Archive for Diglossia and digraphia

Aravrit

Speaking of biscriptalism, Guy Almog called my attention to an interesting project called Aravrit (that is, Arabic + Hebrew [ivrit]).

From the home page:

Aravrit is a project of utopian nature. It presents a set of hybrid letters merging Hebrew and Arabic.

This new writing system is composed of an Arabic letter on the upper half and a Hebrew letter on the bottom half. The characteristic features of each letter were retained, however in both languages the fusion required some compromises to be made, yet maintaining readability and with limited detriment to the original script. In Aravrit, one can read the language he/she chooses, without ignoring the other one, which is always present.

Judging from Aravrit's Facebook page, many of the details of this new, hybrid script were inspired by features found on Yemenite manuscripts.

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Pure Pinyin

A father speaks

[This is a guest post by Alex Wang, following up his remarks in "Learning to read and write Chinese" (7/11/16).]

The more I learn Chinese to teach my younger son Chinese reading and writing the more I realize for lack of better word how “ridiculous” it is for a “significant / modern” country to use such a reading and writing system. Perhaps I may be wrong because I’m not informed.

To provide some background, I grew up speaking only Chinese in the house.  I went to Saturday school for a few years to learn a little bit of reading and writing but mostly forgot all of it by the time I came to Shenzhen 9 years ago. I did not learn pinyin; I was taught Bopomofo which I have forgotten entirely.   I say this so that you understand my relative fluency in the spoken language.  On reading characters, I can now recognize perhaps several hundred.

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A child's substitution of Pinyin (Romanization) for characters, part 2

This is a photograph of a page from an essay written by a third grade student at an elementary school in Suining, Sichuan Province, China:

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Pinyin memoirs

Chang Li-ching (my wife) wrote her childhood memoirs in Hanyu Pinyin (Romanized Mandarin):

Pīnyīn Rìjì Duǎnwén (Pinyin Diary Essays).

Li-ching specifically did NOT want her memoirs published in hanzi (Chinese characters).  She was passionately devoted to farmers and workers — like John DeFrancis — and she wrote her memoirs in Pinyin as a testimony of her devotion to them.

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Roman-letter Mandarin pronoun of indeterminate gender

From B JS:

Some interesting uses of the Roman letter third person pronoun “TA” to sidestep genders associated with the characters tā 他 ("he") and tā 她 ("she"); it seems useful enough to perhaps become a permanent fixture in the language, in contrast to more faddish-seeming things like “duang” (see here and here).  I kind of wish you could do this in English.

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The uses of Hanyu pinyin

Hànyǔ pīnyīn 汉语拼音 ("Sinitic Spelling") is the official romanization of the PRC.  It also comes with an official orthography which provides guidelines for word separation, punctuation, and how to deal with grammatical constructions.  An English translation of the basic orthographical rules by John Rohsenow can be found at the back of the various editions of the ABC Chinese-English Dictionary from the University of Hawai'i Press.

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出XIT

Bruce Rusk thought Language Log readers might be interested in a bit of digraphia from Vancouver: an “escape room” company (on this phenomenon, see here), with several locations in Vancouver and its environs, uses the Sinograph chū 出 ("go out / forth; exit") in place of the letter E in its name, “出XIT” (where it looks like a doubled, rotated E). The logo looks like this:

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Inching toward digraphia, with a note on the universality myth

The subject of digraphia in China often comes up in our discussions about the Chinese writing system on Language Log (always be sure to check the comments on the posts, because much good material is often added in them), e.g.:

"Digraphia and intentional miswriting " (3/12/15)

"Substituting Pinyin for unknown Chinese characters " (12/3/13)

"Creeping Romanization in Chinese " (8/30/12)

"Character amnesia and the emergence of digraphia " (9/25/13)

"Dumpling ingredients and character amnesia " (10/18/14)

"Which is worse? " (1/21/16)

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Using Sinitic characters in Korea

S. Robert Ramsey is professor of East Asian linguistics at the University of Maryland and author of the excellent book titled The Languages of China.  I often consult with Bob on matters pertaining to Korean and Japanese; he is a reliable source of information on these languages as well as on Chinese in its many varieties — both in their current circumstances and with regard to their historical evolution.

In a recent communication, Bob described a ceremony he attended in Seoul.  Since it touches on a subject that we have often discussed on Language Log — digraphia — I thought that I'd share it with colleagues here.

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A Dartmouth grad's contribution to the development of Hangul

The current issue of the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine includes an article by Karl Schutz and Jun Bum Sun that made me sit bolt upright:

"The Chosŏn One:  The influence of Homer Hulbert, class of 1884, lives on in a country far from his home" (Jul-Aug, 2015).

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Digraphia and bilingualism in a Nissan ad

Photograph of a Chinese ad spotted in a Beijing elevator by David Moser, who also provided much of the analysis that follows:

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Digraphia and intentional miswriting

I received the following message from David Moser on 6/2/11, but it got lost in my inbox until just now when I was able to retrieve it while cleaning out a bunch of old and unwanted messages:

Wow, talk about digraphia!  I just got this text message on my cell phone here in Beijing:

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Starvations

Nathan Hopson sent in this photo (from Nagoya, Japan, but there are similar stores all over Japan):

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