Saturday, May 7, 2005

Fashionable Chinese Characters

In recent Voice of America's News Chinese section, there is an article about Hanzi Smatter titled "汉字渐成美国年轻人追求时尚"; or in English, "American Youth Consider Chinese Characters Fashionable". (more at and

What I personally found interesting was the last sentence of the article:



According to statistics, currently there are 30 million [non-Chinese] people studying Chinese globally, this number is expected to reach 100 million by 2007.


  1. Is 亿 the simplified form of 億? I am just aware of 億 in Japanese, but I see very little resemblance aside from the 人部首, so I was just curious if you might know the traditional form of 亿.

  2. The traditional form of 亿 is 億.
    There is no resemblance. 乙 is used as a replacement for 意 since they are both used for the yi phonetic (though they have different tones).

  3. Ni Hao!

    In regards to non-Chinese people studying Chinese, I'm one of them. I'm on Level 2, and loving it. When people hear that I'm xuexi Zhongwen, they think it's a great idea because in the industry I'm in, we work directly or indirectly with Chinese factories. I'm a product and packaging designer. Plus you often hear on the news of shifting dynamic of China/US trade with changing dependencies.

  4. Kyle: FYI, it's called にんべん, not 人部首.

  5. Just another non-Chinese studying Chinese checking in. Love the site, keep up the good work, etc


  6. Thank you for this blog...

    I am a big fan of tattoos and of Chinese, but I have never seriously thought of trying to mix the two. I don't really want anything written on me, in any language. Just pictures, please.

    However, I have thought many times about getting "Studid White Girl Can't Read Hanzi" inked on me. I almost think it would be worth it to keep a straight face when I showed it off in the presence of Chinese speakers. "See, it says "Princess! Noble Woman of Good Character! My tattoo artist translated it 'specially for me."

    Still haven't thought it was worth it to go to the trouble or expense, just so that I could be mocked--but then again, I like humor at my own expense rather more than is healthy.

  7. I wonder if you can customize temporary tattoos. If so, then you can get that phrase you want on you without much worry...


    It's a bit long for a tattoo, though.

  8. Make that 30 mil and 1. I begin in the autumn... I want a PhD (it's a few years off) and need a modern language (apparently ancient Greek and Latin don't count as there are no scientific journals published in them currently).

  9. Alternately, that tattoo could read:


  10. hmmm well their horribly ugly simplified characters are not at all fashionable imo.........i have no respect for what theyve done to chinese characters....thank god for taiwan and hong kong

  11. Yes, shame on them for simplifying the most cumbersome writing system in use.

    Sure, some of the simplifies characters miss the visual cues that aid in their recognition (the character for horse comes to mind), but they've made it far more applicable for computer input and output while making the text more legible. I'm all for the simplified characters.

  12. Please excuse my English, I'm the opposite of the majority here. :-) just wanna remind Glenn that you should't use "白女人" here cause that would mean "pale or fair women". that corect phrase should be "女白人". i also think "笨" is a better word than "傻", the later is use mostly on mentally retarded person. me no expert in Mandarin either, may be "Studid White Girl Can't Read Hanzi" can read:


    "金絲貓" literally means blonde pussy cat, not a very nice word for a lady. then again, that girl asking "Studid White Girl Can't Read Hanzi" would prefer this than then other option. XD

  13. I was listening to the Korean radio station Arirang a while back and a guest was on a show saying that the language to learn in the 19th century was French, English was that of the 20th, and by the end of the 21st the most prominent international language will be (Mandarin) Chinese.

    Maybe by then the need for Hanzi Smatter to educate people about these "mysterious and exotic symbols" will be no more...