Talk:Yi script

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Chinese script and Yi script[edit]

"There is some internal evidence that the Chinese script may not have been originally designed for the Chinese language. Thus we cannot conclude that the Yi got the idea of writing from the Chinese. Indeed, some age estimates would make Yi the older of the two; it's also possible that they derive from a common source."

What is this evidence and where does the suggestion ("some estimates") come from that Yi script is the older of the two? Yi script according to this article has an attested history of 500 years, while the Chinese script has an attested history of more than 3000 years!

I suggest to delete the sentences quoted above. Babelfisch 02:04, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm going on Dingxu Shi's article "The Yi Script" in The World's Writing Systems, Daniels & Bright eds., 1996. Shi gives no reference for this particular statement, but has half a dozen (mostly Chinese) sources in the bibliography. The passage says,
The Yi characters ... have an attested history of five hundred years and an estimated history of up to five thousand years.
I have no idea what the evidence is for these estimates, so I wouldn't object to deleting them. (I would have quoted primary sources if I had them.) I also think my version could stand some sever copy editing. However, I think that the point about Yi not necessarily being derived from Chinese should remain. There's a general if unspoken assumption that because the Han Chinese have been culturally dominant for the past couple millennia, cultural similarities in neighboring minority peoples (such as the Yi script) must either be borrowed from the Han, or based on a Han prototype -- forgetting that the Han were themselves once a nomadic minority adapting cultural innovations from their neighbors.
As for the evidence of the Chinese script (or at least the Oracle Script) not fitting the Chinese language well (specifically the morphology of transitivity, I believe), I don't have a reference offhand. However, there is a comment to the same effect in the Hmong article,
The Liangzhu people are credited with creating proto-characters for today's Chinese, Korean, and Japanese characters.
The Liangzhu are said to be the likely ancestors of Jiuli, the first known Miao kingdom, and not ancestral to the Huaxia and therefore the Han Chinese. Certainly the possibility exists that if the (Han) Zhou overthrew a non-Han Shang dynasty, and that some of these people (Miao or not) then emigrated south, they could have carried their script with them, and this could have been the origin of the Yi script. Who knows, the Shang might even have been the Tibeto-Burman ancestors of the Yi. All speculation, of course, but it's equally speculative that the Yi got the idea of writing from the Han 500 years ago. kwami 03:04, 2005 May 20 (UTC)
P.S. Found the statement, "Shang Dynasty people, like the people under ancient Fuxi the Ox Tamer, belonged to the Yi tribal group." on the web, so the idea seems to be floating around. Also, the Hmong article states, "Furthermore, under China's ethnic unification policy, Chiyou [the king of Jiuli] is now also regarded as one of China's forefathers alongside the ethnic Han ancestors, Huangdi and Yandi."


This page could really use some images to show what the script looks like! --Reuben 04:03, 23 December 2005 (UTC)


It would be great if someone could create a table of each character and its meaning/pronunciation. Also, is the term "Pinyin" correct here? Is it really pinyin, or should the section be changed to "romanization"? --LakeHMM 06:05, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

You can get the glyphs from the Unicode charts, if you don't mind transfering them!
I'm not sure 'Pinyin' is exactly right, but it is specifically an extension of Pinyin. ("Extended Pinyin" perhaps?) Better than 'romanization', which is almost meaningless. The romanization used here is the official one, an example of how Pinyin has been extended to minority languages in China. (In Shanghainese, for example, the "muddy" consonants are written bb, dd, gg, etc.) kwami 07:53, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Cannot read[edit]

In the article Yi script, my screen showed only "????? ?? ?? ? ? ? ?". What shall I do/install to read the Yi script? L joo 18:59, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

I can't read it either. I only get a bunch of boxes. Pretty much useless for both of us. --MacRusgail 19:45, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Download a pan-unicode font such as Code2000. --anonymous 16:01, 15 October 2006
Vista supports Yi script, providing both a font and an IME, so the page should diplay OK out of the box if you have Vista or Windows 7. Otherwise, you need to install a Unicode font that supports Yi, such as Code2000. BabelStone (talk) 15:58, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Windows 2007 also supports Yi script. Apparently, it's possible to see the Yi Unicode script at without needing to download any Yi fonts at all. I wonder how they accomplished that. --Jose77 (talk) 04:48, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
The page uses an automatically downloaded web font (if your browser supports the technology). BabelStone (talk) 09:15, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Correct use of IPA[edit]

An ideosyncratic version of IPA is used on this article, characters like [ɿ] don't exist in standard IPA. What do they mean? Also, is [u̱] really supposed to be a lowered version of [u] (and thus, a bit similar to [ʊ])? Among them is also the pseudo-IPA character [ȵ], which I suppose should be [ɲ]. Someone knowledgable about Yi and IPA should replace them by standard characters. — N-true (talk) 20:38, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

Not idiosyncratic, but following the variant system of IPA that is standard in China, and that is widely used in Sinonological publications. Although they are not strict IPA, as they are the characters that are most widely used in the phonetic transcription of Yi I think that there is no need to convert them to strict IPA. BabelStone (talk) 20:53, 19 June 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Thanks. I still opt for the conversion to the international standard instead of leaving them in the Chinese way. Outside of China and Chinese publications (or publications on Chinese), these characters are not used. Also, it's claimed that the IPA is used, which doesn't include these characters officially. I'll see if I find the corresponding IPA characters and change the article (later, not now). — N-true (talk) 08:49, 2 July 2010 (UTC)


Is it me or is this alphabet way more complicated than it should be? What was the design philosophy? I can barely find a pattern in it. Angry bee (talk) 06:12, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

It's more like Japanese kana system in which each character stands for a syllable. There's no rule to generate each sign for the syllable (unlike amharic alphabet). Originally Yi script is more like Chinese scripts as hieroglyph, but in around 1950s the characters are re-used to make a syllabary system. (talk) 13:44, 6 February 2012 (UTC)