Everyday Variants: 垃圾「乱」丟

19724167_10103385595757739_1327015363_o

I walked past this sign the other day near Dingxi MRT station and was reminded of how often Taiwanese people use simpler variants of some characters when writing some of the more complex Chinese characters, many of which were adopted in China as the standard simplified version of the character:

19848957_10103385604689839_383261882_n

It reads:

乱丟

6千元

袋子不行丟到裡面

Dumping rubbish
[Incurs a] fine [of]
NT$6000

It’s not OK to throw bags inside

Here 「亂」, meaning here “carelessly” or “against the rules”, is written using the variant 「乱」, which is identical to its simplified form.

This variant form is listed in the MOE’s Variant dictionary:

001

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”.

RealTRUTH

RealTRUTH2

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:

wei

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.

Year of the Rooster Couplets

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

16389031_10103093264312299_1009185273_o

「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.”

16444116_10103093264536849_942580565_o

「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.

16409307_10103093264526869_799122283_o16409307_10103093264526869_799122283_o.jpg

「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

15991581_10103047511895509_1082074545_o.jpg

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:

14971119_10102906933370999_1446554131_o

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:

14971119_10102906933370999_1446554131_89o

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:

12735864_10102350993588779_1117332285_n

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:

5f42fa99-662a-4bd9-93ce-299f78fc1e26

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.

getImage

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

10863644_10101767862463229_1720597455_n

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.