7,530,000 mainlanders petition Taiwan actress to change her name

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From David Moser:

As can easily be seen from the prohibition sign (no symbol) in the photograph on this Tweet, the offending character is supposedly 甯. If it were only a matter of asking the actress to change the 甯 in her name to something more palatable to the mainlanders, such as the simplified form 宁, that would be easy enough: either she'd agree or she wouldn't. But the situation is far more complicated.

First, let's meet the starlet who is at the center of this whole controversy. She is the German-born Taiwanese actress, Janine Chang, also known as Chang Chun-ning (Zhāng Jūnníng) 張鈞甯.

If we look her up on the Chinese Wikipedia, we see right at the top this warning note that gives us pause:

Cǐ tiáomù de zhèngquè míngchēng shì "Zhāng Jūnníng 張鈞X", dàn yīn jìshù xiànzhì ér wúfǎ xiǎnshì.


"The correct name for this entry is 'Zhāng Jūnníng 張鈞X', but due to technical reasons, it cannot be displayed."

[VHM:  Indeed!  The X is the character under discussion dropped out of this post.  It is discussed in the next paragraph.]

Instead, they are forced to use 張鈞甯. Do you see the difference? It is rather subtle. The first version is (宀+心+冉), the second is 甯 (宀+心+用). The former is not to be found in most electronic fonts and dictionaries, while the latter is more widely available. The actress has already graciously agreed to use the more easily accessible 甯 instead of the of her real name. So why is the 甯 crossed out on the Tweet?

To understand how important this morpheme (actually morphemes, as we shall soon see) and set of variant characters are, here are just a few of the common expressions in which they are employed:

nìngkě 寧可 ("prefer")

nìngyuàn 寧願 ("rather; preferably")

ānníng 安寧 ("peaceful")

níngjìng 寧靜 ("tranquil; serene")

As astute readers will have noticed, in these four expressions, we have encountered yet a third form of níng / nìng, viz. 寧. This is the usual "traditional" form that has been simplified on the mainland as 宁. Variant traditional forms of 宁 include the following:

佇 寧 貯 甯 寍 寕 寜 寗 Y Z

Never mind that the first and third of these are pronounced as zhù and have completely different sets of meanings.  Also, the last two characters in the list, designated here as Y and Z, have dropped out.  They are discussed in the technical addendum at the bottom of this post.

The variants for 寧 are yet far more numerous, but most of them are so exceedingly rare that it would be very difficult to reproduce them in this post, but if you want to take a look for yourself, go to this zdic page and look under yìtǐzì 异体字 ("variant characters"), some of which are quite bizarre.

As for Janine Chang and her vexed name, most mainlanders are probably hoping that she'll change the third character in her name to 宁, but that'll be the day. Why would she do that when she doesn't even want to use 寧?

Technical addendum from Richard Cook:

If one looks at (or clicks on) each of the links on the two GIF images in the above series of 10 variants …


…the Unicode code points can be seen. And for ex., in Wenlin, if you type "3755#" followed by your "convert key", then you can convert the hexadecimal code point to a character. To reverse the process (get the code point from the character), choose one of the "Edit:Make Transformed Copy…" encode items; e.g., here is the result of applying "Interleave Encode" to all of the characters in the list you sent:

佇[U+4F47] 寧[U+5BE7] 貯[U+8CAF] 甯[U+752F] 寍[U+5BCD]
寕[U+5BD5] 寜[U+5BDC] 寗[U+5BD7] 㝕[U+3755] [U+219FE]

The two you ask about are at the end. One of them is from Ext A, and the other from Ext B. If you look up 寧(S宁) in Wenlin, you can see that we include lots of info on encoded variants and confusables, especially in relation to several Shuowen Seal entries.


  1. Chris said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 9:17 am

    Reminds me of Romi Park (朴璐美/朴ロ美).

  2. Bill Taylor said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 9:58 am

    As someone pretty ignorant of Chinese languages and cultures, I'm fascinated by the idea of this petition. Could you say a little more about the cultural or political background? Are people wanting her to change the spelling because the character is somehow offensive, or just disconcertingly unfamiliar – as if an American celebrity had a Cyrillic character in the middle of their name? Or, come to think of it, like Prince when he changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph.

