From: John H. Jenkins (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jan 23 2007 - 15:14:57 CST
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
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
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Jan 23 2007 - 15:16:41 CST