PROJECT 201902Speculations on a (non-existing) Chinese Personal Pronoun
This character is not made up by myself, but exists. Not in typesets, not in dictionaries, not even in the minds of all people who are native Chinese speakers. Nevertheless, this character – even it's absence – causes confusion. In this short essay, I want to point out the relevance of such a phenomenon by using ethnographic, ontological and speculative means.
Chinese has some confusing and at the same time interesting details to offer, that easily to stay hidden. Ni 你 means “you” and is – in mainland China – always written like that. There is the variation nin 您, comparable to the german “Sie”, but not used as often. Only in Taiwan there is also the (female) variant 妳 used but interestingly at the same time the use of the female variant ta 她 is seldom.
I will come back to this. Anyhow, the main examples used in this essay will be the characters ta (她, 他) and variations.
The personal pronoun ta (fig. 1) component for man and masculine as well as a (linguistically-historically explainable) phonetic component. The phonetic component is the same in ta femininum and ta neutrum. Although this component has no influence on the meaning of the character, it shall be mentioned that in the Shuowen Jiezi 說文解字 , this was described as the character for female genetalia.
To be continued.