Archive for Alphabets

Kong Yiji ("Confucius ABC"), another self-deprecating meme for young Chinese

"Kong Yiji" is one of the most famous short stories by Lu Xun (1881-1936), the most celebrated Chinese author of the 20th century.

"Kong Yiji" (Chinese: 孔乙己; pinyin: Kǒng Yǐjǐ) is a short-story by Lu Xun, the founder of modern Chinese literature. The story was originally published in the journal New Youth (Chinese: 新青年) in April 1919 and was later included in Lu Xun's first collection of short stories, Call to Arms (Chinese: 吶喊). The story's narrator reminisces about Kong Yiji, a pedantic scholar who became the laughing-stock of the tavern where the narrator worked. In the end, Kong's legs were broken as punishment for stealing books. He is a ridiculous and pathetic character, a symbol for the indifference between people in the old days.

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Spaceless pinyin

From the importer's label, carefully placed to obscure the safety instructions (the "do"s and "do not"s) of an electronic gas igniter:

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Canaanite in the news again


The 4,000-year-old tablets reveal translations for 'lost' language, including a love song.
(Image credit: Left: Rudolph Mayr/Courtesy Rosen Collection. Right: Courtesy David I. Owen)

From:

Cryptic lost Canaanite language decoded on 'Rosetta Stone'-like tablets

Two ancient clay tablets from Iraq contain details of a "lost" Canaanite language.

By Tom Metcalfe, Live Science, Jan. 30, 2023

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Creeping Romanization in Chinese, part 5

Dave Thomas recently watched a Chinese movie with a liberal sprinkling (more than fifty instances) of alphabet letters substituting for Chinese characters in the closed captions.  The title of the movie is "Yǒng bù huítóu 永不回頭" ("Never Back Off" [official English title]; "Never Look Back").  Here's a small selection of the partially alphabetized expressions:

bié B wǒ 别B我 | B = bī 逼 || "don't force / push me"

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The Alphabet and the Zodiac

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its three-hundred-and-twenty-eighth issue:

"On the Origins of the Alphabet: The Cycle of Emmer Wheat and Seed/Word Selection within the Proto-Sinaitic/Phoenician/Hebrew Alphazodiac and the Chinese Lunar Zodiac," by Brian R. Pellar.  (free pdf)

ABSTRACT

This paper presents evidence that the Proto-Sinaitic script, the Phoenician twenty-two-letter alphabet (and, by extension, the Chinese twenty-two ganzhi and the Chinese twenty-eight-mansion lunar zodiac) are patterned on the solar zodiac and Mesopotamian/Egyptian celestial diagrams, and that these are based on the cultivation cycle of wheat. The evidence shows that the animal figures such as the ram, bull, and lion that are seen in the Mesopotamian cylinder seals, the zodiac, and the Egyptian celestial diagrams symbolize the various stages of the growth of Emmer wheat. A prominent part of the process, selecting seeds for future resowing, corresponds to Word selection (a concept rooted in the Egyptian conflict stories of Horus and Seth). It is also shown that the cycle of wheat was established in the Neolithic and Upper Paleolithic in the idea of the Solar Lion-Lunar Bull Conflict, itself ultimately based on the sun/moon cycle and the mythology of the Great Goddess.

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"O wawa nu Pangcah" – Kolas Yotaka

Photograph of a political billboard in Taiwan (from AntC):


(more images here)

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The invention of an alphabet for the transcription of Chinese characters half a millennium ago

The Latinization of Chinese characters will ultimately prove to be one of the most important developments in the history of writing.  We usually attribute this epochal achievement to the Italian Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), but he was assisted in that monumental endeavor by several individuals.  One of the most important of these was the Jesuit Nicolas Trigault (1577–1628), whose Xīrú ěrmù zī 西儒耳目資 (An Aid to the Eyes and Ears of Western Literati) helped to establish the alphabetization of Sinitic on a solid footing.

In "Printed Editions of the Xiru Ermuzi", Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, no. 79 (2021), 1-32, TAKATA Tokio has carried out a detailed codicological study of all editions and copies of Trigault's text.  In the process, he has brought to light two hitherto unknown editions of Xiru Ermuzi, greatly enhancing our understanding of the development of this vital work.  Takata's study is extremely detailed and heavily footnoted.  Here I present his Introduction and Concluding Remarks.

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Mutilating Hangeul: visual puns as a parallel orthography

Bizarre scriptplay in Korea:

[Newsmaker] "What is ‘daengdaengi?’ Government’s use of Hangeul slang stirs controversy"
By Lim Jae-seong, The Korea Herald (Oct 7, 2022)

The article is rather long.  Here I quote only the first portion, but will summarize some of the more important points at the bottom.

The National Institute of Korean Language’s use of slang words on its recent social media post has stirred controversy, questioning whether it is right for the state-run language regulator to use a distorted version of the language.

To mark the upcoming Hangeul Day on Sunday, the institute had posted an image to announce its special event on its Twitter account last month. In the posted image, it asked the followers what their views are on using the so-called “Yaminjeongeum.”

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(A)tayal, Chinese, and English trilingual signs in Taiwan

Photographs by Mark Swofford from Fuxing District of Taoyuan City:

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Latin letters as phonophores

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Chinatown without Chinese

Diana Zhang was in Lima, Peru last week, and this is what she saw:

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Huge Pinyin on storefronts in Sichuan

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A little Sinograph game

For cognoscenti.

Directions

Here's an amazing little game that was played by two of the brightest Sinology PhD candidates I've ever met.  It is a conversation between X and Y.  Y initiated the conversation by typing to X, without telling X the secret of the game.  When X received Y's first message, she immediately got what Y meant.  She understood as soon as she received his e-mail, then replied to him (by typing) in the same manner that he wrote to her.  And so off they went on their merry way in Lexiland!

Here I copy-paste this little hànzì yóuxì 汉字游戏 for Language Log readers who are well-versed in Sinographs and want to give it a try.  Even those who do not know any Chinese characters might still be able to gain a sense of how the game proceeds and what it signifies.

The "answer sheet” is at the bottom of this post. Please scroll down to the very, very end to see the answers. However, don’t look at the dá'àn 答案 ("solution") before trying really hard by yourself!

Warning!

This game is devilishly difficult.

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