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nǔshū writing

Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214816.1999.x


A writing system developed in Jiangyong county, Hunan province, China. Its existence can be traced back to about the fifteenth century ce . A unique feature of this writing is its social distribution: it has always been used exclusively by women in personal correspondence and for recording folk tales for presentation at story-telling gatherings. Hence the name nǔshū ‘female writing’. Like Chinese characters, nǔshū characters each represent a morpheme plus a syllable, but they are quite different in physical appearance ( figure 8 ). The largest corpus of nǔshū data available, collected by Xie Zhimin, contains some 1,700 different characters in 63,000 characters of running text. Reading Xie 1991; Shi 1993. Figure 8 A specimen of nǔshū . The nǔshū characters in the leftmost columns are provided with a phonetic transcription in the Jiangyong dialect (middle) and a transliteration in Chinese characters (right). The superscripts indicate relief tones ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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