Signs of Writing: The Cultural, Social, and Linguistic Contexts of the World‘s First Writing Systems

All day
Through June 27, 2015

Begins
Jun. 26

Organized by 组织者

Edward Louis Shaughnessy

Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago 芝加哥大学东亚系

Christopher Woods

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago 芝加哥大学东方学院

Xiaoli Ouyang 欧阳晓莉

Department of History, Fuan University 复旦大学历史系

 

Sponsored by

 

The Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago and the Eastern Scholar Talent Grant from the Shanghai Municipal Government

 

本次会议得到芝加哥大学Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society

和上海市“东方学者“人才计划(2013-02)资助

 

Program会议日程

 

Beijing北京: 2015.06.26(Friday周五)

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing芝加哥大学北京中心

 

Session One: 9:30-11:45 Edward L. Shaughnessy Chair

Theoretical and Cultural Contexts for the Invention of Writing

第一场:文字起源的理论与文化环境

主持人:Edward L. Shaughnessy

 

Richard Sproat (Google Labs 谷歌实验室)

“Simulating the Early Evolution of Writing”

模拟文字的早期演变

 

David L. Share (University of Haifa 以色列海法大学)

“Writing (Systems) from the Point of View of the Reader: From West to East”

从读者的观点来看文字(系统):从西方到东方

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 10:30-10:45

 

Jean-Jacques Glassner (CNRS 法国国家科学研究中心)

“The Inventors of Writing Were Learned People”

文字的发明者是学者

John Baines (Oxford University 牛津大学)

“Which Institutions Stimulated and Sustained the Emergence of Writing in Egypt (ca. 3250–3000 BCE)? Elites, Aesthetic and Linguistic Culture”

哪些机构促进和支持了埃及文字的发明(公元前约3250-3000年)?精英阶层、美学与语言文化

 

Session Two: 13:30-14:30 John Baines Chair

Inventions of Writing: Two Concrete Cases

第二场:文字的发明:两个实例

主持人:John Baines

 

Xianhua Wang 王献华 (Sichuan University 四川大学)

“The Archaic City Seal and the Early History of Writing”

古代城邑印章与文字的早期历史
Kuangyu Chen 陈光宇 (Rutgers University 罗格斯大学)

“A Spatiotemporal Model for the Genesis of the Chinese Writing System”
汉字源起的时空模式

 

Session Three: 14:45-15:45 Matthew Stolper Chair

The Media of Writing

第三场:文字的载体

主持人:Matthew Stolper

 

Massimo Maiocchi (University of Chicago 芝加哥大学)

“Writing Cuneiform on Perishable Media”

写于易腐材料上的楔形文字

 

Joel Palka (University of Illinois-Chicago伊利诺伊大学芝加哥分校)

“Early Maya Hieroglyphs in Stone: Skilled Craft and Enduring Texts in the Development of Writing”

刻于石上的早期玛雅象形文字:熟练手工与恒久文献对书写演变的影响

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 15:45-16:00

 

Session Four: 16:00-17:00 Wolfgang Behr Chair

Theories of Writing

第四场:文字的理论

主持人:Wolfgang Behr

 

Yushu Gong 拱玉书 (Peking University 北京大学)

“The Compound-Signs from Uruk”

乌鲁克的复合符号

 

Edward L. Shaughnessy (University of Chicago 芝加哥大学)

“Once Again on Ideographs and Iconolatry”

再論象意文字與象信注意

 

Program会议日程

 

Beijing北京: 2015.06.27(Saturday周六)

The University of Chicago Center in Beijing芝加哥大学北京中心

Session Five: 9:30-11:45 Piotr Michalowski Chair

Types of Graphs

第五场:文字的类型

主持人: Piotr Michalowski

 

Andréas Stauder (École Pratique des Hautes Études 法国高等研究应用学院)

“Figurative, Yet Internally Derived: On differential iconicity in Egyptian”

象形但有内在联系:关于埃及文字的不同象形性

 

Tse-wan Kwan 关子尹 (Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大学)

“Meaning Surpluses as a Significant Criterion for Differentiation between Various ‘Ways’ of Chinese Script Formation”

意義溢項作為中國文字不同「構型方法」的重要區別標準

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 10:30-10:45

 

Gordon Whittaker (University of Göttingen 哥廷根大学)

“The Origins and Nature of Phonetic Writing in Northern Mesoamerica”

中美洲北部形声文字的起源与性质

 

David B. Lurie (Columbia University 哥伦比亚大学)

“Metalanguage and Phonography in the Development of Japanese Writing:

The Coalescence of the Kana Scripts”

日本文字演变中的元语言与形声文字:假名文字的合并

 

 

Session Six: 13:30-15:00 Shengjun Feng Chair

Corpus-Based Approaches to Graphs and Texts

第六场:基于语料库的文字与文献处理方法

主持人:馮勝君

 