  3. John Rohsenow said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 10:01 am

    How about something like "The artist formerly known as 甯"?

  4. Callum said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    I'm still lost on why it is an offending character. From what I'm reading it is just a not often used character. Is there any more to the story?

  5. unekdoud said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 12:38 pm

    Another source of variant characters is this page which includes images of character glyphs: http://glyphwiki.org/wiki/u5be7

    The closest two variants on that page are 寗 U+5BD7 and 甯 U+752F, as mentioned above, while the character "X" used at the top of the Chinese wiki article is U+21A4B.

    What about character input? I don't have a Chinese IME installed, but Google Translate has pinyin text input, and it suggests 宁, 寧 and 甯. So 甯 is also practical to type, but perhaps not to write or read. (My browser doesn't even show all the strokes at the default font size.)

    If the argument here is "simplify your name so we can read it", it seems like a drastic move. There are lots of names using Traditional Chinese characters especially outside mainland China, and surely this is not a good solution for every one of them.

  6. Laura Morland said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 3:28 pm

    What Callum wrote (above).

    (I read through this post waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it never did.)

  7. Victor Mair said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 4:57 pm

    From Chia-hui Lu:

    This is pretty interesting. According to Liberty Times 自由時報 dated May 11, her mom insisted on "甯" and responded to mainlanders: "give you a chance to learn this character!"

    "Why would she do that when she doesn't even want to use 寧?"

    The first idea came up to me is "traditional Chinese culture"— the name is given by parents.

    Then, I wondered whether it may have been caused by the traditional idea "行不改名、坐不改姓"?

    Explanation in Chinese here, here, and here.

    Basically, this saying from Shuihu zhuan (Water Margin; All Men Are Brothers), a famous novel about a band of 108 outlaws (14th c. [?]), means that, under no circumstances and for no reasons will one change one's name or surname. The idea is that you are who your name says you are, and you won't change your name for convenience or even to save yourself. Your name is your identity.

    Last but not least, I found out 寧 and 甯 have different forms in Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 (China's first dictionary [100 AD] of character construction.) [VHM: if anyone is interested, I can send the images]. I don't know if any relevance here, but it's really interesting!

  8. Victor Mair said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 7:27 pm

    @Bill Taylor

    Thanks for your good, honest questions. I'll try to answer them as straightforwardly and simply as I can.

    1. About the cultural and political background:

    The People's Republic of China (where the mainland petitioners are from) has drastically simplified thousands of the characters, including the third one in Janine Chang's name, where it would be 宁. Taiwan has kept the traditional forms of the characters, where the third syllable of her name could be written 寧, 甯, or X(宀+心+冉). It just so happens that Janine's parents chose the X(宀+心+冉) form for their daughter's name, but it is extremely rare and extraordinarily difficult (almost impossible) to type under normal circumstances because it is not included in conventional electronic fonts. But the people of Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong, are attached to the traditional forms of the characters and would be loathe to use 宁 instead of 寧, 甯, or X(宀+心+冉). Janine's (and Janine's mother!) would be all the more unwilling to give up the traditional form that she uses to write her name because — as Chia-hui Lu pointed out — it was given to her by her parents.

    2. There's no such thing as "spelling" a character because characters are not composed of letters that represent sounds, they are composed of strokes that are brought together to compose the shape of a morphosyllabogram, or whatever you wish to call an integral unit of the writing system that, in Chinese, normally represents a syllable and conveys a basic meaning (although a few morphemes are disyllabic). The character Janine uses to write the third syllable is, as you aptly put it, "disconcertingly unfamiliar" to mainlanders because they grew up with 宁, not 寧, 甯, or X(宀+心+冉), and their electronic devices are not equipped to readily handle the traditional forms. It's not as though "an American celebrity had a Cyrillic character in the middle of their name… or like Prince when he changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph." Perhaps the closest analogy for Americans would be that some famous actress would insist that her name had to be written *and typed* in florid, ornate longhand or Gothic script.

