Re: writing Chinese dialects

From: John H. Jenkins (
Date: Fri Jan 26 2007 - 23:04:59 CST

  • Next message: "Re: writing Chinese dialects"

    On Jan 25, 2007, at 9:57 PM, wrote:

    > Reaserch was done in the first half of the 20th century

    I'm assuming that there was also a big push in, say, the 19th century
    from Protestant missionaries trying to publish Bibles in the local
    dialects. (IIRC there was a 19th century Cantonese Bible published,
    which I assume is different from the one currently in print.)

    > and from the 1980's onwards research has been increasing, though
    > admittedly there is a lot of room for improvement. There is at least
    > for some of these enough research to make a start on encoding, one
    > does not need to know every character, before starting to encode.

    This is very true.

    > Encoding the well researched parts then makes it easier to research
    > the rest. Though it would seem that many researchers are not always
    > very aware of what has been done by others, and it almost goes
    > without saying much literaure is not in English.

    Cantonese is the one example I'm reasonably familiar with, and I know
    this is definitely the case there. There are numerous Cantonese-
    specific words which are written in different ways simply because
    different people made up the needed ideographs without knowing that
    someone else had already done it.

    > I have been researching such characters, for about five years, the
    > limited amount of existing research doesn't make it hard to find
    > something new. I have also been consisdering some of the encoding
    > and other computer realted issues involved and would be very
    > interested to know of others working on this area.

    And I should mention that I, for one, appreciate the work that you're
    doing. I temporarily forgot about the work that's going on in the PRC
    for some, at least, of the local dialects. Such efforts are laudable
    and need to be encouraged.

    I get the impression that the sheer size of the PRC works against the
    encoding efforts here because not even the people involved in the
    computer standardization community have the contacts or resources to
    know what to do. For example, I sometimes hear rumors that Pollard is
    still in active use but have yet to find anyone who can actually put
    me in contact with the people who are using it.

    John H. Jenkins

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