is still no explicit phonetic content to the sign but simply the
                    combination of two iconic or indexical representations. I tend to think
                    of these combinations as "word pictures".

                    Another method of sign creation is the specification of a part of an
                    existing sign to indicate a new meaning. Thus SAG ('head') with lines
                    drawn near the mouth becomes KA ('mouth') and DUG4 ('speak'). Such signs
                    can be further combined (e.g., KA 'mouth' and A 'water' become NAG2
                    'drink', etc.). Still no explicit indication of phonetic content,
                    however; just more word pictures.

                    Then there is the combination of iconic or indexical signs with phonetic
                    indicators, in the manner you consider "typical" of Chinese script, to
                    make new signs. PIRIG 'lion' is combined with the UD (u4) sign to
                    indicate UG 'lion' and with the ZA sign ('bead') to make AZ(A) 'bear'.
                    GIR3 ('equid') is combined with A+IGI (= alim) to make ALIM ('bison).
                    Similarly, KA ('mouth') + ME is EME 'tongue'. In such cases, the phonetic
                    element of the sign indicates part or all of the reading of the sign.
                    Note the distinction between the "word picture" 'mouth' + 'water' (KAxA) =
                    'drink' (NAG2) and the phonetic indication 'mouth' + /me/ (KAxME) = EME
                    where the semantic content of the ME sign is ignored. In the first
                    instance there is a fusion of two "radicals" with no phonetic content. In
                    the second, there is a fusion of "radical" and "phonetic" to produce a
                    sign that contains explicit phonetic information.

                    Finally, there are Sumerian signs that are more or less completely
                    phonetic. Such signs usually involve a "bearer" sign (which you might
                    consider as corresponding to a "radical") which does not enter into the
                    equation but merely provides a platform for the "phonetic" which provides
                    the entire determination of the semantic content of the sign (although
                    sometimes the "bearer" contributes part of the phonetic content). Common
                    bearer signs typically have open space where the "phonetic" can be
                    inscribed. Signs like KA, GA2, EZEN, URU and LAGAB are frequently
                    "bearers". An example is GAZI (= GA2xPA) or GAZI2 (= GA2xSUM) (where PA =
                    si29 and SUM = si3). Sumerian gazi corresponds to Akkadian kasû and the
                    word is probably a loan in both Sumerian and Akkadian since it refers to a
                    kind of condiment or spice. On the other hand, BAD3 ('wall') is simply
                    EZENxBAD and the phonetic value is provided solely by the inscribed BAD
                    sign and the EZEN part contributes nothing except to carry the BAD sign.

                    As far as I know (as I say, I don't have DeFrancis here), Chinese signs
                    corresponding to all these types are known, but the fact that the Sumerian
                    signs with explicit phonetic content are much rarer than the Chinese may
                    be explained by another factor, which brings me to the next point:

                    On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                    ********
                    The _only_ typological difference between Chinese and Sumerian is that
                    the combination of radical and phonetic was fused into a single item in
                    Chinese -- the characters -- while in Sumerian, they remained separate
                    (thus the thousands of Chinese characters vs. the several hundred in
                    cuneiform).
                    ********

                    This, of course, is simply false. As can be from the discussion above, or
                    from a knowledge of the Sumerian script, there are numerous examples in
                    the Sumerian script where "radical" and "phonetic" were fused into a
                    single sign. The factor that accounts for the difference is the fact that
                    sometime fairly early on the Sumerian signary was closed. This meant that
                    after this point no new signs could be added to the inventory and blocked
                    the fusion of existing signs into a new sign. In logography, new signs are
                    needed for new words. These may be new coinings, but most commonly,
                    foreign names and loan words that must be expressed in writing. Since no
                    new signs can be added to the signary, such words must be written
                    syllabically (phonetically) or with "word pictures". The former really
                    needs no example since it is found passim. The latter is illustrated with
                    the writing of the Sumerian word for 'horse'. The horse came into
                    Mesopotamia long after the cuneiform signary was closed. The Sumerian
                    word for 'horse' is sisi (or zizi, since Sumerian did not have a
                    voiced/voiceless distinction it's hard to tell). Since no new sign could
                    be created for it, it was written either syllabically (AN$E.zi.zi or
                    simply zi.zi) or with a "word picture" (AN$E.KUR or AN$E.KUR.RA; "equid of
                    the mountains" or "foreign equid). As the examples of NITAxKUR, SAL+KUR,
                    and GUDxKUR given above show, had the word for 'horse' come into Sumerian
                    before the signary was closed, the most likely development would have been
                    *AN$ExKUR --> SISI 'horse'.

                    So the thing that sent the development of Sumerian script on a divergent
                    path from the development of Chinese script was the closing of the
                    Sumerian signary which prevented the fusion of existing signs into new
                    ones. Sumerians could coin new words, but not new signs.

                    Peter describes the situation in Sumerian after the closing of the
                    signary, but not before. If Chinese writing developed by "stimulus" from
                    Sumerian, then the closing of the Sumerian signary, whenever that may have
                    been precisely, would seem to be a likely terminus ante quem for the
                    stimulus.


                    Bob Whiting
                    whiting@...
                  • Tomas Marik
                    Yushu Gong, Studien zur Bildung und Entwicklung der Keilschriftzeichen, Hamburg 1993 [= Schriftenreihe Antiquates 7] offers actually a detailed comparison
                    Message 9 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                      Yushu Gong, Studien zur Bildung und Entwicklung der Keilschriftzeichen,
                      Hamburg 1993 [= Schriftenreihe Antiquates 7] offers actually a detailed comparison between Archaic Cuneiform and the script of Chinese bone inscriptions.

                      Tomas Marik
                      tomas.marik@...
                    • Peter T. Daniels
                      Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them? They re 2000 years apart. -- Peter T. Daniels grammatim@verizon.net ... From: Tomas Marik
                      Message 10 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                        Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them? They're 2000 years apart.

                        --
                        Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...



                        ----- Original Message ----
                        From: Tomas Marik <tomas.marik@...>
                        To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 6:40:26 AM
                        Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                        Yushu Gong, Studien zur Bildung und Entwicklung der Keilschriftzeichen,
                        Hamburg 1993 [= Schriftenreihe Antiquates 7] offers actually a detailed comparison between Archaic Cuneiform and the script of Chinese bone inscriptions.

