Thursday, 10 September 2020

overseas logogram

The peripatetic polyglots at the helm over at Language Log direct us to a host of for the nonce Sinographs from Hong Kong which could be described as neologism—rather neographisms or visual portmanteaux inventing characters by mixing the component parts and meaning-bearers from different glyphs to form something nuanced and paraliteral.  The pictured example seems to borrow selectively from 鎮靜 (zhènjìng, that is combined calm, poised) but taking on a new context in this form as equanimous and not un-dispassionate, unshaken.
As one reader commented, this zhìzào (制造, making characters) is reminiscent of the 1987 publication originally to be entitled Mirror to Analyse the World: The Century’s Final Volume by artist Xu Bing but was instead ultimately called after the Chinese term tiān shū that itself originally was reserved for divinely inspired writing (akin to speaking in tongues) but came to signify gibberish in “A Book from the Sky.” Very much up to the interpretation of the reader, the bound edition limited to a single print run, the book is composed with a set of four-thousand characters (comparable to the lexicon of modern Chinese writing) and imitate natural language on the page in terms of diversity and frequency but are wholly made up, nonsense words, as if a book in a Latin script were filled with Wingdings. The above banners, however, have a meaning and message that can be puzzled out.