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Even related writing systems such as Japanese and Korean, while sharing many of the same characters, can fully function as purely phonetic scripts.

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For instance, the first sign is that of a stylized elephant, and unsurprisingly its original meaning is "elephant".However, because "image" has the same pronunciation as "elephant" (*ziaŋʔ), it is also written with the stylized elephant sign.And at least in one instance an emblem, namely bird with a solar symbol, continues to be used as clan name in early Shang dynasty on bronze artifacts.The prevalent thought is that at some point in time these symbols ceased to represent the objects they illustrate but instead came to represent the words of the objects.Chinese is a highly monosyllabic language and so the opportunity of using rebus writing would have presented itself extremely frequently.

The following chart illustrates some examples of signs used to represent multiple words.

Perhaps it already had when these symbols were incised into the pottery, which could mean that these artifacts have writing on them, but there is no way to prove one way or another.

At best we can say is that the symbols were precursors to Chinese writing.

As you can see, the word "eye" (*muk) shares the same sign as the word "to see" (*kens), presumably because one sees with the eyes.

Similarly, the word "mouth" (*kouʔ) shares a sign with the word "name" (*meŋ), although the relationship in this case is a bit looser.

This script was etched onto turtle shells and animals bones, which were then heated until cracks would appear.