International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics
Ed. by Roelcke, Thorsten / Kelih, Emmerich / Köhler, Reinhard
Editorial Board: Altmann, Gabriel / Andreev, Sergey / Bär, Jochen A. / 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
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.125
Quantitative analysis of Chinese characters system based on a tree model
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.