Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/249

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225
WRITING

as we have already noted earlier, the Chinese language consists of a comparatively few elementary monosyllabic sounds, which are all used in a great variety of meanings, and the Chinese soon
Specimens of American Indian picture-writing (after Schoolcraft..)
No. 1, painted on a rock on the shore of Lake Superior, records an expedition across the lake, in which five canoes took part. The upright strokes in each indicate the number of the crew, and the bird represents a chief, "The Kingfisher." The three circles (suns) under the arch (of heaven) indicate that the voyage lasted three days, and the tortoise, a symbol of land, denotes a safe arrival. No. 2 is a petition sent to the United States Congress by a group of Indian tribes, asking for fishing rights in certain small lakes. The tribes are represented by their totems, martens, bear, manfish, and catfish, led by the crane. Lines running from the heart and eye of each animal to the heart and eye of the crane denote that they are all one mind; and a line runs from the eye of the crane to the lakes, shown in the crude little "map" in the lower left-hand corner.
discovered that a number of these pictographs and ideographs could be used also to express other ideas, not so conveniently pictured, but having the same sound. Characters so used are called phonograms. For example, the sound fang meant not only "boat," but "a place," "spinning," "fragrant," "inquire," and several other meanings according to the context. But while a boat is easy to draw, most of the other meanings are undrawable. How can one draw "fragrant" or "inquire"? The Chinese, therefore, took the same sign for all these meanings of fang, but added to each of them another distinctive sign, the determinative, to show what sort of fang was intended. A "place" was indicated by the same sign as for "boat" (fang) and the determinative sign for "earth"; "spinning" by the sign for fang and the sign for