    I'm very grateful to unekdoud for introducing us to glyphwiki, which I didn't know about before. In glyphwiki, we see that there are nearly four dozen different forms of 宁 / 寧 / 甯…. If we extrapolate from that number to the entire Chinese writing system, we'd end up with somewhere between roughly 80,000 and 100,000 discrete graphic units, which is what the highest levels of Uicode and Mojikyo attempt to cover. This is about a thousand times larger than the original ASCII code.

    To continue the analogy of handwritten and Gothic letter forms, you can see how rapidly the code points necessary for specifying each different letter form would balloon to huge proportions if one insisted that each form be electronically typable and transmissible as is.

    In a nutshell, all four dozen or so of those forms for 宁 / 寧 / 甯… are essentially variants of the same character, but each one of them must be individually specified by a code point for it to be typed, stored, and transmitted by electronic devices.

  9. Matt said,

    May 14, 2015 @ 8:08 pm

    Thank you for the detailed update, but I still don't quite understand what's going on. Is it just a joke that snowballed into ridiculous numbers of supporters, like the petition urging the White House to build a death star or the Kickstarter for potato salad?

    If it's actually serious, the puzzling thing for me (and I assume others) is the insistence that Chang change her name. If people think one of the characters in Cheng's name is inappropriate for whatever reason (technical, cultural), why don't those people just use 宁 and be done with it? Why the insistence that Cheng must validate their objections by actually changing her name?

    (And also, surely there are lots of famous Chinese people from outside the mainland who have names that are hard to write on standard mainland computer systems. Why single out Cheng?)

  10. JQ said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 12:18 am


    The nearest parallel I can think of might be an Irish celebrity called Niamh (where "mh" happens to be entered on a computer as a single letter which is difficult if you don't have an "Irish" keyboard / font installed) being petitioned to change her name to Neve so that English people, even if aware of how it is meant to be pronounced, don't automatically see an "m" and subconciously want to pronounce according to English orthographic rules.

  11. Matt said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 1:10 am

    I understand that part — but the idea of millions of English people signing a petition to that actor to change her name (not as a joke) strikes me as a fantastically unlikely prospect. I'd expect such a movement to just start spelling her name "Neve" and, if she complained, shrug. Experience has taught me that when reportage from a foreign country seems fantastically unlikely, it's almost always because some context is missing… so I'm wondering what I'm missing here.

  12. John Rohsenow said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 1:22 am

    In August 1979, I ran into Prof. SHEN Yao 沈垚 from the University of Hawaii in Beijing. She related to me that when she went down to get her
    residence permit, the young people there told her that they "could not find" the character for her personal name or how to pronounce it.

  13. K. Chang said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 2:43 am

    @Matt — according to some other articles I read, there's even argument on how the word "ning" should be pronounced. According to her, the name should be pronounced with #2 sound (medium). However, apparently the director of her current TV series started pronouncing it with the #4 sound (hard emphasis) people started using that pronunciation instead.

    The story was that her father is a Taiwan National University professor, and her mother is an author, and they picked her name SPECIFICALLY for that word, so of course they aren't going to change it.

    According to her, she was asked to change her name (or choose a stage name) when she first started acting, because it doesn't sound particularly female, and very difficult to remember, but she refused and stuck with the name. Also, she was often harassed at customs in China, and was once refused a bank account because the bank employees can't type it into the computer, and told her "no such word in the computer, why don't you go change your name". She walked out to a different bank.

    Her character is only available in the ExtB character set.

    Comments online regarding this online name change petition is uniformly negative if you're not from Mainland China. Usually along the lines of "WTF is China so big in its britches now it can demand others to conform to it?"


    As for cultural context regarding name changes, @Victor Mair is correct in that Chinese holds special emphasis on names. In fact, Chinese used to have MULTIPLE names. There's the surname (last name) and the given name (first name), but many of the older generation (think early Republic) still have the "courtesy name" (字)and some may have honor names, Buddhist name, in addition to titles, nicknames, and so on.

