Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Ideographic Fallacy: Sociolinguistics and Political Impact
(3,552 words)

The ideographic fallacy holds that Chinese characters are “ideographs” (also called ideograms) that express ideas independent of spoken language. The idea originated among early modern Europeans, spread to Japan, and then to China. Sustained by cultural politics east and west, it retains a powerful hold on the popular imagination and in some areas of academia. However, linguists, psychologists, and computer scientists consider the ideographic fallacy to be long disproved. Computer science breakt…

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Mary ERBAUGH, “Ideographic Fallacy: Sociolinguistics and Political Impact”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 21 February 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_000252>
First published online: 2016

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