A SAGE Journal


The nature of the non-Chinese writings discovered in Southern China

Bojun Sun

发布时间:2023-07-02    点击次数:


Several non-Chinese writings have been discovered in Southern China, including the Poya Songbook, the Babao Songbook, and the Pumo script of Puyai, which are usually called “living fossils” because they show a primitive stage of writing significantly different from the mature scripts in their form and the precision of recording language. The present article intends to demonstrate that these writings belong to the system of mnemonic symbols like Lesui script. As living fossils of scripts, they provide important samples for understanding their origin, showing the evolution from early writing forms to mature scripts. The most remarkable feature of the graphs is that they are merely symbols for the purpose of inspiring the reader to recall the speech that is already memorized, and not for the purpose of recording any details of language. There are three important reasons for defining them as scripts: (1) they are perfect in shape, in sound, and in meaning, which accord with the nature of scripts; (2) they are auxiliary tools for transmitting information as the mature scripts; and (3) they are the germination and predecessor of mature scripts and show an evolutionary relationship with them. At the same time, the differences between mnemonic symbols and mature scripts in their appearance and social properties are discussed, namely, mnemonic symbols are based on visual images, while mature scripts are audio-visual symbols based on language communication. The mnemonic symbols are hardly conventional or universal, but rather esoteric writings. 

【关键词】Mnemonic symbol, philology, pictograph, primitive writing, script

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