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"Bullard, Claude L (Len)" scripsit:
> Possibly a cultural effect as well: were the numbers
> of literate Chinese as a percentage of the population
> greater than those of the Egyptians?
Probably not. Literacy was professional and rare in either culture.
> In other words,
> is this another network effect that when the Egyptian
> signs were in use, only a small group relative to the
> population used them competently, so when historical
> events broke up the continutity and contiguity of that
> community of competence, the network snapped and so
> did the tradition?
China wasn't conquered by alphabet users, as Egypt was. By 200 B.C.E.,
Egyptian was being written in the Coptic script, a version of Greek
script with extra letters taken from the latest phase of native Egyptian
writing, called "demotic".
Although the Manchu who did conquer China in 1620 had alphabetic
writing, the prestige of ideographic writing for Chinese and of the Chinese
language itself was too great to overcome; as a result, Manchu is basically
a dead language today -- there are ethnic Chinese people of Manchu descent,
but no actual ethnic Manchus.
> Were Chinese characters used for more purposes than
> Egyptian hieroglyphs?
Not sure, but I doubt it.
John Cowan <email@example.com>
Unified Gaelic in Cyrillic script!