2017-01-15

周有光

周有光, Zhōu Yǒuguāng, passed away yesterday. He is famous for being the head of the committee which invented Hànyǔ Pīnyīn. Pīnyīn is the most widely used method of writing Standard Chinese in a Latin script alphabet, as well as the only official such system in the People's Republic of China. Pīnyīn is purely based on the sounds of the language, rather than roots or meaning. Each consonant sound is matched to a single letter or combination of letters, while each mark above a vowel represents a specific tone (tone marking is sometimes eliminated for typing convenience, but this is considered bad practice). The vowels are more complicated (see the Wikipedia page for a more accurate and expanded explanation), but there still is a one-to-one correspondence between sound and spelling. For example, Pīnyīn is actually the Pīnyīn representation of 漢語 (or 汉语 in simplified characters). 漢 is represented by "pīn", while 語 is represented by "yīn". 周有光 breaks down as 周 = "zhōu", 有 = "yǒu", 光 = "guāng".
The project of creating the script took several years before it was published by the government in 1958. This project helped 周有光 avoid being purged, but, like other intellectuals, he was sent to live in the countryside for “re-education” during the Cultural Revolution. He turned 111 the day before he died.
Pictures:
1920s With his wife in 1953
In 2012

2016-09-24

Macau Champurado and Artifexian

It's good to be back! I haven't posted since... February! I am going to try to post more often, but I can't promise that things like this will not happen again. I have my own conworld projects and have things to do offline (maybe even this strange thing called "getting a life").
Speaking of hiatuses, Dóci Papiaçám di Macau released a new video, 11 months after their previous one. If you forgot or don't know what Dóci Papiaçám di Macau is, I suggest reading this post first. The video is about a group of tourists who come to see Macau. The tour guides sing about the hip, international city of money and shiny things marketed to tourists. The tourists protest, so the guides show them the real Macau: the ruins of St. Paul, the old streets in which people live, places of worship, the food that locals have eaten for generations, etc. I wish more tourists thought like them, rather than the one Chinese tourist in the video who just complained all the time.
On the other hand, Artifexian, the conworlding channel of YouTube that inspired my second post, appears to be on an indefinite hiatus:
Links to things discussed in the video:
RIAM Official: https://goo.gl/eK2sh5
Artifexian Podcast: http://goo.gl/qh9YVt

2016-02-20

Species of Kårroť: Work In Progress

East and West Ocean refers to the cultural division between the people near the different oceans: for most of history, East and West have been isolated from each other by long stretches of dense jungle, mountains and desert. When land animals are referred as living in X Ocean, it means that they live on the land of the X side.

Animals:
Humans are a large, bipedal land species of intelligent beings. They are found in all climates except for the poles. Humans are the only sapient species of the East Ocean.
Octosquid are a large, tentacled species which can change colour and shape at will. They can breathe above water, but they are most suited to saline underwater habitats. They are sapient.
Tikres are a carnivorous species resembling a damselfly about 60 centimetres long.
Horses are a group of various large, cloven quadrupeds which are adapted to different habitats:
  • Eastern horses look very similar to the destrier of 15th century Europe in terms of size and shape. They feed mainly on various grasses and grains. They are common throughout the East Ocean and the adjacent parts of the West Ocean. They can breed with Forest horses to produce infertile offspring, and can breed with Woolly horses to produce fertile offspring. They cannot breed with Western horses at all.
  • Northern horses are not recognised as a category of horse by Caurrochan biologists. They live in the northwest side of the East Ocean.
    • Forest horses are small and furry, about 10-11 hands tall. They are much thinner than regular horses, as they are adapted to the dense growth of trees. They tend to be pale to light brown (not using equine terminology). They are only found in Ourinaso, where they are the main form of transportation. Their coat of hair is thick comparative to horses, being about 2.3 centimetres long. Despite being weaker over all than other horses, their legs are more resistant to damage and wear and tear than other species. They can breed with Woolly horses to produce infertile offspring which usually die shortly after birth.
    • Woolly horses are, at 19 to 24 hands, towering giants compared to other horses as well as humans. They live north of Ourinaso. These are the only horses which have not been domesticated.
  • Western horses are stockier and shorter than their Eastern counterpart, but they are still larger than the forest horses.

Plants:
Sweetgrass is a tall grass plant. It has large husks and seeds, which are small for an Earth cereal but large for a grass in general. The interior parts of the husk are very sweet. They are often hardened by drying and then ground up along with their seeds to make a coarse flour. It is considered the most important staple crop of the East Ocean.
The common dandelion is an orangish pseudanthium. It is the only domesticated dandelion that is in wide use. The flower head and leaves are rich in vitamins A, C and D, as well as calcium. The root is ground up and roasted to make dandelion matcha. In the Varikèvi Plain, dandelion flower heads are a common ingredient in both raw and cooked food. Extracts from the leaves are a basic ingredient in various medicines.
The killer bush is a bush found in the eastern side of the East Ocean, about 40 to 50 centimetres tall. The ideal conditions for growing it are in a somewhat warm, moist area - a humid subtropical climate (Köppen - Cfa) - but the plant can also grow in hotter and drier climates. The bush has creamy white flowers, about 2-5 centimetres in diameter, with 5 or 6 petals and 8 sepals. The flower is noted for its strong scent, which is primarily composed of methyl dihydrojasmonate, opiates, and vanillin, attracts various creatures. The petals, which are unusually fleshy, have particularly high concentrations of narcotics and sedative compounds. There are also trace amounts of prunasin, amygdalin and anatoxin-a, which are all types of neurotoxin. In addition, the plant secretes lead. This combination causes humans and animals of similar or smaller mass to die instantly after consuming the petals. The roots are capable of slow movement, which allows them to move to the surface and absorb nutrients from the rotting corpses of the animals. The rot also attracts insects, which pollinate the bush. The roots have miniature teeth-like structures that allow them to cut flesh and destroy the roots of young plants. Because of this, very few plants grow near the bush. Plants with very thin roots that do not extend deep into the ground are generally safe. The flowers and wood of the plant are rare luxury goods.

Mushrooms:
(All mushrooms contain low to medium amounts of psilocybin)
The capped seal is a saprotrophic mushroom. It is white with a flat light brown cap (sometimes with white spots), free gills, and a ring. The spore print is cream, and the stipe becomes bluish when bruised. Age causes the stipe to turn yellow and the cap to darken. It has a wide rhizome from which multiple hard roots stem. It is not psychoactive when cooked. Capped seal grows best in humid continental area, but is often grown in subtropical other temperate climates. This mushroom is the most common source of psilocybin-high mushroom extracts, which are used in dandelion matcha. The capped seal is also commonly baked or eaten raw. Many cultures prohibit eating the roots, probably due to its tendency to be high in metals. It is dangerous to feed it to small children when raw.