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February 28, 2006

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Chinese characters aren't ideograms. The character for wu is simply phonetic, a borrowing from another character pronounced the same. In this case it's the wu in tiaowu (dance); but the original was modified after the borrowing, which is why they're no longer the same.
For more on the ideographic myth, see
http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html

Mark, thanks for the correction. I've changed "ideogram" to "hanzi," which hopefully is the right word to use.

I've just had time to glance at your web site essay on this subject, but it definitely looks interesting.
http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/ideographic_myth.html

Misconceptions about the Chinese language being picture-based certainly do abound.

Yes, "hanzi" is much better than "ideogram."
You might find some of the other readings on my site of interest, esp.
http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/visible/
and
http://www.pinyin.info/readings/texts/east_asian_languages.html

And for your wu project, have a look through some of the relevant excerpts here:
http://www.sino-platonic.org

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