                        Tomas Marik
                        tomas.marik@...









                        Yahoo! Groups Links




                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Peter T. Daniels
                        ... From: Robert M Whiting To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 6:06:49 AM Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re:
                        Message 11 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
                        • 0 Attachment
                          ----- 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


                          On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, E Bruce Brooks wrote:

                          > BRUCE: The typical Chinese character is made up of two elements, one
                          > conventionally called the "radical" in the belief that it represents the
                          > root meaning, and the other conventionally called the "phonetic." Best
                          > current thinking is that the "radical" is what at least some Near
                          > Easternists call the "determinative" or semantic-area designator, and the
                          > "phonetic" carries not only the sound, but [as in all languages] the meaning
                          > associated with the sound. It would be nice to know exactly what NE script
                          > is closest to this system, given that the "phonetic" part is pictorial
                          > rather than alphabetic. Peter implies Sumerian. Does that find general
                          > agreement on this list?

                          BOB: A certain amount of simplification here, since if I remember DeFrancis
                          correctly (not having it here in front of me), this covers only one
                          category (although perhaps the largest and hence the "typical" group) of
                          Chinese signs.

                          As I remember it, all the sign types identified by DeFrancis are found in
                          the Sumerian script, if not necessarily in the same proportions.
                          ********
                          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?) You don't need to refer to DeFrancis for the six categories -- they're very traditional and can be found in just about any account of Chinese writing, e.g. WWS p. 197.
                          ********
                          <...>
                          BOB: Finally, there are Sumerian signs that are more or less completely
                          phonetic. Such signs usually involve a "bearer" sign (which you might
                          consider as corresponding to a "radical") which does not enter into the
                          ********
                          PTD: They're not really parallel to anything in Chinese, where both components always contribute something to the reading of the character, and there don't seem to be any phonetic components that never at all function as a separate character.
                          ********
                          BOB: equation but merely provides a platform for the "phonetic" which provides
                          the entire determination of the semantic content of the sign (although
                          sometimes the "bearer" contributes part of the phonetic content). Common
                          bearer signs typically have open space where the "phonetic" can be
                          inscribed. Signs like KA, GA2, EZEN, URU and LAGAB are frequently
                          "bearers". An example is GAZI (= GA2xPA) or GAZI2 (= GA2xSUM) (where PA =
                          si29 and SUM = si3). Sumerian gazi corresponds to Akkadian kasû and the
                          word is probably a loan in both Sumerian and Akkadian since it refers to a
                          kind of condiment or spice. On the other hand, BAD3 ('wall') is simply
                          EZENxBAD and the phonetic value is provided solely by the inscribed BAD
                          sign and the EZEN part contributes nothing except to carry the BAD sign.

                          As far as I know (as I say, I don't have DeFrancis here), Chinese signs
                          corresponding to all these types are known, but the fact that the Sumerian
                          signs with explicit phonetic content are much rarer than the Chinese may
                          be explained by another factor, which brings me to the next point:

                          On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                          ********
                          The _only_ typological difference between Chinese and Sumerian is that
                          the combination of radical and phonetic was fused into a single item in
                          Chinese -- the characters -- while in Sumerian, they remained separate
                          (thus the thousands of Chinese characters vs. the several hundred in
                          cuneiform).
                          ********

                          BOB: This, of course, is simply false. As can be from the discussion above, or
                          from a knowledge of the Sumerian script, there are numerous examples in
                          ********
                          PTD: You have an odd definition of "simply false"! It's one of your favorite phrases ... but it rules out productive generalization.

                          Define "numerous." There is also a small number of Chinese characters that are semantic-only, and an even smaller number that really are semantic+semantic (despite folk etymologies that have obscured their semantic+phonetic background, see e.g. David Prager Branner in the new ed. of _Encyclopedia of Lang & Ling_ [ed. Brown, Elsevier 2006]). That doesn't nullify the fact that the vast majority of Chinese characters are semantic+phonetic.
                          ********
                          BOB: the Sumerian script where "radical" and "phonetic" were fused into a
                          single sign. The factor that accounts for the difference is the fact that
                          sometime fairly early on the Sumerian signary was closed. This meant that
                          after this point no new signs could be added to the inventory and blocked
                          the fusion of existing signs into a new sign. In logography, new signs are
                          needed for new words. These may be new coinings, but most commonly,
                          foreign names and loan words that must be expressed in writing. Since no
                          new signs can be added to the signary, such words must be written
                          syllabically (phonetically) or with "word pictures". The former really
                          needs no example since it is found passim. The latter is illustrated with
                          the writing of the Sumerian word for 'horse'. The horse came into
                          Mesopotamia long after the cuneiform signary was closed. The Sumerian
                          word for 'horse' is sisi (or zizi, since Sumerian did not have a
                          voiced/voiceless distinction it's hard to tell). Since no new sign could
                          be created for it, it was written either syllabically (AN$E.zi.zi or
                          simply zi.zi) or with a "word picture" (AN$E.KUR or AN$E.KUR.RA; "equid of
                          the mountains" or "foreign equid). As the examples of NITAxKUR, SAL+KUR,
                          and GUDxKUR given above show, had the word for 'horse' come into Sumerian
                          before the signary was closed, the most likely development would have been
                          *AN$ExKUR --> SISI 'horse'.

                          So the thing that sent the development of Sumerian script on a divergent
                          path from the development of Chinese script was the closing of the
                          Sumerian signary which prevented the fusion of existing signs into new
                          ones. Sumerians could coin new words, but not new signs.

                          Peter describes the situation in Sumerian after the closing of the
                          signary, but not before. If Chinese writing developed by "stimulus" from
                          Sumerian, then the closing of the Sumerian signary, whenever that may have
                          been precisely, would seem to be a likely terminus ante quem for the
                          stimulus.
                          ********
                          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.? 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).


