As I understand it, a Chinese ideograph has no particular sound value, since every dialect of Chinese will have a different sound value associated with the ideograph, and the only thing they agree about is the abstract meaning behind the character, not its sound value.
The actual way they pronounce it is irrelevant to the point I was making. Be a particular ideograph called bong in 1 dialect and bing in another, it is still known by how it is pronounced.
In general, written and spoken languages deviate as time progresses, so the closer to the point at which a written language is introduced, in general, the less divergence between the written and spoken languages. German is more phonetic than English because a unified German State, and thus a unified German spelling, is a relatively modern introduction.
I'm not convinced by that. High German goes back a long way before Germany became a unified state and is just as phonetic as modern German.
The problem with ancient languages is either the language existed for a prolonged period of time, in which case you have to decide which point in time you look at the language (medieval Latin was very different from the Latin of the 3rd century BC), or else you are talking about a language that does not have a long history, and thus one may assume that the written language was a fairly recent (in the context of the time when we have a written history of the culture) innovation in the culture.
I don't see how that would influence what the letters are called. At whatever point in a language's development the written form originated, the letters were given names that in many cases bear no resemblance to the way they are pronounced.
The point that was made about the names having been derived from the names of ideographs is very reasonable and could well be the answer I was looking for. Thank you for that.
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