1. The book quoted below uses, but doesn't define, "semantic unit". Googling yielded SemanticUnit (GOLD-2010)

A SemanticUnit [sc] is the class of semantics elements, or units of semantic structure (sometimes called a sememe). Semantic units serve as the meaning component of linguistic signs. A semantic unit is intended for linguistic description and no particular logical representation is implied.

But this definition is too complicated for me and my 15 y.o. daughter.

  1. Can you kindly elaborate the "very high chance of confusion"?

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I skip some intervening text.

      A basic classification for writing systems (figure 14.1) distinguishes semantic, glottographic, and phonetic writing systems. The semantic branch seems to have only one member, Bliss; the phonetic branch has only the IPA and other similar universal phonetic transcription schemes. The glottographic branch contains all the other ordinary writing systems we have discussed in this book. From this point on, we will set semantic and phonetic writing aside and focus entirely on glottographic writing systems.
      The term ideographic is commonly found in works on writing with a variety of meanings, often poorly thought out, sometimes referring to morphograms and sometimes to semantic units. Because of the very high chance of confusion, I would strongly urge that this term not be used [emphasis mine].

Henry Rogers, Writing Systems (2004), p 271.


I don't think that book is using semantic unit in a technical sense. I think he is talking about the way that Chinese characters (in particular) are often popularly supposed to represent some sort of abstract "idea" or "semantic unit". Contemporary linguists generally regard them as representing morphemes of the language, not abstract bits of semantics, and so tend to avoid referring to them as "ideographs".

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