Church Leaflet Fancy Talk:「纔」vs 「才」

I got this leaflet through the letterbox the other night (the people called up to ask if they could put it inside) from a group called “The Church in Taipei”.

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Leaflet from The Church in Taipei (highlights mine)

Although the content of the leaflet was largely unremarkable (we will help you find meaning for your life/true freedom), a few things about it did catch my eye.

The first was a detail of the story:

一個在美國讀過小學,隨父母回來臺灣的小孩,直吵着要回美國。問他爲甚麼,他振振有辭的說,『因爲美國的學生比較自由阿!』這是小孩所要的自由-不用穿制服,不用背書包,不用讀太多書,也不必被體罰!

A child who had gone to elementary school in the US and returned to Taiwan with their parents was going on and on asking to go back to the US. When you asked him why, he said precociously “Because American students have more freedom!”. This is freedom for a child – not having to wear a uniform, not having to carry a schoolbag, not having to read too many books  and not having to undergo corporal punishment.

Leaving aside the suggestion that American kids don’t have to read or carry school bags, I thought it interesting that the author was unaware that corporal punishment is illegal in Taiwan.

The other aspect of the leaflet that I found interesting was the choice of characters, which suggested the author wasn’t using the most common input system Zhuyin (Bopomofo), and that they were trying to some extent to sound authoritative through the use of more traditional variants. Some can be, perhaps, be ascribed to font choices, but I’m inclined to believe it is more of a stylistic choice. Examples are as below:

爲 vs 為

「爲」 is used in all cases in the leaflet above, rather than the more commonly seen 「為」, including together with the more  formal 「甚麼」 in place of 「什麼」. If you’re typing in zhuyin you have to scroll to access the character 「爲」 whereas 為 will come out in combination with 什麼 and 甚麼 automatically:

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Perhaps the author uses Cangjie or Sucheng, more popular input methods among older people in Taiwan.

着 vs 著

The character 「着」 is a variant of the character 「著」 and it’s also listed the standard simplified character, but it’s not often used in Taiwan:

纔 vs 才

I remember at university we had to learn to read texts in traditional Chinese. Many of the pre-Revolutionary texts from China used the traditional form 「纔 」 as opposed to 「才」 to mean “only then”. At several points in the text the author uses this more traditional form, however, both are listed in the Ministry of Education dictionary in separate listings, 「才」 has the additional meaning of talent or ability, but in this context they have similar meanings and 「才」is also the simplified version of 「纔」.

群 vs 羣

「羣」 is a variant of 「群」 and also suggests a stylistic choice made, rather than an accident.

This perhaps all makes sense when you think of the language used in the Bible in English and its surrounding literature, so this is perhaps an attempt to echo this kind of usage in Chinese.

Messianic Jewish Endtime Ministries in Taiwan: On Gays, Abortion and the Sabbath

I’m always interested to see religious pamphlets when they come through my door, especially given the recent protests held by Taiwan’s Christian minority against the gay marriage bill.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has treated these religious groups on the same footing as pro-gay marriage groups, despite a lot of misinformation spread by the former on the actual content on the bill (lots of talk of men marrying Ferris wheels and dogs).

Anyway, I got this leaflet through the door this week, which appears to be associated with or enamoured with the “Aleph & Tav Prophetic Endtime Ministries“, a sect of Messianic Judaism, and have translated selections of it that I thought were interesting as they relate to gay rights and abortion.

The first page is slightly odd, in that it first suggests that there has been an uptick in “earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, heat waves, damage to crops from cold spells, epidemics and terrorist attacks” and then states that most of these are the result of how humanity has destroyed the earth’s environment. He then points out, that actually earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not related to global warming, but are rather a sign of god’s anger. He goes on to state that effects of global warming are far beyond what many scientists predicted, so god’s probably making global warming worse for us too.

After this the author goes into a rant about the Sabbath being from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, not Sunday as some Christians would have it. One line of this rant stood out to me:

不要再讓外邦人嘲笑我們不遵守十誡。

Don’t allow the people of foreign countries to continue to mock us for not observing the 10 Commandments.

This is interesting because it conflicts with statements made later on in the text, in which he criticizes Taiwanese people for blindly following Western conventions on the issue of abortion.

The second page is a little more interesting, and I’ve translated it in two parts. The first excerpt is as follows:

WarningWarning

Warning! Warning!

The creator clearly tells humanity in the bible “Homosexuality is sin”, but nowadays, people with ulterior motives use “respect for human rights” as a shield to promote such evil behaviour among humanity. Their motive is to destroy and obliterate our next generation! Over recent years the number of homosexuals, drug users and even people infected with AIDS [sic.] on school campuses has clearly risen, which is closely related to the evil education policies (gender equality education, today in schools they no longer emphasize the idea of one man and one woman, but they advocate to allow for diverse genders)! There are even massive parades by homosexual groups in Taiwan every year, with singers launching concerts to support the cause and the media writing favourable reports about them, which has led to an intangible brainwashing and warping of the value systems of Taiwan’s young people so that they can no longer tell right from wrong!

