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Fantasy Chinese writing system

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In response to the thread about Chinese being objectively hard, I issue the following challenge:

For all of you who can speak Mandarin (we have to pick a dialect in order to make it possible for phonetic methods), design a writing system for Mandarin that is easy to learn, capable of dis-ambiguating contemporary Mandarin (I don't want any Hanzi only solves problems that Hanzi created, if only these words didn't sound similar complaints), and offer a fast reading speed. You don't need to completely specify the system (I doubt anyone has the time to redo 5,000 Hanzi if they choose character based), but I want a description and an explanation of why it's better than the present system, and why it satisfies the above criteria.

I will post my own ideas soon.

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Ok, I might get flamed or bashed for this, but here's my half baked alternative Mandarin writing system. This is just a conceptualization, and all graphics I post are purely for illustrative purposes, aesthetic considerations was not part of my half baked example here.

Consider the word, ren min, 人民. Both 人 and 民 deals with people, so there's no reason why they don't both have a person radical, like 任. I have done a bit of back of the envelope tabulating and came up with 7 vowels (a,i,e,ou,o,u,yu) and 23 consonants(b,c,ch,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,q,r,s,sh,t,w,x,y,z,zh) for pinyin Mandarin. Plus of course 4 tones. I haven't yet figured out how to embed the tone information yet, but here's what I came up with for an alternate representation of the word 人民.


Note I haven't figured out how to embed tone information yet. Here the left is the radical for person, which provides some contexual information and will help disambiguate between other words with the same pronounciation.

On the right side we read from top to bottom and consider the order. The first element is the consonant symbol, with

cons-r.png and cons-m.png representing r and m respectively.

Next is the vowel symbol, with the two columns and three columns representing e and i respectively.

The last component is the ending. From a moment of thought, I figured there are 3 common endings. A vowel ending, like ra, an n ending like ren, or an ng ending like zhong. For a vowel ending there would be nothing else on the bottom. For an n ending we'd append a

end-n.png symbol. Then for an ng ending we would append an end-ng.png symbol.

Of course this does not account for tones, which I haven't figured out yet, and also it doesn't yet account for double vowel endings like yue. Anyway, this is very half baked and a work in progress. I welcome all comments and feedback.

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There may be some way of designing this mathematically. Statistically analyze the similarity between sounds (the idea being that similar sounds should be represented by similar symbols) and constructing visually distinct symbols (optimizing spatial combinatorics). Also there maybe a better layout for the phonetic component to match the scanning trajectory of the human eye while reading.

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jz87- i think this is certainly an interesting idea. :D But, if you use your scheme to correctly represent the sounds of, say, Tianjinhua, wouldn't someone in Guizhou have to sound out the new word phonetically (and thus slowly)? So would your system nessecarily lead towards standardization?

Although, I've often wondered how Chinese authors use characters to represent difanghuas. How could they do what Mark Twain does, ie?:

"But looky here, Huck, who wuz it dat `uz killed in dat shanty ef it warn`t you?"

I guess in your system that is possible?!

Maybe you could write:

f- first tone

s-second tone

t-third tone

l- last tone

Then use pinyin. You could also capatalizae proper nouns,or nouns in general.

Two lzai txie fxin Fzhongswen.

I don't know.

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I think we've already established that Hanyu Pinyin is impractical. The reading speed of hanyu pinyin is way too slow. The symbols are not distinct enough to allow quick visual scanning like one does when browsing through literature. I think an ideal written language need to maximize the difference between different symbols to allow quick recognition. If the eye need extra time to discern between different symbols then it'll slow reading speed down.

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yonglan, you post has reminded me of this :lol::lol: -

Europe English

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five year phase-in plan that would be known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru! And zen world!

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Jz87, that would be something in between the Korean alphabet system and bopomofo, but with radicals. It sounds like it could work.

The trouble is, of course, that replacing a system everybody knows by a completely new one would for the first +/- 50 years be more trouble than just teaching everyone the existing system.

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Yes, I forgot who said this, but I was always told

Don't be afraid to try new things.

Besides, the Koreans used to use Chinese Hanzi until someone invented their alphabet.

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