Language, writing, and disciplinarity in the Critique of the "Ideographic Myth": Some proleptical remarks

David B. Lurie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Prominent in recent discussions of East Asian writing systems has been a metadiscursive polemic that can be labeled the Critique of the Ideographic Myth. Associated primarily with John DeFrancis and J. Marshall Unger, this is an attack on the notion that the Chinese writing system represents ideas directly, and more broadly an argument for the primacy of phonography in inscription in general. This paper considers the disciplinary framework of the Critique, tracing its roots in a prewar Sinological debate (the Boodberg-Creel controversy) and in Leonard Bloomfield's famous dismissal of writing, and locating it within the postwar field of Asian Studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-269
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Communication
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jul 1



  • Area studies
  • Asian studies
  • Bloomfieldian linguistics
  • History of writing systems
  • Ideography
  • Sinology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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