                          Bob Whiting
                          whiting@...
                          --
                          Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Peter T. Daniels
                          ... From: E Bruce Brooks To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 3:09:22 AM Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re:
                          Message 12 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
                          • 0 Attachment
                            ----- Original Message ----
                            From: E Bruce Brooks <brooks@...>
                            To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 3:09:22 AM
                            Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                            To: ANE-2
                            In Response To: Peter Daniels
                            On: Writing
                            From: Bruce

                            Does anyone else have the sense that this discussion is dissipating in small
                            quibbles? Here are some replies, with the excuse that general principles of
                            interest may sometimes be involved.
                            ********
                            Have you _been_ reading ANE-2 List? It's _made_ of "small quibbles"!
                            ********
                            PETER: "Cultures" don't devise scripts, individuals do.

                            BRUCE: In the absence of a known individual to ascribe a script to, I
                            suggest that "culture" is a reasonable makeshift designation.
                            ********
                            In the presence of a dozen or more known examples of the 19th-20th centuries, I disagree.
                            ********
                            PETER [on the inventors of scripts]: (Sometimes they tried doing a
                            logography, with a different symbol for every word, but they soon, or
                            eventually, discovered that no memory was adequate for such a scheme.)

                            BRUCE: In that case the rule that invented scripts are always syllabaries
                            vanishes. As for logographic memory, in my field we are supposed to be able
                            to handle 50,000 different signs. What stopped Sequoyah?
                            ********
                            A failed attempt is not an "invented script"; it's a failed attempt. The reason Chinese can be said to have 50,000 different signs (the number listed in the largest lists -- does anyone claim to be able to recognize them all?) is that they are _not_ 50,000 different entities, but are combined from somewhere around 1000 different components (the 214 [according to a common standard] radicals, and my "Fenn's Pocket Dictionary" of 1940 lists just under 900 phonetics), a number comparable to the number of English words whose pronunciation can't be determined from their spelling and so must be learned individually (e.g to two too, bomb comb tomb, bear fear [cf. tear]).
                            ********
                            PETER: It's misleading to call Chinese "syllabic," precisely because it
                            isn't a syllabary.

                            BRUCE: In Chinese, the character corresponds to the syllable. When a word,
                            such as the famous "butterfly" (hudye), has two syllables, two characters,
                            not one, are used to write it. A syllabary is where there is only one way of
                            writing each phonetic syllable in the language; in Chinese, there are *many*
                            different ways of writing the same phonetic syllable depending on what word
                            (or word fraction) it represents. The concept "syllabary" seems well
                            distinguished from "syllabic" in this sense, and I doubt that anyone has
                            been seriously misled.
                            ********
                            It was a comment on your specific formulation, the one you snipped.
                            ********
                            PETER: The kana are only diachronically, but not synchronically, related to
                            the kanji, so it's misleading to suggest that Chinese writing "is used in a
                            reduced and abbreviated form as a syllabary."

                            BRUCE: Don't understand the statement about kana/kanji relation. My sense of
                            the situation is that Chinese characters had acquired abbreviated forms in
                            the Chinese calligraphic tradition before Japan (presumably some individual
                            Japanese or two, but don't I don't happen to know their names, so I default
                            to the next higher level) made contact with them. The Japanese innovation,
                            never attempted in China either then or since, was to adopt a set of these
                            short forms, one for each CV syllable in the Japanese of that time (Nara
                            period), and to write the language with them, abandoning the semantic
                            distinctions offered by the characters, but gaining whatever advantage
                            inheres in a more phonetic approach, including a much easier instructional
                            scenario. Kana did not replace characters in Japan, which were and still are
                            used alongside them (and some texts continued to be written wholly in
                            Chinese: the Chinese language, not just the Chinese wordforms).
                            ********
                            Was it simply the words "synchronic" and "diachronic" that confused you?
                            ********

                            I now try to get to a larger issue. What interests me about the evolutionary
                            picture here is that the step from characters to kana syllabary units was
                            not taken as long as the characters remained in China (despite the existence
                            in China of short written forms); this occurred only when they were
                            transmitted to Japan; that is, when they crossed a boundary and acquired a
                            different cultural context.
                            ********
                            See my article "On Writing Syllables: Three Episodes of Script Transfer," Studies in the Linguistic Sciences (Urbana) 30 (2000): 73-86 [the King Sejong memorial conference]. I don't use China > Japan as one of my examples of typological change when a script is taken over for a new language; it fits the paradigm.
                            ********

                            E Bruce Brooks
                            Warring States Project
                            University of Massachusetts at Amherst
                            --
                            Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Tomas Marik
                            ... It deals with the structure of the signs, there seem to be no comments on this question. Tomas Marik tomas.marik@ff.cuni.cz
                            Message 13 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                              Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                              >Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them? They're 2000 years apart.
                              >
                              >
                              It deals with the structure of the signs, there seem to be no comments on this question.

                              Tomas Marik
                              tomas.marik@...
                            • Peter T. Daniels
                              See also William Boltz, *The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System* (American Oriental Series 78, 1994; corrected pbk. reprint 2003),
                              Message 14 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                                See also William Boltz, *The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System* (American Oriental Series 78, 1994; corrected pbk. reprint 2003), which offers typological comparisons with Sumerian. NB He says that Jerry Cooper continues to misunderstand his typological notation regarding "S" and "P."

                                --
                                Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...



                                ----- Original Message ----
                                From: Tomas Marik <tomas.marik@...>
                                To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 8:18:33 AM
                                Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                                Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                                >Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them? They're 2000 years apart.
                                >
                                >
                                It deals with the structure of the signs, there seem to be no comments on this question.

                                Tomas Marik
                                tomas.marik@...

                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Tomas Marik
                                BTW, three weeks ago I found a fragment of an inscribed oracle bone among our Old Assyrian Tablets. My colleagues from Sinology were a little bit upset, until
                                Message 15 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                                  BTW, three weeks ago I found a fragment of an inscribed oracle bone
                                  among our Old Assyrian Tablets. My colleagues from Sinology were a
                                  little bit upset, until we found out that the "J" of the siglum is a "U"
                                  and the bone really doesn't belong to 19th/18th century B.C. Kültepe.

                                  Tomas Marik
                                  tomas.marik@...

