Nonce Words and Characters
(2,264 words)

Given the logographic nature of Chinese characters, someone unfamiliar with the language might be forgiven for wondering how Chinese speakers would be able to write newly coined or nonsensical words. Indeed, given the zero-sum, “you either know it or you don’t” nature of the Chinese writing system, novel coinage does seem difficult, at …

Cite this page
Clay WILLIAMS, “Nonce Words and Characters”, in: Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics, General Editor Rint Sybesma. Consulted online on 29 March 2017 <>
First published online: 2015

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