allofam (plural allofams) (usually in Sino-Tibetan linguistics) a linguistic form (attested or reconstructed word) which belongs to a particular word family. For example, Proto-Sino-Tibetan r-na would be the allofam from r/g-na which gave rise to Tibetan rna ("ear").¹
allograph “Allographs are characters which have the same pronunciation and meaning but have different outward forms. Strictly speaking, only characters which are used in completely the same way, that is, alternate forms of a single graph, can be called allographs. However, what are commonly referred to as allographs often include characters which only partially have the same usage. Allographs that tally with the strict definition can be termed "allographs in the strict sense," while those which have only a partial identity of usage can be called quasi-allographs. The two types taken together comprise allographs in a broad sense.” (Qiú, p. 297.)²
ekisei 亦聲 亦声 Japanese: ekisei, Chinese: Yìshēng. Literally “also sound”. Ochiai: “会意文字の一部が意味だけではなく発音も表す場合、その部分を亦声と呼ぶ。また、形声文字の声符が発音ではなく意味も表す場合にも亦声として扱われる。” (2016, p. 95 in section 用語解説) — “When in a semantic compound a part not only expresses meaning but also sound, that part is called ekisei. Also, when in a phono-semantic compound the phonetic not only expresses a sound but also meaning, that is also treated as an ekisei.” Given that in usage, ekisei can mean both also sound and also meaning, a literal translation of also sound will inevitably be confusing. Suggestions are welcome.
empty component I took this term from Outlier. They define it as a “component [that] provides an empty form, which is not related to its full form, meaning, or sound”. As an example they take 美 “beautiful” which originally depicted a person wearing a headdress. The modern form 美 consists of the of top of sheep 羊 and 大. While these components have meaning on their own, in 美 their meanings are irrelevant. See also standardization.
hanbun 繁文 “後代に文字の構造が変化した場合、本書では変化した後の字形を繁文と呼称している。” (Ochiai, 2016, 用語解説 p. 95)
semantic compound This I am going to use as equivalent to Japanese kaii moji 会意文字, Chinese huìyìzì 会意字. Qiú uses syssemantograph, which I find a horrible word. Elsewhere it’s often compound ideograph, but I agree with those scholars that think that “ideograph” and “ideogram” can be confusing. A semantic compound combines meaningful elements that are not being used for their phonetic value.³
semantograph A cover term for characters that use only semantic symbols and have therefore only a semantic relationship with the words they represent. Traditional subcategories are “pictographs”: xiàngxíngzì 象形字 (Japanese: shoukei moji, 象形文字), “deictic symbols” zhǐshìzì 指示字 (Japanese: shiji moji, 指示文字), “syssemantographs” huìyìzì 会意字 (Japanese: kaii moji, 会意文字). (Qiú, p. 15.)
semantographic symbol (Chinese: yífù 義符) Qiú makes a distinction between pictographic symbols and semantographic symbols, but admits that some symbols can be seen as both. Pictographic symbols express meaning “by means of their shape” and “frequently they cannot function independently as graphs.” As an example Qiú writes about 歩 which originally consisted of two representations, a left foot and a right foot. The left foot was also used as an independent graph (now 止) but the right foot was never used independently. A semantographic symbol has meaning because its shape is the same as (or derived from) an independent graph, and has a known meaning because of that. Only when its shape is recognizably still pictographic, it may be interpreted as either. (See Qiú pp. 53-54.)
semasiography Following Powell.⁴ “Writing in which the signs are not attached to necessary forms of speech.” This includes signs that are abstract, like the slash and border in 🚭 (no smoking), or representational (like the cigarette in the no smoking sign) or representational but symbolizing, for example using metaphor or metonymy (an hourglass for time, hoofprints for a horse). “[I]n semasiography the marks on the material basis always communicate information without the necessary intercession of forms of speech. Such signs are a form of writing [...] because they communicate information by means of material marks with a conventional reference. However, they represent concepts and meanings directly and may themselves to some extent constitute a language independent of speech, though such signs can sometimes be interpreted in speech.” Other examples are: musical notation, mathematical notation, computer icons. Powell defines a sematogram as an element of semasiography.
sign (1) Qiú uses this term as follows: “Graphic symbols which have a semantic relationship with words represented in the script are semantic symbols; those which have a phonetic relationship are phonetic symbols; those without any relationship either on the semantic or phonetic level are signs. Alphabetic writing systems use only phonetic symbols; the Chinese writing system uses all three types of symbols.” (Qiú, p. 15; my emphasis.) Note that Qiú contrasts the “Chinese writing system” with “alphabetic writing,” which are dissimilar categories. The writing systems of the West that use alphabets also use signs. Most importantly numbers, also symbols like & or $. Classically there are also semantic signs like arrows → and such, and since the turn of the century there is a growing number of new semantic symbols (for example emoji like ;-) or 😀). That is excluding all the semantic signs that live outside of books, in the street or on equipment. Note also that Qiú’s use of the term “sign” is much more limited than that of Powell (see semasiography). For Powell a sign can be representational. For Qiú a sign is unintelligible on itself; its meaning needs to be agreed upon. The example of “no smoking,” which combines both a representation of a cigarette and abstract symbols (the slash and the border) is for Qiú a semi-sign (Qiú, p. 20). To avoid confusion I will try to use arbitrary sign for Qiú’s meaning.
sign (2) Powell defines this as “something that stands for something else; same as symbol except a sign is part of a system. A collection of certain kinds of signs makes up a system of writing; loosely, any graphic character.”
standardization The process in with unique or difficult to draw shapes are redrawn with easier or familiar shapes, often regardless of their meaning. For example, in 弔 the lines that curve around the vertical line () have been replaced with bow 弓, ignoring its meaning. See also empty component.
syssemantograph In Qiú: huìyìzì 會意字.
2. For Qiú, see the main bibliography.
3. I’m certainly not the first to use “semantic compound” as equivalent for 会意 graphs. For example, it’s also used in Hsuan-Chih Chen, Jian Wang, Ralph Radach, Albrecht Inhoff, Reading Chinese Script: A Cognitive Analysis. Psychology Press, 1999.
4. Barry B. Powel, Writing: Theory and history of the technology of civilizaiton. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester etc., 2012, pp. 13-35; p. 261. (Emphasis in original.)