                                  Peter T. Daniels wrote:

                                  >See also William Boltz, *The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System* (American Oriental Series 78, 1994; corrected pbk. reprint 2003), which offers typological comparisons with Sumerian. NB He says that Jerry Cooper continues to misunderstand his typological notation regarding "S" and "P."
                                  >
                                  >--
                                  >Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                • funhistory
                                  ... Back in June we had a thread, Old Shells Suggest Early Human Adornment (beginning @ message #1896). Why is it so easy for the scientific community to
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Aug 6, 2006
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                                    > Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them?
                                    > They're 2000 years apart.
                                    > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                                    Back in June we had a thread, "Old Shells Suggest Early Human
                                    Adornment" (beginning @ message #1896). Why is it so easy for the
                                    scientific community to push this human accomplishment back tens of
                                    thousands of years (i.e., the majority of specimens date to 40kya; some
                                    in Africa 75kya; es-Skhul reports allowed for 100-130kya), but a 2k-
                                    year gap between Archaic Cuneiform & the Chinese bone script sounds
                                    absurd? If there are similarities, no matter how obscure, isn't it
                                    possible that the same explanations for the continuity of symbolic
                                    behavior at es-Skhul could apply to a tangible relationship between
                                    scripts in Mesopotamia & China? Isn't it fair to say that our
                                    knowledge of ancient Chinese culture is vague/dim compared to that in
                                    Mesopotamia?

                                    George Michael Grena, II
                                    Redondo Beach, CA
                                  • Peter T. Daniels
                                    ... From: funhistory To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:16:13 PM Subject: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2]
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Aug 7, 2006
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                                      ----- Original Message ----
                                      From: funhistory <yahoo-ane-2@...>
                                      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                      Sent: Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:16:13 PM
                                      Subject: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                                      > Not, surely, for suggesting any connection between them?
                                      > They're 2000 years apart.
                                      > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                                      Back in June we had a thread, "Old Shells Suggest Early Human
                                      Adornment" (beginning @ message #1896). Why is it so easy for the
                                      scientific community to push this human accomplishment back tens of
                                      thousands of years (i.e., the majority of specimens date to 40kya; some
                                      in Africa 75kya; es-Skhul reports allowed for 100-130kya), but a 2k-
                                      year gap between Archaic Cuneiform & the Chinese bone script sounds
                                      absurd? If there are similarities, no matter how obscure, isn't it
                                      possible that the same explanations for the continuity of symbolic
                                      behavior at es-Skhul could apply to a tangible relationship between
                                      scripts in Mesopotamia & China? Isn't it fair to say that our
                                      knowledge of ancient Chinese culture is vague/dim compared to that in
                                      Mesopotamia?

                                      ********
                                      No, and no.

                                      What is the "same explanation"?

                                      What's the similarity between using naturally occurring pretty things as ornament, and writing?

                                      Have you looked at what archeology knows of Shang (and earlier) China?
                                      --
                                      Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • Robert M Whiting
                                      ... 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
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Aug 7, 2006
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                                        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
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, E Bruce Brooks wrote:
                                        >
                                        > > BRUCE: The typical Chinese character is made up of two elements, one
                                        > > conventionally called the "radical" in the belief that it represents
                                        > > the root meaning, and the other conventionally called the "phonetic."
                                        > > Best current thinking is that the "radical" is what at least some Near
                                        > > Easternists call the "determinative" or semantic-area designator, and
                                        > > the "phonetic" carries not only the sound, but [as in all languages]
                                        > > the meaning associated with the sound. It would be nice to know
                                        > > exactly what NE script is closest to this system, given that the
                                        > > "phonetic" part is pictorial rather than alphabetic. Peter implies
                                        > > Sumerian. Does that find general agreement on this list?
                                        >
                                        > BOB: A certain amount of simplification here, since if I remember
                                        > DeFrancis correctly (not having it here in front of me), this covers
                                        > only one category (although perhaps the largest and hence the "typical"
                                        > group) of Chinese signs.
                                        >
                                        > As I remember it, all the sign types identified by DeFrancis are found in
                                        > the Sumerian script, if not necessarily in the same proportions.
                                        > ********
                                        > 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.

                                        > You don't need to refer to DeFrancis for the six categories -- they're
                                        > very traditional and can be found in just about any account of Chinese
                                        > writing, e.g. WWS p. 197.

                                        Okay, using the categories on p. 197 of WWS, we have the following
                                        (Chinese script and transcription omitted):

                                        1) 'indicating the matter': These are indexical signs that suggest
                                        the "semantic" through some association (e.g., Sum. DUMU, A, etc.).

                                        2) 'representing the form': These are iconic representations (e.g.,
                                        SAG, UTU, etc.).

                                        3) 'forming the sound': These are compounds of the KA + /me/ = EME
                                        type.

                                        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.

                                        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.

                                        6) 'borrowed characters': Another usage cagegoy. This is rebus
                                        writing, where a sign is used to write a word homophonous with the
                                        word the sign usually represents (e.g., [famously] Sum. TI 'arrow'
                                        --> TI 'life').

                                        So according to Boltz, Chinese did not create signs of the "semantic" +
                                        "semantic" type but only of the unitary "semantic" and "semantic" +
                                        "phonetic" types. Since he does not mention it, presumaby it did not
                                        create signs of the "phonetic" + "phonetic" or "blank" + "phonetic"
                                        either.

                                        Sumerian, on the other hand created signs of all these types (before the
                                        signary was closed, of course).

                                        > ********
                                        > <...>
                                        > BOB: Finally, there are Sumerian signs that are more or less completely
                                        > phonetic. Such signs usually involve a "bearer" sign (which you might
                                        > consider as corresponding to a "radical") which does not enter into the
                                        > ********
                                        > PTD: They're not really parallel to anything in Chinese, where both
                                        > components always contribute something to the reading of the character,

                                        Sumerian even created polysyllabic combinations by ligaturing two
                                        individual signs, interestingly, always, to my knowledge, in reverse
                                        order: ZU+AB --> ABZU; GAL+LU2 --> LUGAL; GAL+U$UM --> U$UMGAL. These,
                                        however, are quite rare.

                                        > and there don't seem to be any phonetic components that never at all
                                        > function as a separate character.

                                        The same is true of Sumerian. This would seem to be logical since the
                                        phonetic value of a sign is only determined by its use as a character.
                                        Sumerian does have some values of some signs that are only phonetic (i.e.,
                                        there is no logographically represented word with that value represented
                                        by that sign. Sumerian referred to such values as KA.KA-si-ga.

