From: Joe (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Jul 14 2009 - 13:06:39 CDT
I'm afraid I don't understand this exercise in fontomancy. In all cases this character by its definition explicitly contrasts with, and is subordinate to, the far more common usage of plain old period aka FULL STOP to represent the normal neutral tone in - again explicitly - roman/latin/ASCII text.
This character is not semantically an "o", it is not a zero, it is not a ring, it is not a graphic circle, it is not a degree sign: it is a period with a hollow center. Its Chinese inventors obviously took the concept from the original of the Chinese IDEOGRAPHIC FULL STOP which is precisely that.
How it ended up being represented in books of the peak GR era (post-WWII) depended on the technology that their publishers had access to. This sign's appearance in
Concise Dictionary of Spoken Chinese, Yuen Ren Chao and Lien Sheng Yang, Harvard, 1962
is very different from its appearance in
which apparently uses an "o" since nothing else was available. In the Concise Dictionary - as in the workbook that went with the Mandarin Primer - even less was available: even the Chinese text, being most of these books, was written by hand.
This sign seems to have been conceived as a form of IDEOGRAPHIC FULL STOP whose usage in roman text would parallel that of FULL STOP.
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