Mark Swofford sent me the following photograph of two snack stands taken on September 8 on a mountain in Tucheng, Taiwan — somewhere around here:
Conspicuous even to those who do not read Chinese are the two symbols that are smack dab in the center of the top line of the writing on both stands: の and ㄟ. The former is the hiragana pronounced "no" which serves as the sign of the possessive in Japanese and the latter is the bopomofo phonetic indicator for [ei]. In both instances, they are serving to represent the Taiwanese possessive particle pronounced ê [e].
I discussed this problem of there being no character to write the most frequent Taiwanese morpheme at some length in "Our Taiwan", and am pleased now that I can illustrate it graphically. The only thing that could top this photograph would be to have a third stand with "e" (also often used to write the Taiwanese possessive particle) in the same position as の and ㄟ on the other two stands!
As my students so often say to me, QUICK QUESTION: how is it that so many of the most common morphemes in Sinitic topolects cannot be written with Chinese characters?