Niek Veldhuis (University of California, Berkeley 加州大学伯克利分校)

“The Survival of Writing”

文字的存续

Ilona Regulski (British Museum 大英博物馆)

“The Codification of the Egyptian Sign Corpus”

埃及象形文字字库的系统化

 

Marc Zender (Tulane University杜兰大学)

“The Abbreviational Conventions of Classic Maya Writing”

玛雅文字中的简写惯例

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 15:00-15:30

 

Session Seven: 15:30-17:30 Theo van den Hout Chair

Varieties of Writing in China

第七场:中国文字与文献的类别

主持人:Theo van den Hout

Shengjun Feng 馮勝君 (Jilin University 吉林大学)

“Probing the Expression ‘Duo Yi’朵頤in the Zhou Changes”

《周易》“朵頤”蠡測

 

Françoise Bottéro (EHESS 法国社会科学高等研究院)

“Chinese « hot or cool » writing?”

中國文字:“熱”還是“涼”?

 

Haicheng Wang 王海城 (University of Washington 华盛顿大学)

“Zhouli: Lexical Lists and the Formation of the Classics in Early China”

《周禮》所見中國早期字書、小學與經典的形成

 

Guolong Lai 來國龍 (University of Florida 佛罗里达大学)

“Literacy Education and the Changing Nature of the Writing System in Early China”

識字教育與中國早期文字性質的演變

 

Program会议日程

 

Shanghai 上海: 2015.06.29(Monday周一)

Department of History, Fudan University 复旦大学历史系

Guanghua West Building, Room 2001 光华西主楼2001室

 

Session Eight: 9:30-12:00 Yushu Gong 拱玉书 Chair

Writing, Numeration, and Economic Management

第八场:书写、记数与经济管理

主持人: 拱玉书

 

Welcome Speech by Dr. Yang Huang, Chair of History Department, Fudan University

复旦大学历史系主任黄洋教授致欢迎辞

 

Stephen Chrisomalis (Wayne State University 韦恩州立大学)

“What Counts as a Tally? Remarks on the Prehistory of Numeration and Writing”

何为算筹?:记数与文字的前身

 

Christopher Woods (University of Chicago 芝加哥大学)

“Contingency Tables and Economic Forecasting in the Earliest Texts from Mesopotamia”

两河流域早期文献中的表格与经济预测

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 10:45-11:00

 

Xiaoli Ouyang 欧阳晓莉 (Fudan University 复旦大学)

“The Mixture of Numerical and Metrological Writing in an Economic Text from Ur III Mesopotamia (c. 2112-2004 BCE)”

两河流域乌尔第三王朝(公元前约2112-2004年)记数符号与度量衡符号的混合

 

Alex de Voogt (American Museum of Natural History 美国自然历史博物馆)

“Script and State: Degrees of Dependence and Control”

文字与国家:依赖与控制的程度

 

Session Nine A: 14:00-15:30 Jean-Jacques Glassner Chair

Writing, Culture, and Society

第九场(上):书写、文化与社会

主持人:Jean-Jacques Glassner

 

Pascal Vernus (École Pratique des Hautes Études法国高等研究应用学院)

“Modeling the Relationships between Picture and Sign of Writing in Pharaonic Egypt”

埃及法老时代图像与文字符号间关系之模型

 

Matthew Stolper (University of Chicago 芝加哥大学)

“Language and Writing at Persepolis, c. 500 BCE”

公元前 500 年左右波斯波利斯的语言与文字

 

Tianshu Huang 黃天樹 (Capital Normal University 首都师范大学)

“The Theory of ‘Two Types of Writing’”

「二書」說

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 15:30-16:00

 

Session Nine B: 16:00-17:30 Xiaoli Ouyang 欧阳晓莉 Chair

Writing, Culture, and Society

第九场(下):书写、文化与社会

主持人:欧阳晓莉

 

Huan Wang 王欢 (Sichuan University 四川大学)

“Writing and Literati’s Role in the Late Period and Ptolemaic Egypt”

书写和知识分子在埃及晚期与托勒密时期的作用

 

Theo van den Hout (University of Chicago芝加哥大学)

“A Is for Anatolia: Aspects of Writing and Literacy in Hittite Anatolia (2000-1200 BCE)”

A 代表安纳托利亚:安纳托利亚赫梯时代(公元前2000-1200年)的文字与识字能力

 

Simon Martin (University of Pennsylvania Museum宾西法尼亚大学博物馆)

“Different Strokes: Lessons about Maya Writing and Material Culture from a Quotidian Context”

不同笔画:日常情境中的玛雅文字与物质文化

 

 

Program会议日程

 

Shanghai 上海: 2015.06.30(Tuesday周二)

Department of History, Fudan University 复旦大学历史系

Guanghua West Building, Room 2001 光华西主楼2001室

 

