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Honwenese (漢苑話) Conlect


ParkeNYU
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Honwenese (漢苑話) is a constructed Sinitic topolect (Sinolect) that arose from an artificial system of character readings (漢語苑音), itself having been wrought from the Song Dynasty rime tables, incorporating elements of modern topolectal phonologies and rime reflexes. While it resembles an admixture of the Cantonese, Mandarin, and Gan-Hakka branches, the intention was to attempt to recreate what Modern Standard Chinese would or could have sounded like had the Song Empire allied with the Jin Empire instead of the Yuan Empire (versatile and subjective interpretation was obviously necessary). In other words, it's essentially a form of Song Dynasty court speech modernised through the phonological filters of Middle Cantonese and several historical stages of Mandarin, reflecting an amalgamation of the literary registers (文讀/讀音) of the mainline Sinolects. In the modernisation process, no sources earlier than the Sui Dynasty 切韻 or later than the Qing Dynasty 康熙字典 were recognised, the primary source being the Song Dynasty 韻鏡. This system is an evolution of the earlier ParseRime (析韻) Late Middle Chinese reconstruction, notation, and input method. It may be written with Han characters and/or its official Romanised form. Development began on the 30th of May, 2014.

 

Documentation:

Phonology

Etymology

ParseRime

Dictionary (characters)
Dictionary (words & syntax)

 

Sample texts:

Textbook Sample (Mandarin & Honwenese)

Textbook Sample (Honwenese Romanisation)

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For now, this project is merely a sound system (like 老國音, which didn't specify a topolect, but rather a set of sounds with which to pronounce characters). I'm still deciding between Modern Vernacular Chinese (白話文 as opposed to 文言文) and Modern Literary Chinese (淺文言 as opposed to 深文言). Perhaps both?

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There are two methods:

 

1) Once you've learned how to pronounce the 苑音字母 spellings using the provided System Overview, you can use the Common Character List that I've provided to learn the readings of each character one by one.

 

...or...

 

2) You can look up the Late Middle Chinese values of a given character in the 韻鏡 (or otherwise easily convert them from the corresponding Early Middle Chinese 切韻, 廣韻, or 集韻 values), and then use the provided System Overview to convert these values into 苑音字母 readings, which you can then pronounce by looking at the IPA equivalents on the same document.

 

The 苑音字母 is mostly based on Hanyu Pinyin and Jyutping, so it's very intuitive (and more consistent). Each character-reading is directly descended from Middle Chinese (no exceptions). This allows the readings to be quite predictable, even if you only know some limited combination of Mandarin, Cantonese, and/or Hakka. I've found that my friends who understand both Mandarin and Cantonese can understand what I say 9 times out of 10 without any prior preparation.

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Well now you've got me thinking about the practical benefits your artificial dialect potentially provides.

 

So it's a handy code language to speak with friends who understand both Mandarin and Cantonese because it's only intelligible to those who understand both languages? People who only speak Cantonese or only speak Mandarin won't understand enough to get the gist of what you're saying?

 

Hey, I guess it also could be a way to practice Mandarin and Cantonese simultaneously, theoretically halving the time you need to invest to maintain what you've learnt in both languages if you're at the same level in both. Could have a niche benefit with some foreign business people?

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People who can only speak Cantonese might still understand a fair amount of it, but I haven't done any official surveys yet. I suppose that it could serve as a code, but more importantly, it could act as a neutral Chinese language for period pieces set in Ancient China, a neutral means of reciting ancient poetry and song lyrics, or even just as a way to render names and terms in Chinese culture more neutrally (e.g. 風水 as Fuŋshuí and 長衫 as a chōŋsham). I had devised an older, more topolectically inclusive sound system as well, but Wényîm is more readily intelligible to speakers of most modern Chinese languages (Min and Wu being the big exceptions).

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That's more or less what this is, but with Hakka and Middle Chinese thrown into the mix. I did attempt to design a dialect that was situated perfectly between Mandarin and Cantonese, but the problem was that there are many cases in which one must choose one interpretation over the other, and without Middle Chinese acting as a neutral arbiter, there is no fair choice that one could make.

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Vietnamese has a syllable structure like Middle Chinese, i.e. some simple initial (maybe an affricate), a nucleus that might also have /w/ and/or /j/ next to it, and final nasal consonants /m/, /n/, /ŋ/ and the 入聲-like unreleased  /p̚/, /t̚/, /k̚/.

 

This constructed variety (or whatever) is based on Middle Chinese, and the way ParkeNYU spells it (with spaces between every syllable) resembles Vietnamese orthography.

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That is indeed true, and in my opinion, Pe̍h-ōe-jī (for Taiwanese Hokkien) looks even more Vietnamese in that regard. I don't really have strict rules concerning spacing and capitalisation (yet), since the system is mostly intended to annotate or digitally input Chinese characters. Since, as I mentioned above, I would also like to use it to neutrally name Chinese terms, these spacing and capitalisation issues must be ultimately addressed either way.

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