Chinese Characters across Asia: Continuity and transformation in Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese

Submitted by Arts & Sciences Web Team on

Chinese, like the other earliest inventions of writing, emerged in complex societies, where people needed to use symbols for writing. The script started as pictures, but quickly evolved to incorporate other mechanisms capable of indicating abstract concepts and grammatical structures. When Classical (or ancient) Chinese script spread, literate people in other cultures not only mastered it, but they then used it to represent their own distinct spoken languages in written form. Zev Handel, professor and department chair of Asian languages and literature at the UW, is quoted.

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