Year of the Rooster Couplets

Here’s a few couplets and Chinese New Year decorations from around my neighbourhood:

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「心靜自得詩書味,室雅時開翰墨香」 “With a steady heart, finding joy by oneself in poetry and scholarship, one can smell the ink and brush in the elegant surroundings.”

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「修雙慧福」、「修福粒米藏日月,持慧亳芒有乾坤」
“Cultivating both wisdom and merit”, “By cultivating merit, a grain of rice can block the sun and the moon, by cultivating wisdom, the tiniest hair can hold the universe”

Incidentally, this has been announced as the official slogan of 2017 by Tzu Chi (慈濟), one of the most renowned Buddhist organizations and charities in Taiwan.

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「丁酉年
爆竹千聲歌盛世,金雞報喜唱豐年
靈昱秀
刻印」

Continue reading

Passive Aggressive Notes: Poop Drawings and Urine Variants

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Another passive aggressive note that reads as follows:

街坊鄰居您好:

  • 這附近很少有流浪犬,卻常在巷口這一帶見到狗狗的[drawing of pool of dog piss]和 💩。
  • 請想想出入踩到的人心情有多差…😞
  • 煩請發揮公德心&飼主之義務,勿放任家犬便溺卻不清理!

非常感謝! Thanks a lot!!

[Translation]

Dear block neighbours:

  • There are very few stray dogs around here, but I often find doggy and [drawing of pool of dog piss] and 💩 around the mouth of the alley.
  • Think of how this affects the mood of people who step on it when they come in or out… 😞
  • Please have some common decency & take responsibility as a pet owner, don’t let your pet dog defecate and urinate without cleaning it up!

THANKS A LOT!

The friendly tone of the note, but insistent use of emojis qualify it as passive aggressive.

Also interesting is the use of the character 「溺」(here niao4/ㄋㄧㄠˋ) as a variant for 「尿」

Aggressive Notes: Taipei Parking Battles 台北停車:瘋了嗎?

I previously posted about passive aggressive notes in Taipei related to parking.  But this post couldn’t really be described as “passive aggressive” as it is pure aggression from start to finish:

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You can see the shutter of a shop in the reflection of the car window, which reads 「請勿停車」, which means “Please do not park”. And here’s a close-up of the note:

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The note reads:

「刺破輪胎已違法! 

今日已”報案”調盤視 

畫面.限3日出面調解

否則依法辦理.

敢做敢君自重.

不誠意理.不要

後悔絶不善!

85-7-留

人·物證皆有」

Or in English:

By puncturing my tires you’ve already broken the law! Today I already went to report it as a crime and we’ve gone through the CCTV footage. I’ll give you three days to own up and come to an agreement, otherwise I’ll proceed through legal means. If you had the guts to do it, have the guts to behave like a gentleman about it. If you don’t deal with this honestly don’t regret the unpleasantness that comes!

85-7-Liu

We’ve got witnesses and evidence

It’s interesting that the author used the shorthand 「当」 for the character 「當」, which is the same as the simplified version of the character used in China. They also use the shorthand 「処」chu3, which is a variant which differs from both the standard version of the simplified (处)and traditional character (處):

chu3

Taken from the Ministry of Education Variant Dictionary, a useful resource when you come across characters that don’t seem to exist in normal dictionaries.

This explains that 「処」 is a variant of 「處」(as is the simplified character).

I don’t know what the situation is exactly and if the car belongs to the person who put the “no parking” sign on their shutter or someone else. I’m also not sure what the 「85-7-留」 means, thought it might be a license plate or a reference to a law, but it doesn’t seem to be the latter. Let me know if you know!

Another Cangjie Geek Post: 「節」Variant and the Taipei International Book Expo

The character 「節」 can mean ‘festival’, ‘a joint or node’ or it can also mean ‘to use restraint’ or ‘to economize’. The Cangjie code when looking at the character is pretty straightforward: 「竹日戈中」. For those of those unfamiliar with Cangjie, you can find more info at the Cangjie input Wikipedia page. Basically for a character with three elements like 「節」 we break it into three constituent parts: 竹, the abbreviated form of 艮 and 卩. We take the 1st and last element of the first part – here that would be 竹 (which serves as both the first and the last element of the first part of the character), then the first and last element of the second part of the character which are 日 and 戈 (the dot on the bottom) and the last element of the final part of the character, which is 中 (a vertical line. This leaves us with 「竹日戈中」(hail) , however, when presented in certain fonts, like the one I found below, the appearance of the character in variant form, suggests alternative ways to write the character that do not work:

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This rendering of the character 「031」 suggests the Cangjie code 「竹竹心中」(竹 is the first and last element of the first part; 竹 (the top stroke of 白) and 心 (which is used to represent 匕) are the first and last elements of the second part and 中 is still the final element of the final part, however, this obviously doesn’t work, as the standard form is the one the code is based on. If anyone knows which font throws up this variant of 「節」 please let me know. You can find more variants of 節 at the Ministry of Education variant dictionary.

