Reflections on Ideographs

Yong-da YIN


In the Western word, the study of ideographic writings is often impaired by a kind of terminological confusion which is more due to theoretical negligence than to insufficiency in practical knowledge of ideographic languages. In this article, we try to dispel this confusion by examining its origin. Through the examination, we shall make distinction between logogram and ideogram ; the question “when drawing become writing” is to be answered. The classification of ideograms will also be under consideration anew. The last part of this article will be devoted to the distinction between alphabetic systems and ideographic systems. Key words: ideogram; logogram; pictogram; drawing; alphabet; study of writing Résumé: En Occident, l’étude des systèmes d’écriture idéographiques s’accompagne souvent d’une confusion terminologique qui est due plus à une négligence théorique qu’à une insuffisance de connaissances en langues qu’on dit en général idéographiques. Dans le présent article, nous essayons de dissiper cette confusion en menant des réflexions sur son origine, au fil desquelles nous serons naturellement obligé de faire le départ entre logogramme et idéogramme, nous répondrons à la question quand un dessin devient signe d’écriture. Nous réexaminerons également la classification des idéogrammes; pour ce faire, nous mettrons à contribution des approches sémiologiques. La dernière partie de l’article sera consacrée à une comparaison entre système idéographique et système alphabétique; à la suite de la comparaison on saura pourquoi l’écriture n’a pas évolué vers l’alphabet. Mots clés: idéogramme; logogramme; pictogramme; dessin; alphabet; grammatologie

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