I shall be telling this with a Cai…
There’s nothing better than mile three of a glorious late fall trek through Beijing, when the winds have brought a respite from the usual bong backwash that passes for air, and the green grocers have graciously provided a living example of character simplification, especially one as logical as
That is: 大白菜 (dà báicài is what I would call napa cabbage) but with 菜 written as 才+艹. [For the curious, at 0.3 per jin that equates to 4.3 cents per pound for you US measurement chauvinists. A helluva bargain, especially if you turn it into some kind of 泡菜 like I’ve been doing recently]
才+艹, it’s beautiful! Unmistakeable. True to its phonetic + radical roots.
To make an English analogy, 才+艹 seems just as good as the (now fairly accepted) use of “lite” for low-calorie products. Not only is “lite” true to the spelling rules of English, you could even argue it carries some semantic information: less letters => less weighty.
Like lite, 才+艹 is reasonably widespread too, apparently. Not just here in Beijing. Sinoglot’s Sima attests to its existence up in Dongbei.
A couple years ago I would have just considered 才+艹 an example of grass-roots spelling reform, bad pun and all. But now is as good a time as any to recall that back in Feb 2010 Zev Handel sent Sinoglot a copy of the “Second Round Character Simplification Proposal (Draft)”. Go take a look. There, on the very first page, is our 才+艹, simplified in all the right ways, raring to replace 菜 and 蔡 in 1977.
But it never happened. Instead, sadly, it’s relegated to chalk signs in front of second-rate grocers. Ah well. As I said in the character-reform post:
People learn to live with the script they’ve got, with the social agreement they’ve inherited. If the country had switched to Pinyin back in 1953, today you’d have a new army of Script Defenders, ready to react against any newcomers who wanted to switch back to those reactionary, laobaixing-oppressing old characters.
Same for “second round” simplifications as for pinyin. Could’ve gone either way. The mainland went down the simplified-but-not-resimplified path. No better no worse. But I’ll bet if you dig around, you can still find partisans reassessing the choice. Not unlike the narrator of that brutally misinterpreted poem…
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Nice. Here’s a similar one: 艹 + 上, which I ran across a few weeks ago in a piece of handwriting. It doesn’t seem to be in UNICODE, so I can’t input it on a computer, or in PlecoDict on my phone for that matter. So it had me stumped for a good ten minutes, before I wisely decided to draw on the mighty power of 百度知道 by running a search for 草字头 上字…
Bonus points to whoever guesses correctly what its non-simplified equivalent is without looking it up anywhere.
Wow, I thought about what that variant could be for minutes without out success, and sadly had to look it up. While the 艸才 (菜/蔡) simplification is at least easy to correctly guess due to the similarity of its pronunciation, I can’t help but feel that the 艸上 is quite counter-intuitive and forced. 上 is rarely used as a phonetic, with the obvious exception being 让 (讓), which shares a falling tone and -ang final with the component character part. For that character, the right-side phonetic would make it a foremost candidate by a wide-spread simplification initiative such as China saw in the 1950s. Here in Taiwan, I have even noticed people write “誏” in letters as a quick substitute for it. I would argue that both variants are somewhat logical, as the Mainland simplification maintains the fourth tone and the zh/ch/sh/r initial group, and the Taiwanese variant maintains a similar shape, which allows for quick recognition due to the similarity in shape. 艸上, (In all fairness to the work of the above post, I will not spoil which character it is!) is a character with more than one pronunciation and preexisting variants. This simplification only keeps the radical, but 上 is barely a fitting phonetic at all. It keeps the -ang final, yet its fourth tone only is similar to one of 艸上’s pronunciations, whose initials are of a completely different group all together. The shape of 上 also shares no similarities at all with the original character’s shape. I understand that the zeitgeist of the 1970s was to reduce the character strokes by any means necessary, so understand why the character might have been redesigned this way at that time (or is it just a handwritten variant? Dunno.), but you can’t convince me that this is a simplification that fits in logically with its simplified peers.
[warning: spoiler below if you’re working on Daan’s puzzle]
Daan, I was like James in spending, if not minutes, at least dozens of seconds thinking about the puzzle. It hurt, so I thought I might be able to eke out a victory by asking my mother-in-law. It’s not technically “looking it up”, right? 😉
Imagine my surprise when she thought about it a second and then said, hesitantly: 那个字念zhǐ. She went on to say that there was even an apartment complex in their old neighborhood by the name of 清zhǐ园 that used just that character. I salivated for just a second at the thought of being able to snap such a photo, then came to my senses and realized she was probably mistaking it for another character. Indeed, a google map of the area finds 清芷园. It even comes up as the first choice for qingzhiyuan in my IME.
So I too was forced to go to China’s wikipedia: 百度知道. Did you end up reading the one that includes counterproposals for how to simplify 藏? I thought the first couple weren’t bad, e.g. 荘 works for me, but he lost my support with the argument for using 茯, essentially: “hiding in the grass” = cang2. Ha.
One slight problem with this simplification: it already existed as a character with a different meaning. See the entry in this variant character dictionary.
Just to explain a little about 䒙…
This is unicode character 4499 from the CJK Unified Ideographs Ext. A
I found it in the OSX character viewer, under the radical 艸, along with all manner of crazy stuff. But I’ve been unable to find either the 菜 variant 艹+才, or my own favourite 艹+ 么, sometimes seen for the 蘑 in 蘑菇, up here in the Northeast.
