Re: U+0185 in Zhuang and Azeri (was Re: unicode Digest V4 #3)

From: Peter Kirk (
Date: Wed Jan 14 2004 - 13:44:18 EST

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    On 06/01/2004 03:16, Andrew C. West wrote:

    >On Mon, 5 Jan 2004 17:37:30 -0800 (PST), Kenneth Whistler wrote:
    >>Perhaps someone on the list who knows more about the actual
    >>history of orthographic reform in the Zhuang Autonomous Region
    >>of Guangxi could chime in with more details.
    >Well, I'm not really that knowledgeable about Zhuang, but but my father-in-law
    >is a native Zhuang speaker, and I've visited "Zhuangland" many times, so I have
    >absorbed some knowledge on the subject by osmosis.
    >The original Zhuang alphabet devised in 1955 and officially promulgated in 1957
    >used an unwieldy mixture of Latin and Cyrillic letters together with the special
    >tone letters encoded at U+01A7/01A8 [tone 2], U+01BC/01BD [tone 5] and
    >U+0184/0185 [tone 6]. However, in 1982 the Zhuang alphabet was amended to use
    >basic Latin letters only, so that the old tone letters are now written as "z",
    >"j", "x", "q" and "h" :
    I received the following reply from a Zhuang researcher, which agrees
    with what Andrew has written:

    > The officially approved Zhuang orthography is, in fact, a strictly
    > Latin one. When I type it, I use a QWERTY keyboard and whatever
    > English font I happen to want to use. Yes, there was sort of a
    > Cyrllic/Latin hybrid orthography developed during the early 50s by
    > some Russian linguists and approved by the government, but it was
    > revised to the Latin-based orthography some years later. I assume the
    > date given in the message below (1986) it correct, but I can't confirm
    > that out of my own personal knowledge. I can tell you that no Cyrllic
    > characters are in use today, except that I think some paper money
    > printed in China still has some of the older orthography on it.
    > In the messages below, there is a bit of confusion about the tone
    > spelling system. It works like this:
    > For syllables that do not end in a stop:
    > Tone 1, no tone letter
    > Tone 2, 'z'
    > Tone 3, 'j'
    > Tone 4, 'x'
    > Tone 5, 'q'
    > Tone 6, 'h'
    > For syllables that are "checked" (i.e., end in a stop), the system
    > works like this:
    > Tone 7, either 'p,' 't,' or 'k,' depending on the point of articulation.
    > Tone 8, either 'b,' 'd' or 'g,' depending on the point of articulation.
    > Note that these three stops all sound the same, the spelling
    > difference indicates difference in syllable tone, not in the nature of
    > the stop itself.
    > There are two other orthographies in use in Zhuang. Most important,
    > there is an ancient Zhuang square-character script that has never been
    > standardized. If it ever is, maybe we can get a unicode font for it.
    > Until then, I wouldn't worry about it much. Second, sometimes, very
    > informally, people will use Chinese characters to write Zhuang. This
    > happens rarely.

    On this last paragraph, I note that this ancient Zhuang script has not
    even been roadmapped. From a brief Internet search, I found that it
    consists of about 10,000 characters. Or is it roadmapped under another
    name? Or is it unified with CJK - despite the researcher clearly
    distinguishing it from Chinese characters?

    Peter Kirk (personal) (work)

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