International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics
Ed. by Roelcke, Thorsten / Kelih, Emmerich / Köhler, Reinhard
Editorial Board Member: Altmann, Gabriel / Andreev, Sergey / Embleton, Sheila / Gries, Stefan Th. / Grzybek, Peter / Leiss, Elisabeth / Liu, Haitao / Macutek, Ján / Bruch Nemcová, Emilia / Patrás, Vladimír / Sanada, Haruko / Wilson, Andrew
2 Issues per year
Quantitative analysis of Chinese characters system based on a tree model
- Research Center for Folklore, Classics and Chinese Characters, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
As an ideographic system, Chinese writing is not based on the irreducible elements used in speaking (e.g., syllabic or alphabetic elements) as in phonetic systems. Consequently, there is a misperception that in Chinese writing, each character is treated as a separate symbol, which makes it seem very difficult to learn Chinese writing. In the modern study of Chinese ideography, the elements of Chinese writing are called components, which can play a quadruple role in composing characters. Based on this understanding of components, this paper uses the mathematical tree model to analyse the structure of Chinese characters and create a computational description of all of the character structures explained in Shuowen Jiezi, a character dictionary of Chinese seal script. Using this methodology, this paper also performs a statistical analysis of synchronic Chinese characters and provides quantitative data to illustrate the systematic nature of Chinese writing. There is much room for further research using this methodology.