Oh yeah, sorry. I thought it would be clear from context. Thanks. This is indeed referring to Defrancis’ chapter in …Fact and Fantasy… (linked above in 'cranky laowai’s post) titled “The Ideographic Myth.”
I think, both the creators of the ideographic “myth” and those who make too much effort to debunk it make the mistake of assuming the Chinese script is somehow “different” in an “aberrant” way. Now wait a sec, you say, surely those who debunk it see the Chinese script as “not so different” from phonetic writing. But you see, they (for example DeFrancis, a radical proponent of alphabetization) do implicitly see the Chinese script as different – they just put it subordinate to the “phonetic scripts” which he claims (giving no good reason) all scripts must be. True, DeFrancis proposes that Chinese script like all scripts start out on the same path, but it is the later path that the Chinese script takes that DeFrancis fails to admit as legitimate. He also therefore fails to acknowledge that the actual use of a writing system such as Chinese characters in non-purely-phonetic ways could be legitimate or even possible. In doing so, he implicitly assumes that the historical development of alphabet writing systems, one of several writing systems in the world, is the one true path, that any other path in writing system development must be following the same. I think this is the kind of thinking that gets people in trouble. If I were a Martian studying “writing” (or any form of semi permanent communication) on Earth, I would see all writings as legitimate developments and I would never presume the differences in the Chinese script, of whatever proportions (including of huge proportions), compared to other writings, to be “mythical,” but simply the way it is. This is the mistake DeFrancis makes: that if it is not “mythical,” then the differences have to be small, illegitimate, abberational, or subordinate compared to something he grew up with.
While some people who have always seen “apples” will believe “oranges” to be mythical, DeFrancis is instead trying hard to say “oranges” are just a kind of “apples.” Both fail to recognize that “apples” and “oranges” are equally “fruits.”