The creator tells us in the bible that “homosexuals” are an object of his scorn, and are accursed! (The city of Sodom was destroyed because of the sin of homosexuality). What is most regrettable is that during the presidential election we chose a political party that supports diverse families and we chose a leader who supports homosexuals. This choice has led our country to be cursed! As all the people of Taiwan must take responsibility for their decision! Do you still remember? The day after the election (January 17, 2016) their were dark clouds in the skies all over Taiwan, and it rained everywhere! This is a sign that the heavens were weeping for this accursed piece of land, from that time onward there has been natural disaster after natural disaster, with frequent news of accidents, but this is just punishment and discipline, in the hope that our compatriots can wake up to this as soon as possible, and be cheated by this disingenuous rhetoric no longer, to prevent an even bigger disaster befalling us!

Dear compatriots, we hereby implore you to save our country’s next generation, to clearly express your opposition while we still have freedom of speech, otherwise when a disaster befalls us and we will be left with nothing but regret! We ask that Christians not remain silent, as silence is tacit agreement in the eyes of the lord!

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Restless spirits on the Heping Line 安撫和平幹線上的冤魂

On the bus to work this morning, I saw these stickers stuck below seats on the bus. They were stuck on in a rather inconspicuous way, which suggested they weren’t necessarily there to be seen.

I’d downloaded a program at work called Mojikyo, which allows you to type obscure and antiquated Chinese characters – which don’t have a unicode assignation (a system that allows for consistency in characters across different systems), as well as oracle bone and seal scripts, into Word with special fonts which modify modern Chinese characters. It also has something called Siddham characters, which I later learned from Wikipedia is a form of Sanskrit. I recognized the characters from in the picture below from playing around with the program:

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I worked out that the character on all four of the outer sides of the picture were all the Siddham character 102632. Through a little guess work I found out that the two vertical pillars within the circle were Buddhist mantras associated with Guanyin (觀音), also known as Guanzizai (觀自在) and Avalokiteśvara – who is incredibly popular in the Chinese-speaking world, and is known for his/her compassion for the suffering of humanity.

[On a side note, the ambiguity of Guanyin’s gender came under fire recently from a Christian preacher Kuo Mei-chiang (郭美江), whose comments sparked public outrage in Taiwan:

She starts off this diplomatically by saying: “Guanyin, this evil spirit, is neither male nor female…”

She’s also paranoid that Taiwan’s universities are being “invaded by gays” but that’s another story for another day. Back to Guanyin mantras on the bus…]

The mantras seem to be the same as this one:

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It is pronounced “oṃ ma ṇi pa dme hūṃ” according to a website on different Buddhist mantras, which has been translated to English as “oṃ the jewel in the lotus hūṃ”, although there are questions about this translation which you can find out more about at the website.

One of my Taiwanese friends whose family is quite heavily into Buddhism told me that the first sticker is the “大寶廣博樓閣善住祕密陀羅尼咒輪” and that the second, which is below, is the “四解脫咒輪”, written in Tibetan script.

“大寶” can mean bodhisattva, or Dharma, “廣博” is broad or expansive, “樓閣” is pavilion, “善住” is one of the 36 guardian deities that is in charged with protecting from deadly injuries. “陀羅尼” is the Chinese for Dhāraṇī – which is a kind of protective charm which summarizes the meaning of a sutra.

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The first sticker would seem to be to protect people from deadly injury, while the second is to help the dead move on after they’ve died, which fits in with what my friend told me when he said that it was likely that the bus had been in a deadly accident before, and the stickers were an attempt to exorcise the spirits of the dead. He said it wasn’t definitely the case but it was a possibility, and that this is part of Taiwanese culture, and it reminded me of my curiosity at flowers being tied to fences at the side of the road in the countryside in Ireland at accident black spots.

If anyone has any more information or corrections to make, suggestions are welcome in the comments section.

I’m going to continue to try and decode the Siddham characters on the first sticker, and will update in the comments section too. Here’s a list of websites I found pretty useful:

References:

Visible Mantra : Buddhist Calligraphy: http://www.visiblemantra.org/avalokitesvara.html

Mojikyo: http://www.mojikyo.org/ (the content has to be downloaded from another site though, see this site for tips on how to get the fonts and the character map: http://tinyapps.org/blog/windows/201002130700_mojikyo_character_map.html )

A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms: http://mahajana.net/texts/kopia_lokalna/soothill-hodous.html