Chinese is one of the oldest still-spoken languages in the world. But when technologies arrived like telegraphy and computing, designed with the Roman alphabet in mind, if Chinese wanted to be able to participate then it had to choose between adapting, or paying a heavy price. And sometimes both were inevitable. Jing Tsu, author of Kingdom of Characters: the Language Revolution that Made China Modern, recounts how Chinese contended with obstacles like alphabetisation, Romanisation and standardisation.
Find out more information about the topics in this episode at theallusionist.org/character, plus a transcript and the full dictionary entry for the randomly selected word.
Sign up to be a patron at patreon.com/allusionist and not only are you supporting independent podcast, you get fortnightly patron-exclusive video livestreams and a Discord community full of language chat, craft pics and word game camaraderie.
The Allusionist is produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. The music is by Martin Austwick. Hear Martin’s own songs via palebirdmusic.com.
Our ad partner is Multitude. To sponsor an episode of the show this year, contact them at multitude.productions/ads. This episode is sponsored by:
• Bombas, whose mission is to make the comfiest clothes ever, and match every item sold with an equal item donated. Go to bombas.com/allusionist to get 20% off your first purchase.
• BetterHelp, online therapy with licensed professional counsellors. Allusionist listeners get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/allusionist.
• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for building and running a sleek website. Go to squarespace.com/allusionist for a free 2-week trial, and get 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain with the code allusionist.
See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.