|Date:||Wednesday, December 20, 2000, 22:57|
For an example of a "woman's language" we have "Nushu"
of the Jiangyong area of Hunan province. Most attention has
been to its writing system, but there are other features as
well. Most was in poetic format, for example. It was
apparently in use exclusively by women for over three
hundred years. Seems built from Chinese, but may have
some Yao features.
It seems established that NuShu in use by local women
for hundreds of years, and generally recounted the woes
of women in rural Chinese society during that period.
Most studies of it have focused on the writing system
which (as some say) looks like a series of "elongated
mosquitos with differing numbers of legs." However,
my efforts to gather info on it give me the impression
that it is not just "rewritten Chinese."
1) it clearly reflects a local dialect in Hunan,
possibly a dialect of Xiang.
2) it may also reflect the minority (non-Han) people
of the area -- Yao.
3) it limits the number of written words, using some
as syllabaries (apparently)
4) it is written in a restrained poetic form, changing
word order, usage etc.
5) it may exhibit archaic features
6) it does not seem to reflect the nature or form of
the standard Chinese characters.
At first, Chinese sources often discounted it, implying
that it could not have been invented by women, and
assuming that it was only some archaic form of Chinese
that was taken by women and simplified for their use.
Secret "gossip" was the presumed motivation.
Several linguists/sociologists (many of them Westerners
or Japanese and many women) have been to the area to
study it. The published results leave many of the "conlang"
issues unresolved, however. Some results are on the web.
One of the better sites:
From Japan: (maybe the best site)
Article by a Chinese:
Zhao, Liming. 1998.
"Nushu: Chinese women's characters." International Journal of the Sociology
of Language 129.
A more journalistic approach:
On videos, films:
Hope this is of interest. --Leo