Strange chinese character

Don Price's picture

I have encountered a footnote introducing a memoir from China’s 1911 revolution, drafted presumably in 1911. Transliterated, we have the line “. . . (1911) nian suo zuo X gao” (" X draft written in the year 1911). The X is a little blurry, but appears, compared to other characters in the book, to be a simplified character composed of the grain radical on the left and the character zhi (“only”) as phonetic on the right. And from the context, it probably means "original" or "preliminary." As printed, it appears to be in the printer's standard font, but I have not found it in any dictionary nor in the unicode font. Does anybody out there know what it is? I unfortunately have not figured out how to include a snapshot of the character in a posting.

TIA, Don Price

 

Hi Don,

You might find the ROC Ministry of Education's Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants (http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/eng.htm) to be a useful source for such searches. Could the character you describe be variant #2 on http://dict2.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra02944.htm ?

Best regards,
Joe

Without context, I would guess that is is an alternate form of cu1, 粗, rough draft.

I would think it is ji1 积, so “. . . (1911) nian suo zuo X gao”= “. . . (1911) 年所做积稿, meaning the drafts that have been crafted over the years.

If the character is 积, then it is the simplified 積。This it should read 一九一一年所積稿,the text/draft compiled/collected in 1911.

Are you talking about ji1 积/積?

Dear Don,

I don't think you would be stumped by 积, although it is true that googling 積稿 produces a lot of hits that may or may not be relevant.

So let me ask for some clarification. First of all, is the left side 禾 or 米? I assumed the latter at first and did not find anything. Second, I would consider the possibility that this is a way of writing 所作之稿. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to invent a character to replace 之, but if they did, it would explain the phonetic element in your mystery character. Can you find other examples of suo /Verb/ zhi /Noun/ in the document to see whether the author prefers to include the zhi (which is optional in this construction, I think)? If not, my theory is nonproductive. But if the author prefers to include zhi, then all we have to do is figure out why it is written so strangely in this sentence.

Keep us posted!

Stuart

To all the responders: Many thanks. The Ministry of Education dictionary is a fantastic resource that I din't know about, and will enthusiastically recommend to anybody interested. It shows that the 积 character does exist as a variant for 積. This raises all sorts of questions. Were enthusiastic simplifiers sticking unauthorized simplifications into their linotype fonts around 1987 or '89, or was the ms. prepared for publication before that? Were the editor(s) submitting their own handwritten simplifications to the printer? And although the 粗 option is better in context, and considering the blurring of the original, a possibility at a stretch, the question then arises whether this is just a misprint, or a misreading by the printer of the editor's handwritten text. Both alternatives are equally illuminating with regard to the authenticity and reliability of the text, which remains a crucial primary source for me, so all the above questions turn out to be simply a matter of curiosity. Many thanks again.