Tuesday 11 June 2013

On Time Property Inherent in Characters

Here I will try to consider on the generation and the function of characters that have been used in Chinese which is classified to isolating language in linguistic typology.
Concerning the early forms of characters, we can verify them by the ancient inscriptions on bone and tortoiseshell that were discovered at /Yinxu/ and so forth. At the first stage that is usually classified to five on the inscriptions, they already displayed the inceptive completion, from where it is very difficult to speculate the beginning shapes of characters. On vocabulary and syntax, inscriptions displayed the almost same inceptive completion. Here what is inceptive completion is meant that comprehension or speculation is practicable by the usage of modern Chinese. Therefore the generation and the function of characters are subsidiary after the inscriptions. On the situation of forming the inscriptions namely explanation to decipher inscriptions, many researches are accumulated. Here, in these researches, I proceed with consideration claiming the works of after 1990 in main.

1 Generation of characters
When we see the inscription of character /yu/ that means bringing up in English, it is impossible to doubt that this inscription shows the situation of childbirth time by woman. In this inscription the situation of childbirth is shown by three stages. First there is a figure in which woman is going to give birth to a baby crossing both arms at the front of her chest. She takes a bent-forward posture, sticks her buttocks out and bend her knees gently. Second the situation of what the waters break is shown by the signs similar to dotted lines. Third at central or under part of the waters, a new born baby is shown in the shape of baby’s head inverted. Through three factors illustrated in the inscription, character /yu/ is clearly expressed the situation of childbirth time and the immediately after the birth time.
When we see the inscription of character /yan/ that means language or speak in English, the form of the inscription is simplified or transformed considerably at the first stage of classification on inscriptions. So the explanation to decipher inscriptions is developed variously. Here I will show one interpretation including the result of Chinese archeology in recent years. A form of character /yan/ is able to see the three parts that are upper, middle and under. According to the result of Chinese archeology, the upper part is regarded as the tongue’s point of a bronze bell used at meeting in /Yin/ period. The central part of character /yan/ is the body of a tongue. The under part of character /yan/ is regarded to be the outside of a bell. In /Yin/ period, at the time to let the meeting begin, the bronze-like bell was ringed loudly to let the people connected to know. When the meeting was opened, the bell was inferred to put up side down on a table. That is to say, the main body of a bell is inferred to be putted up side down and the tongue of a bell is inferred to be putted upward on the form of bell’s setting. This setting of a bell is shaped regarded to become the character’s form of inscription of on bone and tortoiseshell.   According to this interpretation of the inscription, /yan/ can be said to show the situation of post-notification of a meeting in /Yin/ period.
Therefore the figuration of the reversed bell was regarded to become the inscription of character /yan/.
   When we see the inscription of character /geng/ that means to cross in English, we comprehend that the inscription shows the two parallel lines in which a bow pattern is included. WANG Guowei†0 regarded that this inscription is as same as the character /heng/ that means permanent or lasting in English. Now I follow his interpretation. He wrote in his paper that two up-and-down lines are both banks of a river and inner bow shaped figure is a ship which goes and returns between the banks†1. According to this interpretation, /geng/ or /heng/ shows the operations of crossing a river, that operations are permanently repeated in an identical space†1.
From the inscriptions of three characters of /yu/, /yan/ and /geng/, now we can induce or infer the following.
First, Inscriptions which are original shapes of characters, in some cases, have a proceeding time in characters themselves. That is to say, as for character /yu/, that means the time of childbirth, from beginning to end. As for character /yan/, that means the time of meeting, from announcement to being open. As for character /heng/, that means the proceeding time of crossing the river by ferry.
Second, on the inscriptions, several aspects of the various phenomena which occur on the proceeding time in characters are sometimes shown by the images or implications. As for character /yu/, remarkable aspects’ figures are bending mother’s body, amniotic fluid and new born baby†2. As for character /yan/, the one remarkable is the bell which is set in the upside down condition, which means the announcement of meeting which was already opened a few minutes ago. The other remarkable is the same bell which is set on the table in the upside down condition, which means the meeting is now going†3. As for character /heng/, remarkable aspects are both banks and a ferry boat.
Third, on the inscriptions, several aspects, which are shown by the remarkable figures, transmit the messages. As for character /yu/, babybirth from mother’s body, the situation of birth time and new baby appeared in this world are transmitted simultaneously by the one character /yu/. As for character /yan/, transmitting is announcement of meeting, opening of meeting and contents of being discussed by the meeting. As for character /heng/, work of crossing the river, reach the opposite bank of the river and repetitions of these works, namely, constancy are transmitted for the information.
Therefore from the induction or inference on the generation of character’s meaning above mentioned, the following function of characters is led for us.