    Forcing people to change name comes with a lot of bad connotation in Chinese.In various incidents known as 文字獄 (Word Persecution) which occurred in every dynasty and even in modern times, using the wrong word can mean "off with your head" or "off to jail". In modern times, there's this Reuters story about a remote Chinese village is forced to give up their surname because the local government can't enter their name into the computer to establish their residency (hukou)


    Wikipedia listed a couple other cases where forced name changes created some online infamy:


  14. K. Chang said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 2:49 am

    Oh, one more thing. The 7.53 million figure? That's the counter on the page that contained the petition. I haven't seen the page, but I doubt it actually tallied 7.53 million votes.

  15. K. Chang said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 3:21 am

    And a little historical context… Apparently in the mainland Chinese system, there's an OFFICIAL set of characters that must be used as a national standard. All banks, governments, etc. use it. If your name's not in this character set… you don't exist, and you'd be encouraged to change your name.


  16. The suffocated said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 5:28 am

    I still don't understand what's the issue here. Regardless of whether the characters being used are rare or not, and regardless of which variant of the character 寧 is used in the actress's traditional Chinese name, if the actress's name is rendered in simplified Chinese, shouldn't it *always* be 张钧宁? Why is there a controversy?

  17. The suffocated said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 5:45 am

    Remark: according to the "Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants" compiled by Taiwan's Ministry of Education, (宀+心+冉) is just a variant of 甯 (宀+心+用). So, when any one of them is mapped to simplified Chinese, it should be, without doubt, 宁.

  18. Michael Rank said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 7:10 am

    Blimey, this is awfully confusing. Surely 甯 (宀+心+冉), and 甯 (宀+心+用) are both pretty/extremely obscure in Taiwan as well as PRC, not sure why the discussion above implies otherwise… Or am I missing something, displaying my ignorance…??!

  19. shubert said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 7:49 am

    To obliterate personality is a contrary to literature.

  20. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 8:55 am

    In addition to the explanations given by Chia-hui Lu, I suspect the publicity is valuable to her.

    Given the importance in China of keeping the name one's parents gave one, as commenters have said, is there a petition for her to keep her name?

  21. Victor Mair said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

    @Jerry Friedman

    I suspect that a vote on that in Taiwan would be nearly unanimous, so there's no need for a petition; it's a given that she should keep her original name, the one given to her by her parents. In the PRC, most people think that the simplified characters are the real ones, so there would not be much of a movement there for her to keep the original character for the third syllable of her name.

    The same holds for pronunciation. For fifty years, I've been saying "Bo Juyi" and "Li Bo" for the names of the famous Tang poets, and that's the way everybody who speaks Standard Mandarin (Guoyu) in the Republic of China has been saying those names since before there was a People's Republic of China. Yet people from China will correct us and say that we ought to pronounce those names as "Bai Juyi" and "Li Bai" (I could give lots and lots of other examples).

  22. Mark Mandel said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

    "As can easily be seen from the prohibition sign (no symbol)* in the photograph on this Tweet, the offending character is supposedly 甯. … She is the German-born Taiwanese actress, Janine Chang, also known as Chang Chun-ning (Zhāng Jūnníng) 張鈞甯."

    "Instead, they are forced to use 張鈞甯. Do you see the difference?"

    No, not at all. Neither does my computer: A search for either finds the other. I see them both, BTW, as the second combination, with 用 in the bottom position, not 冉.

    As Michael Rank said, "Blimey, this is awfully confusing."

    * BTW, that's confusing too. Of course there's a symbol there! It's the "NO" symbol.

  23. Victor Mair said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

    @Mark Mandel

    It's the "NO" symbol on top of a character that the petitioners are opposed to.

    "Do you see the difference?"

    I realize that most computers cannot handle both of these characters, so I carefully wrote them out this way: "The first version is (宀+心+冉), the second is 甯 (宀+心+用)." I think that most readers got that.

  24. K. Chang said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

    @suffocated,, as Data told Pulaski once, in STTNG *one is my name, the other is not. *

  25. AG said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 9:09 pm

    I have many of the same questions as Matt, and despite everyone's efforts, I'm not sure they've really been answered.