Session Ten: 9:30-12:00 Chris Woods Chair

Across Different Writing Systems: A Comparative Perspective

第十场:不同文字系统间的比较

主持人:Chris Woods

 

Stephen Houston (Brown University布朗大学)

“Writing That Isn’t: Pseudo-Scripts in Comparative Perspective”

似是而非的文字:从比较的角度看伪文字

 

Piotr Michalowski (University of Michigan 密西根大学)

“The Syllable and Its Discontents: Some Observations on Syllables in Sumerian and in Other Very Early Writing Systems”

苏美尔文字与其它早期文字系统中的音节

 

Coffee Break 茶歇: 10:30-11:00

 

Wolfgang Behr (University of Zurich 苏黎世大学)

“The Semantic Field of ‘Writing’ in Early Chinese in a Comparative Perspective: An Approach from Etymology and Paleography”

上古漢語所見「書寫」語意場的比較研究:從詞源學和古文字學的角度談起

 

Jerry Cooper (The Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, Berkeley约翰·霍普金斯大学和加州大学伯克利分校)

“Pictures of the Mind: Early Writing in Ancient Iraq and Ancient China”

心灵的图像:古代伊拉克与古代中国的早期文字

 

Abstracts论文摘要

 

Listed alphabetically according to author’s last name

依据作者姓氏字母顺序排列

John BAINES, “Which institutions stimulated and sustained the emergence of writing in Egypt (ca. 3250–3000 BCE)? Elites, aesthetic and linguistic culture”

Any suggestion of what might have been a favorable setting for inventing writing, or what preconditions there might be for its invention, must seek to avoid retrospective reasoning. Pristine inventions were not immediate but were processes lasting generations or centuries. This paper uses images to present some of the changes in society and culture in Upper Egypt (the Nile valley) in the later 4th millennium bce, as well as mentioning connections primarily with the Near East. These changes were not closely comparable with those in other regions where writing emerged. From the Naqada II period to Naqada IIIB (ca. 3450–3050 bce) social inequality and the use of elaborate forms of display increased enormously. Display media included elaborate rituals, among which those associated with funerals and burial are most evident, architecture, and representation and decoration, from life-size statuary to miniature portable media. Fragmentary evidence points toward a major role also for perishable media.

The earliest attested sign system arose in the context of these media. This is the system found in Tomb U-j at Abydos (Naqada IIIA), which may or may not constitute writing. Both its sign forms and its semantic organization were probably devised by members of an inner elite. More than a century later, after a period from which little evidence is known, a very similar repertory was extended to notate words of the Egyptian language through logograms and uni- and multi-consonantal phonograms. An intermediate form of emblematic representation that appeared in the same period exploited the juncture and separation of pictorial representation and writing. The notation of language in the developed writing system is different in character from those of other early writing systems, with some of the differences appearing to relate to the phonology and morphology of Egyptian, as well as connecting the script to pictorial forms. Those who developed the system were again presumably elites, and their invention presupposes that people were analyzing language, in a multilingual setting. It is thus necessary to posit the presence of elite specialist discourse relating to aesthetics, semiotics of representation (including symbolic avoidance), and language. Such a configuration can be compared with hypothetical contexts of other inventions. It is different from prerequisites for secondary inventions of writing.

Wolfgang BEHR, “The semantic field of ‘writing’ in Early Chinese in a comparative perspective: An approach from etymology and paleography”

 

The paper will be looking at the lexical field of writing and writing related terminology in Early Old Chinese paleographical materials from the pre-imperial period. While the signs referring to activities, objects and officials associated with writing practices (such as shu書, ce 册/策, wen 文, shi 史, yu/bi 聿/筆 etc.) have often been subject to learned historiographical, archeological and anthropological discussions, little is known about the origins of the lexicon they represent and its internal organization. While the focus will be on the etymological reconstruction of the Chinese-internal lexical field, the ultimate purpose of the paper is to study the writing related lexicon in several genealogically unrelated traditions beyond Chinese and Tibeto-Burman (especially Indo-European and Semitic). Eventually, this could serve as a first step towards a *comparative* history of the earliest conceptualizations of writing in ancient societies during the period of their emergence from orality.

 

“上古漢語所見「書寫」語意場的比較研究———從詞源學、古文字學的角度談起”

 

在先秦的古文字學材料中,「書寫」及與「書寫」相關的術語構成了一個語義場(lexical field)。儘管這些表示有關「書寫」的活動、器物與官吏的字符(譬如「書」、「册」/「策」、「文」、「史」、「聿」/「筆」等)歷來都深為史學、考古學以及人類學學者所重,然而我們對於這個「書寫」詞匯(lexicon)的起源及內部結構卻所知甚少。本文旨在從語源學角度對早期上古漢語中的「書寫」語意場進行重構,進而對漢語及藏緬語系以外語源傳統中的相應詞匯(尤其是印歐語及閃語族)作出探討,藉此以期為構建關於遠古社會中「書寫」脫離口語的早期概念化過程的「比較」史奠定基礎。

 

 

Françoise BOTTERO, “Chinese ‘hot’ or ‘cool’ writing?”