2 Function of characters
   First, the time-proceeding aspect being inhered in every character has the strong tendency toward the most distinctive information of the real world. As for character /yu/, while woman is giving birth to a baby, the most distinctive information is the figure of mother’s body bending, and after birth, the existence of a new baby becomes the most distinctive information†2. The various grammatical functions of one character are generated from the time proceeding and successive phenomena of distinctive aspects in the real world.
As for character /yu/, at the birth time, verbal aspect of giving birth is emphasized, but after birth nounal aspect of a new born baby oneself is emphasized. As for character /yan/, before the meeting verbal aspect of telling the opening is the most important thing, but while being opened or after the meeting the nounal aspect of speaking content of the meeting is the most valuable thing†3      
Second, when two or over two characters are connected, every character wants to emphasizes selecting one distinctive aspect inherent in oneself, and want to connect to the other character or characters. Because if two or over two aspects is transmitted, there will appear the non-clearness in the information. As for character /yu/, connection with character /sheng/ (which means grow in English), namely /sheng yu/, in this situation /yu/ means give birth to in English. Connection with /cai/ (which means a person of talent in English), namely /yu cai/, in this situation /yu/ means educate in English. That is to say, character /yu/ has two phases of meanings. One is concerned with the situation of child-birth of mother’s body. The other is concerned with the situation of a person that is already growing.
Third, every character has several aspects of inherent time inclination. When there is a connection of two characters, each character has the choosing operation from the several meanings in the character. Two or over two characters generate a new meaning complex by the operations of choosing the most precedent meaning in the each. This complex can maintain the new clearness of information on the connection of characters which have many branches of meanings in total.
For example, from above mentioned characters /yu/, /yan/ and /heng/, when two characters /heng/ and /yan/ are connected to one word /heng yan/, /heng/ chooses the meaning constant in English and /yan/ chooses the meaning utterance in English. New meaning complex is the expression by the stable person. This /heng yan/ appears in the Chinese classic Mengzi by the complex meaning.  
Then, when every individual character does selectivity of aspects, what functions does work in the characters? On the other hand, when two or over two characters connect by the choosing the most precedent meaning respectively, what functions does work out of the characters?

3 Self selectivity of function on character 
Now I examine the situation of what two or over two characters connect and generate the new aspect complex. For instance, I adopt above mentioned characters connection word /heng yan/.
In the first place, /yan heng/, which is a reverse disposition of /heng yan/, is examined. This characters disposition is not notified as the one word generally in the Chinese. This characters set is usually recognized as a sentence. The meaning is <The utterance is eternal.> in English. That is to say, this characters set does not generate new aspect complex and two aspects of every individual character form in a line. Why this divergence, namely generating word or sentence, occurs in the characters disposition?
Here I infer that< time property inherent in characters> is worked. Detailed inference is mentioned below.
On <time inherent in characters>, time has various longitudes, from short to long. As the case stands that two times in two characters touch in succession and the former character’ time is longer than the latter character’ time, these two characters connect tightly and generate a new aspect complex. But on the reverse situation, that is to say, the former character has shorter time than the latter character, these two characters have the difficulty to generate a new aspect complex, every individual character has a tendency to stand alone each other.
As for characters connection /heng yan/, character /heng/ has <an eternally long time> inherent, on the other hand, character /yan/ has <a temporary short time>. Like this connection of characters that the former is long time inherent and the latter is short time inherent, a new aspect complex is generated in principle.
Therefore characters /heng yan/ become one word and characters /yan heng/ become one sentence which is constituted from the two characters.
That is to say, on Chinese language that is classified to isolating language in linguistic typology, for there are no phenomena of declension, the main them of the grammatical functions is the break of words, namely characters, and the selection of parts of speech.
On the decision of grammatical functions, now I institute two conceptions for language. One is <time inherent in characters>. The other is <self selectivity of aspects on the combination of characters>.
<Time inherent in characters> is above mentioned. <Self selectivity of aspects> is also above mentioned. Say over again, when time inherent in the successive character is shorter than the former character’s, two characters are composed and become one word. But the latter is longer than the former; two characters are not composed and become one sentence.
As a result, there become two divergences. One is the generation of a new aspect complex. The other is succession of two individual aspects. The former become a word. The latter become a sentence.
This distinction leads a new view for the generation of lexis and the structure of syntax. Time inherent in characters is examined by the property of characters, especially by the inscriptions on bone and tortoiseshell in ancient China. Therefore <self selectivity of aspects on the combination of characters> is a hypothesis in the present stages.

4 Time principle on language
 Generally, recognition of word or structure of meaning on word, which is estimated one of the most important themes on linguistics, is extremely difficult to examine for long time. For the examination of the theme, now I chose the inscriptions on ancient China. These inscriptions are the most effective materials for analyzing the structure of meaning on language. Then, one of the most effective means is to verify <Time inherent in characters> and <Self selectivity of aspects on the combination of characters>. Now I collectively call these two factors as <Time principle on language>.

Hakuba March 28, 2003
Written by Japanese
Original Edition

Tokyo January 3, 2005
Translated into English
Standard Edition

[Postscript June 23, 2008]
†0<WANG Guowei>
†3<Time flow>
<More details on the theme>

[Postscript July 11. 2008]

[Postscript December 23, 2008]

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