Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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Using the Internet and spreadsheet software, it is now easy to compare word and character counts for modern and literary Chinese based on very large corpora. It turns out that word counts comply with Zipf’s Law whereas character counts do not. This constitutes novel statistical evidence against the persistent claim that Chinese characters are logograms. It thus casts doubt on the practice of categorizing the elements of various writing systems as ‘phonograms’ or ‘logograms’ without regard to context, and a fortiori characterizing entire writing systems as ‘phonographic’ or ‘logographic’. Keywords: Chinese; word; character; morpheme; syllable; phonogram; logogram; Zipf’s Law; corpus


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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