Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Getting over the Walls of Discourse: “Character Fetishization” in Chinese Studies

Abstract

Debates on the nature of the Chinese writing system, particularly whether Chinese characters may or may not legitimately be called “ideographs,” continue to bedevil Chinese studies. This paper considers examples of what are referred to as “discourses of character fetishization,” whereby an inordinate status is discursively created for Chinese characters in the interpretation of Chinese language, thought, and culture. The author endeavors to analyze and critique the presuppositions and implications of such discourses, with the aim of defusing the passions that have been aroused by this issue, and showing the way toward a more comprehensive and grounded understanding of the nature of Chinese characters, both as a writing system and in relation to Chinese culture and thought.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Ames Roger T., and Rosemont Henry Jr. 1999. The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine.
Bacon Francis. 1605 [1998]. The Advancement of Learning. Renascence Editions: An Online Repository of Works Printed in English Between the Years 1477 and 1799. http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/%7Erbear/ren.htm [accessed July 30, 2009].
Bauer Robert S. 1988. “Written Cantonese of Hong Kong.” Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale 17 (2): 245–93.
Boltz William G. 1994. The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System. New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society.
Boodberg Peter A. 1937. “Some Proleptical Remarks on the Evolution of Archaic Chinese.” Harvard Journal of Asian Studies 2 (3–4): 329–72.
Buruma Ian, and Margalit Avishai. 2004. Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism. London: Atlantic.
Chow Rey. 2001. “How (the) Inscrutable Chinese Led to Globalized Theory.” Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America 116 (1): 6974.
Coe Michael D. 1992. Breaking the Maya Code. New York: Thames and Hudson.
Cook H. P., trans. 1938. Aristotle: De Interpretatione. London: Loeb Classical Library.
Creel Herrlee Glessner. 1936. “On the Nature of Chinese Ideography.” T'oung Pao 32:85161.
Creel Herrlee Glessner. 1938. “On the Ideographic Element in Ancient Chinese.” T'oung Pao 34:265–94.
DeFrancis John. 1984. The Chinese language: Fact and Fantasy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
DeFrancis John. 1989. Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press.
Derrida Jacques. 1974. Of Grammatology. Trans. Spivak Gayatri Chakravorty, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Du Ponceau Peter S. 1838. A Dissertation on the Nature and Character of the Chinese System of Writing. Vol. 2 of Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.
Fenellosa Ernest, and Pound Ezra. 1920. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry. Repr., San Francisco: City Lights, 1936.
Graham A. C. 1989. “The Relation of Chinese Thought to the Chinese Language.” In Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China, by Graham A. C., 389428. La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing.
Hansen Chad. 1983. Language and Logic in Ancient China. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Hansen Chad. 1993a. “Chinese Ideographs and Western Ideas.” Journal of Asian Studies 52 (2): 373–99.
Hansen Chad. 1993b. “Communications to the Editor: Chad Hansen Replies.” Journal of Asian Studies 52 (4): 954–57.
Harris Roy. 1987. Reading Saussure: A Critical Commentary on the Cours de linguistique generale. London: Duckworth.
Hodge Bob, and Louie Kam. 1998. The Politics of Chinese Language and Culture: The Art of Reading Dragons. London: Routledge.
Honey David B. 2001. Incense at the Altar: Pioneering Sinologists and the Development of Classical Chinese Philology. New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society.
Karlgren Bernhard. 1926. On the Nature and Authenticity of the Tso Chuan. Goteborgs Hogskolas Arsskrift 32. Repr., Taipei: Cheng-Wen, 1968.
Kennedy George A. 1951. “The Monosyllabic Myth.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 71 (3). Repr., Selected Works of George A. Kennedy, ed. Li Tien-yi, 104–18. New Haven, Conn.: Far Eastern Publications, Yale University, 1964.
Kennedy George A. 1953. ZH Guide: An Introduction to Sinology. New Haven, Conn.: Sinological Seminar, Yale University.
Kennedy George A. 1955. “The Butterfly Case (Part I).” Wennti, no. 8. Repr., Selected Works of George A. Kennedy, ed. Li Tien-yi, 238322. New Haven, Conn.: Far Eastern Publications, Yale University, 1964.
Liu James J. Y. 1988. Language—Paradox—Poetics: A Chinese Perspective. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Lurie David B. 2006. “Language, Writing and Disciplinarity in the Critique of the ‘Ideographic Myth’: Some Proleptical Remarks.” Language and Communication 26 (3–4): 250–69.
McDonald Edward. 2000. Review of The Politics of Chinese Language and Culture: The Art of Reading Dragons, by Bob Hodge and Kam Louie. Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 12 (1): 209–17.
McDonald Edward. 2002. “Humanistic Spirit or Scientism? Conflicting Ideologies in Modern Chinese Language Reform.” Histoire, épistémologie, langage 24 (2): 5174.
Peirce C. S. 1931–58. Collected Writings. Ed. Harthorne Charles, Weiss Paul, and Burks Arthur W. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Said Edward. 1978. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. New York: Pantheon.
Saussure Ferdinand de. 1916. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957.
Saussy Haun. 2001. Great Walls of Discourse and Other Adventures in Cultural China. Harvard East Asian Monographs no. 212. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center.
Thibault Paul. 1997. Rereading Saussure: The Dynamics of Signs in Social Life. London: Routledge.
Unger J. Marshall. 1990. “The Very Idea: the Notion of Ideogram in China and Japan.” Monumenta Nipponica 45 (4): 391411.
Unger J. Marshall. 1993. “Communications to the Editor.” Journal of Asian Studies 52 (4): 949–54.
Unger J. Marshall. 2004. Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Zhan Xuzuo, and Liangzhi Zhu. 1995. “Graphology and Culture: How Chinese Characters Verify Beliefs and Ideologies.” Journal of Oriental Studies 33 (1): 7694.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 31 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 228 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.