Thursday, 27 June 2019


Much like Emperor Claudius believed he vastly improved Latin orthography with his contribution of three new letters (namely Ⅎ for the w-sound, Ↄ for the ps and bs plosives and a Ⱶ, a half of an haitch that is of disputed meaning), seventh century Chinese Empress Wu Zetian imposed somewhere between a dozen and thirty new characters as a demonstration of her power and influence.
In both cases, use of the new characters was mandated but quickly were abandoned and reverted to their old style of writing (see also) after their reigns ended, though unlike with the Romans, a few of the so called Zeitan characters have been incorporated into modern usage. For example, the Empress wanted the term xīng, star to be rendered as 〇 instead of 星, with the former ideogram now representing the number zero, and Wu thought the perfectly cromulent way of expessing a person (rén, 人) should be articulated 𤯔, that is the ideogram for life capped with numeral one to convey the aphorism that everyone only lives once, adopted for contemporary parlance