Archive for Writing systems

The growing impact of "biaoqing" ("expressions") on the internet in China

Gabriele de Seta has a serious, scholarly article on "Biaoqing: The circulation of emoticons, emoji, stickers, and custom images on Chinese digital media platforms" in First Monday, Volume 23, Number 9 – 3 September 2018.  Here's the abstract:

The Mandarin Chinese term biaoqing, or ‘expression’, categorizes genres of visual content ranging from emoticons and emoji to stickers and custom images. This article is grounded on ethnographic research and approaches biaoqing in terms of their circulation across Chinese digital media platforms. By formulating a comprehensive typology of biaoqing genres, I foreground the situated socio-technical specificities of their circulation: the creative play with typographical compositions, the affective repurposing of graphical emoticons, the platformed monetization of proprietary stickers, and the user-driven proliferation of custom images. Drawing on this typology, I argue for the need to recognize the circulation of biaoqing as an emergent and malleable category of semiotic resources profoundly shaped by two decades of development of the Internet in China.

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Stroke order of Chinese characters

Here on Language Log, we have often encountered the problem of stroke order and total number of strokes used in writing Sinographs (see the section on "Readings" below).  In this post, I would like to approach this problem from a discussion of how to write two seemingly simple characters:

tū 凸 ("convex; protude; bulge out")

āo 凹 ("concave; hollow; sunken")    

Although I don't like to use the expression "ideograph" or "ideogram" for Chinese characters in general, since only a tiny proportion of them are actually ideographic in nature, these two really are ideographs.  I find these two characters cute, and actually have long harbored a secret affection for 凸 and 凹.  They are amusing and attractive — until you try to write them according to the rules of Chinese brush strokes and stroke order.  Then all hell breaks loose.

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Polyscriptal, multilingual packaging for thousand-year eggs

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"Skr", the latest Chinese buzzword

Let's plunge right in:

"How ‘Skr’ Took Over the Chinese Internet:  A brief history of the meaningless hip-hop term that inspired countless viral memes", by Yin Yijun, Sixth Tone (8/7/18)

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∆ in Chinese

Karl Smith saw this sign in Taichung, Taiwan:

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Ampersand in Chinese

From Caitlin Schultz:

I was eating at a place called Yaso Tangbao in Midtown Manhattan recently and snapped these photos of Chinese characters and ampersands. I thought it was unusual!

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Spectral Sinographs

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Massive miswriting

"Can Chinese Write Their Own Language?" | ASIAN BOSS (7/19/18)

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How to learn Mandarin

In "Pinyin story" (7/16/18), we became acquainted with the language teaching theory called CI (Comprehensible Input) and the language learning method referred to as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).  If you read through the post and the comments, plus look at some of the embedded links, it becomes apparent that, using CI and TPRS, students can learn to write interesting little tales in Mandarin after only an hour or two of instruction.

Now, in conventional "Chinese" language classes, students spend most of their time memorizing how to write characters, and they also devote a lot of effort to mastering grammatical rules and syntactic paradigms.  Even after months of hard labor, students who follow the traditional way will have difficulty expressing themselves in a lively, imaginative manner.  What a breath of fresh air to learn that there are actually enthusiastic, smart teachers out there who offer a more humane and effective way to learn languages, including Mandarin!

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Pinyin story

Tweet by Lori Belinsky:

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"Chinese light"

In the comments to "The ethnopolitics of National Language in China" (7/2/18), "Uyghur basketball player" (6/24/18), and other posts, there has been a vigorous debate on the relationship between national language on the one hand and local and "minority" / ethnic languages on the other hand.

In the course of the debate, many interesting political, linguistic, and cultural issues have been raised, but in the last paragraph of his latest comment, Bathrobe said something that really caught my attention:

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Seismic solecism

Tangshan, in Hebei Province, was the epicenter of what is considered to the deadliest earthquake of the 20th century, with more than 650,000 of its million inhabitants perishing as a result of this July 28, 1976 disaster.  I still remember clearly the day that it happened, because the news came when I was attending a conference on Chinese philosophy at Harvard University, and many of the participants volunteered to assist the people of Tangshan one way or another (our offers were spurned by the Chinese government).

Two days ago, a linguistic upheaval jolted Tangshan, and the tremors were felt throughout the whole of China.

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Green Loosen Stone

Photo taken by Bathrobe at a Teppanyaki restaurant (currently undergoing renovation) in Qinhuangdao (a coastal port city in northeastern Hebei province):

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