cover of 'Corpse Bride' in ChineseThe cover for the DVD for Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (Dìyù X?nniáng / ???? / “Hell Bride”) has what for me is an arresting usage: the roman letter “e” has been incorporated into a Chinese character.
Tim Burton's ['Corpse Bride'] -- in Chinese characters

At first I thought this substitution of “e” for the ? portion of the shì (?) phonetic element of ? (tí) might be meant as playfully phonetic itself: “Teem” Burton, of sorts.

Tím? B?dùn

But then I noticed how Johnny Depp’s name was written:
Johnny Depp's name in Chinese characters

There’s that e again. But this case, the character, ?, which also has its ? element replaced, doesn’t have a long e sound in its pronunciation:

Qiángní Dàip?

“Daipu”? That sounds like a portmanteau for what’s found in dirty diapers. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

So it was just a case of a designer having fun. The e has no phonetic function here.

But there’s something else interesting about how Johnny Depp’s name is written. The first character, ?, takes more strokes to write in its so-called simplified form than in traditional Chinese characters.

traditional (11 strokes) ? ? “simplified” (12 strokes)


  1. I found another of the letter “e” appearing in Chinese characters. In this case it is a clever play on words. See a href=””>my blog for a photo and explanation.

  2. Pingback: David on Formosa » The e in coffee

  3. Pingback: Pinyin news » Blog Archive » S.U.: Surf’s Up

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