Hold 旦 just one moment…

Yesterday Syz posted about living examples of character simplification. Literally moments before he published the post I sent him a photo I’d just taken outside the immigration office in Seoul:

Second Round Simplification (or more accurately, third) is a favourite topic here. For me it’s a bit like winning a scavenger hunt you didn’t know you were playing. It’s somehow gratifying to come across a character that is so telling of the writer’s upbringing in terms of geography and time. It’s something that you know is an outlier and really shouldn’t be seen in the wild but then it keeps popping up. Like a persistent lemur in a Louisiana swamp. Kinda.

As mentioned that photo is from just outside the immigration office, where a fair number of Chinese are to be found every week of the year. It’s from a vendor who sells 并水,豆腐 of some sort, 天津包子 (which in Korea means spicy; Think 天津辣椒) and of course, 茶蛋. In this instance he’s written 茶旦. To be fair, two of the four sides of the stand say 蛋 while the others are 旦.

Across the street is a regular display of posters in support of a particular banned cult we’ll just call FG for now. Fearing the two were related, I’ve not bothered to talk to the 茶旦 vendor. FG supporters in Seoul are big fans of telling people about illegal organ harvesting.

旦 for 蛋 is, as Syz put it, one of those 2RS characters that rubs people the wrong way. But honestly I don’t know why. In my grad classes I often used 旦 or 丹 for anything pronounced dan or tan as I frantically took notes trying to keep up with the thick 绍兴 accent that was telling us all about 庄子. I never much liked 蛋 as a character. Take away the 疋 and you’re left with an insect, and that’s just not how I like to think of my eggs in the morning. But to each their own. 旦 comes up so rarely in my daily use so I never thought up a good reason why it couldn’t pull double duty.

As I mentioned in the comments to Syz’s post, a number of the simplifications now in use were originally local simplifications that predated national simplification by a good number of years in most cases. We shouldn’t really be surprised to see these keep showing up, even forms not previously included in 2RS, except for the fact that Unicode (more than anything else, in my opinion) has really limited what people bother with these days. In most cases, anyway. Bianbian noodles aren’t going anywhere. That’s for sure. Hopefully neither are my beloved 旦旦麵.

9 responses to “Hold 旦 just one moment…”

  1. James says:

    Surely you mean 担担面/擔擔麵? Doesn’t it quite betray the spirit of 2RS to use the traditional character for noodles alongside them? Also, is 旦 a 2RS for 担/擔? Otherwise, you’re just left with “Every morning noodles”.

    • Yep. Just making a joke. And 旦 isn’t used for 担 but as I said above, when taking notes in class I often used it for anything pronounced “dan”. I know a handful of others do the same. Hence the joke, poor as it was.

  2. luolimao says:

    I think you meant Biángbiáng noodles, not Bianbian, because I remember those residents of 陝西 made up a Mandarin syllable for that character.
    Also, regarding the 旦 or 丹 thing, that seems like a great note-taking idea, especially if the speaker happened to use something with 20+ strokes like 癱 or 罎.
    I’m really curious about the creation of the character 蛋; the best I could find was this, but I haven’t found anything regarding what “feet” and “worms” have to do with eggs. Then again, I probably don’t want to know.

  3. Chris Waugh says:

    I don’t know why they rub people up the wrong way, either. I mean, they’re not even remotely comparable to that abomination that passes for spelling in the USA. And because I loathe emoticons you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that my tongue was firmly in my cheek when I wrote that second sentence.

    One thing I think Language Log gets very right is its unceasing war on prescriptivism. Language is a movement of the people, and if the people decide to use a 2RS character (especially if, contrary to popular belief, the character has been in common use since long before even the first simplification), then the people rule. Writers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our chains, and we have our scripts to win! And then everybody gets their ease of communication, and those of us who hang around Sinoglot get endless fun checking out these variant characters.

  4. maxiewawa says:

    On the topic of changing 汉字, here’s a historical one that has become embedded in the language: the Japanese word for 计划 is 計画. 画 makes more sense than 划 because you’re more likely to draw a plan than row it. There are more examples of changes between Japanese and Chinese, but that’s the only one I can think of now.

    What is Language Log?

  5. Chris Waugh says:

    @maxiewawa: Language Log is a sometimes frustrating, sometimes enlightening, sometimes entertaining blog on linguistics by an apparently quite large group of linguists. It can be found here: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/

  6. Claw says:

    According to zhongwen.com, 蛋 itself was a simplification of , where 延 served as the phonetic component (cf. 誕).

    I’ve also seen 蛋 written as as well.

  7. […] Sinoglot – Kellen and SYZ discuss the issue of “Second Round Simplification” as seen across Asia today. […]

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