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

From: Andrew C. West (
Date: Thu Jan 15 2004 - 05:41:56 EST

  • Next message: Chris Jacobs: "Klingon"

    On Wed, 14 Jan 2004 10:44:18 -0800, Peter Kirk wrote:
    > I received the following reply from a Zhuang researcher, which agrees
    > with what Andrew has written:
    > > 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?

    A dictionary of traditional Zhuang usage ideographs was published in 1989 as _Gu
    Zhuangzi Zidian_ ÑsT (Guangxi Minzu Chubanshe oŎ, 1989) [my
    apologies for the encoding which is probably Shift-JIS .. I have no control over
    how my outgoing emails are encoded], but I haven't been able to get hold of a
    copy yet. It should provide plenty of material for a proposal, although at least
    some Zhuang usage ideographs are already coincidentally encoded in CJK-B or in
    the pipeline for CJK-C (e.g. U+28499 = Zhuang nak "heavy").

    Zhuang ideographs are either Han ideographs borrowed for their pronunciation or
    for their meaning, or modified Han ideographs in the manner of Vietnamese nom
    characters. Therefore they do not need to be separately roadmapped, but belong
    in the CJK Unified Ideographs blocks ... hmm perhaps CJKVZ Unified Ideographs is
    more appropriate ?

    For example, a Zhuang word might be written with a Han ideograph with the same
    or similar pronunciation in the local Chinese dialect (generally either the
    Liuzhou dialect of Mandarin Chinese in Northern Guangxi or the Guangxi dialect
    of Cantonese in Southern Guangxi). Thus the Zhuang word kau1 meaning "I" might
    be written using the Han ideograph GU3 [U+53E4].

    On the other hand, a new ideograph might be created from two or more existing
    Han ideographs or ideographic components to represent a Zhuang word. Thus, the
    Zhuang word na2 meaning "paddy field" might be written with a constructed
    ideograph written with the Han ideograph NA4 [U+90A3] above the Han ideograph
    c TIAN2 [U+7530] "field" (U+90A3 giving the pronunciation, and U+7530 giving
    the meaning).

    A new ideograph might also be created by decomposing or altering the form of an
    existing Han ideograph. For example, the Zhuang word for side might be written
    using one half of the Han ideograph MEN2 [U+9580] "gate".

    As Peter's correspondent mentions, this system of writing was never
    standardised, so the actual Zhuang ideographs used for any given Zhuang word may
    vary from place to place, and from manuscript to manuscript.

    Incidentally the Zhuang ideographs were never widely used as a means of
    communication, but were mostly used for writing down traditional Zhuang texts,
    such as folk songs. To be educated meant (and still means) to be able to read,
    write and speak Chinese, and so educated Zhuang would simply use Chinese for
    personal correspondence. On the other hand, uneducated Zhuang would not be able
    to read or write the Zhuang usage ideographs anyway.


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