                                        > ********
                                        > BOB: equation but merely provides a platform for the "phonetic" which provides
                                        > the entire determination of the semantic content of the sign (although
                                        > sometimes the "bearer" contributes part of the phonetic content). Common
                                        > bearer signs typically have open space where the "phonetic" can be
                                        > inscribed. Signs like KA, GA2, EZEN, URU and LAGAB are frequently
                                        > "bearers". An example is GAZI (= GA2xPA) or GAZI2 (= GA2xSUM) (where PA =
                                        > si29 and SUM = si3). Sumerian gazi corresponds to Akkadian kasû and the
                                        > word is probably a loan in both Sumerian and Akkadian since it refers to a
                                        > kind of condiment or spice. On the other hand, BAD3 ('wall') is simply
                                        > EZENxBAD and the phonetic value is provided solely by the inscribed BAD
                                        > sign and the EZEN part contributes nothing except to carry the BAD sign.
                                        >
                                        > As far as I know (as I say, I don't have DeFrancis here), Chinese signs
                                        > corresponding to all these types are known, but the fact that the Sumerian
                                        > signs with explicit phonetic content are much rarer than the Chinese may
                                        > be explained by another factor, which brings me to the next point:
                                        >
                                        > On Sat, 5 Aug 2006, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
                                        >
                                        > ********
                                        > The _only_ typological difference between Chinese and Sumerian is that
                                        > the combination of radical and phonetic was fused into a single item in
                                        > Chinese -- the characters -- while in Sumerian, they remained separate
                                        > (thus the thousands of Chinese characters vs. the several hundred in
                                        > cuneiform).
                                        > ********
                                        >
                                        > BOB: This, of course, is simply false. As can be from the discussion
                                        > above, or from a knowledge of the Sumerian script, there are numerous
                                        > examples in
                                        > ********
                                        > PTD: You have an odd definition of "simply false"! It's one of your
                                        > favorite phrases ...

                                        Actually, it is not one of one of my favorite phrases. It is just, sadly,
                                        often applicable. I am much fonder of "poppycock and balderdash", but I
                                        only use that for arrant nonsense. What you have said is not arrant
                                        nonsense. With some modification it could be made into a valid statement.
                                        But as it is stated, it is simply false. There are a large number of
                                        fused signs in Sumerian. There are just not any from after the signary
                                        was closed. So it's not a typological difference, it is a procedural
                                        difference. What caused the limited number of signs in Sumerian cuneiform
                                        is not the typology of sign creation, but the fact that the signary was
                                        closed forcing new combinations to be written as separate signs (generally
                                        known as diri-type logograms).

                                        > but it rules out productive generalization.

                                        I don't consider a generalization that is false over much of its range to
                                        be productive.

                                        > Define "numerous."

                                        Possibly as many as several hundred. 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). Look at the common "bearer" signs (KA,
                                        URU, EZEN, LAGAB, GA2 [PISAN], NINDA2 etc.) and see how many combinations
                                        there are. In a quick check today I counted over 40 combinations with KA
                                        and over 60 with GA2 as "bearer". All of these signs are not of equal
                                        evidentiary value, of course; some are only attested in archaic texts and
                                        their meanings and readings are unknown; some are attested from late sign
                                        lists and may reflect "scholarly reinterpretation over the millennnia.
                                        But there are sufficient transparent examples of "semantic" + "semantic",
                                        "semantic" + "phonetic" and "blank/bearer" + "phonetic" combinations to
                                        show that the technique was productive before the signary was closed.

                                        > There is also a small number of Chinese characters that are
                                        > semantic-only, and an even smaller number that really are
                                        > semantic+semantic (despite folk etymologies that have obscured their
                                        > semantic+phonetic background, see e.g. David Prager Branner in the new
                                        > ed. of _Encyclopedia of Lang & Ling_ [ed. Brown, Elsevier 2006]).

                                        That would be interesting since Boltz seems to be of the opinion (as
                                        described above under 4) that semantic+semantic was not used for character
                                        creation but is a "learned" category of reflective analysis.

                                        > That doesn't nullify the fact that the vast majority of Chinese
                                        > characters are semantic+phonetic.

                                        I don't doubt it. And if Nisaba or whoever was in charge of the Sumerian
                                        script hadn't put a stop to it, I don't doubt that a large part of the
                                        Sumerian signary would be too. 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.

                                        > ********
                                        > BOB: the Sumerian script where "radical" and "phonetic" were fused into a
                                        > single sign. The factor that accounts for the difference is the fact that
                                        > sometime fairly early on the Sumerian signary was closed. This meant that
                                        > after this point no new signs could be added to the inventory and blocked
                                        > the fusion of existing signs into a new sign. In logography, new signs are
                                        > needed for new words. These may be new coinings, but most commonly,
                                        > foreign names and loan words that must be expressed in writing. Since no
                                        > new signs can be added to the signary, such words must be written
                                        > syllabically (phonetically) or with "word pictures". The former really
                                        > needs no example since it is found passim. The latter is illustrated with
                                        > the writing of the Sumerian word for 'horse'. The horse came into
                                        > Mesopotamia long after the cuneiform signary was closed. The Sumerian
                                        > word for 'horse' is sisi (or zizi, since Sumerian did not have a
                                        > voiced/voiceless distinction it's hard to tell). Since no new sign could
                                        > be created for it, it was written either syllabically (AN$E.zi.zi or
                                        > simply zi.zi) or with a "word picture" (AN$E.KUR or AN$E.KUR.RA; "equid of
                                        > the mountains" or "foreign equid). As the examples of NITAxKUR, SAL+KUR,
                                        > and GUDxKUR given above show, had the word for 'horse' come into Sumerian
                                        > before the signary was closed, the most likely development would have been
                                        > *AN$ExKUR --> SISI 'horse'.
                                        >
                                        > So the thing that sent the development of Sumerian script on a divergent
                                        > path from the development of Chinese script was the closing of the
                                        > Sumerian signary which prevented the fusion of existing signs into new
                                        > ones. Sumerians could coin new words, but not new signs.
                                        >
                                        > Peter describes the situation in Sumerian after the closing of the
                                        > signary, but not before. If Chinese writing developed by "stimulus" from
                                        > Sumerian, then the closing of the Sumerian signary, whenever that may have
                                        > been precisely, would seem to be a likely terminus ante quem for the
                                        > stimulus.
                                        > ********
                                        > 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.

