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In this discussion, when tones are not taken into account, a legitimate Chinese syllable will be termed Transcendent Syllable. A transcendent syllable ramifies four tonal syllables. The term Syllable is ambiguous in discussing the Chinese language, as it can stand for either a tonal syllable or non-tonal syllable. If the four tonal syllables of a transcendent syllable all have written forms in the ideographic writing system (HanZi), it will be called Full Transcendent Syllable, or Full Syllable for short. If at least one but not all of the four tonal syllables have written forms in HanZi, it will be called Partial Transcendent Syllable, or Partial Syllable for short. If none of the four tonal syllables of a transcendent syllable have written forms in HanZi, it will be a Zero Transcendent Syllable, or Zero Syllable for short. Examples of these three types of syllable are presented respectively in following three tables:
You can move the cursor of your computer to a HanZi to see its English translation. Every possible Chinese syllable belongs to one of three categories represented respectively by preceding three tables. In the rows of PinYin in above tables, a black spelling has written form in HanZi, but a blue one doesn't. This essay, as the title suggests, concerns only the sounds in Chinese language that are not written in HanZi. Therefore, Table I will not be considered, because all the four tonal syllables in it already have written forms in HanZi. The zero transcendent syllables are discussed in Essay (1) and listed in the tables associated with it. So Table III will not be examined, either. This section focuses on the sounds as exemplified in Table II, that is, the partial syllables.
A total of 417 transcendent syllables are listed in the New China Dictionary (XinHua Dictionary), of which 212 are partial ones. The rest are full ones. These 212 partial transcendent syllables involve 328 tonal syllables that have no ideographic written forms, which are listed in Table IV. Because of its large size, this table is presented in an independent web page.
In Table IV, the blue spellings have no writing in HanZi, even though they are so legitimate as those that have HanZi writing, that is, the black spellings. This is a significant difference between ideographic and alphabetic scripts. All possible sounds have written forms in an alphabetic system, but only some do, and some don't, in the ideographic writing. Chinese language has four tones. Of a transcendent syllable, if one of the four tonal syllables is possible or legitimate, we can then assume that the other three are also possible or legitimate. The sound files in Table IV represent an effort to provide evidence to this point.
No sooner the language is written in PinYin, than the blue sounds acquire written forms which are their alphabetic letter spellings. The sounds in blue are an integral part of the sound system of Chinese language. At the transcendent level, they are identical to the currently-used ones, that is, the black sounds, and different only in tone. But they are not written in HanZi. After the language is written in an alphabetic system, it will be possible for them to enter the language, as illustrated in the following figure:
The only difference between left and right parts of above figure is that on the left the red circle is solid, whereas its counterpart on the right is broken. The rightwards arrow between the two parts indicates that language written in the ideographic script is becoming language written after an alphabetic script is adopted. In both parts, the black sounds in above three tables, that is, the sounds in use, are located inside of the red circle, and blue sounds outside of it. But on the left side, it is not possible for the blue sounds to become part of the language, because they have no written forms in HanZi. Ideographic language is moving around only within the red circle.
With alphabetic writing, the legitimate sounds which so far have no written forms, have acquired writing, which creates a favorable condition for language change towards more phonemic and syllabic diversity, and overcoming the ambiguity caused by the homophones. During last one hundred years or so, Chinese people and their governments have made tremendous efforts in developing an alphabetic writing for Chinese language. Unfortunately, the pattern on the left part of Figure I is taken for granted in all the designs. A few designs were made official. All of them have failed by destiny, because the dynamics of Chinese language after switching to an alphabetic writing, or the right part of Figure I, has not been taken into account at all.
Nowadays, many people, both in and outside of China, are continuing to propose new designs or support existent ones, with more or less enthusiasm. Many merits of romanization have been listed, such as convenience in promoting literacy, alphabetic organization of information, and processing the language in computer. These are all plausible reasons for adopting an alphabetic orthography. In the following section, this issue will be addressed from perspective of the relationship between writing and thought. My intention is to point out that writing affects not only language, as discussed so far, but also thought.
Research in comparative philosophy has found that Western and Chinese thoughts are different from each other in quite a few aspects, three of which are listed as follows:
In this section I will argue that the different thought patterns come from different writing systems, i.e. the ideographic writing on the Chinese side and alphabetic writing on the Western side. First, alphabetic writing analyzes language. In above Table II, for instance, the spelling gua1 analyzes the sound as g → u → a → 1. The tone covers the whole syllable, but is torn off it, and placed at the end. Phonemes are spelling elements, while tones are non-spelling elements. In writing they must be represented by two different sets of symbol, alphabetic letters and superscript numerals, so that the reader or writer would have an opportunity of identifying them from each other. Essentially, such analytical process is same as that in alphabetic writing, such as the English word prompt being p → r → o → m → p → t.
