Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A logogram, or logograph, is a single written character which represents a word or a morpheme (a meaningful unit of language). This stands in contrast to other orthography, such as syllabaries, abjads, and alphabets, where each symbol primarily represents a sound or a combination of sounds.
Chinese characters, used in Chinese and Japanese, make up a logographic system. Written Korean used a subset of Chinese characters as well until widespread use of Hangul after World War II, as did Vietnamese before French missionaries arrived in Indochina.
Compared to alphabetical systems, logograms have a disadvantage in that one needs many of them to be able to write down a large number of words. An advantage is that one does not necessarily need to know the language of the writer to understand them - everyone understands what 1 means, whether they call it one, eins, uno or ichi. Likewise, people speaking different Chinese dialects may not understand each other in speaking, but often can in writing, especially if they write in standard written Chinese. In addition, a logogram-based system uses fewer characters to express something than an alphabetic system, a benefit enjoyed by Chinese and to some extent Japanese users of mobile phone web browsers and other devices which display information on a small screen.
- A Typographic Outcry: a curious perspective
- Hannas, William C. (1997). Asia's Orthographic Dilemma. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1892-X.
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