All translations or interpretations of the Shang oracular texts are ultimately founded on the way in which one understands the system of the early Chinese writing and its underlying principles. This writing system cannot be fully understood unless the study of the graphic structure of each writing unit is combined with that of all other factors that can be observed from the point of view of semantic content and phonology. A short discussion of these three aspects or factors in the writing system is intended to show that any graphic analysis from the very beginning needs to consider the word that is represented by the graphic unit and to determine it in meaning(s) and pronunciation(s), grammatical function(s), and its relationship with other words, whether cognates, synonyms or homonyms, liable to be used as loan units ( ). The graphic analysis must not only explain the pictographic aspects of the graphs, but also determine the possible phonetic, semantic, or etymonic roles played by any of its constituent parts. In this respect, processes like polyphony, polysemy, graphic convergence and confusions, and loan graph substitutions all require vigorous scrutiny from the point of view of the phonology of the Shang language. Besides using information from later bronze texts, classics, and early dictionaries, it is important to let the Shang data speak for themselves.