Nüshu Script Analysis

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Historically, women had been denied access to education and acquiring literacy, resulting in the inability to produce written texts. While this holds true for almost everywhere around the globe, the women in Jiangyong County in Hunan province in Southern China, developed a syllabic script to communicate with each other. While the Nüshu (女书) script shares some features of Chinese characters, a logographic script, the Nüshu script is phonetic and represents syllables of the local dialect, Southern Hananese Tuhua. This script is on the brink of extinction, with the last proficient writer dying in 2004. It is worth investigating the Nüshu script, because it is the only, to this date, documented script that was only intrinsic to women. Therefore,…show more content…
Moreover, this account of oneself offers an unique perspective on how the women saw and chose to portray themselves. Nüshu ballads display certain features, fore mostly an expression of anguish and grievance. Typical Nüshu ballads start by introducing the narrator or writer being by herself and describe the narrators personal suffering to an undefined reader. Their private sufferings are made subject to the public empathy by certain stock phrases. Phrases such as ‘knives cutting the heart (刀割心); gut-wrenching sorrow (肝肠断); crying all through the night (透夜哭); two streams of tears (双流泪); and anguish in the heart (气入心)’ are repeatedly used and convey the felt anguish and grievance. Not only give stock phrases a certain cast for emotions, they also facilitated the learning of the Nüshu script itself. Rote memorisation made it easier to internalise the script. Boussard analyses three ballads in her writing and they may serve as a demonstration of the themes addressed in Nüshu autobiographical writing. The first ballad analysed is written by Gao Yin and thematise the relationship to her son. Gao Yin describes her son as being disrespectful, even abusing her, and eventually abandoning his mother. Another theme is being addressed by Huang Lianzhu in her ballade. Her personal account is filled with grieve over the death of close family members but ends on a positive note. Another example is the ballade of He Huanshu. She describes her relationship to her daughter and how her daughter is forming an identity distinct from her mothers. This analysis of ballads written in the Nüshu text show that a Nüshu practitioner firstly must acquire a sense on how to phrase a Nüshu narrative and there internalises this certain way of representation herself, while, at the same time, sharing very personal and familial accounts of their
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