Re: Decimal separator with more than one character?

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon May 19 2003 - 06:56:56 EDT

  • Next message: Ben Monroe: "RE: Decimal separator with more than one character?"

    From: "Andrew C. West" <>
    > On Sun, 18 May 2003 00:50:13 +0200, "Philippe Verdy" wrote:
    > > I know that at some time, China made a request that the correct way to write
    > > China and Chinese in English should be Zhina and Zhinese (according to the
    > > official Pynin(?) phonetic transliteration of Han to the Latin script)...
    > Zhina is the pinyin representation of the characters U+652F ZHI and U+90A3 NA
    > which in days gone by the Japanese used to call China (as an ideographc
    > representation of the English word China). This Japanese appellation for China
    > is considered highly insulting by the Chinese, and I am sure that the Chinese
    > government would never have advocated its use internationally.

    Thanks for this enlightment, this explains the origin of those words I have found sometimes in some readings (in English texts). So Zhina is insulting and must not be used... English not being my first language I had no clue whever it was correct or not, because I nevar found occurence of this orthograph in French texts that use since long "Chine" for China and "Chinois(e(s))" for the adjective.

    > > This failed, but the "zh" symbol was adopted for the ISO629 language code
    > > (instead of "cn" used in ISO646-1 for the country code)
    > The "zh" code is for Zhongguo, being the pinyin representation of U+4E2D U+56FD
    > "Middle Kingdom", the Chinese name for China ("Zhongguo hua" meaning Chinese
    > language).

    I did not know these words, so they are clearly used in Chinese and not related to any usage in English or French.

    > > China made other successful requests for Pékin, the traditional French name
    > (now
    > > written Beijing both in French and English, despite everybody continues to say
    > > "Pékin" in French and few people would associate it to Beijing)
    > Annoyingly, in Britain at least, all the newsreaders insist on pronouncing
    > Beijing as "Beizhing" (with a soft j as in French), when they would pronounce it
    > [tolerably] correctly if only they read Beijing as if it were an English word.
    > Mind you, the way they mangle Chinese is nothing compared to the ridiculous
    > affected pronounciations they use for words like Chechnya.

    Interestingly, "Beijing" is most often pronounced by French people as "Bčďdjing" (for those that know this word instead of "Pékin", even if this is not the standard way to read French), i.e. with a diphtong of vowels, and a composed pair of unvoiced and voiced consonnants.

    I suppose that this makes the name more recognizable, and nearer phonetically from the wellknown "Pékin" which has a "hard" unvoiced consonnant in the middle, something that the French auditors are used to to listen and recognize as important in the spoken language ("soft" voiced consonnants tend to become unpronounced or highly abbreviated in the popular language, notably at end of words when this is the last consonnant phoneme, and does not affect unvoiced hard/soft phonemes k/g and t/d, and affects voiced soft consonnants like "z" face to "s", "f" and "ph" face to "v", or "j" face to the standard French "ch" or the English "sh").

    So many French auditors and speakers make often confusions between all soft voiced consonnants in the group "z", "v" and "j" and the lexical usage patterns tend to avoid using words where such confusion are possible, despite French contains a lot of words using these "soft" voiced consonnants, and the popular language, news and advertizing tends to prefer words using words with harder consonnants, sometimes pronounced excessively harder than they should (this is a phonetic distinction that you can find easily between the classic/litterary and modern/popular levels of the language).

    If you consider this distinction of consonnants usage, "Pékin" will sound "popular", and "Beijing" (even if pronounced "Bčďdjing") will sound "litterary".

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