Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics

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Wén 文 versus zì 字
(2,049 words)

Wén 文 and 字 are customarily presented as basic terms for the study of the Chinese writing system and usually interpreted as ‘simple graphs’ (wén) versus ‘compound characters’ (). For a now classic statement of this type see, e.g., Duàn Yùcái 段玉裁, 1735–1815, in his famous Shuōwén Commentary (Shuōwén jiězì zhù, 1988:15A 2b, cf. Hú Pǔ’ān 1937:1). Since the meanings of these two words have changed with time, it is worth retraci…

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Francoise BOTTÉRO, “Wén 文 versus zì 字”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 23 January 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2210-7363_ecll_COM_00000448>
First published online: 2015

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