Archive for Writing systems

Of knots, pimples, and Sinitic reconstructions

A couple of months ago, we talked about gēda 疙瘩, which is one of those very cool, two syllable Sinitic words, neither of whose syllables means anything by itself (i.e., not only is it a disyllabic lexeme, it is also a disyllabic morpheme).  Furthermore, gēda 疙瘩 is highly polysemous, with the following meanings:  "pimple; knot; swelling on the skin; lump; nodule; blotch; a knot in one's body or heart (–> hangup; problem; preoccupation)".

See "Too hard to translate soup" (9/2/18).

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)

Writing characters and writing letters

A few days ago, I wrote the following titles on the blackboard in my "Poetry and Prose" class:

Dà Táng Sānzàng qǔjīng shīhuà 大唐三藏取經詩話 (Poetic Tale of Tripitaka of the Great Tang Fetching Scriptures)

Yóuxiān kū 遊仙窟 (The Grotto of Playful Transcendants)

Guānshìyīn yìngyàn jì 觀世音應驗記 (Records of the Verifications of Responses by Avalokiteśvara)

As I was rapidly writing the strokes of the characters — click click click tick tick tack tack click clack tick tack — I suddenly became aware of how different the writing sounded from when I write something in Roman letters.  Not only did writing characters sound very different from the way writing letters sounds, the two types of script have a very different kinetic feel to them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

Love those letters

Here we go again.  More Roman letters and English words on police and security guard uniforms in China (see below for some earlier posts).  Here's a doozy:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Stroke order

A notoriously complex Sinograph:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Diacriticless Vietnamese, part 2

This comment by Quyet on a recent post ("Dungan-English dictionary" [10/26/18]) is of such significance that I feel it merits separate, special recognition of its own:

The [Vietnamese] government often sends out mass text messages with announcements to every number in the country with no diacritics at all. Furthermore, teenagers have grown up to text toneless and abbreviated with no issues, and now it's common to see things like "Hn 2 vc mun dj choj oh cv thog nhat vs cac p dog nghiep hem?"

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

Dungan-English dictionary

We have had several posts about Dungan on Language Log:

"Dungan: a Sinitic language written with the Cyrillic alphabet" (4/20/13)

"'Jesus' in Dungan" (7/16/14)

"Writing Sinitic languages with phonetic scripts" (5/20/16)

See also:

Implications of the Soviet Dungan Script for Chinese Language Reform.

Omniglot

The reason I have been interested in Dungan for the last four decades and more is that it constitutes prima facie evidence that a Sinitic language that had never before been written in Sinographs can be written in an alphabetical script, even without the indication of tones.  Relying on separation of words with spaces, punctuation, etc., the Dungans have used their script to write poetry, essays newspaper articles, and so on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (11)

The inevitability (or not) of diacritical marks

Recent talk at the University of Pennsylvania:

"Printers’ Devices, or, How French Got Its Accents"
Katie Chenoweth, Princeton University
Monday, 22 October 2018 – 5:15 PM
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center, University of Pennsylvania
Sponsored by: Penn Libraries

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (21)

Vietnamese nail shop

Charles Below writes:

As a follow-up to "Diacriticless Vietnamese on a sign in San Francisco" (9/30/18), I saw this sign about a block or two away on a closed nail salon. I note the stray dot over the I in NAILS.  The surname I've redacted is, I believe, Irish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (15)

Why Chinese write "9" backwards

Comments (33)

A new and useful dictionary of Sinographs

We have often noted how much easier it is to learn Chinese now than it was just ten or twenty years ago.  That's because of all the new digital resources that have become available in recent years:

Of course, there are a lot quick fix programs out there, and one should be wary of them:

But every so often a really good resource comes along, and I should like to introduce one such in this post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (35)

Bur Ger A Head: Thai fondness for English syllabism

The following portfolio of photographs illustrating the Thai penchant for separating English words into syllables was taken by Paul Midler over many years of travel in the region:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)

Tangut beer

Comments (15)

Visual depiction of vowel elongation in Japanese

From Alex R:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (16)