Xiao'erjing

Chinese romanization
Mandarin
for Standard Mandarin
    Hanyu Pinyin (ISO standard)
    EFEO
    Gwoyeu Romatzyh
        Spelling conventions
    Latinxua Sin Wenz
    Mandarin Phonetic Symbols II
    Chinese Postal Map Romanization
    Tongyong Pinyin
    Wade–Giles
    Yale
    Legge romanization
    Simplified Wade
    Comparison chart
for Sichuanese Mandarin
    Sichuanese Pinyin
    Scuanxua Ladinxua Xin Wenz
Yue
for Standard Cantonese
    Guangdong Romanization
    Hong Kong Government
    Jyutping
    Meyer-Wempe
    Sidney Lau
    S. L. Wong (phonetic symbols)
    S. L. Wong (romanisation)
    Standard Cantonese Pinyin
    Standard Romanization
    Yale
    Barnett–Chao
Wu
for Shanghai and Suzhou dialects
    Long-short
Min Nan
for Taiwanese, Amoy, and related
    Pe̍h-oē-jī
    Daighi tongiong pingim
    Modern Literal Taiwanese
    Phofsit Daibuun
    Pumindian
    Tâi-lô
    TLPA
for Hainanese
    Hainanhua Pinyin Fang'an
for Teochew
    Peng'im
Min Dong
for Fuzhou dialect
    Foochow Romanized
Hakka
for Moiyan dialect
    Kejiahua Pinyin Fang'an
For Siyen dialect
    Phak-fa-s
Gan
for Nanchang dialect
    Pha̍k-oa-chhi
See also:
   General Chinese
   Cyrillization
   Xiao'erjing
   Bopomofo
   Taiwanese kana
   Romanisation in Singapore
   Romanisation in the ROC
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Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "Children's script" (), is the practice of writing Sinitic languages such as Mandarin (especially the Lanyin, Zhongyuan and Northeastern dialects) or the Dungan language in the Arabic script.[1][2][3][4] It is used on occasion by many ethnic minorities who adhere to the Islamic faith in China (mostly the Hui, but also the Dongxiang, and the Salar), and formerly by their Dungan descendants in Central Asia. Soviet writing reforms forced the Dungan to replace Xiao'erjing with a Roman orthography and later a Cyrillic one, which they continue to use up until today.

Xiao'erjing is written from right to left, as with other writing systems based on the Arabic alphabet. The Xiao'erjing writing system is similar to the present writing system of the Uyghur language in that all the vowels are explicitly marked at all times. This is in contrast to the practice of omitting the short vowels in the majority of the languages for which the Arabic script has been adopted (like Arabic, Persian, and Urdu). This is possibly due to the overarching importance of the vowel in a Chinese syllable.

Nomenclature

Xiao'erjing does not have a standard name to which it can be referred. In Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, eastern Shaanxi and also Beijing, Tianjin, and the Northeastern provinces, the script is referred to as "Xiǎo'érjīng", which when shortened becomes "Xiǎojīng" or "Xiāojīng" (the latter "Xiāo" has the meaning of "to review" in the aforementioned regions). In Ningxia, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, western Shaanxi and the Northwestern provinces, the script is referred to as "Xiǎo'érjǐn". The Dongxiang people refer to it as the "Dongxiang script" or the "Huihui script"; The Salar refer to it as the "Salar script"; The Dungan of Central Asia used a variation of Xiao'erjing called the "Hui script", before abandoning the Arabic script for Latin and Cyrillic. According to A. Kalimov, a famous Dungan linguist, however, the Dungan of the former Soviet Union called this script щёҗин (xiaojing).

Origins

Since the arrival of Islam during the Tang Dynasty (beginning in the mid-7th century), many Arabic or Persian speaking people migrated into China. Centuries later, these peoples assimilated with the native Han Chinese, forming the Hui ethnicity of today. Many Chinese Muslim students attended madrasas to study Classical Arabic and the Qur'an. Because these students had a very basic understanding of Chinese characters but would have a better command of the spoken tongue once assimilated, they started using the Arabic alphabet for Chinese. This was often done by writing notes in Chinese to aid in the memorization of surahs. This method was also used to write Chinese translations of Arabic vocabulary learned in the madrasas. Thus, a system of writing the Chinese language with Arabic script gradually developed and standardized to some extent. Currently, the oldest known artifact showing signs of Xiao'erjing is a stone stele in the courtyard of Daxue Xixiang Mosque in Xi'an in the province of Shaanxi. The stele shows inscribed Qur'anic verses in Arabic as well as a short note of the names of the inscribers in Xiao'erjing. The stele was done in the year AH 740 in the Islamic calendar (between July 9, 1339 and June 26, 1340). Some old Xiao'erjing manuscripts (along with other rare texts including those from Dunhuang) are preseved in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (former Leningrad branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies) in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Usage

Xiao'erjing can be divided into two sets, the "Mosque system", and the "Daily system". The "Mosque system" is the system used by pupils and imams in mosques and madrasahs. It contains much Arabic and Persian religious lexicon, and no usage of Chinese characters. This system is relatively standardised, and could be considered a true writing system. The "Daily system" is the system used by the less educated for letters and correspondences on a personal level. Often simple Chinese characters are mixed in with the Arabic alphabet, mostly discussing non-religious matters, and therewith relatively little Arabic and Persian loans. This practice can differ drastically from person to person. The system would be devised by the writer himself, with one's own understanding of the Arabic and Persian alphabets, mapped accordingly to one's own dialectal pronunciation. Often, only the letter's sender and the letter's receiver can understand completely what is written, while being very difficult for others to read. Unlike Hui muslims in other areas of China, Muslims of the northwest provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu had no knowledge of the Han Kitab or Classical Chinese, they used xiaoerjing.[5] Xiaoerjing was used to annotate in Chinese, foriegn language Islamic documents in languages like Persian.[6]