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Which has the longest language history, China or the West?

Posted by xiaophil August 5, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: language history, chinese characters, latin alphabet, Western language

This is a very brief essay I wrote today in Chinese and English.  Some of you might find it interesting.

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I was watching CCTV9 awhile ago, and I heard an old Chinese expert talk about (and I am paraphrasing a bit) how the Chinese language has the longest history out of all the languages in the world.  I am not so sure about this. 

I looked online to find out when Chinese started writing characters.  Answer: somewhere between 14th -11th centuries BCE to ca. 1200 to ca. 1050 BCE the Chinese produced writing on the oracle bones.  But of course, these were only the ancestors of today's Chinese characters.  The vast majority of today's Chinese cannot even begin to read them.

Now what about the West?  Most of the West uses the Latin alphabet.  The Latin alphabet's oldest ancestor is the written alphabet Linear A, which was fully developed somewhere around 1900-1800 BC.  As we can see, this is significantly older than the oracle bones.

不久以前,我看了CCTV9,我听见一位中国专家表示这样的看法:在整个语言之内,中文是世界上最不断的。对于他的观点,我认为不一定。

我上网查明汉字起源于什么时期,答案:中国人大约从公元前1400-1100年到前1200-1050年在甲骨上开始写字,不过这些字却只是现代的地汉字的先驱,现在的中国人基本上一点也看不懂。

关于西方的写法呢?大部分的西方人使用拉丁字母,它的最老的先祖是一个叫Linear A的字母,这个制度大约从公元前1900年到前1800年完全发达了,可见,比甲骨的发达时期长多了。

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PS: This was hastily thrown together, so I won't be surprised if my argument is holier than Swiss cheese.  Anyway, that's my caveat.  By the way, I hope to continue contrasting the development of Western and Chinese languages (very superficially) in the near future, so this probably is just the start.

 

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