>> This naturally leads to Jon's thought: what if IDS, or a similar mechanism,
>> is generalized to all CJK characters? Wouldn't it be possible to encode any
>> CJK text with only a handful of combining logical units? Or, alternatively,
>> wouldn't it be possible to design "light" CJK fonts, containing only glyphs
>> for the basic graphic units?
>Theoretically, this is true. In practice, it is not. There are enormous
>problems of graphic variation, ambiguity in the breakdown, and breakdown
>into non meaningful pieces. Think of trying to describe Latin text using a
>handful of curves and straight lines with appropriate connectors.
Yes, with the "basic graphic units" (estimated at from 500 to
800), it is well-neigh impossible. But it is not the purely
graphic elements that one wants to combine. It is the 1200 or so
phonetic hemigrams with the 300 or so classifiers that yield the
desired results. Anyway, such was the view of my beloved
teacher, the late Peter Boodberg, head of the East Asian
Dept. at UC Berkeley in 1969-1971. And so far, my own studies,
have done nothing to dissuade me of the viability of this
In Cedules from a Berkeley Workshop in Asiatic Philology,
December 10, 1955, Boodberg wrote:
"These 300 odd classifiers in various combinations with some
1200 'phonetic' hemigrams form the Chinese graphicon of some
50,000 characters (there is a small residue of aberrant archaic
holograms [wen, i.e. graphs that cannot be split into two] which
will be discussed later)."
Bottom line, the proof is in the pudding, I think.
-- Jon Babcock <email@example.com>
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