RE: writing Chinese dialects

Date: Mon Jan 29 2007 - 09:24:56 CST

  • Next message: Douglas Davidson: "Re: writing Chinese dialects"

    Most Chinese charcters have two parts one for the sound and one for
    the meaning, and the sound part is usually bigger. Therefore the
    person looks at the sound part and makes a guess. Someone who comes
    from the area will proablely get the pronunciation right ( ie they
    have heard of the place and put two and two together to make four).
    ANyone else wouls just be guessing and proablely get it wrong. Place
    names are very difficult to guess, take "Xiamen" for example, the
    first character "xia" is pronounced "sha" when used for anything other
    than the place name.

    So basically one needs to find some bookg or some person to tell you
    the pronunciation. The compltete guide to area ... , may have a list
    of all the unusual place names there, maybe written in pinyin. In
    times past the pronunciation of characters was shown by two well known
    characters one for the start of the syllable and the second for the
    sound of the end including the tone.

    In the past people just wrote the charcters by hand now, and so no
    one even tried to catalogue all the place names, however computers
    aren't as flexible. Even with almost 75 thousand Chinese characters in
    unicode, a the last count about 5000 place/peoples names' characters
    in mainland China are not encoded (and the are I'm sure some more),

    Quoting Michael Maxwell <>:

    >> 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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