s=小儿经/小儿锦|t=小兒經/小兒錦|p=Xiǎo'érjīng/Xiǎo'érjǐn|xej= شِيَوْ عَر دٍ
Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin (zh-stp|s=小儿经/小儿锦|t=小兒經/小兒錦|p=Xiǎo'érjīng/Xiǎo'érjǐn, Xiao'erjing: _ar. شِيَوْ عَر دٍ) or, in its shortened form, Xiaojing (zh-stp|s=小经/消经|t=小經/消經|p=Xiǎojīng/Xiāojīng) is the practice of writing
Sinitic languagessuch as Mandarin (especially the Lanyin, Zhongyuan and Northeastern dialects) or the Dungan languagein the Arabic script. 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 Dungandescendants 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 languagein 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.
Xiao'erjing does not have a standard name to which it can be referred. In
Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, eastern Shaanxiand 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 Shaanxiand 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.
Since the arrival of
Islamduring 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 Muslims 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 starting using the Arabic alphabet for Chinese. This was often done by writing notes in Chinese to aid in the memorisation of surahs. This method was also used to write Chinese translations of Arabic vocabulary learnt in the madrasas. Thus, a system of writing the Chinese language with Arabic script gradually developed and standardised to some extent. Currently, the oldest known artefact showing signs of Xiao'erjing is a stone stele in the courtyard of Daxue Xixiang Mosque in Xi'anin 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, 1339and June 26, 1340).
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.
In recent years, the usage of Xiao'erjing is nearing extinction due to the growing economy of the
People's Republic of Chinaand the improvement of the education of Chinese characters in rural areas of China. Chinese characters along with Hanyu Pinyin have since replaced Xiao'erjing. Since the mid 1980s, there have been much scholarly work done within and outside China concerning Xiao'erjing. On-location research has been conducted and the users of Xiao'erjing have been interviewed. Written and printed materials of Xiao'erjing were also collected by researchers, the ones at Nanjing Universitybeing the most comprehensive.
Xiao'erjing has 36 letters, 4 of which are used to represent
vowelsounds. The 36 letters consists of 28 letters borrowed from Arabic, 4 letters borrowed from Persian along with 2 modified letters, and 4 extra letters unique to Xiao'erjing.
Vowels in Arabic and Persian loans follow their respective orthographies, namely, only the long vowels are represented and the short vowels are omitted. Although the sukuun () can be omitted when representing Arabic and Persian loans, it cannot be omitted when representing Chinese. The exception being that of oft-used monosyllabic words which can have the sukuun omitted from writing. For example, when emphasised, "的" and "和" are written as "دِ" and " ﺣَ"; when unemphasised, they can be written with the sukuuns as "دْ" and " ﺣْ", or without the sukuuns as "د" and " ﺣ". Similarly, the sukuun can also represent the Chinese -IPA| [ŋ] final. This is sometimes replaced by the fatHatan ().In polysyllabic words, the final 'alif ( ﺎ) that represents the long vowel -ā can be omitted and replaced by a fatHah () representing the short vowel -ă.Xiao'erjing is similar to Hanyu Pinyin in the respect that words are written as one, while a space is inserted between words. When representing Chinese words, the shaddah sign represents a doubling of the entire syllable on which it rests. It has the same function as the Chinese
iteration mark"々".Arabic punctuation marks can be used with Xiao'erjing as can Chinese punctuation marks, they can also be mixed (Chinese pauses and periods with Arabic commas and quotation marks).
Article 1 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rightsin Xiao'erjing, simplified and traditional Chinese characters, Hanyu Pinyin and English:
*Chinese characters (simplified): _zh. “人人生而自由，在尊严和权利上一律平等。他们赋有理性和良心，并应以兄弟关系的精神互相对待。”
*Chinese characters (traditional): _zh. 「人人生而自由，在尊嚴和權利上一律平等。他們賦有理性和良心，並應以兄弟關係的精神互相對待。」
*Hanyu Pinyin: "Rénrén shēng ér zìyóu, zài zūnyán hé quánlì shàng yílǜ píngděng. Tāmen fù yǒu lǐxìng hé liángxīn, bìng yīng yǐ xiōngdiguānxì de jīngshén hùxiāng duìdài."
*English: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
Aljamiado— the practise of writing Romance languages using Hebrew or Arabic script
Islam in China
* "Xiaojing Qur'an" Dongxiang County, Lingxia autonomous prefecture, Gansu, PRC
* "Huijiao Bizun" 154 pp, photocopied edition.
* Muhammad Musah Abdulihakh. "Islamic faith Q&A" 2nd ed. Beiguan Street Mosque, Xining, Qinghai, PRC, appendix contains a Xiao'erjing-Hanyu Pinyin-Arabic alphabet comparison chart.
* Feng Zenglie. "Beginning Dissertation on Xiao'erjing: Introducing a phonetic writing system of the Arabic script adopted for Chinese" in "The Arab World" Issue #1. 1982.
* Chen Yuanlong. "The Xiaojing writing system of the Dongxiang ethnicity" in "China's Dongxiang ethnicity". People's Publishing House of Gansu. 1999.
* [http://www.aa.tufs.ac.jp/~kmach/xiaoerjin/xiaoerjin-e.htm Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Xiao-Er-Jin Corpus Collection and Digitization Project]
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