Modern iteration: 谢^2

Chinese traces use of the iteration mark (usually〻 or 々) to indicate a repeated character back at least 2900* years or so. A Wikipedia article dates this piece of bronzeware

back to 825 BCE, where you can see something like 二 used to indicate doubling of 子and 孫 to make “子子孫孫寶用”

So in the modern era, why not 字2? Thanks to Transliterationisms for sending 谢2 over from I’m guessing Taiwan:

It doesn’t mean much that I don’t remember seeing this before, since I don’t get out much. But it does make me wonder if anyone’s got other shorthands they’ve seen in the wild.


* Originally calculated as 1900 years — revealing the effectiveness of my undergraduate degree in mathematics.

16 responses to “Modern iteration: 谢^2”

  1. Tom says:

    The 2-for-repetition is very common in written Indonesian, if that’s of any interest, because nouns are doubled to create plurals.
    E.g. the plural of ‘orang’ (person) is orang-orang.
    Since that naturally means plurals take twice as long (plus a hyphen) to write as the singular, outside of formal contexts, ‘people’ is usually ‘orang2’.

    There are also some nouns that are always doubled, such as kura-kura (turtle). In my experience, these use the ‘2’ shorthand a bit less often, but that’s purely anecdotal.

    Indonesian displays an interesting level of digraphia among people aged under 40 or so. My wife and her siblings sometimes have difficulty writing ‘full-form’ Indonesian, with textspeak-style abbreviations being the norm, although predating the use of SMS in Indonesia.
    E.g. utk for untuk, klo for kalau, gw for gue, etc.

    I suspect this will increasingly be the case amongst Chinese-speakers too.

    • Steve (Syz) says:

      Thanks for this, Tom. I know nothing about Indonesian, but Sinoglot always welcomes a cross-lingusitic comparison!

      …with textspeak-style abbreviations being the norm

      You mean even the norm at formal levels, or at least semi-formal levels? Can you give an example of the more formal writings that you’ve seen the abbreviated forms in?

      I wonder about the parallels for Chinese. Although yes, you see lots of, say, roman pinyin abbreviations in super-informal stuff — bumper stickers, text — I can’t say I see it much more at formal levels. But maybe that’s just a lack of exposure on my part to text that’s in the middle levels of formality…

  2. Tom says:

    Ah yes, I was a little misleading. Among younger people who use Indonesian as a conversational and working language, I’d say these abbreviated forms are the norm up to perhaps the bottom end of semi-formal language – e.g. an email from a manager to their team, but not to the whole company. You also see them a fair bit in film subtitles, particularly the ‘2’ notation, which saves a lot of space.

    However, there are limited formal contexts where this kind of abbreviation is OK. For example, my Indonesian dictionary uses ‘yg’ for ‘yang’ and ‘ttg’ for ‘tentang’, which are both standard Indonesian words. But you’d never see ‘gw’ for ‘gue’, since that’s informal Betawi for I/me.

    There’s also a whole genre of formal abbreviations for institutions, laws, social phenomena… e.g. Supersemar, the ‘Order of March the 11th’ which gave power to Suharto (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret*).

    I learn from this blog – – that Malaysian has taken things somewhat further. I’ve yet to notice this on Indonesian news tickers but I may just have not been paying attention.

    *Or as the joke went at the time, ‘Sudah Persis Seperti Marcos’ — ‘Just Like Marcos’.

  3. Tom says:

    Oh, one other place I’ve spotted the 2 notation and what we might call the dictionary abbreviations (utk, ttg, dr, and so on) – translated comics, which are my main method of learning Indonesian vocab.

    The Indonesian editions have to use the original speech bubbles but with much longer words, so the text is crammed in and these space-saving measures get pressed into service every few pages.
    IIRC, when the first official Tintin books in Chinese came out in 2001, they sometimes had the opposite problem – a handful of characters in a sea of white space.

    • Chris Waugh says:

      “the first official Tintin books in Chinese came out in 2001”

      Really? I just grabbed a random selection of Chinese-language Tintin comics off the shelf. I have: “Tintin in America” dated 1984, “Flight 714”, 1984, can’t remember the exact English title “Voyage to the Moon”?, 1984, “7 Crystal Spheres”, 1985. All in the traditional Chinese comic format, but those I have in more Western formats also lack vast expanses of white space with only a few characters in the speech bubbles.

      • Chris Waugh says:

        “7 Crystal Balls” surely… my memory of Tintin in English is fading…

      • Tom says:

        Yes, I have a ‘little’ book copy of ‘Tintin in the Congo’ in Chinese, I think from the 80s.
        But they weren’t official editions, according to this AFP article:

        I remember the new ones in 2001 being specifically marketed as Tintin’s official debut, too. Oddly, the place where we bought ours in Beijing (I’m sure it can’t have been the only place selling them) was a branch of A&W opposite the Kempinski Hotel.

        • Tom says:

          It is quite possible the acres of space I am remembering are from a different comic translated into Chinese, of course.
          Something Francophone though, I think. Asterix, perhaps?

          • Chris Waugh says:

            So my ’80s comics are ‘official’ in that they won GAPP (or whoever at the time) approval but didn’t get the copyright licence (or whatever) from Hergé? My 2001 edition of “Land of the Black Gold”, which specifically acknowledges Casterman Editions so is presumably official^2, does not feature what I would call acres of white space in the speech bubbles. I have never seen Asterix or any other Franco-Belgian bande dessinée in Chinese, which is not for lack of looking, but may be for lack of looking in the right places….

  4. Tom says:

    Yeah, those early editions were pirate copies.
    If they have a nihil obstat from GAPP (or whomever), presumably it was based on content rather than provenance.

  5. Kellen Parker says:

    In Japanese theres an iteration mark (々) like this, and I’ve seen it at least a dozen times in Mandarin since coming to Taiwan. It’s not too uncommon to see it used on a board in a lecture. Instead of 謝² you’d see 謝々.

  6. Aaron Posehn says:

    Interesting! I’ve never seen this before, but then again, my ancient Chinese is nothing to write home about. Will have to look more into this. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Kuiwon says:

    Interesting. I always thought 々 mark was a Japanese import. The only time I’ve come across it is in Korean Classical Chinese books published at the turn of the century.

  8. Daniel says:

    It looks to me like the first iteration mark (〻) is just a hasty writing of 二.

    • Steve (Syz) says:

      I agree. I was thinking it had started out sloppy and just become a stylized “character” in its own right. But I wonder if anyone has looked into that — character “etymologies” are notoriously misleading…

  9. John Pasden says:

    Sorry I’m late! I found these examples of the phenomenon in Chinese comics a while back:

Leave a Reply