                                        > 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.

                                        Bob Whiting
                                        whiting@...
                                      • Peter T. Daniels
                                        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
                                        Message 19 of 27 , 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]
                                        • funhistory
                                          ... Bob s succinct statement reinforces the point I made last week, which Peter disagreed with & apparently misunderstood; namely, it _IS POSSIBLE_ that the
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Aug 12, 2006
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                                            > No, and no.
                                            > Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

                                            > 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.
                                            > Bob Whiting

                                            Bob's succinct statement reinforces the point I made last week, which
                                            Peter disagreed with & apparently misunderstood; namely, it _IS
                                            POSSIBLE_ that the writing system in Mesopotamia was transmitted to
                                            China, if for no other reason the simple fact that _WE HAVE NO
                                            RECORD_ of how the earliest Chinese script came into being. As with
                                            the es-Skhul shells, _WE HAVE NO RECORD_ of where those dozen-or-so
                                            buried individuals came from or where their descendants went.
                                            (That's my response to Peter's question, "What is the 'same
                                            explanation'?")

                                            Furthermore, Bob's "centuries of development" represent a
                                            knowledgeable speculation, but nonetheless an assumption. A span of
                                            20 centuries from the original Mesopotamian connection, though more
                                            than Bob would probably allow, is not absurd if one's mind is open to
                                            writing on Bob's "perishable materials" (just as applicable to
                                            Chinese as Proto-Elamite & Proto-Indic). 20 missing centuries of
                                            assumed cultural continuity/development are a drop-in-the-bucket
                                            chronologically when compared to as many as 900 missing centuries at
                                            es-Skhul! (For the record, I disagree with these proposed dates, but
                                            that speculation is out-of-bounds for discussion here on ANE-2.)
                                            Which requires more development, the drilling of holes through
                                            seashells, or the establishment of a pictographic communication
                                            system?

                                            Peter also asked:

                                            > What's the similarity between using naturally
                                            > occurring pretty things as ornament, and writing?

                                            Both are visual symbols that convey meaning. The same way jewelry &
                                            fancy clothes convey meaning today. T-shirts tell a different story
                                            than tuxedos.

                                            George Michael Grena, II
                                            Redondo Beach, CA
                                          • Peter T. Daniels
                                            What does Mr. Grena think writing is? Hint: Conveying meaning doesn t define writing. (I snipped the Velikovsky/von Danikenesque parts about there being no
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Aug 13, 2006
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                                              What does Mr. Grena think "writing" is?

                                              Hint: "Conveying meaning" doesn't define writing.

                                              (I snipped the Velikovsky/von Danikenesque parts about there being no evidence for a connection, therefore there is a connection.)
                                              --
                                              Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...



                                              ----- Original Message ----
                                              From: funhistory <yahoo-ane-2@...>
                                              To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                              Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2006 11:32:20 PM
                                              Subject: Dating Chinese writing Re: [ANE-2] Cherubim Origins


                                              Peter also asked:

                                              > What's the similarity between using naturally
                                              > occurring pretty things as ornament, and writing?

                                              Both are visual symbols that convey meaning. The same way jewelry &
                                              fancy clothes convey meaning today. T-shirts tell a different story
                                              than tuxedos.

                                              George Michael Grena, II
                                              Redondo Beach, CA










                                              Yahoo! Groups Links




                                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                            • B.E.Colless
                                              ... This has been an absorbing discussion, and, as one whose main field of study has been cultural interaction between East and West, I am not at all concerned
                                              Message 22 of 27 , Aug 16, 2006
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                                                > From: "E Bruce Brooks" <brooks@...>
                                                > Reply-To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                                                > Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2006 17:31:43 -0400
                                                > To: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
                                                > Subject: Re: Dating Chinese writing
                                                >
                                                > PETER DANIELS: The origins of Chinese civilization are vastly off-topic for
                                                > ANE-2 List, . . .
                                                >
                                                > [on Chinese writing] I would refer you to the article by Michael
                                                > Puett in the same Mair volume, on the scholarly pendulum regarding "outside
                                                > influence" on China in the 2nd millennium. He argues for a middle ground, .
                                                > . .
                                                This has been an absorbing discussion, and, as one whose main field of study
                                                has been cultural interaction between East and West, I am not at all
                                                concerned about observing "topical" limits when there is a case to be
                                                considered in this area.

                                                I hope Bruce is still listening, as there is some ("dodgy") evidence I want
                                                to bring in to the debate.

                                                One of my early publications was:

                                                Dr B.E. Colless, Han and Ta-ch'in: China's ancient relations with the
                                                West (1. Han relations with western countries; 2. Han designations for
                                                western countries), Waikato University China Papers, 1, D. Bing, Editor,
                                                Hamilton, New Zealanad, 1972, 56-66.

                                                I suggested that Li-chien, Li-kan, and Ta-ch'in were all transcriptions of
                                                Alexandria (taking note of Karlgren's reconstructions). And there was the
                                                question whether An-hsi (An-syiek) represented Arsak or Antioch (Parthia or
                                                Syria), and whether T'iao-chih was Tigris or Antiokhia.

                                                However, I began by citing some data gleaned from Henry Yule, *Cathay and
                                                the way thither* (4 vols), revised by Henri Cordier (London 1914) 1, 7-8.
                                                The excitement of reading all those Hakluyt Society books in the Melbourne
                                                University library has just returned to me, and it gave me lots of ideas for
                                                problem-solving articles:

                                                Journal of Southeast Asian History
                                                Giovanni de' Marignolli. An Italian Prelate at the Court of the South-East
                                                Asian Queen of Sheba. 9, 2 (1968) 325-341
                                                The Ancient History of Singapore. 10, 1 (1969) 1-11

                                                Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society
                                                Persian Merchants and Missionaries in Medieval Malaya. 42, 2 (1969) 10-47
                                                Majapahit Revisited. External Evidence on the Geography and Ethnology of
                                                East Java in the Majapahit Period. 48, 2 (1975) 124-161

                                                Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia
                                                Walaing and the Sailendras of Java. 7 (1970) 15-22
                                                The Ancient Bnam Empire. Fu-nan and Po-nan. 9 (1972-1973) 21-31

                                                This last one mentions Bnam (Fu-nan, Po-nan), Indochina, which comes into
                                                the stories I want to recount here.

