Archive for Diglossia and digraphia

Sweethoney dessert

Maidhc Mac Roibin sent in this photograph of the front of a dessert shop in Cupertino from Fintano's flickr site:

201908-PSP-R4-33 Sweethoney Dessert, Cup. CA

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Too tired to love: new set phrases in Pinyin

Literary Sinitic / Classical Chinese has an extreme propensity for elision, truncation, and abbreviation, which is one of the factors that make it so hard to read.

Yesterday, we looked at the current Chinese proclivity for acronyms and initialisms, made much easier to produce and apply due to the use of digital technology and pinyin as part of an emerging Sinitic digraphia.  See "Chinese acronyms" (12/22/19).

In recent years, a new kind of quadrisyllabic "set phrase" has arisen in internet usage, one not based on historical allusion or other traditional source.  Here are seven typical examples:

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Chinese acronyms

Apollo Wu sent in this list of what he calls "Chinese acronyms" (Romanizations, translations, links, and comments are by VHM):

GJBZ 国家标准 Guójiā biāozhǔn ("National Standard") — this is commonly reduced still further to "GB"

YDYL 一带一路 Yīdài yīlù ("One Belt, One Road" or "Belt and Road")

RMB 人民币 Rénmínbì ("RMB", the Chinese yuan)

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English incorporated in a Sinograph

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Writing English with Sinographs and Chinese with numbers

All in one sign!  Here it is:


(Source: Pinyin News)

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Ask Language Log: The alphabet in China

Jeff DeMarco writes:

I have just come across some mixed language abbreviations on Chinese social media. For example, 川A市 refers to Chengdu. 皖J市 is Huangshan in Anhui, and 皖A市 is Chaohu.

I am curious as to how the letters are assigned.

The incorporation of the Roman alphabet into the Chinese writing system is a topic that we have often addressed on Language Log, for which see the "Readings" (and the bibliographies they include) below.

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Diglossia: "The shabby Big Wild Goose Pagoda"

For a natural demonstration of what diglossia is in the Chinese-speaking context, watch this 0:53 video.  The speaker begins in local Xi'anese (also called Guānzhōng huà 关中话 / 關中話), but at 0:20, when he suddenly realizes that he is talking to a television reporter, after hilariously sprucing himself up a bit, he abruptly switches to Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM):

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I [heart] you in Sino-English

Taken by Yuanfei Wang at a restaurant in Hangzhou:

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Diglossia in action

Neil Kubler spotted this restaurant sign last week in Xi'an in northwest China:

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Awesome sushi barbecue restaurant

From Nora Castle, who came across this restaurant which has just opened in Coventry, England:

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"HKers add oil"

Photograph in the Wall Street Journal, "Hong Kong Protesters Fill Streets in District With History of Violent Clashes:  Police are under pressure to contain weeks of tear-gas-soaked demonstrations against mainland China's growing influence", by John Lyons and Joyu Wang (8/3/19):

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Emoticons as writing

This morning I received this card from a friend:

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Is this Cantonese, Mandarin, or a combination of the two?

Sign on a municipal bus in San Francisco:


(Sponsored by truthornahsf.org)

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