Characters travel better than sounds.

An undubbed Hollywood movie requires at least 20 sets of subtitle to sell in Europe, even though many European scripts are based on the Latin alphabet.

Why?

Spelled languages work on the principle of transcribing sounds on paper, and one becomes hopelessly lost going from spelled French to English.

In other words, reasoning cannot be applied to back out “I love you” from “Je t’aime”.

In the Chinese family of dialects, the different sounds are united by a common script, also called block writing. The meaning is encapsulated by the characters, and an independent sound layer is tacked on by the dialect, as long as one rule is obeyed.

One block, one character, one sound/syllable, one word.

As a result, the Chinese family of dialect spoken by more than a billion diverse people today share one history, one literature, one civilization.

This also explains how the Chinese mandarinate was able to select officials from all corners of the empire through a common imperial exam, and administer the country from the centralized imperial court.

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