                                                A legendary Chinese account of an ancient embassy in the time of Yao (one of
                                                the Five Sages, I think): envoys of a race called *Yüeh shang shih* arrived
                                                from the south and presented tribute to the emperor (Yao, I presume).

                                                This same *Yüeh shang* nation is said to have sent another mission during
                                                the reign of Ch'eng Wang, in 1110 BCE (let's call it 01111, with a hand of
                                                four aces).

                                                Later commentators state that this country could be reached within a year
                                                (by sea), after passing Biu-nam (Fu-nan, Khmer region, Cambodia) and Lin-yi
                                                (Champa,southern Vietnam peopled by speakers of a Malayo-Polynesian
                                                language).

                                                Yule and Cordier mention the hypothesis of Pauthier that these people (whose
                                                name signifies "a people with long training robes", like those depicted on
                                                Assyrian monuments) came from Mesopotamia.

                                                However, Cordier (p8, n4) dismisses the sweeping generalization of Terrien
                                                de Lacouperie (1894) "that the Chinese civilization had its origin in
                                                western Asia and more particularly from Babylonia and Elam".

                                                But the interesting detail is in the tribute brought to Yao (before the time
                                                of the Shang Dynasty): a tortoise, which was allegedly one thousand years
                                                old, and which had an inscription on its shell, in strange characters
                                                resembling tadpoles.

                                                Or, we might say, looking like wedges, and thus cuneiform writing.

                                                Does this story receive a mention in the discussions going on in Sinic
                                                academia about the origins of the Chinese writing system?

                                                Brian Colless
                                                Massey University, New Zealand
                                              • E Bruce Brooks
                                                To: ANE-2 In Response To: B E Colless On: E/W Relations and Origins of Chinese Writing From: Bruce BEC: I hope Bruce is still listening, as there is some
                                                Message 23 of 27 , Aug 17, 2006
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                                                  To: ANE-2
                                                  In Response To: B E Colless
                                                  On: E/W Relations and Origins of Chinese Writing
                                                  From: Bruce

                                                  BEC: I hope Bruce is still listening, as there is some ("dodgy") evidence I
                                                  want to bring in to the debate.

                                                  EBB: Sure, always listening. And I guess I should respond to the second
                                                  iteration of this note, within one calendar day. But I don't know what I can
                                                  usefully contribute. I don't specialize in this area, and I have only a
                                                  general sense of the issues involved. I will say what occurs to me, in good
                                                  faith, from that general standpoint.

                                                  First, a context warning: This whole topic is very much constrained at the
                                                  Sinological end, as I tried to indicate in an earlier note. As it happens, I
                                                  received just today an envelope containing some writings (on paper and disk)
                                                  by a colleague who happens to differ from the official Chinese Government
                                                  position on ancient chronology. He was concerned that something might happen
                                                  to him, and he wanted there to be a second copy in existence. My job is to
                                                  maintain custody of that second copy, and if possible secure its
                                                  dissemination. That's the kind of game this is. I doubt that ANE people
                                                  operate under anything like those conditions, but the ambience has to be
                                                  understood as obtaining in Sinitic matters, before scholarly opinions in
                                                  this area, especially recent ones, can be properly and objectively
                                                  evaluated.

                                                  I here try to keep things brief, while being at least minimally responsive.
                                                  More available if anyone should be interested.

                                                  BEC [summarizing a publication of his own from 1972]: I suggested that
                                                  Li-chien, Li-kan, and Ta-ch'in were all transcriptions of Alexandria (taking
                                                  note of Karlgren's reconstructions). And there was the question whether
                                                  An-hsi (An-syiek) represented Arsak or Antioch (Parthia or Syria), and
                                                  whether T'iao-chih was Tigris or Antiokhia.

                                                  EBB: Such are, and have always been, the uncertainties. One problem on the
                                                  Chinese end is that reconstructions of old Chinese have not been done on the
                                                  comparative method, but as backward projections of modern Mandarin, ignoring
                                                  intermediate stages and going directly for the prize: Tang Chinese (famous
                                                  for literature) and Classical Chinese (famous for the classics). Some
                                                  linguists are beginning to take my advice of decades ago and pursue the
                                                  matter in smaller, but also more directly knowable, stages. That work is
                                                  just beginning, and its effects on conjectures about the more remote stages
                                                  of the language are not yet felt. Karlgren has lots of problems (beginning
                                                  with a wrong evaluation of Japanese phonetic evidence for Tang; he missed
                                                  the fact of significant sound change in Japanese over the last thousand
                                                  years, which was discovered by Hashimoto et al only later). In my opinion,
                                                  some of these problems are not yet satisfactorily fixed by later attempts,
                                                  including Li, Starostin, or Baxter-Sagart. Pulleyblank years ago, starting
                                                  from discontent with Karlgren precisely because it ignored transcription
                                                  evidence, and wasn't helpful for the history of China within the larger
                                                  Asia, tried to redo the job. Some of Pulleyblank's insights are undoubtedly
                                                  in the right direction. But of course there is a danger built into
                                                  transcription evidence too: it helps if we know what original name we are
                                                  transcribing, and if we don't know that, there is a danger of circularity.
                                                  And so it goes. In my view, which is not that of one on the front lines of
                                                  this particular advance, the end is not yet in sight. Meanwhile, I find it
                                                  hard to speak with assurance on the phonetic side, meaning that, to me, more
                                                  of the argument is going to rest on the historical side. We can't depend on
                                                  the unsupported sounds (as presently reconstructed) to reliably give us the
                                                  answer by themselves.

                                                  One recent and careful attempt to reassess these West Asian place name
                                                  identifications is by John Hill, who has posted an annotation of the
                                                  relevant chapter of the Hou Han Shu (HHS 88) on the Silk Road Seattle site:

                                                  http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/texts/hhshu/hou_han_shu.html

                                                  This is the latest thing as far as I know. Comments welcome. I am in touch
                                                  with John, and can pass on any comments to him (for that matter, I think
                                                  there is a mail like at this site).