Phonemic analysis motivates logical reasoning. With knowledge about the language, such as there are four different tones, the native speaker will be able to deduce the unknown facts from the known. In the case of gua1, for instance, the process would be: gua1 → gua2 → gua3 → gua4. Such deduction can go further. For instance, with the knowledge in Tables One and Two, an educated speculation can lead to conclusion that the sound cua1 in Table III is a possible sound in the Chinese language, too. The initial c is from Table I, final ua from Table II, and the tone 1 from both tables. And the sound conforms to the general syllabic structure of Chinese language. Pushing the reasoning a little further, it would be easy to conclude that other sounds in Table III, namely, cua2, cua3, cua4, are also legitimate sounds in Chinese, even though they are not represented by any ideographic Chinese characters.
The sound gua2 in Table II and cua1, cua2, cua3, cua4 in Table III do not represent any concept in the real world, but are just possible sounds that we've deduced by logic. Linguistically, they are existing only in the abstract reality. Therefore, it can be seen that reading and writing the alphabetic script consist of mental behaviors of analyzing, logical reasoning and abstracting with the language.
The process as described above does not take place when the language is written in ideographic script. For example, the Chinese character 瓜 in Table II is pronounced as gua1 holistically. The character was first invented to graphically represent the object of 'gourd', but not the sound. It cannot be segmented into smaller phonetic elements. So phonetic analyzing does not occur in reading or writing it. Furthermore, logical relations do not exist between the characters 瓜(gua1), 寡(gua3), 挂(gua4). And there is not linguistic path to reach the gua2, a sound that is not represented by any ideograph, through logical reasoning. This graph is represented by the question mark (?) in Table II. The two thought patterns, Western and Chinese, are illustrated in Figure II:
Figure II is essentially same as above Figure I. Thoughts follow the patterns of language. It is worth noting that the currently-used sounds, i.e. the black spellings in all the tables associated with this essay and Essay (1), are located inside of the small red circles. They represent objects in real word. The blue spellings, on the other hand, are outside of the red circles, or between the red and blue circles. They represent a realm different from the real world. In thinking, they belong to abstract reality. With the ideographic writing, both the language and thought are confined to the inside of the red circle, having no access to elements outside of it, namely, the equally possible or legitimate sounds of the language. After switching to an alphabetic writing, the confinement is broke. The sounds having not writing in HanZi now have acquired written forms in the PinYin writing. They are available to the language. The thinking is thus able to move to another realm.
The situation is same for thought. With ideographic writing, the thought is confined in the immanent world. On the side where the language is written phonetically, the language is analytical, logical, and abstract. So is the thought. This is not to say that writing affects thought directly. Writing affects language which then affects the speaker's perception of the world.
Two Chinese characters in Table I are 参(can1) and 惨(can3). The 惨(can3) consists of a radical 忄 on the left and the character 参 on the right. Name of the radical 忄 is shu4xin1pang2, literally 'vertical heart side'. It is not an character by itself, thus has no sound, but a name only. The relationship between the two parts is not of a spelling one. There are many such characters in the Chinese ideographic writing system. The relationship between 参(can1) and 惨(can3), and any such type of characters, is not of deduction, nor does it lead to a mental entity, that is, abstraction.
It has also been found by comparative philosophy that the Chinese philosophers only look for dao4 (way), but not for truth, while looking for truth is a major venture in the Western philosophy. This phenomenon can also be explained with above Figure II. Looking for ways is to seek variations within the small circle on the left, and looking for truth is the attempt to reach outside of it on the right. As the small circle on the Chinese side is solid, perception of outside of it is inhibited. But on the Western side, such perception is made possible by the alphabetic writing.
It is worth noting that there are variations in the Western thoughts, too. There are synanyms in all Western languages. For instance, in English there are semantic variants truck/lorry, life/elvator, first floor/ground floor, and spelling variants
Since the Western knowledge was systimatically introduced in China, a frequent call by both the government and leading intellectuals is 'emancipate the mind'. The western mind was thought by many Chinese to be more scienctific, creative, productive and freer than the Chinese counterpart. China is the only country in the world that proposes to emancipate the mind.
Some people in and outside of China blame the long-time dominance of Confucianism over the Chinese society for the confinement of the mind and the inert development of science, technology and the society as whole. Confucianism was accused or vilified, officially or academically, several times in modern Chinese history. But the government continues to call for emancipation of the mind. It is suggested in the essay that it is not Confucianism, but the Chinese characters, that block the advance of thinking and society in China. The role played by the characters, again, is illustrated by Figure II.
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