Sinography: The Borrowing and Adaptation of the Chinese Script


In the more than 3,000 years since its invention, the Chinese script has been adapted many times to write languages other than Chinese, including Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Zhuang. In Sinography: Cross-linguistic Perspectives of the Borrowing and Adaptation of the Chinese Script, Zev Handel provides a comprehensive analysis of how the structural features of these languages constrained and motivated methods of script adaptation. This comparative study reveals the universal principles at work in the borrowing of logographic scripts. By analyzing and explaining these principles, Handel advances our understanding of how early writing systems have functioned and spread, providing a new framework that can be applied to the history of scripts beyond East Asia, such as Sumerian and Akkadian cuneiform.
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Biographical Note

Zev Handel, Ph.D. (1998), University of California at Berkeley, is Associate Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle. He works in historical Chinese phonology, Sino-Tibetan linguistics, and East Asian writing systems, and is an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics (Brill, 2017).


All interested in the history of writing and its connection to language, in the nature of early Japanese, Korea, and Vietnamese texts, and in Chinese characters in general.