rice pizza = ‘mizza’

advertising photo of Pizza Hut's rice pizza; the copy reads '?zza ???????fun'Something written with three different scripts (Chinese characters, zhuyin, and the roman alphabet) is very much the sort of thing that attracts my attention, as is a product that mixes scripts in its name. So this ad for a new product from Taiwan’s Pizza Hut definitely caught my eye, though it did not inspire me to actually taste the item being touted, which is a rice pizza. (Generally, I do not care for pizzas with Taiwanese characteristics, such as those with peas, corn, or squid. For that matter, I don’t even like pineapple on pizza.)

The name for this rice pizza, “?zza” (m?zza), is a portmanteau — using two different languages and two different scripts, no less. ? is the Chinese character for m?, which is used mainly in rice- and other grain-associated words. The second part of the word comes, of course, from “pizza.”

Let’s move on to the slogan:

?zza ????? ??fun

In romanization, this is

m?zza: ch?o h?ng m?iwèi — x?nxi?n fun

Here we have Chinese characters (?zza ???????fun), zhuyin (?zza ???????fun), and the Roman alphabet (?zza ???????fun). Three scripts in just one line! (Yes, yes, I know that a line in written Japanese will often have just as many scripts, if not more; but this is Mandarin.)

The zhuyin, ??, represent h?ng, a new slang word that, according to several people I have asked, has appeared within the last five years at most. It means “hot” in the sense of “extremely popular right now.”

Also, there’s a possibility that the English word “fun” is meant to echo the Mandarin fàn (? / ?/ “rice”). Such puns across languages are not uncommon here, especially in local Internet slang.

So, the whole slogan might be translated as “Rice pizza: the super-‘hot’ delicious food — fresh, new fun.” Sorry, that’s not a very good translation; it works better in Mandarin.

I predict such portmanteaux and mixing will be increasingly common here in Taiwan, where code switching is a way of life for many people. “M?zza” could be the wave of the future — just not the culinary future, I hope.

source: Taiwan Pizza Hut menu page, accessed January 30, 2007

ensure zhuyin is taught thoroughly: education official

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education is worried that with so many students entering first grade already knowing zhuyin fuhao, having learned it from their parents or at a buxiban (cram school) or preschool, some teachers are neglecting to ensure that all their students have a thorough grounding in this script. Since zhuyin is used to help teach students Chinese characters, a lack of proficiency in reading zhuyin could severely hamper a child’s ability to perform well in school.

I’ve seen reports from China of related worries there — but regarding Pinyin, not zhuyin, of course.

The original article in Chinese characters is no longer online, so I’m supplying the full text in Pinyin (which is all I have now).

K?ixué le, duì xi?o y? x?nsh?ng láishu?, zhùy?n fúhào shì y?wén l?ngyù de zhòngdi?n, yu? x? shàngkè 10 zh?u, què y?n bùsh?o yòuzhìyuán y? tíqián ji?o guò, bùfen xi?o y? l?osh? y? du?shù xuésheng y? xuéhuì, lüèguò bù ji?o. Jiàoyùbù zuóti?n zh?ch?, rúgu? y?u zhèizh?ng qíngxing, ji?zh?ng y?ngg?i xiàng l?osh? hé xuéxiào f?nyìng.

Ji? nián y?guàn kèchéng gu?dìng, xi?o y? shàng xuéq? jiùyào shúxí, rèn dú, zhèngquè sh?xi? zhùy?n fúhào y?jí p?ny?n f?ngf?, Jiàoyùbù guójiào s? gu?nyuán bi?oshì, w?ngnián d?u y?u bùsh?o ji?zh?ng tóusù, bàoyuàn xi?o y? de l?osh? y?nwèi b?n shàng du?shù xuésheng y?jing xuéhuì zhùy?n fúhào, sh?nglüè bù ji?o, y?ngxi?ng qít? xuésheng de shòujiào quán.

Jiàoyùbù zh?ngy?ng kèchéng y? ji?oxué y?wén k? f?d?o z?xún l?osh? Wú Huì-hu? zh?ch?, shàngxué q?yu? y?u 21 dào 22 zh?u, g?njù kèchéng ?npái, xi?o y? zhùy?n fúhào yào shàng 10 zh?u, zh?hòu l?osh? huì k?ish? ji?o guózì.

Wú Huì-hu? shu?, gè b?nb?n kèb?n y?ugu?n zhùy?n fúhào jiàof? bùtóng, xiànzài y? h?n sh?o ànzhào zìm? shùnxù, y?ude zhào m?y?n, y?ude zé ànzhào kèb?n nèiróng, rú “xi?o bái’é, ài chàngg?” zh?ng, huì xi?n ji?o b?jiào ji?nd?n de “?” “?” d?ng, bùsh?o l?osh? dàgài lìyòng 8, 9 zh?u shàng wán, ji?zhe tì xuésheng fùxí.

