Re: Regulating PUA.

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2007 - 15:14:57 CST

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    On Jan 23, 2007, at 7:03 AM, Michael Maxwell wrote:

    > Help me understand something here. I thought that all the "Chinese"
    > languages in China (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka etc.) used the
    > standard Chinese characters, rather than having characters unique to
    > them. And the other languages of China--Tibeto-Burman, Hmong, etc.
    > used either alphabetic scripts or the standard Chinese scripts.

    It's possible to write dialects of Chinese other than standard written
    Mandarin. It just isn't done much. Cantonese is the most commonly
    written dialect (after standard written Mandarin), and it adds fewer
    than a thousand characters to the repertoire. (It would add even
    fewer if there were a standard way of writing it.) Written Cantonese
    is found in advertising, some newspapers and magazines, and the
    occasional book.

    There are some efforts underway to develop an ideographic repertoire
    for Min, but they haven't progressed far enough to be in general use
    in any way, so far as I understand.

    Otherwise, your understanding is basically correct. OTOH, the number
    of characters needed to write all the modern dialects of Chinese is
    dwarfed by toponyms, personal names, ad hoc forms (like taboo
    variants), editorial mistakes, misprints, nonce forms, and the
    accumulated cruft of thousands of years.

    John H. Jenkins

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