A Study of the Graph Míng 明

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Although frequently cited as a typical hui yi, the graph míng 明 has attracted many different, in some cases somewhat conflicting interpretations regarding its formation and categorization. In this paper, I conduct a diachronic study of how the graph míng 明 and related graphs have been used from around the thirteenth century BCE when the earliest Chinese script, the oracle bone inscriptions, was in use, up to the turn of the twentieth century, when the traditional script was in use. I argue that today the graph 明 used for ‘bright’ is the result of simplification from míng 朙. This mostly occurred during the late Spring and Autumn period to the Warring States period when the scripts of the six states were used. Xu Shen mistook míng 明 as the archaic form of the graph míng 朙. In the orthography reforms conducted during the Tang dynasty, míng 明 was chosen as the standard form against míng 朙 and míng 眀.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalAustralian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Míng 明
  • The Bronze Inscriptions
  • The Houma Covenant Texts
  • The Oracle Bone Inscriptions
  • The Qin Clerical Script
  • The Scripts of the Six States

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