A new variant of a common Chinese character

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Invented by a fledgling American calligrapher:

Cant. Zung1gwok3 / Mand. Zhōngguó Trad. 中國 / Simpl. 中国 (lit., "Central / Middle Kingdom / State / Realm")

Interesting comments in the Twitter thread here.

Readings

"Hong Kong protest puns" (6/20/19) — featuring an ingenious new character ostensibly meaning "Freedom, Hi!", but with a vulgar subtext

"Hong Kong protesters' argot" (9/7/19)

"Why Hong Kong people should preserve traditional characters" (10/7/19)

"Hong Kong protesters messing with the characters, part 2" (9/1/19) — with dozens of relevant Language Log posts listed in the "Readings" there, of which I list here only the first five:



6 Comments

  1. loonquawl said,

    October 15, 2019 @ 2:47 am

    Can you expand on how the painted sign is equal to the characters you posted (中國 / Simpl. 中国 ) -Does one need to have context, or would a naive reader with only those two (painted) characters to go on come to the same interpretation?

  2. B.Ma said,

    October 15, 2019 @ 3:18 am

    loonquawl, it is simply a "portmanteau" of the character 国 with the Nazi swastika, so a perfect translation of "ChiNazi".

  3. Michael Watts said,

    October 15, 2019 @ 10:02 pm

    Looks much like a portmanteau of the character 国 with the character 卐.

    I am given to understand that modern Chinese now draw a hard distinction between the good symbol 卍 (of Buddha) and the bad symbol 卐 (of the Nazis), but I can't help feeling it might be healthier to say "hey, we've been using this symbol for a thousand years, and we see no need to change that".

  4. John Swindle said,

    October 16, 2019 @ 12:39 am

    @loonquawl: It's recognizable as "China" because of the first character and the approximate shape of the invented, second character. The Nazi reference takes a little more imagination or, I suppose, Hong Kong residence.

  5. Michael Watts said,

    October 16, 2019 @ 1:11 am

    John Swindle, I asked a Chinese friend how Chinese people would understand the image (I cropped out the "#ChiNazi" annotation), and she immediately understood it as the Nazi symbol (imposed on what would have been "中国"), and cautioned me not to show it to any other Chinese, because if that image found its way to the Chinese internet, a lot of people would get very upset.

    So awareness of 卐 as a Nazi symbol is apparently much higher than I was hoping.

    My friend found the image particularly unfair because, in her words, China suffered so badly in World War II.

  6. John Swindle said,

    October 16, 2019 @ 3:00 am

    Not suitable for addressing letters, then, or for Chinese visa applications.

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