A Description and Comment on William G. Boltz’s Study on the Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System

  • Juyi Ren 任居易 北京师范大学文学院


William G. Boltz has made a comparative analysis on the Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, the Sumerian cuneiform script and the Chinese writing. Under the principle of “every Chinese character must have a phonetic component”, Boltz prefers characterizing-Chinese characters as “logograph” or “lexigraph” to “ideograph”. In Boltz’s opinion, a Chinese character is self-in- itiated script, rather than other-initiated. In the early development of the Chinese writing system, it is a sudden and instantaneous process when the “forerunners of writing” turns out to be “writing”. The Chinese writing system has three progression stages: the zodiographic stage, the graphic multivalence and the S/P determinatives stages. The Chinese script does not evolve into an alphabet, not only because of the Chinese language itself, but also Chinese people’s ideology. Besides, Boltz also has discussed some legends of the origin of the Chinese characters, the Liu shu and the Shuo wen chich tzu, and orthographic standardization.

Key words : William G. Boltz, Chinese writing system, Nature, Origin, Development



关键词:鲍则岳  汉字性质  汉字起源  汉字发展

Author Biography

Juyi Ren 任居易, 北京师范大学文学院

任居易(1989—), 男, 山东菏泽人, 北京师范大学文学院2017级博士研究生, 主要研究方向 是汉字学, 训诂学。