    Why would a group of people PETITION someone to change his or her name? Why don't they just not write her name if it's so upsetting? Why can't they invent a nickname for her? Or ignore her? I thought it was dumb when Prince changed his name to a symbol, but I didn't get upset, and I didn't try to personally communicate my feelings to Prince through online activism.

    Are these people all extremely supportive admirers of this actress who are upset they can't write incredibly faithfully spelled blog posts about her? I simply don't get it.

    Another thing I don't understand – if, as the Wikipedia article K. Chang helpfully linked states, "There are over 70,000 known Chinese characters, yet approximately only 32,232 are supported for computer input," why isn't it a basic and essential function of every Chinese computer system to be able to combine radicals and strokes into the missing characters when necessary?

  26. Victor Mair said,

    May 15, 2015 @ 11:45 pm

    "Blimey, this is awfully confusing."

    I sympathize.

    Welcome to the world of Chinese characters, where you have four dozen different forms for 寧, and where some people put great stock in one particular form of the character, even though the difference between it and one or more of the other forms might be minute.

    The many frustrated questions from AG and others make sense — to someone with a Western mindset — but not to Chinese who care passionately about the particular form a character takes, especially if it constitutes part of their name.

    Then we have to contend with the political aspects of the situation, which I have several times tried to clarify in the original post and in subsequent comments. So far as mainlanders are concerned, 宁 is the correct form of the character, and Taiwanese are being stubborn not to accept that. 宁 is the only form of the character they have known for decades, and the other forms look odd and busy (cluttered). They often don't recognize the traditional forms and can't write them either. Anyway, Taiwan — they believe — is part of China, so they should do things the way we (the real Chinese) do. For the Taiwanese, on the other hand, 宁 is a denuded desecration. It would be a sacrilege to write 宁 instead of one of the full, traditional forms. Janine's Mom put it succinctly and feistily, "give you a chance to learn this character!"

  27. Victor Mair said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:20 am


    "…why isn't it a basic and essential function of every Chinese computer system to be able to combine radicals and strokes into the missing characters when necessary?"

    Another sensible question. There are many reasons why this is not done, and I doubt that it ever will be done. It's one thing to list the components of a character in linear fashion, e.g., (宀+心+冉), but it's quite another thing to compose the components, ad hoc, into a symmetrical and esthetically pleasing arrangement that fits within a square of the same size as that for all other characters, whether they have one stroke or sixty-four strokes (e.g., four dragons [龍] or four characters for "flourish" [興]) jammed together.

    Hangul syllables, though much simpler than Chinese characters, and consisting of a much smaller inventory of recurring components, also must be fitted into the same size square as that which would be used for a Chinese character. Still, in the early days of writing Hangul on computers, it was quite a challenge to get all the parts to fit together in a pleasing, balanced fashion.

    Very sophisticated software systems for Chinese, such as Wenlin, do have the capability to create ad hoc characters and even to designate the resultant forms in such a way that they can be replicated later on. However, to transmit such characters to another computer, you have to wait until Unicode designations are assigned to them, and that cannot happen right away.

  28. Jeff W said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 1:15 am

    So, I guess, like some of the commenters here, I am trying to piece this together:

    The suffocated says this

    Regardless of whether the characters being used are rare or not, and regardless of which variant of the character 寧 is used in the actress's traditional Chinese name, if the actress's name is rendered in simplified Chinese, shouldn't it *always* be 张钧宁? Why is there a controversy?

    Victor Mair says this:

    It just so happens that Janine's parents chose the X(宀+心+冉) form for their daughter's name, but it is extremely rare and extraordinarily difficult (almost impossible) to type under normal circumstances because it is not included in conventional electronic fonts.

    and this:

    In the PRC, most people think that the simplified characters are the real ones…

    and, agreeing with John Friedman, this:

    The character Janine uses to write the third syllable is, as you aptly put it, "disconcertingly unfamiliar" to mainlanders because they grew up with 宁

    So, based on the above, as far as I can tell, (1) the unfamiliarity of the character for the mainlanders has nothing to do with the fact that it is “extremely rare and extraordinarily difficult (almost impossible) to type” (or, at least, nothing has been said that points to that)—it’s just a traditional character which, like all the other traditional characters, is not familiar and “real” as the simplified ones are—and, (2) for some reason, not yet specified, the mainlanders are concerned about this when, as the suffocated points out, the offending character is simply rendered in simplified Chinese as 宁.