 

In this presentation I shall start from the concept of hot versus cool media developed by Marshall McLuhan in the 60s to provide a general perspective on the different stages in the development of the writing systems in China.

 

Chinese writing is usually presented as largely pictographic in its origins. Indeed we can find a variety of words represented through depiction of the objects they refer to: birds, fish, sun, tree, woman, eye, etc., in the so-called oracle bone inscriptions (13rd – 11th BC). But even at that early stage, for example, grammatical particles (“empty words” 虛詞), etc., were written phonetically, with loan words. According to Zheng Zhenfeng’s 鄭振峰 study (2001) there is in fact an excessive number of loan words in the oracle bone inscriptions (83%). The importance of loans continues in bronze inscriptions of the Zhou dynasty (11th – 3rd) and gets even worse in the script of the excavated documents dating from the Warring States period (5th – 3rd). As we can see from Bai Yulan’s 白於藍 compilation of interchangeable homophones of the Warring States, Qin and Han dynasties (2012), characters could be used to write 2, 3, 4 to more than 10 different morphemes. In such a script where different readings and interpretations were always possible a constant participation of the reader was needed in order to decipher the texts. In Marshall McLuhan’s perspective, such writing (with its large number of homophones) would count as “cool” since it required a high degree of audience participation to complete the information in the messages. But this tolerance in regards to orthographic rules began to change with the attempts at standardization of the script conducted by the Qin emperor in the 3rd century BC. In other words the “cool” ancient Chinese script evolved into a distinctly “warmer” writing when individual graphs tended to be more stably associated with fewer words of morphemes.

 

 

Kuangyu CHEN陈光宇, “A spatiotemporal model for the genesis of Chinese writing system”

 

The oracle bone inscription (OBI, or Jiaguwen) refers to scripts engraved on ox scapulas or turtle plastrons. OBI dealt mostly with the divinatory record of the Royal House of late Shang Dynasty (ca. 1300-1046 BCE). Archeologically OBI is the earliest known Chinese writing. Orthographically, OBI is not much different from the modern Chinese, indicating a striking continuity of Chinese writing system for over 3000 years. Traditionally the orthographic structure of Chinese scripts can be analyzed by the so-called liushu, six principles of script formation, first proposed and discussed by Xu Shen (ca. 55-149 CE). The six principles can be divided into two groups, Group A contains visibly clear phonetic components, and the Group B does not. Using this liushu approach scripts of Chinese writing from different chronological time, starting from late Shang (OBI), Western Zhou (BI), Eastern Zhou (Bamboo and silk slips) down to Song Dynasty (960 to 1279 CE) have been analyzed. By tabulating the data from these studies, one observes a striking linear correlation between the percentages of Group A scripts and the chronological time. This correlation allows an extrapolation to 2200±200 BCE as a time point for the appearance of logographs constructed with identifiable phonetic component. This finding would suggest that the genesis of Chinese writing occurred at about or before this time point. It can be noted that the time of 2200±200 BCE also witnessed (i) the appearance of serekh-like icons on Dawenkou pottery vessels and Liangzhu jade Bi, (ii) the appearance of strings of marks or taowen on pottery shards in several Neolithic sites, notably Dinggongcun 丁公村and Longqiuzhuang 龙虬庄; (iii) the appearance of some legendary figures whose names were identified in OBI. Judging from the widespread of the so-called taowen in many Neolithic sites, covering the basin areas of Yellow River, Yangtze River, and Huai River, we propose that several or many precursor writings based on different languages, including OBI precursor, probably co-existed during the late third millennium BCE. Through constant regional and cultural interactions, a process similar to protein folding as illustrated by funnel model, the precursor form of OBI survived, stabilized, and eventually developed into a bona fide Chinese writing system.

 

 

Stephen CHRISOMOLIS, “What counts as a tally? Remarks on the prehistory of numeration and writing”

 

