Spelling in Chinese
A Comparison of the Graphical Conventions in the Written Representation of Zhuang and Cantonese by Prof. Robert S. Bauer
I left off with this last sentence,
For various reasons neither the old Zhuang script nor the written form of Cantonese has undergone the formal process of standardization; the lack of standardization has created the phenomenon of allography in both writing systems.
I don't want to go into all 9 conventions here but this is the last one cited.
9) Graphs whose pronunciations are "spelled" by their two component characters; that is, two (typically standard Chinese) characters are combined to form the target character, and the Zhuang or Cantonese reading of one of the characters represents the initial consonant of the target character, while the rime of the second character corresponds to the rime of the target character (this method resembles the 反切 principle that was employed in the ancient Chinese rime books).
I get the impression that rather than using two distinct characters as in fanqie, two components are combined in one character. This is described by the author as "spelling" out the pronunciation in a character.
I returned to Dylan Sung's website on the history of the Chinese language and script for a description of fanqie. (View his sitemap here.)
In order to fix the sounds of a character, we needed a method in which to do it. Very early on in the late Han period (25-220), splicing two characters for the intial and rhyme was the method to pin down the sounds. This is known as the FanQie (反切) method. Prior to the Sui (581 - 618) and early Tang (618 - 907) dynasties, the character "fan" 反 was used to symbolise this splicing. After the establishment of the Tang Dynasty, the character "qie" 切 was used.
Here is an example of how Fan and Qie splicing work.
[This character has the] old pronunciation "tung", and both methods use two extra characters, the first of which is the initial, and the second an exact rhyme to our example. The splicing works exactly the same way in both examples.
For a further discussion of fanqie I went here.
The fanqie spelling is a word-based analogical spelling system in which words are spelled in terms of other [familiar] words. Fanqie was never intended to, nor is it capable of, making distinctions beyond those of the words of any given speaker or reader. Neither the rhymes nor the fanqie spellings of the words of any given dialect or literary tradition can be arbitrarily extended (or "refined") so as to include the rhymes or words of another dialect which may have distinguished them differently or which did not distinguish them at all, as the Qieyun compilers indicate.Or read the book.
I have recently made the delightful but necessarily time-consuming discovery that if a book is listed at Pinyin info it is likely available at the university library near me. I have a stack of these books on my desk, and some of them I have actually read.
Two thoughts from reading all this. First, different kinds of phonography were used to generate new characters or 字 zi. Second, allography is a great term for a phenomenon which fascinates us all - non-standard writing. (Well, most of us.) In the midst of the all-encompassing standardization that is happening as graphs and systems enter Unicode, many of us will be mourning 'allography' or trying to find ways to keep it alive in spite of itself.