Archive for Writing systems

What happened to the spelling bee this year?

Like so many other good things in this annus horribilis, COVID killed it.

For quite a few years now, I have reported on the national spelling bee (usually in May).  This has been such a dismal year that I didn't make an effort to inquire about what happened with it this spring.  Now, however, as I am preparing a post on Indian feats of memorization, I could not help but wonder about the fate of the 2020 national spelling bee.  Here's what I found out.

"Tough words, little drama, familiar champ in virtual bee"May 29, 2020)

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The look, feel, and sound of Dungan language

Here are a couple of YouTube videos by way of example:

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Writing Taiwanese with Romanization

Persuasive 14:09 YouTube video of Aiong Taigi explaining why he doesn't use Chinese characters (Hàn-jī 漢字) on his channel, but instead sticks to Romanization (Lomaji) as much as possible:  A'ióng, lí sī án-chóaⁿ bô teh ēng Hàn-jī? 【阿勇,汝是安盞無塊用漢字?】:

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Women's writing: dead or alive

Article in BBC yesterday:

"Nüshu:  China's secret female-only language", by Andrew Lofthouse (10/1/20)

Here's what it looks like:


Nüshu is a women's-only script that was passed down from mothers to
their daughters in feudal-society China (Credit: CPA Mediat Pte Ltd/Alamy)

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Sinitic "ha ha ha" in Hangul letters

Screenshot of a comment on a funny video on Weibo:

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A hybridized, disyllabic Sinograph from Hong Kong

Sok3 Kei1
索K
‘to inhale, ingest, take Ketamine, which is an illegal drug in Hong Kong’

["Ketamine is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. It induces a trance-like state while providing pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. Other uses include sedation in intensive care and treatment of pain and depression." Source]

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The infinitude of Chinese characters

In response to the previous post, "More completely new sinographs from Hong Kong" (9/8/20), John Rohsenow remarks:

I can see that it would be easy to use these "new" characters on hand-written posters, but how does one do it on line, or in printed form?

One would have to "zao zi", (Lit. 'construct [a] character') out of various component parts, which is doable, but not convenient.

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More completely new sinographs from Hong Kong

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Easy Grammar from the Free Hong Kong Center

Not sure what they mean by "grammar" here, but they sure do have a message:

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A Chinese character that is harder to write than "biang"

From Nick Tursi:

The most difficult Chinese character in the world, it's pronunciation is huáng .Even most of Chinese people don't know how to read it.#language #polyglot #calligraphy

Posted by Tik Tok China on Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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Kanji amnesia of the week

Tokyo crime beat:

"Arrest for fraud follows man’s failure to fulfill writing request", by Tokyo Reporter Staff (7/24/20)

TOKYO (TR) – With personal computers, smartphones and tablets now more common than ever, many may consider the actual writing of kanji characters to be of diminished importance.

But for one man, now in custody for fraud, he learned that is not the case, as TBS News (July 23) reports.

On July 7, Hayato Tsuboi, of no known occupation, posed [as] a police officer upon his arrival at the residence of a man in his 90s in Fuchu City.

After collecting five bank cards from the man, Tsuboi withdrew 2 million yen in cash in defrauding him.

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Google, the wannabe Egyptologist

Sensational article by Hagar Hosny in Al-Monitor (7/23/20):

"Google presents new tool to decode hieroglyphics:  Google has created a new tool to translate hieroglyphics into English and Arabic at the stroke of a key."

It starts like this:

In a July 15 press release, Google announced the launch of a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs and translate them into Arabic and English.

Google said that the tool, dubbed Fabricius, provides an interactive experience for people from all over the world to learn about hieroglyphics, in addition to supporting and facilitating the efforts of Egyptologists and raising awareness about the history and heritage of ancient Egyptian civilization.

“We are very excited to be launching this new tool that can make it easier to access and learn about the rich culture of ancient Egypt. For over a decade, Google has been capturing imagery of cultural and historical landmarks across the region,” Chance Coughenour, program manager at Google Arts and Culture, said in the statement.

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Another Northeastern topolectal term without specified characters to write it

Yesterday Diana Shuheng Zhang and I went to a Trader Joe's and saw some pretty, gleaming yellow berries for sale.  Diana was delighted because it reminded her of the same type of berries she used to eat when she was back home in the Northeast of China.

I asked her what they were called in Northeast topolect (Dōngběi huà 东北话).  Her answer both intrigued and amused me:

They are called gu1niao3 or gu1niang3; either way is fine and either way is used by many people interchangeably. Even for myself, I sometimes say the first one, sometimes the second one, depends on… well, randomly. Haha!
 
Then the inevitable question:  how do you write gu1niao3 and gu1niang3 in characters?

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