Tallying systems are technologies that rely on one-to-one correspondence to relate visual marks to countable objects. They emerge in the Upper Paleolithic as part of a cluster of representational technologies associated with social modernity, and are nearly cross-culturally universal in the ethnographic record. Based on the abundant evidence of Neolithic token-systems and proto-cuneiform numeration systems, most contemporary histories of writing accept a close developmental linkage between tallying followed by base-structured numeration and ultimately, writing. Yet this linkage is not well attested outside Mesopotamia, and, given the cross-cultural ubiquity of tallying, we need to answer why it did not lead to writing elsewhere. The predominance of tally-like cumulative structures in the early numerical notations of the Near East, East Asia, and Mesoamerica suggest some connection between the two systems. There are etymological and conceptual linkages between tallying and writing, but we ought to be very careful when inferring an evolutionary linkage from this fact. Moreover, notations on wood, bamboo, and string are often classified as ‘tallies’ whereas functionally identical notations on clay or stone are classified as ‘inscriptions’ or ‘writing’. This conflation of structure and function reflects uni-linear evolutionary assumptions about technical progress and in the case of notations like the Inka khipu, demotes knot-writing to ‘not-writing’. Tallying and written numeration are related but separate technologies that solve distinct technical problems; tallying builds sequential and open-ended counts, whereas numerical notation facilitates representation and integration with written texts. The functional and structural distinction between the two requires that we re-evaluate evolutionary assumptions based on a single local trajectory.

 

Jerrold S. COOPER, “Pictures of the mind: Early writing in ancient Iraq and ancient China”

 

Alex DE VOOGT, “Script and state: Degrees of dependence and control”

 

Shengjun FENG 馮勝君, “Probing the Expression ‘Duo Yi’朵頤in the Zhou Changes”

“《周易》‘朵頤’蠡測”

Jean-Jacques GLASSNER, “The inventors of writing were learned people”

Three chosen examples, juridical texts, the creation of an institutional estate, and a mythological narration, are intended to show that, in the mind of the inventors of writing, the main purpose of writing was to help to establish legitimate recognized relations between the members of a society, to establish peaceful relations between people of different societies.

Secondly, the mythological narration summarized into one single written sign shows that writing was devoted to transmit the common shared culture which founds a society and contributes to its identity.

 

Yushu GONG 拱玉书, “The compound-signs from Uruk”

 

Among the 771 registered proto-cuneiform signs from Uruk in ZATU there are 342 compound-signs, most of them are embedded compounds, by which one component, less often more than one component, is/are written within another. The rest of the compound-signs are such compounds which we may call from the point of view of their external structure, string compounds, reduplications, three-time repetitions, four-time repetitions and so on. But from the point of view of their intrinsic mechanism, they belong either to the semantic compounds or to the phono-semantic compounds. The author of the present paper tries not only to put the compound-signs into different categories, but also to offer explanations of many compound-signs.

 

Stephen HOUSTON and Felipe ROJAS, “Writing that isn’t: Pseudo-scripts in comparative perspective”

 

Tianshu HUANG黃天樹,「二書」說

 

六書是關於漢字結構的理論。但是,有少量漢字不能納入六書的框架之內,例如「兩聲字」等。為了彌補這個缺點,筆者提出「二書」說。「書」是 「書寫」的意思。世界文字有兩大類:拼音文字和意音文字。前者以英文為代表,後者以漢字為代表。英文是「一書」,它書寫語言的方式只用音符。漢字是「二書」,它書寫語言的方式兼用音符和意符。「二書」下轄六書:「無聲符字」下轄象形、指事、會意等;「有聲符字」下轄形聲、假借等。形聲字是最佳的一種結構類型,所以其所佔比重不斷上升。李孝定認為商代甲骨文形聲字佔已識字的27%。筆者重新進行結構分析, 得出形聲字佔已識甲骨文的47%(「有聲符字」佔已識字的49%)。在已識的甲骨文字裏,形聲字數量最多,明顯佔有優勢,它是四種造字法(即象形、指事、會意、形聲)中最主要的構形方式。甲骨文跟古埃及聖書字、兩河流域楔形文字、南美瑪雅文字都是意音文字,具有共同的構形特點。如果能借鑒古埃及聖書字等的構形原理,就有利於深入瞭解甲骨文的構形特點,同樣,甲骨文的構形特點瞭解了,也有助於破譯古埃及聖書字等古文字的造字密碼。從文字制度來看,甲骨文就屬於意音文字,「意符」和「聲符」各佔一半,其後,「意符」逐漸弱化,「聲符」逐漸強化,聲符比重超过90%,佔有絕對優勢。到此為止,作為意音文字的漢字已經達到無可再變的極點。如果再變,除非廢除漢字,改「二書」為「一書」,變為跟今天世界上絕大多數文字一樣的拼音文字,例如用中國大陸試行的漢語拼音記錄漢語,就成為「一書」的拼音文字。但是,漢字裏同音語素太多,如把《十三經注疏》中的《周易》《尚書》《詩經》等改為漢語拼音,估計誰也看不懂了。因此,用漢字記錄漢語,這是天造地設,非常適宜。

 

Tse-wan KWAN 关子尹, “Meaning surpluses as a significant criterion for differentiation between various ‘ways’ of Chinese script formation”

 

Guolong LAI來國龍, “Literacy education and the changing nature of the writing system in Early China”