                                                  BEC: A legendary Chinese account of an ancient embassy in the time of Yao
                                                  (one of the Five Sages, I think): envoys of a race called *Yüeh shang shih*
                                                  arrived from the south and presented tribute to the emperor (Yao, I
                                                  presume).

                                                  EBB: Presumptions are part of the problem. The other part of the problem is
                                                  legends as such. It is too often assumed that legends are in substance true.
                                                  I would suspect that, for the most part, legends are not a way of recording
                                                  facts, but are rather a culture's way of filling an uncomfortable gap in the
                                                  facts, or of replacing an uncomfortable fact by a more comfortable
                                                  concoction. Assuming for the moment that there is some sort of event at the
                                                  core of a given legend, the next question is, what is the date of that
                                                  event? In my experience, not only with Chinese legends or historical
                                                  statements, that date is very likely to be near the time of the writing of
                                                  the legend, and not the time *referred to* by the legend. Of this sort of
                                                  historical retrojection there are thousands of examples. That's the general
                                                  situation. I would need to know the source of this particular legend in
                                                  order to comment further. But if it has its roots in a real contact, that
                                                  contact need not necessarily be early. I think that Wellhausen made this
                                                  point long ago, for the history of Israel. I find that it applies to the
                                                  history of anything whatever. Most ancient texts are not themselves
                                                  antiquarian in nature; they intend to speak to their own time.

                                                  BEC: This same *Yüeh shang* nation is said to have sent another mission
                                                  during the reign of Ch'eng Wang, in 1110 BCE (let's call it 01111, with a
                                                  hand of four aces).

                                                  EBB: I would have to know what text first tells that story. It is, for
                                                  instance, absent in the Shr Ji account of the Jou dynasty, including
                                                  Chvng-wang (SJ 5; that account was written well before 0111, so that I lose
                                                  the chance of referring to a "hand of three aces"). Not knowing the date, I
                                                  can't evaluate it. But I can decode it, and so can anyone; it doesn't take
                                                  some ingenious French anthropologist. Most Chinese myths in this area have
                                                  as their content the message that China rightly rules the entire world, and
                                                  that since from time immemorial it always *has* ruled the entire world. The
                                                  only type of external political or cultural contact which Chinese orthodoxy
                                                  can readily imagine or comfortably internalize is one of complete
                                                  subordination to China. As Macartney and others found to their discomfort.

                                                  BEC: Later commentators state that this country could be reached within a
                                                  year (by sea), after passing Biu-nam (Fu-nan, Khmer region, Cambodia) and
                                                  Lin-yi (Champa,southern Vietnam peopled by speakers of a Malayo-Polynesian
                                                  language).

                                                  EBB: Again, how much later? But on information provided, it looks as though
                                                  some trans-Bnam sea contact of mediaeval times was (a) being rationalized
                                                  into a tribute mission the other way, and then (b) being furnished with a
                                                  wholly invented pedigree, which took the asserted relationship back to the
                                                  time of the (imaginary) Sage Kings.

                                                  BEC: . . . However, Cordier (p8, n4) dismisses the sweeping generalization
                                                  of Terrien de Lacouperie (1894) "that the Chinese civilization had its
                                                  origin in western Asia and more particularly from Babylonia and Elam".

                                                  EBB: It seems to me doubtful that a theory of wholesale cultural
                                                  transplantation from Mesopotamia to China can work (the Ten Lost Tribes
                                                  theory is only one of its variants). Doubtful a priori. Chinese civilization
                                                  also has fairly clear East Asian connections. But that China has from time
                                                  to time received significant infusions of ideas and techniques (in some
                                                  cases, along with a few termina technica in IE languages; I earlier
                                                  mentioned "horse") seems much more likely, and at minimum to be rationally
                                                  discussible.

                                                  Though pursuing that possibility won't get you anywhere either with the guys
                                                  in Peking or with Colin Renfrew, and both these facts have considerable
                                                  inhibiting force on the question itself. This situation in effect relegates
                                                  the topic to the fringe, where less scientific modes of discourse easily
                                                  come to obtain. It needs to be discussed, not at the fringe, but by people
                                                  in the center, with methodological rigor and with a linguistic conscience.
                                                  Maybe that can take place in the 22nd century; the present one seems to be
                                                  pretty much shot for this and other purposes.

                                                  BEC: But the interesting detail is in the tribute brought to Yao (before the
                                                  time of the Shang Dynasty): a tortoise, which was allegedly one thousand
                                                  years old, and which had an inscription on its shell, in strange characters
                                                  resembling tadpoles. / Or, we might say, looking like wedges, and thus
                                                  cuneiform writing.

                                                  EBB: Whatever the age and probity of this account, and I am dubious on both
                                                  scores, I don't think we can get from tadpoles to wedges. Two points: (1) It
                                                  was conjectured fairly early (by the Chinese) that some ancient worthy was
                                                  inspired to invent writing from seeing the marks on the shell of a turtle.
                                                  Whether that implies some knowledge of oracle bone writing (writing incised
                                                  into turtle plastrons, among other bone types) I don't know, though it is
                                                  imaginable. But in any case, as far as the actual origin of writing goes,
                                                  this aetiology looks like a free invention. (2) Some ancient writing does
                                                  look very like tadpoles. Those used to ordinary Chinese writing of the late
                                                  pre-Imperial period should, with that visual background, then take a look at
                                                  the inscription on a sword once belonging to a King of Wu (a non-Sinitic
                                                  area). The shapes of the latter, especially as viewed in that context, are
                                                  remarkably tadpole-like. Knowledge of such script forms (obtained from an
                                                  artifact or two then still above ground) plus the fact that these
                                                  inscriptions could not be read, could easily have given rise to the idea
                                                  that tadpole writing is more ancient than the other kind.

                                                  That's about as far as I get at this moment.

                                                  Best wishes,

                                                  Bruce

                                                  E Bruce Brooks
                                                  Warring States Project
                                                  University of Massachusetts at Amherst

                                                  [To be fair, I should add that another nature source for writing given in
                                                  the Chinese apocrypha is bird tracks. If we are aiming at wedges, bird
                                                  tracks may be a graphically easier place to start].
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