    So, what’s going on? Why are the mainlanders concerned about how the name is rendered in a writing system they don’t use and whose characters are not the “real” ones, anyway, when they can easily render the name with “real” characters in the system they do use? And what, if anything, does that have to do with the fact that that character is “extremely rare and extraordinarily difficult” to type, since the mainlanders aren’t trying to type any traditional characters? (If anything, it would make more sense if the Taiwanese and Hong Kongers were asking her to change the character from X to 甯 but she’s already done that.)

  29. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 3:31 am

    @AG — The Chinese government had apparently conducted a study of all the weird surnames and upgraded official government software to support a LOT of extra characters… but last update was almost a decade ago. I mentioned this in a previous post:


  30. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 4:10 am

    After browsing the Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter) for the tag #求张钧甯改名字# and the counter-tag #张钧甯偏不改名字# my personal opinion is that there's NO WAY 7.5 million Chinese fans asked her to change her name. It's far more likely that 7.5M (up to 9.3M in a later news) weibo posts that contained this tag were posted / reshared / totalled via some sort of data mining, but most of the posts had nothing to do with a "petition", but rather simply included the tag as "topical".


  31. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 4:27 am

    A little more context on the name change. According to a different article, apparently the Mainland fans don't recognize the character Ning and often pronounced it Yun 傭 so asking her to change to a form they do recognize is in a way, respect, that they don't want to screw up her name. Her reaction to it, however, when coupled with the bank incident (as relayed earlier) had her posting on Weibo "Even the bank wanted me to change my name. I've had enough!!!!!!" (連銀行都要求我改名,我受夠啦~~)


  32. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 8:41 am

    Victor Mair: Thanks for answering my questions.

    Jeff W: John Rohsenow and I have both commented, but the person whose phrase "disconcertingly unfamiliar" Victor Mair endorsed was Bill Taylor.

  33. jdmartinsen said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 10:06 am

    The sign over the entrance to the Museum of Liaoning Province 辽宁省博物馆, a calligraphic inscription by Yang Renkai 杨仁恺 (1915-2008), has another variant that's either 寗 with a dot missing from the 必, or else (宀+心+冉) with the final dot of 心 rendered as a crossing stroke.

  34. Michael Rank said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 11:55 am

    Does anyone happen to know the obscure surname character in the Reuters story mentioned by K. Chang above http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/09/01/oukoe-uk-china-names-idAFTRE6801RZ20100901

  35. Tracy said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

    Stupid technical question: Is displaying the character just a matter of having the right font installed? And if so, is there a free font that would be able to handle it?

  36. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

    @Tracy — It's not just the font, but you need a huge committee to approve the character to be assigned to part of the "character set". Western alphabets are easy enough but when it comes to Eastern stuff that doesn't break down into characters EACH VARIATION is one character.

    That word in her name is in Big5-ExtB (did I get that right?), which is not a standard character set (thus, ExtB, the "extended set B"). And China does not use Big5, but GB2312 (or something like that, my memory is a little fuzzy). I think they're up to GB18030 standard now.


  37. Victor Mair said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

    Very cool, jdmartinsen! Thanks so much for finding and sharing that priceless photograph.

    For those who may be having difficulty clicking on the "here" link, this is the URL:


    (You can click on the already large and clear photograph to make it larger, and you can click on it once again to make it still larger, plus I took a big magnifying glass to it to examine the character even more closely. The dot on the right side is indeed missing [see further discussion below].)

    The great scholar, poet, painter, and calligrapher, Jao Tsung-I (b. Aug. 9, 1917), a friend of mine, once told me that famous calligraphers sometimes intentionally altered or omitted the strokes of characters. I asked him point blank if he ever did that, and he admitted that occasionally he did so, whereupon I called it "calligraphic license". Jao xs cautioned, however, that a neophyte or amateur should not indulge him/herself in such modifications of characters, since the changes they made would not be integral to the art, but would stand out like sore thumbs.

