01:098:410 The History of East Asian Writing Systems 

Description:The course examines the history of writing systems in East Asia, starting from the evaluation of oracle bone inscriptions in early China in the context of the historical development of writing in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The first part of the course will be devoted to the evolution of character-based writing in China and the importance of a “literary language” in the Sino-sphere over the past two millennia. Then, we introduce the rise of vernacular traditions, with the local development of writing in Japan and Korea in terms of the linguistic classification of written symbols (syllabic and alphabetic). In particular, the crucial role of kana in Japanese and han’gŭl in Korean will be discussed in dealing with conflicts arising from historical diglossia. In addition, we touch on related topics such as the effect of literacy on the development of each society, print culture and the calligraphy traditions, psychological aspects of writing/reading, historical attempts at reforms, and technological innovations affecting East Asian scripts in the Digital Age.

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