Wú Huì-hu? shu?, bùsh?o ji?zh?ng pà l?osh? bù ji?o zhùy?n fúhào, háizi sh? zài q?p?oxiàn shàng, y?nc? shàng yòuzhìyuán shí, huò xi?o y? rùxué qián, jiùràng háizi xi?n xué, huò qù b?xí.

G?njù gu?nchá, xi?o y?sh?ng yu? y?u 6, 7 chéng y? huì zhùy?n fúhào, dàn chéngdu luòch? h?n dà, bùsh?o xuésheng kàn le huì niàn, dàn p?nxi? bù ch?lai.

Wú Huì-hu? bi?oshì, jísh? b?n shàng y?bàn y?shàng xuésheng d?u y? xuéhuì zhùy?n fúhào, l?osh? háishi y?ngg?i ànzhào kèbi?o shàngkè, yóuqí bùnéng fàngqì hái bù huì de xuésheng, gèng yào zhùyì chéngdu shàng de luòch?.

Zhùy?n fúhào jí p?nzì shì guówén zhòngyào j?ch?, Wú Huì-hu? shu?, ji?zh?ng m?iti?n k? hu? y?di?n shíji?n, yào háizi l?ngdú shàngkè de nèiróng, tì háizi fùxí, duì háizi xuéxíhuì y?u b?ngzhù, dàn bùbì tài ji?ol?, bùx? wéixué zhùy?n fúhào qù b?xí.

source: Xi?o y? bù ji?o zhùy?n — ji?zh?ng k? f?nyìng (?????? ?????), September 1, 2006

Courage… Cabnap… Grunplitk: zhuyin and the movie Fearless

Many Westerners are so attracted by Chinese characters, which tend to be absurdly exoticized as symbols [sic] or ideograms [sic] of deep meaning, that they place them here and there as if they were some sort of pixie dust that bestows coolness upon any object (or body). Often when they do so, they write these characters incorrectly or are mistaken about their meaning, as Tian of Hanzi Smatter continues to note. But you’d think that at least those who make trailers for Chinese movies would be a little better informed.

Fearless (Mandarin title: Huò Yuánji? / ???), which is billed as Jet Li’s final martial-arts movie, has been out in Asia since January but won’t reach the States until later this year. (I have no plans to see this movie, which appears from the trailer to be a string of the usual clichés. And, anyway, I have yet to forgive Jet Li for appearing in Hero, which is probably the biggest cinematic valentine to totalitarianism since Triumph of the Will.) One of the trailers for Fearless features a number of Chinese characters. They’re even written correctly. But, oddly enough, interspersed with the Chinese characters are zhuyin fuhao, also known as bopo mofo, a semi-syllabic script used in Taiwan mainly to help teach children to read. Odder still, the zhuyin make absolutely no sense.

Here’s how Taiwanonymous, on whose site I found this story, puts it:

Intercut with scenes from the movie was a burnt-yellow background, suggesting aged parchment, with Chinese characters flying past. Along with the Chinese characters were some Mandarin phonetic symbols (zhuyin fuhao ????). It’s bad enough that they included phonetic symbols (which are mainly used in Children’s books) in the flying sea of what wanted to be an ancient Chinese text, but the symbols flew past in strings of gibberish! Imagine the following text dramatically moving across the screen, “Integrity… Peace… Courage… Cabnap… Grunplitk… Uwsugls.” Gives you chills just thinking about it.

Here’s a screenshot from the trailer:
gibberish zhuyin in the background

Just below COMING SOON is a giant ?. For something written in English this would be the equivalent of putting a large letter G on the screen.

Along the right side of the screen is the following, in zhuyin fuhao: ?????. This, in Hanyu Pinyin, would be “maixrici,” which is complete gibberish. The other vertical lines of text are also nonsense in zhuyin fuhao.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with how these are written. It’s just that they’re no more meaningful than a random string of letters.

Here’s one more shot:
gibberish zhuyin in the background
The zhuyin fuhao on the left read, from top to bottom, ?????, which would be “chjktp” in Hanyu Pinyin. As I think should be obvious even to those who don’t know Mandarin or any other Sinitic language, this is simply nonsense.


bopomofo: the band

I suppose it was inevitable: a Taiwan band named after bopomofo (a.k.a. zhuyin fuhao), the semi-syllabic script still used in Taiwan schools in place of a romanization system. I need to remember to ask Poagao or Sandy of David Chen and the Muddy Basin Ramblers if the band is any good.

So, does anyone know if anyone in China or elsewhere has named a band after Pinyin? So-and-so and the Hanyu Pinyins might work for a doo-wop group; but I’m guessing that particular musical style has never really taken off in China. So there’s probably not much hope either for “Y.R. Chao and the Gwoyeu Romatzyhs.” But maybe a punk or metal band could name itself Tongyong.

via The Real Taiwan blog