New Message (aryan invasion)

Klaus Karttunen KJKARTTU at
Mon Dec 23 13:41:50 UTC 1996

On Mon, 16 Dec 1996 11:15:26 GMT, Dominik Wujastyk commented rather 
appropriately the following message:
>On Sun, 15 Dec 1996, Dan Lusthaus wrote:
> [...] and occasionally conversants take recourse to either writing 
>the word, making the gestures for writing the word (which can be 
>understood since they follow a stroke order), or reciting a well-known 
>phrase or line containing the word in question. All that might sound 
>inefficient, but it doesn't seem to slow the Chinese down. 
To this I would like to add that in the 18th century European linguists 
often supposed that what they thought to be purely monosyllabic 
languages like Chinese and Tibetan (of which they mostly had a vague 
idea, indeed) were so poor in means of explaining things with words that 
the speakers commonly had to use writing (on sand or air) in order to 
make them understood to each other. Allowing that some peculiarities of 
Chinese can make this feasible, I hope that this idea is not coming 
back. After all, as a foreigner I have occasionally been forced to ask 
about the spelling of an English word.
Klaus Karttunen

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