Using the data of different sign usage in the newly excavated bamboo manuscripts of the fourth century BCE (middle Warring States period), this paper explores the connection between literacy education and the nature of the early Chinese writing system. In the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties (before eighth century BCE) because of the relatively larger number of pictograph in the writing system, the script could arguably be classified as a logographic system. But in the Warring States period, the large number of loan characters based on the phonetic series (xiesheng tongjia) dramatically reduced the inventory of the basic signs to less than 1000 syllables. With the principle of xiesheng tongjia, the script is basically a syllable-based system that could virtually record all of the Old Chinese language, the lingua franca of early China. The reasons why the early Chinese script did not develop into an alphabet system are related to the literacy education of the time. Because Qin and Han primary education emphasized on the memorization of several thousand (from 2000 to 9000) characters, surpassing the number of signs (1000) functionally needed, and additionally the overemphasis on the “orthograph” (benzi) of the word in literacy education and hermeneutics, drove the script to become increasingly a logographic system with even larger number of basic word-based signs.

“識字教育與中國早期文字性質的演變”

本文通過分析近年出土的戰國楚簡文字材料(約公元前4世紀)中的用字情況,來探討中國早期的識字教育與文字性質之間的聯繫。晚商及西周(公元前8世紀以前)的文字系統,由於存在大量的象形表意字,可能可以歸為語素文字。但是,到戰國時期由於存在大量的“諧聲通假字”,戰國文字所需的聲首大約在1000個左右,大大降低了基本字符的數量。運用這些聲首以及諧聲通假的原則,戰國文字基本上是一種音節文字,可以紀錄古代漢語的全部詞彙。戰國文字之所以沒有最終發展成為拼音字母文字,我認為是與秦漢以後的識字教育有關。秦漢帝國時代的識字教育注重諷誦數千漢字(二千、三千、五千、九千不等),大大超過了文字系統所必需的數目,再加上對識字教育和文本闡釋上對“本字”的過分強調,使漢字越來越向一字一詞的語素文字系統發展。

 

David B. LURIE, “Metalanguage and phonography in the development of Japanese writing: The coalescence of the Kana scripts”

Perhaps the most familiar aspect of the history of Japanese writing is the emergence of the distinctive kana syllabaries through parallel processes of abbreviation and cursivization over the course of the 9th century C.E. (the early Heian period). As is the case with changes in script form elsewhere, these processes were largely a matter of unconscious collective action by generations of scribes. But there are several surprising elements to this story. At least two centuries before the emergence of Heian kana there were widely used and complete inventories of phonographs: Chinese characters used for their sounds, which were the sources of the kana (although they always interacted with the logographs that were more fundamental to the overall writing system—and remained so into the modern period). More importantly for this paper, the internal structure of the kana scripts was not entirely due to a ‘natural’ progression. While phonological changes of the 8th and 9th century were silently absorbed by the writing system (and thus remained undiscovered until the early modern period), syllables that merged thereafter resulted in homophonous but still distinctive graphs, an ‘imperfection’ that eventually necessitated spelling rules and philological treatises. But this rise of spelling did not just lead to metalinguistic discourses: it was itself caused by them. Charts and mnemonic poems cataloging phonographs appeared in the 10th and 11th centuries, culminating in the Iroha song, which fixed the inventory of individual kana and the internal structure of the script for nearly a thousand years. The fundamental role of metalanguage (or metagraphy) in East Asian logographic writing is clear, but it also exerted powerful influences on the development of phonography, a phenomenon whose ‘naturalness’ has been too often taken for granted.

 

 

Massimo MAIOCCHI, “Writing cuneiform on perishable media”

 

This paper tries to explore the idea that cuneiform script, besides on clay, might have been written on perishable media, most notably wooden boards, since early in its history. Scholars involved in the study of cuneiform archives have often expressed the feeling that a fairly large piece of written documentation is still missing, regardless of the great durability of clay, and the nature of the archive itself (public, private, “school,” etc.). This fact has been traditionally explained in the light of the practice of recycling clay tablets, or because of chance nature of archaeological discovery. Without rejecting these explanations, some evidence may be summoned in favor of the existence of perishable media, such as allusions in written sources from late third millennium BC onwards, ethnographic parallels, drawings on early lexical lists, and the shape of monumental script. Possible broad historical implications in terms of transmission of scribal knowledge and city administration are hinted at in the conclusions.

 

Simon MARTIN, “Different strokes: Lessons about Maya writing and material culture from a quotidian context”

Maya hieroglyphic writing presents a number of interpretive challenges beyond those of decipherment, including: who could read and write the script, what were the social contexts in which it was employed, and in what manner were physical settings relevant to its content? We have viable answers to many such questions, largely because of the overwhelming association between surviving texts and the elite, principally royal, class. With good reason, Maya hieroglyphs are viewed as a powerful tool that helped to define social stratification. But one very unusual, perhaps unique, context from Mexico offers a glimpse at broader social engagements and allows us to address those same questions from a different perspective.