    In the case jdmartinsen cites, this calligraphic version of the graph is not included among the four dozen variants given on the GlyphWiki page referred to above. On the other hand, there are quite a few variants with 必 as the central component instead of 心. But, whether having 必 or 心 as the central component, all of the variants on the GlyphWiki page belonging to those types have the dot on the right side. In my estimation, Yang Renkai's omission of that dot was due to calligraphic license, and, although I'm by no means a connoisseur of Chinese calligraphy, it does seem to work — at least for me.

    But the most amazing thing about the unusual representation of the X character in Chang Chun-ning's name is that it is prominently enshrined above the entrance to an important public building in the provincial capital of Liaoning Province. The museum moved into this new building on July, 2003; it is located on Government Square in Shenyang (formerly Mukden), Liaoning, PRC. The large plaque bearing Yang Renkai's distinctive, distinguished calligraphy, complete with the special version of the X character in Chang Chun-ning's name, is clearly visible to all who visit the museum.

  38. Jeff W said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

    @ Jerry Friedman

    Thanks for the correction. My apologies—I was scrolling between comments and got confused.


    Still, again, why are the people petitioning concerned about this? Why are they signing a petition about a character found in a writing system they don’t use? Is it because they see that character somewhere (or, maybe, can’t see it) and can’t easily “translate” or convert it to the simplified character? (And, if that’s the case, why is that an issue since Ms Chang has already changed the character to one that, presumably, can be more easily converted?)

  39. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 12:54 pm

    @Michael Rank — here's the Chinese version from Epochtimes, complete with illustrations:


  40. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    (Keep in mind that Epochtimes is basically a Falungong publication and thus is anti-communist, so watch out for the political lean when reading their stuff)

  41. Michael Rank said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    Thanks, K. Chang. 上邊一個「彡」,下邊一個「且」shǎn, that's a pretty weird character!

  42. K. Chang said,

    May 16, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

    Yeah, in the article one scholar suspected that it was a character "awarded" by a Tang Dynasty Emperor as a reward to his royal guard retiring or something like that.

  43. Ted said,

    May 22, 2015 @ 10:38 pm

    Here's what's so odd to me, from a non-Chinese perspective, and I think is part of the confusion underlying some of the other comments raising similar questions:

    Imagine Gwyneth Paltrow insisted that the correct spelling of her name was "Gwyneþ." (She has not yet done so, as far as I know, but this may just be a matter of time.)

    We might find that incredibly pretentious. We might refuse to spell it that way. We might mock her for thinking herself so special that the regular alphabet is insufficient to capture her identity. We might divide into two camps: those who defend her right to spell her name with a thorn if she wants to, because it's her name, and those who think that she should use th the way the rest of us learned to do in the 15th century.

    The one thing we wouldn't do is ask her to change the way she spells it. If she wants to spell it with a thorn, she can spell it with a thorn. Our choices are limited to whether we follow it or not, and whether we mock or dismiss her choice or defend it more or less earnestly.

    That's where I, and I think my fellow non-Chinese readers, find this story so hard to comprehend. If people think it's pretentious and irritating for her to insist that the correct spelling of her name requires a character that they don't think is part of the modern character set, why don't they just make fun of her and go on spelling it the way they like? Why would they think it important to try to get her to endorse their view and change her own practice? If they've decided not to follow her preferred spelling, what difference does it make to them if she continues to use it?

  44. The suffocated said,

    May 27, 2015 @ 3:53 am


    I think a more appropriate analogue would be that some English bloke called Alfred insists that his name should be spelled as "Ælfred", despite the correct spelling is "Ælfræd" if the name is spelled entirely in Old English.

    While the reactions of the mainlanders in this whole 張鈞X story are hard to comprehend, what I find the most puzzling is that the actress apparently only cares about how the last character in her name is rendered. I really don't understand why mapping the first two characters to their simplifed Chinese counterparts is OK but mapping the last one is not.

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