Sound over ideograph: The basis of Chinese poetic art

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The author argues that Chinese characters have shaped Chinese poetic art not through their ideographic form but through their monosyllabic sound. Specifically, the pauses in a Chinese poetic line tend to be determined by sound patterns. Since monosyllabic sound is nearly always endowed with meaning, sound patterns tend to be semantic groupings as well. These groupings of meaning, in turn, determine syntax and, by extension, the organization of an entire poem. Given the semantic denseness of Chinese poetry, this structure is crucial to the overall meaning of a poem, to how we read or understand it. So what we have is something like sound ⇒ prosodic pattern ⇒ semantic grouping ⇒ syntax ⇒ structure. A multilayered integration of all these elements seems to represent the gestalt of Chinese poetic form, with monosyllabic sound as its foundation. At its best, this gestalt engenders a dynamic interplay of all its elements, from which poetic vision emerges.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-572
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Chinese Literature and Culture
Volume2
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Fingerprint

Sound
Poetics
Ideograph
Art
Grouping
Poem
Gestalt
Syntax
Sound Patterns
Chinese Characters
Chinese Poetry
Poetic Form
Pause

Keywords

  • China -- Language
  • China -- Literature
  • China -- Literature -- Poetry
  • China -- Literature -- Poetry -- Studies & Criticism
  • Chinese poetic language
  • monosyllabic Chinese characters
  • Chinese prosody
  • prosodic and thematic rhythm
  • syntax and structure

Cite this

Sound over ideograph : The basis of Chinese poetic art. / Cai, Zong-Qi.

In: Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 2, 01.11.2015, p. 545-572.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{75e37a4892394742a8b797c7b30fffa4,
title = "Sound over ideograph: The basis of Chinese poetic art",
abstract = "The author argues that Chinese characters have shaped Chinese poetic art not through their ideographic form but through their monosyllabic sound. Specifically, the pauses in a Chinese poetic line tend to be determined by sound patterns. Since monosyllabic sound is nearly always endowed with meaning, sound patterns tend to be semantic groupings as well. These groupings of meaning, in turn, determine syntax and, by extension, the organization of an entire poem. Given the semantic denseness of Chinese poetry, this structure is crucial to the overall meaning of a poem, to how we read or understand it. So what we have is something like sound ⇒ prosodic pattern ⇒ semantic grouping ⇒ syntax ⇒ structure. A multilayered integration of all these elements seems to represent the gestalt of Chinese poetic form, with monosyllabic sound as its foundation. At its best, this gestalt engenders a dynamic interplay of all its elements, from which poetic vision emerges.",
keywords = "China -- Language, China -- Literature, China -- Literature -- Poetry, China -- Literature -- Poetry -- Studies & Criticism, Chinese poetic language, monosyllabic Chinese characters, Chinese prosody, prosodic and thematic rhythm, syntax and structure",
author = "Zong-Qi Cai",
year = "2015",
month = "11",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1215/23290048-3324212",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "2",
pages = "545--572",
journal = "Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture",
issn = "2329-0048",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Sound over ideograph

T2 - The basis of Chinese poetic art

AU - Cai, Zong-Qi

PY - 2015/11/1

Y1 - 2015/11/1

N2 - The author argues that Chinese characters have shaped Chinese poetic art not through their ideographic form but through their monosyllabic sound. Specifically, the pauses in a Chinese poetic line tend to be determined by sound patterns. Since monosyllabic sound is nearly always endowed with meaning, sound patterns tend to be semantic groupings as well. These groupings of meaning, in turn, determine syntax and, by extension, the organization of an entire poem. Given the semantic denseness of Chinese poetry, this structure is crucial to the overall meaning of a poem, to how we read or understand it. So what we have is something like sound ⇒ prosodic pattern ⇒ semantic grouping ⇒ syntax ⇒ structure. A multilayered integration of all these elements seems to represent the gestalt of Chinese poetic form, with monosyllabic sound as its foundation. At its best, this gestalt engenders a dynamic interplay of all its elements, from which poetic vision emerges.

AB - The author argues that Chinese characters have shaped Chinese poetic art not through their ideographic form but through their monosyllabic sound. Specifically, the pauses in a Chinese poetic line tend to be determined by sound patterns. Since monosyllabic sound is nearly always endowed with meaning, sound patterns tend to be semantic groupings as well. These groupings of meaning, in turn, determine syntax and, by extension, the organization of an entire poem. Given the semantic denseness of Chinese poetry, this structure is crucial to the overall meaning of a poem, to how we read or understand it. So what we have is something like sound ⇒ prosodic pattern ⇒ semantic grouping ⇒ syntax ⇒ structure. A multilayered integration of all these elements seems to represent the gestalt of Chinese poetic form, with monosyllabic sound as its foundation. At its best, this gestalt engenders a dynamic interplay of all its elements, from which poetic vision emerges.

KW - China -- Language

KW - China -- Literature

KW - China -- Literature -- Poetry

KW - China -- Literature -- Poetry -- Studies & Criticism

KW - Chinese poetic language

KW - monosyllabic Chinese characters

KW - Chinese prosody

KW - prosodic and thematic rhythm

KW - syntax and structure

U2 - 10.1215/23290048-3324212

DO - 10.1215/23290048-3324212

M3 - Article

VL - 2

SP - 545

EP - 572

JO - Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture

JF - Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture

SN - 2329-0048

IS - 2

ER -