吳實錄

Annals of Wu

漢藏緬語々言研究ㄟ博客
a sinotibetoburman linguistics blog
2015-02-03

Revisiting Tianweiban discussion - general

Today I was having a conversation with a friend about placenames in Southern China. I brought up Sawndip and the occasional non-Mandarin characters that show up in placenames coming from languages like Zhuang, with 岜 bya being one of the more common ones as well as one of the few encoded in Unicode.
In our discussion I did a quick Google search to bring up some visual examples and came across an old post on Language Hat from 2007 which quotes from an AP article.
Quoting a local resident speaking to Xinhua:
我们村原来叫‘田梅洞村’。好多年以前,来了位风水先生,按照风水理论把村名改成了现在的‘田尾X(三点水旁‘亚’字上加两点)村’。具体为什么改我也说不清。
The character ere described is 湴, likely pronounced bàn in MSM. The interesting thing is that the problem which the villagers were facing, and the reason anyone was writing about this at all in 2007, was that people couldn't type the character 湴 for things like legal documents. The reason? The PRC is using an outdated character encoding standard, GB 2312. Newer standards such as GB 18030 or Unicode do support the character. It's not even an issue in the style of Ma Cheng (馬馬馬馬) where even modern systems have problems, but rather just that the systems in use by the State are outdated.
I realise I'm a few years late in writing about this. I vaguely recall being aware of it when it was happening, but since it came up and took a fair amount of time from the discussion today I thought it worth revisiting.

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    A semi-academic linguistics blog about Sinotibetan, previously focused primarily on Wú, a Sinitic language spoken in the Yangtze Delta region. Topics now include historical linguistics, documentation, language rights, sociolinguistics and learning materials, as well as acting as the dev blog for Phonemica from time to time.

    I'm a linguist based in Asia, working on documentation and historical development of Sinotibetan. In addition to academic research, I'm heavily involved in Phonemica, an organisation that promotes crowd-sourced preservation of local languages.

    I'm currently in the field, so getting in touch isn't easy. However you can try to email me at the following address and I'll respond as soon as I'm able:

    yhilan.ko@gmail.com
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