Ryakuji in Mandarin
In Japanese they’re called ryakuji りゃくじ. In Korean, yakja 약자. The corresponding characters are 略字, pronounced lüè zì in Mandarin. They are the unorthodox simplifications that are seen in handwritten texts from time to time. They are not in any official list of approved kanji/hanja/hanzi, and you won’t really learn them in school. But they are used.
Think 仃 for 停 but lacking the authority once (briefly) held by 仃. Or, think of all those times you wrote 旦 in place of 单 蛋 or 弹 in your notes in class, because you couldn’t be bothered by all those strokes at the time. I know I’m not the only one to do this.
Some are included in Unicode, such as 㐧 for 第, but not all. Of those that are I rather like 㐰 for 個, dropping the 古 component altogether. Still a bit more than 个, but then I have my suspicions about 个. Of those only partially supported, the variation of 门 shown in the upper right is a personal favourite. The 门 ryakuji is actually in fairly wide use in Japan, even in official capacities, from what I’ve heard. Unfortunately some of the simplifications, even as shinjitai (read: official), aren’t all that much simpler to me. 両 isn’t much quicker for me than 两.
What I like most about these variations is that to me it’s a continuation of regional simplifications seen leading up to the May Fourth Movement on the Mainland. It’s 靣 for 面 but on a much larger scale in terms of acceptance. In Mandarin dictionaries, at least the ones that have such characters, they are called “vulgar” characters. They are the writing of the uneducated. I don’t buy it. They’re a grassroots simplification, standards be damned. It’s descriptivism in writing.
In fact I had just about given up on tracking down some concrete example of a Mandarin ryakuji, when the on Twitter I saw a tweet by Kane Gao giving me just what I needed. While in America, he posted this photo of a receipt from a local Chinese restaurant.
The receipt includes the line
才汤 VEGGIE SOUP 4.75
We’ve spoken here about third-round simplifications* (3RS) before. They were simplifications that were reverted after only a short time. 街 became 亍 and 停 became 仃. You don’t see these often, but they are out there.
菜 was temporarily simplified to