Writing has a range of roles and purposes, but one of the more interesting is how it indexes objects in the real world. For the ancient Maya elite such objects usually take the form of personal possessions, as in items of jewelry or ceramic vessels, or the paraphernalia employed in ritual performances. Over the years epigraphers have amassed a sound understanding of material categories in Maya texts, at times aided by pictorial representations of those same objects in use. It has been possible to demonstrate how items of high prestige or overt symbolism sustained governing regimes, both as instruments of distinction and as manifestations of power. What we have not, as a rule, seen is an interface between writing and the material culture of the wider populace, an area that is usually only accessible through archaeology. However, the aforementioned special case, examined in this paper, engages script with a broader range of materials and highlights the issues of literacy, social roles, and spatial contexts as they touched the lives of the lower echelons at an ancient Maya city.

 

Piotr MICHALOWSKI, “The syllable and its discontents: Some observations on syllables in Sumerian and in other very early writing systems”

The syllable as a linguistic entity plays a major role in discussions about the origin and development of the earliest writing systems, with particular reference to Sumerian, Proto-Elamite and Chinese scripts. Such analyses are often based on generalizations about typological features of the posited underlying languages that are often based on questionable assumptions. In this paper I take a closer look at how syllabic structures are described, how they are perceived in speech and how they may have been represented in writing. In addition, I propose to open a conversation on possible feedback between writing conventions and the way I which dead or dying languages may have been formalized.

 

Xiaoli OUYANG欧阳晓莉, “The mixture of numerical and metrological writing in an economic text from Ur III Mesopotamia (c. 2112-2004 BCE)”

This paper focuses on an economic text BM 19027 from the site of Girsu in southern Mesopotamia during the Ur III period. The text is written in Sumerian using the cuneiform script and dated to the forty-eighth regnal year of King Šulgi (c. 2047 BCE). It presents a multi-column balanced account and calculates the revenue and expenditure of several kinds of grain and their by-products.

On the left edge of the tablet bearing this text, there appears a rare mixture of numerical notations of the sexagesimal system and metrological notations of capacity. The only other known contemporaneous example of such a practice is found in the text YBC 4179 from Umma (likewise a site from southern Mesopotamia), which dates to the sixth regnal year of King Amar-Sin (c. 2041 BCE). This paper interprets for the first time the meaning of the hybrid notations in BM 19027 and connects it to a subtotal of the quantities of barley grits as recorded in the text. It further proposes an alternate kind of sexagesimal place value notations adopted in BM 19027 that differs from the standard type of the SPVN in broad use during the later Old Babylonian period (c. 2000-1600 BCE).

Moreover, as a balanced account on grain and its by-products, BM 19027 attests to the use of barley (Sumerian še) as an agricultural product per se and to its function as an equivalency (Sumerian še-bi or še bala-bi) that measures the value of other grain products. While the conversion of the value of non-barley products into their equivalent barley value involved computations absent from the text, the sexagesimal place value and metrological notations preserved on BM 19027 yield clues to the calculation process that underlay the compilation of this account.

 

Joel PALKA, “Early Maya hieroglyphs in stone, skilled craft, and enduring texts in the development of writing”

Early Maya writing, like other scripts around the world, appeared on non-perishable materials. While scribes more easily wrote on wood, plaster, and parchment, they invested considerable time in inscribing enduring texts on stone, bone, and ceramics for social, religious, and practical reasons. In this presentation, I discuss how durable writing on more permanent materials was related to skilled craft, ideological importance of material use, elite status, and the cultural significance of creating durable writing. The Maya case provides interesting comparative evidence for the intersections of elite power, precisely ordered texts, and the eternal connections between people and spiritual forces.

 

Ilona REGULSKI, “The codification of the Egyptian sign corpus”

 

 

David L. SHARE, “Writing (systems) from the point of view of the reader: From West to East”

 

An efficient writing system is a dual-purpose device serving the needs of the young child learning to read (and write) and the skilled reader. Because every word is novel at some point, the learner needs a means for identifying and memorizing new, unfamiliar words. The skilled reader, on the other hand, requires unique word-specific (or morpheme-specific) visual configurations (letter or character combinations) in order to unitize and automatize word recognition essential for rapid, fluent reading and comprehension. This principle of “learnability/unitizability” dictates that all writing systems (like the “dual patterning” of spoken language, Hockett, 1950) must represent both a finite set of sub-lexical units of sound (e.g., phonemes or syllables) as well as the potentially infinite set of units of meaning (morphemes/words).

 

The development of reading expertise, therefore, can be seen as a process in which the initial (and repeated) identification of novel words on the basis of sub-lexical units (“self-teaching”, Share, 1995; 2008) leads to the gradual, one-word-at-a-time growth of an orthographic lexicon (or “sight” vocabulary) as an ever-growing number of once-unfamiliar words initially read slowly and laboriously become familiar unitized items recognized rapidly and near-effortlessly.

