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Characters that you don't know how to write

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Skylee: that was Xu Bing, pictures of his script can be found on the net.

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Lu, thanks a lot for the info. I remembered the name of the work was "天書" but could not find any info when I searched for it using google.

Now, here is a picture on "天書" from the website of Xu Bing (徐冰) -


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I think his idea was to make fun of Chinese and Foreigners.

Foreigners thought they knew those were Chinese, but they were wrong.

Chinese thought they were some strange Chinese characters, but they were wrong, because those weren't Chinese at all.

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Was it to make fun of people? I think it's just creativity. It's fun to invent characters. Too bad Xu Bing had the idea before I had, but then, he can carve and calligraph the characters, I could never do that.

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  • 11 months later...

I saw another of Xu Bing's installations called "bird" at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo yesterday. It shows how the character has changed through time. Different shapes of the character "bird" float in the air like they are flying. Very delightful.

Relevant websites ->



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Sunyata: what does that third character mean, the one with the dragons?

I found it on this site (in Japanese), and it basically says that the character's existence hasn't been confirmed yet, and that it seems that it's only being spread in rumors. According to the rumors, it's a kokuji myouji, or a Japanese made kanji for use in names, and it's readings are taito, daito, and otodo. It also says that it's registered in Konjaku Mojikyo, but that there is no detailed explanation. So it seems that this is just something that someone made up, and doesn't actually exist.

As soon as I saw that I knew I had seen it somewhere. I had to do a little digging, and what I found wasn't what I thought I would find; I was pretty sure it existed and the meaning was listed, but oh well. I do like the poem version of it, though. :clap:

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Back on the original subject, words that I can't write (or even read):

hair band: tou2ku1

percent: pa1 (not sure if this is Chinese)

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Thanks Skylee! :clap For this word, like a number of other less common words, I can also teach a Chinese-speaking friend the proper pronunciation. :wink:

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  • 2 years later...

I have started to keep a list in my PDA on words that I use but don't know / always forget how to write / pronounce. Some are already on this thread, these are not yet (since I am a Cantonese speaker, I need the cantonese pronunciations) -

搋 - Cantonese - 猜; pinyin - chuai1 e.g. 搋麵粉

撬 - Cantonese - giu6; pinyin - qiao4 e.g. 撬起

擤 - Cantonese - 試凳切; pinyin - xing3 e.g. 擤鼻涕

饔 - Cantonese - 雍; pinyin - yong1

飧 - Cantonese - 孫; pinyin - sun1

e.g. 饔飧不繼

俎 - Cantonese - 左; pinyin - zu3 e.g. 越俎代庖

糴 - Cantonese - 笛; pinyin - d12 e.g. 糴米

狼戾 - Cantonese - long1 lai2; pinyin - lang2 li4 e.g. 發狼戾

騸 - Cantonese - 扇; pinyin - shan4 e.g. 騸雞

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