The OSX character viewer gives no information about the character or any input methods, but it does offer the above unicode number and UTF8: E4 92 99 plus GB: 82339D38
A quick baidu search for the character brings up nothing but pages including the number 17561. Presumably this is some kind of translation of the encoding – is it possible that Baidu simply doesn’t recognise it?
Google brings up plenty of pages, but most of them are dodgy dictionaries with no information, but the following link offers some input information:
And I can confirm that input using keys AHF with Apple’s 五笔型 does work. Someone more experienced in other input methods might be able to verify the four-corner and other input codes.
Whilst we’re at it, maybe someone knowledgeable about computers and encoding could explain some of this stuff to us…Kellen?
4410 is right for 䒙, and its right for anything else with 艹 and 一 on the bottom. I just checked my copy of 四角号码新词典 published by 商务印书馆 in the late 70’s. Unsurprisingly 䒙 isn’t there. It is a pretty underwhelming 四角 dictionary, but at the moment it’s what I have on hand.
That’s what’s available in unicode with three strokes under 艹. 艹+才 isn’t one of them I’m afraid.
I’m not sure what else I should be trying to explain. Was there something specific I should look at?
As the in-house shanghailander i should point out tht many characters which make little sense in Mandarin are just fine in Wu, such as 让. remember that a large number of the mandarin vulgate litaerati were from the Jiangnan region, so a lot of these were heavily influenced by local Wu sinplifications.
@bruce see 面 and then imagine im shruggiing
And because you are too modest to link it yourself, here is the article explaining everything there is to know about 让 : http://www.sinoglot.com/wu/2009/10/rang/
䒙 is also one of the simplification proposed during the second round, according to Andrew West and his excellent “Proposal to Encode Obsolete Simplified Chinese Characters” (available here : http://std.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n3695.pdf ). It is character 1.1.017 in table 1.1, page 28 (or page 83 in the annex to see it in full scanned glory).
The whole proposal is a fascinating reading, the most rigorous and exhaustive presentation of the different simplification processes I have seen.
Thanks for that. I wonder whether you can explain my problems searching for 䒙 on Baidu. I’ve always found it a struggle to get my head round the encoding of characters. How could it be that I can type the character here, search for it on Google, but get apparently unrelated results on Baidu?
Many thanks for the paper. It is a fascinating read.
I know the whole simplification thing has been talked about here plenty before, but the whole process, and the difficulties of chosing appropriate forms, is quite mind boggling. That there are characters which were abandoned and now need to be encoded to permit historians of spimplification to write about it (ok and to accurately show things written during the brief window when these characters were in use) strikes me as quite mind blowing. I guess it’s all just a reminder of what a crazy script this is.
I would just like to make clear that I went through every ‘initial + -ang + vegetable’ I could think of and never got close to guessing what the character stood for. Nice one.
look’s like that’s Baidu’s fault. I ran a few other non-Mandarin unicode glyps through: پ for /p/ in Arabo-Persian scripts, and ᆓ which is a rare Hangeul diacritic that as far as I know doesn’t exist in regular usage.
Basically Baidu is converting the unicode glyphs to html before doing the search, which is pretty stupid and makes me want to give up on Baidu for any serious searching.
䒙 is the html code for 䒙, which in Unicode is U+4499.
ᆓ is the html for ᆓ, پ is the html for پ.
And actually if you search in Baidu for 䒙, you’ll get all the 17561 results, but the search bar will still say 䒙. Now search for 䒙 and look at the search bar for the results page. It’ll say 䒙. Search for “پ” and the search box will say پ in the results.
It’s a stupid mistake that they really ought to fix since it’s limiting Baidu’s use for non-standard, non-Mandarin searches. But then, as the Chinese kid who can’t access Facebook says, “who the hell cares?”.
I always thought 藏 simplified as 䒙 was pretty useful. I came across it one of the other times we talked about 2RS cahracters. That said, I usually write 臧 with 刂￼in place of 臣 as in 蓝/藍. But that’s just because I’m a lazy bastard.
nice work, Pot! I’ll promise you some homemade 泡
pot: forgot to ask, how did you find it?
Shit. I knew i’d seen
Many thanks for explaining that. As you say, “who the hell cares?” It does seem something of an oversight on behalf of Baidu.
Seeing as I shouldn’t care, thank you for showing me that I didn’t have the full set of CJK Extension B. I now do. I’m sure that’s going to make my life immeasurably better. At least I can now see
Dont forget to install SimSum Founder Extended (sursong.ttf) if you (anyone) can’t see that character. Downloads are readily available with a Google search.
“A couple years ago I would have just considered 才+艹 an example of grass-roots spelling reform, bad pun and all. But now is as good a time as any to recall that back in Feb 2010 Zev Handel sent Sinoglot a copy of the “Second Round Character Simplification Proposal (Draft)”. Go take a look. There, on the very first page, is our 才+艹, simplified in all the right ways, raring to replace 菜 and 蔡 in 1977.”
It’s worth pointing out that it’s not at all clear that this chalkboard usage is a relic of the 1977 proposals. I think it’s more likely that the inspiration for the 1977 proposal for 才+艹 was based on the already known usage of this informal “grass roots” character. (Easy enough to prove if we can find examples of its use that pre-date 1977.) Indeed, it is commonly said that many of the characters in the 1977 proposal were rejected because they came from the “masses” and did not have a grounding in the long Chinese literary tradition. This usage, and that of many other characters like it, has probably been bubbling along “under the radar” regardless of what the government has formalized for official use.