Here’s a public-domain script font: Promocyja.
Here’s a public-domain script font: Promocyja.
I’ve just added to Pinyin.info the tenth and final issue (December 1989) of the seminal journal Xin Tang. I strongly encourage everyone to take a look at it and some of the other issues. Copies of this journal are extremely rare; but their importance is such that I’ll be putting all of them online here over the years.
Although I’m giving the table of contents in English, the articles themselves are in Mandarin and written in Pinyin.
The ninth issue of Xin Tang is now available here on Pinyin.info. The journal, which was published in the 1980s, is in and about romanization. By this point in its publication most everything in it was written in Hanyu Pinyin (as opposed to Gwoyeu Romatzyh or another system). Xin Tang is interesting not just as a forum in which one can read original content in Pinyin. It’s also important for the history of Pinyin itself. Over the course of its nearly decade-long run, one can see its authors (including many top people in romanization) working out Pinyin as a real script.
Xin Tang no. 9 (December 1988)
Here’s an English version of the table of contents. Note that the articles themselves are, for the most part, in Mandarin.
The New York Times has just published a profile of Zhou Youguang, who is often called “the father of Pinyin” (though he modestly prefers to stress that others worked with him): A Chinese Voice of Dissent That Took Its Time.
This profile focuses not only on Zhou’s role in the creation of Hanyu Pinyin but also on his political views, which he has become increasingly public with.
About Mao, he said in an interview: “I deny he did any good.” About the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre: “I am sure one day justice will be done.” About popular support for the Communist Party: “The people have no freedom to express themselves, so we cannot know.”
As for fostering creativity in the Communist system, Mr. Zhou had this to say, in a 2010 book of essays: “Inventions are flowers that grow out of the soil of freedom. Innovation and invention don’t grow out of the government’s orders.”
No sooner had the first batch of copies been printed than the book was banned in China.
Although the reporter’s assertion, following the PRC’s official figures, that “China all but stamp[ed] out illiteracy” is well wide of the mark, there is no denying Pinyin’s crucial role in this area. I recommend reading the whole article.
The standard for alphabetically sorting Hanyu Pinyin is given in the ABC dictionary series edited by John DeFrancis and issued by the University of Hawaii Press.
Here’s the basic idea:
The ordering is primarily simply alphabetical. Diacritical marks, punctuation, juncture and capitalization are only taken into account when the strings being compared are otherwise identical. For example, píng’ān sorts before pīnyīn, because pingan sorts before pinyin, because g precedes y alphabetically.
Only when two strings are alphabetically identical is non-alphabetical information taken into account.
The series’ Reader’s Guide presents the specifics of the sort order. Since I don’t have to worry about how much space this takes up on my site, I have reformatted the information slightly to give the examples as numbered lists.
Head entry transcriptions with the same sequence of letters are ordered first strictly by letter sequence regardless of tones, then by initial syllable tone in the sequence 0 1 2 3 4. For entries with the same initial tone, arrangement is by the tone of the second syllable, again in the order 0 1 2 3 4. For example:
shīshi shīshī shīshí shīshǐ shīshì shíshī shíshì shǐshī shìshī
Irrespective of tones, entries with the vowel u precede those with ü.
Entries without apostrophe precede those with apostrophe. For example:
- biàn — argue
- bǐ’àn — the other shore
Lower-case entries precede upper-case entries. For example:
- hòujìn — aftereffect
- Hòu Jìn — Later Jin dynasty
For entries with identical spelling, including tones, arrangement is by order of frequency….
For most users, the most important thing to note is that the neutral tone is regarded as 0, not as 5. Thus, the order is not “ā á ǎ à a,” but “a ā á ǎ à.” And, because lowercase comes before uppercase, not “A a Ā ā Á á Ǎ ǎ À à” but “a A ā Ā á Á ǎ Ǎ à À.”
One can see this in action in the A entries for the ABC English-Chinese, Chinese-English Dictionary. And here are some sample pages from an earlier ABC dictionary.
The ABC series follows the example of the Hanyu Pinyin Cihui (汉语拼音词汇 / 漢語拼音詞彙 / Hànyǔ Pīnyīn Cíhuì) (example), with only one minor difference, as noted by Tom Bishop:
HPC [Hanyu Pinyin Cihui] gave hyphens and spaces the same priority as apostrophes, so that lìgōng sorted before lǐ-gōng, in spite of the tones. Usage of hyphens and spaces in pinyin is still far from being fully standardized. (The same is true in English orthography.) Consequently, for collation it makes sense to give less weight to hyphens and spaces, and more weight to tones, thus sorting lǐ-gōng before lìgōng. In ABC, hyphens and spaces don’t affect the sort order unless they change the pronunciation in the same way that apostrophe would; for example, ¹míng-àn 明暗 and ²míng’àn 冥暗 are treated as homophones, and they sort after mǐngǎn 敏感.
Brasserie is a Pinyin-friendly script font. It’s free for personal use and US$11 for commercial use.
Some of the Pinyin-friendly font families I provide examples of on this blog are fun but not exactly the sort of thing you’d want to use in a book or other serious project. Others, though, are solid examples of the subtle and exacting art of type design. Today’s entry belongs in the latter group.
Brill — a Leiden-based publisher of work in the humanities, social sciences, law, and science — has released “the Brill,” a new font family designed to support the Latin and Greek scripts “to the fullest extent possible.” IPA and the Slavic parts of the Cyrillic range are also covered. This can handle the needs of just about any romanized script, including Hanyu Pinyin.
As someone with Brill explained to me:
Instead of limiting the fonts’ character set to known characters and character-plus-diacritic combinations, we chose a dynamic model in which, using OpenType GPOS features, any base character can carry any diacritic above or below it, and in which diacritics can be stacked as well—not forgetting all the precomposed characters that are already present in the Unicode Standard, of course. Finally, a huge assortment of punctuation marks, editorial marks, and other symbols known to occur in Brill publications were added to the spec.
In total, the Brill contains more than 5,100 characters. And that already immense range can be extended through combining diacritics, as noted above.
Even better, the Brill is free for non-commercial use. You can download it after agreeing to the End User License Agreement license. (See the bottom of that page and then the bottom of the page that follows.)
The Brill is available now in roman and italic styles. Bold and bold italic versions will be released later this year, probably before July.
The Brill is considerably different than Brill Online, which has been available for some time and was aimed at helping users of Brill’s online reference works. Brill Online is based on v. 1.00 of the Gentium family of fonts. The glyph set was extended to support some very rare characters, such as Aegean numbers. “In essence it became a hybrid Latin-Greek-Cyrillic-IPA and ‘pi’ font family.”