 

These ideas have been developed in the context of Western reading science which has focused almost exclusively on phoneme-based writing systems such as alphabets and abjads. To what extent can these ideas be applied to Chinese and therefore be regarded as universal?

Consideration of the growing psycholinguistic literature on learning to read (and write) in Chinese suggests that, with surprisingly few modifications, the learnability/unitizability dualism is highly applicable to Chinese. Specifically, the basic units of Chinese writing (some 200 semantic and 1100 phonetic components) provide a limited and learnable set of sub-lexical units that can be endlessly combined and recombined into words. For beginning readers, pinyin provides a simple teaching orthography that is rapidly mastered and enables the learner to identify new characters. Extensive copying and writing is also an effective self-teaching tool for memorizing the unique visual configurations of characters and words. Furthermore, the available research evidence suggests that the semantic and phonetic components of compound characters, in most instances, provide useful partial information that, together with context, enables readers to identify and memorize new characters, and thereby expand both their print and spoken vocabularies.

These observations suggest that, from the point of view of the reader, the Chinese and Western alphabetic writing systems have a great deal more in common than is often assumed.

 

Edward L. SHAUGHNESSY, “Once again on ideographs and iconolatry”

 

Between 1936 and 1940, Herrlee G. Creel and Peter A. Boodberg engaged in what has come to be seen as a celebrated debate over the nature of Chinese writing. Creel characterized this writing as fundamentally “ideographic.” Boodberg, for his part, objected that by definition writing represents speech, and therefore all writing—very much including Chinese writing—must be fundamentally phonetic. Seventy-five years have passed since Boodberg’s second essay was published. Although a number of influential Western scholars—especially those with an interest in linguistics—have pronounced his to be the final word on the topic, the history of Chinese writing is sufficiently rich to stimulate renewed discussion and perhaps also new ideas (or at least restatements of old ideas). In this essay, I suggest that not only can the category of Chinese characters termed semantographs have an ideographic basis, but the same is true as well for a sizable percentage of phonograms.

 

“再論象意文字與象信注意”

 

從1936年到1940年,顧立雅(Herrlee G. Creel)和卜弼德(Peter A. Boodberg)都發表了文章討論中國文字的性質。 顧立雅以為中國文字基本上是表意的。與此不同,卜弼德以為書寫只能代表語言,因此所有的文字基本上是表音的,中國文字也不例外。自從卜弼德第二篇文章發表以後,已經過了75年,這次辯論一直視為西方漢學最有名的辯論之一。西方語言學家多半都以卜弼德的觀點為定論。然而中國文字的歷史既悠久又複雜,完全值得重新討論。雖然我們不一定能夠提出新的意見,但是至少可以更清晰的分析舊說。本文論證中國文字中的象形字、指事字和會意字都本來起着表意作用,並且不少形聲字也有表意的基礎。

 

Richard SPROAT, “Simulating the early evolution of writing”

 

Andréas STAUDER, “Figurative, yet internally derived: On differential iconicity in Egyptian”

Hieroglyphic signs of writing are mostly figurative. Accordingly, the original value of any given sign has generally been sought in relation to the visual referent depicted, with further values arising secondarily from very early on through phonetic relations of various sorts (rebus, etc.). A closer examination, however, reveals that signs of writing also resonate with other signs of writing: while figurative, signs of writing appear to be in part derived directly from other signs of writing. Rather than in relation to a visual referent external to the writing system, their motivation is then internal to writing itself. For example, (a semantic classifier, or determinative, associated with events of ingestion and mental activity) is differentially derived from , the difference between the two signs (the position of the right arm) pointing deictically to what stands for. By a similar process, (a semantic classifier associated with strongly agentive events) is ultimately related to the same , the difference between the two signs (the arms and the standing position) pointing to the value of  by a conventional metonymy. As its complex functions further demonstrate, is itself a highly abstract sign, as well as a matrix for further derivation.

The present paper argues for a concept of iconicity that is not only referential (defined in relation to the visual referent of a sign) but also differential (defined in relation to other signs of writing). Relations such as exemplified above can be described synchronically in the system of classical periods. They can also be traced in the historically documented sequence of early development of Egyptian writing. Furthermore, it is not uncommonly these differences between signs, often deictic in nature, that are upheld in the cursive variety of the Egyptian script (Hieratic). Despite its strongly schematized ductus, Hieratic is thus seen to retain a signficant iconic dimension. These diverse levels at which differential iconicity is seen in Egyptian will be illustrated in the presentation.

Typologically, the repertoire of Egyptian signs of writing thus appears to have a higher ration of derived vs. primary signs than is generally assumed: while the signs are mostly depictive, many are nonetheless generated through derivation internal to the writing system. Other major differences notwithstanding, this places Egyptian