RE: writing Chinese dialects

From: Martin J. Heijdra (
Date: Mon Jan 29 2007 - 09:16:53 CST

  • Next message: "RE: writing Chinese dialects"

    Actually, place name pronunciation is not only a problem for "new" characters; standard characters also have different prescribed pronunciations when occurring in place names (and which they may never have outside that context). Identifying those has been a major effort of the Placename Committees: one and the same place names in characters, e.g. 四堡, may have to be officially transliterated and pronounced Sibao, Sibu or Sipu depending on which actual place and location you are referring to. Some of the official atlases now have long lists of these: character X is pronounced Y if you are talking about the place in Z, but B if in C, etc.

    Martin Heijdra

    -----Original Message-----
    From: [] On Behalf Of Michael Maxwell
    Sent: Monday, January 29, 2007 8:28 AM
    Cc: Michael Maxwell
    Subject: RE: writing Chinese dialects

    > Place names are clearly a huge source of characters needing
    > encoding, and I know that the current emphasis of the PRC's
    > delegation to the IRG is along these lines. Even a tiny spot
    > on the Chinese map like Macao needed to have a number of new
    > characters added to handle some of their place names.

    Again, a question (and feel free to take this off-line, as it's getting away from Unicode): When we run into a new place name on a map in a language that uses an alphabetic script, pronouncing the name is just a matter of sounding out the letters (unless it's a Welsh name :-)). But what do people do when they run into these Chinese characters in place names? They weren't taught all of them in school, were they? (If they were, then I would have thought that getting them into Unicode would have happened long ago, because it would have been a simple matter of looking at the school textbooks.) Or do people just learn a new character, without any pronunciation??

       Mike Maxwell
       CASL/ U Md

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