Peter T. Daniels wrote:
> Berthold Frommann wrote:
> > > Why aren't the seven basic brushstrokes the "graphemes"
> > > of Chinese?
> > > Aren't they much more the "atoms" of Chinese writing?
> > You could call them this way, but those mere basic
> > brushstrokes just don't carry any meaning in
> > themselves.
> Neither do phonemes.

But a certain combination of phonemes are what makes us say that "cat" is a
different word from "dog".

Brush strokes in Chinese characters normally do not have this distinguishing
function: many strokes can be removed or altered, split or merged, but this
doesn't change the identity of the character.

E.g., depending on the writing style, the first stroke of the left-side
component of "?" ("shuo¹", 'to speak') can be either a dot stroke "\" or a
horizontal stroke "-"; the first two strokes of the right-side component can
be "\/" or "/\". The semantic component of "?" ("dao³", 'way') can have
either one or two dot strokes "\" on top of it, thus altering the total
stroke count.

To me, brush strokes look more like pronunciation accidents which may vary
from one dialect to another, such as the English phoneme /o:/ which may be
realized as long vowel [o:] in America or as diphthong [ou] in Britain, but
is still recognizable as the same single phoneme by the combinatory point of

_ Marco