Speaking of variant forms, after penning my last post on the variant forms of 「免」 I was amused to see the variant form 「001」 used in a poster advertising the upcoming  Taipei International Book Exhibition on the MRT:

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Incidentally, the book exhibition is well worth a visit – it’s going to held from February 16-21 at the Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Halls 1 and 3. It’s open 10am-6pm, with late night sessions until 10pm on Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th, as well as until 8pm on Sunday the 21st. The first day at Exhibition Hall 1 is just for professionals, so you can visit from the 17th to the 21st, whereas Exhibition Hall 3 is open the whole time to everyone. It’s also free for under-18s.

Visit the MOE Variant Dictionary here.

Non-Cangjie Geeks Should “Avoid” This Article (Snort)

I was doing an exam on a computer when I came across 「免」(avoid), and couldn’t for the life of me remember how to write it in cangjie. This is because the font on my computer used a variant form of 「免」, as below:

001

According to cangjie logic this should be written 尸竹日竹山(shahu), with the 刀 similar to that on the top right part of 「解」(弓月尸竹手/nbshq), but, of course 免 is written 弓日竹山(nahu), following the logic of 色。

Other variants of 免 can be found here, one of which bears a striking resemblance to 「兑」 the simplified version of the character 「兌」(dui4/ㄉㄨㄟˋ to exchange).

Curious if anyone knows what fonts feature the variant of 「免」, I also wonder if there are any plans (as unproductive a goal as it may be) to add variants to unicode, as I think they add something to the language.

If you have an unhealthy obsession with Chinese characters and want to share some of your observations, you can contact me or comment below.

If you want to see a similar post to this one, click here.

A legless night in Taipei! – The font that made 夜 lose its left leg

I found this version of 夜 in Roan Ching-yue’s 《哭泣哭泣城》 The Sobbing City, from which I translated ‘The Pretty Boy from Hanoi’ in a previous post:  10893635_10101789003486449_205092612_n

Does anyone know what font this is? All the fonts I have on my computer have both their legs – I like the elegance of this form of 夜 though. Anybody familiar with it? Comment below.

By the way, I’m planning a few more translations from this collection of short stories, so look out for them over the coming months.

For Chinese font watchers, I recently came across this book in a Taipei book store.

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I had a little flick through – though budget constraints prevented me from buying it yet. From what I saw it explains variations in the use of font in shop, road and MRT signs, looks to be an interesting read.

Dafont has some additional Chinese fonts for those interested.

Variants in literature: 犟嘴 for 強嘴 jiang4zui3 To talk back/to give lip

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犟 jiang4 (/qiang3)

I found this variant of 強 in a traditional character version of a mainland Chinese novel (《馬橋詞典》 Dictionary of Maqiao by 韓少功 Han Shaogong). This character is not listed in the Taiwanese Ministry of Education dictionary although it is listed in the variant dictionary. I was surprised to see the character in a traditional character book, because it incorporates the simplified version (or variant) of 強: 强 above 牛 (ox). Lots of simplified characters were adapted from variants or commonly used shorthand however, so it’s not overly unusual. At first I thought it might be an amusing glitch thrown up in the process of transcribing the simplified characters into traditional characters, but after checking the original on Google Books, it seems to have been a choice by the author:

simplified

In the Taiwan variants dictionary it is weirdly listed as a variant of standard character  c07107 although this character cannot be typed – as it automatically switches back to 犟 when typing in zhuyin 注音 and Cangjie 倉頡.

Neither are listed as variants of  either. So I can only assume that Taiwan chose to replace this character with 強 in daily usage, although it still exists in its simplified form.

When is it 裡 and when is it 裏? Commonly used variants in action!

I recently posted a list of Chinese character variants and the Taiwanvore blogger posted an additional pair of variants to the list in the comments section – one in very common usage in Taiwan, specifically 裡 (for Cangjie fans that is 中田土) and 裏 (卜田土女). This variant pair is quite a rare example in modern Chinese as both are in regular usage, although according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, 裡 is the standard character (正體) and 裏 is the variant (異體). Continue reading

Various Variants – Antiquated or Alternate versions of Chinese Characters

I started a collection of variants some time ago on Google Docs, but I gradually forgot about it – would be happy to hear from anyone about variants they have discovered in their language learning process.

Strokes (Original) Standard Form Character Variant pinyin 倉頡碼 Unicode Note
3 yi3 unknown u382f Classical only
5 ran3 月一一 u5184
8 jie3 女中x竹 u59ca
10 wan3 十十弓日山 u8f13
10 xiao4 口廿大 u54b2
10 鬭、鬬、閗 dou4 中弓口一中、中弓月一中、中弓卜十 U9B2D, u9b2c, u9597 found in 齊物論
12 pu3 卜廿日 u669c
13 qun2 尸口廿手 u7fa3
14 bao1 日弓日弓 u95c1
15 pu4 人口戈十月 u8216 4th tone 鋪 only – both written 鋪 in classical, later 舍 replaced 金 as it reflected the noun’s meaning more accurately
15 xuan2 一土卜月山 u74bf
17 lian3 人人弓人 u6b5b

Comment below!