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Pòyīnzì 破音字 (Graphs with Multiple Readings)
(720 words)

破 literally means ‘break’, pòyīn 破音 ‘break the pronunciation’, that is: break the usual convention in pronouncing a Chinese character, not to read it in its usual pronunciation. Pòyīnzì 破音字 then refers to a character having, in addition to its usual pronunciation, another pronunciation for a different meaning.

There are two major reasons for the emergence of pòyīnzì. First, there is the loangraph (jiǎjiè 假借) phenomenon. When referring to a morpheme that lacked a character or that had not been consistently represented by a single character, ancient wri…

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Jingtao SUN and Hede WU, “Pòyīnzì 破音字 (Graphs with Multiple Readings)”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 28 March 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000336>
First published online: 2015

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