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Old Fashioned Roman Letters; New-Fangled Macrons and Daiereses


It’s nice that they’ve simplified Chinese from thousands of characters down to PinYin, but there’s no escaping the fact that PinYin is still pretty complicated. You still have those 26 letters left over from the Roman Empire, plus a whole bunch of accents that don’t even appear on a normal keyboard.

This is the digital age, 'scuse me, Digital Age, with capital letters. Isn’t it time to go binary?

Dots and dashes, Morse Code, is the way to go, don’t you think? Binary, unambiguous, and easy to learn. Dot. Dash: There! Now you know the whole alphabet!

Aren’t you glad you asked for my help?


To use binary code to represent chinese is not new and very widespread. Your computer or your mobile phone stores chinese characters as binary code in memory.

For instance the character 好 is represented with the hexadecimal code 597D or in binary the suite of 32 digits 101100101111101.
The problem is that human people cannot memorize such data.

The chinese character is easy to remember “a woman” + “a child” means “good”.

Even the pinyin which may seem easier that chinese character is more ambiguous. There is this well-known poem of the lion in the cave where each character is pronounced shi, it is easy to read the characters but the pinyin is impracticable.


Shíshì shīshì shī shì, shì shī,
shìshí shíshī.
Shī shì shí shíshìshì shì shī, shí shí,
shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì shī shì shì shì.
Shī shì shì shì shí shī, shì shī shì,
shǐ shì shí shī shì shì.
Shī shì shi shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, shī shì shǐ shì shì shíshì,
shí shì shì, shī shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shi shí shì shí shī shī shì shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.

77F3 5BA4 8BD7 …

11000001011011011101001001000101111010111 …

I don’t think you can save the cost of learning chinese characters.

Good try anyway!


What do you mean 101100101111101 is hard to memorise? That’s so easy you don’t even need a machine to do it: a simple pencil and piece of paper can remember it perfectly.

Your “77F3 5BA4 8BD7,” on the other hand, contains all those Roman letters that make it incomprehensible. What are you trying to tell the world?

As for your stone lions, please accept my sympathy for the shame you must feel over the typographical error you have in there, that incorrect accent on the “shi.”

Your 女 and 子meaning “good”? This is misleading on two counts. First, it assumes an audience of people who agree with your peculiar idea that women with children are good. Who says so? How dare you tie the language learning of others to your own peculiar paternalist assumptions!

Second, it runs around the utterly silly circle of constructing foreign, in this case Western, mnemonics for Chinese characters which are themselves already mnemonics. Here 女 and 子 serve to remind you of 好.

{Being serious for just a moment, I think your reply is elegant and sound, and we both agree on the essential bogosity of most of the discussions of Chinese language reform.}