Re: writing Chinese dialects

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2007 - 11:22:57 CST

  • Next message: Michael Maxwell: "RE: writing Chinese dialects"

    On Jan 24, 2007, at 11:14 PM, William J Poser wrote:

    > In writing Cantonese the basic principle is that if the
    > morpheme is cognate to its Mandarin counterpart it will
    > be written with the same character but if it is not cognate
    > a distinct character will be used. For example, the 1st
    > person pronouns Cantonese ngo, Mandarin wo, and the 2nd
    > person pronouns, Cantonese le, Mandarin ni, are cognate and
    > are written with the same characters, but the third person
    > pronouns, Cantonese keoi, mandarin ta, are not cognate
    > so keoi is written with a "non-standard" character (U+4F62).

    Exactly, which is why there are relatively few Cantonese-specific
    sinograms. Almost everything in the Cantonese lexicon is cognate with
    Mandarin words. My understanding is that the other dialects of
    Chinese are in similar situations.

    John H. Jenkins

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