漢字是最古老的, 也是最年輕的文字.

#1
Below is a translation of a passage from the book 漢子書法之美 by 蔣勳. I think that it quite nicely shows how lucky we are to study a language like Chinese.

漢字是人類文明裡唯一傳承超過五千年的文字,
唯一的非拼音文字,
唯一還可以在現代科技的電腦中方便使用的古文字.
它是最古老的文字, 也是最年輕的文字.

Chinese Characters is human civilisations only non-alphabetical script that has been transmitted for over 5000 years, and yet can still be conveniently used in today's technologically advanced computers. It is not just the oldest living script, it is also the youngest.

(i.e given that it can be used in so many different time periods without perishing by being able to be revitalized to fit the requirements of each period.)
 
#2
{sigh} Standard Chinese myth. I take issue with 蔣勳 as follows:
1) The farthest one can stretch the history of Chinese characters is 3,300 years.
If he is referring to the idea that Chinese can be traced to some non-writing marks before that time there is a problem because a) some other cultures have even older non-writing marks, and b) there is much evidence (debated by some) for Europe-wide, and maybe worldwide, non-language written communication going back some 30,000 years or more (see, Genevieve von Petzinger, et al).
As for the idea that it is the oldest evolved/transmitted script (since 99% of Chinese folks can't make heads or tails of more than a few handfuls of ancient characters), he is right in that ancient forms do have a clear "Chineseness" about them (viewed from today's perspective, which I realize is anachronistic), and he is wrong in that the Roman Alphabet, Arabic script, Devanagari (though some debate this latter one), among many others trace back to Egyptian hieroglyphics (though, admittedly, none of these have a Tut-ness to them).
2) There are other ancient scripts that either used non-phonetic systems or, like most Chinese characters were formed, were a mix of sound and meaning. Most Chinese are unaware of just how neatly most of the characters fit into sound groups. It's quite a lot. It's one of those topics that has been researched for a long time, and yet I think not really researched.
3) 99% of well educated Chinese people can not read Chinese characters until the forms of about 1,800 years or so ago (and for the PRC it is even worse). Even experts who study old scripts had a hard time deciphering the real writing that has been unearthed in recent decades from the last three centuries BC (and in fact still do not know quite a few characters therein). Ancient Greek and Latin letter forms are still readily recognizable to those who know the modern scripts. In any case, ancient forms of Chinese characters are not only unrecognizable to virtually all modern Chinese people, but yes there are fonts out there (hardly convenient, all in all) that will, if you are lucky, render more than 8/10 of the characters in your document in some ancient style (some fonts/styles maybe approaching 95%, others much less than 3/4). The basic problem is characters that are used now that did not exist then, and the font makers don't typically account for this. Not convenient, and I have used a lot of these fonts.
4) Chinese is not even close to the oldest writing system. There's a whole bunch before Chinese. Of course, one could say there were only four writing systems ever invented (and Chinese at least gets third place there), but that is another topic. I am not sure how it is also the youngest, but that is OK because facts are not a big deal for this guy.

I have based my comments off the Chinese, not the English (which differs in places).
 
Last edited:
#3
Not surprisingly, you've failed to comprehend the original comment.

There is a difference between a script and a word. Just because Chinese people can't read a character that was written 2000 years ago doesn't mean that it isn't apart of the same script.

The original comment was talking about how 漢字 are right now. It is the oldest script still currently being used and has yet to be replaced by a newer script.

The first three sentences are read together. Chinese is the only non alphabetic , currently still being used script that has a history of more than 5000 years.

Maybe if I order it like this you might comprehend it better.
漢字是人類文明裡
唯一傳承超過五千年的文字,
唯一的非拼音文字,
唯一還可以在現代科技的電腦中方便使用
的古文字.

Obviously the last sentence is a contradiction. Therefore something else is probably being referred to. It is the youngest script because it is a very old script that can still be used in today's technologically advanced computers. He is saying that is young in spirit not in age. Which is clearly an opinion not a fact.
Hopefully your reading comprehension has improved.
 
Last edited:
#4
Thank you as always for your pleasantness.

"There is a difference between a script and a word. Just because Chinese people can't read a character that was written 2000 years ago doesn't mean that it isn't apart of the same script."
I clearly said that, if you would bother to reread my comments. But, I also said that ancient Latin and Greek writings (i.e. inscriptions) are already in a form one can read.
For other examples like this one, just reread my original comments because your comments do not refer to what I wrote.

Chinese is a very old, stubborn script on computers. Its youth appears when written because only then can one play with it the way one can play with an alphabetic script.
 
Top