The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language Through Emoji

The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language Through Emoji

The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language Through Emoji

The Hanmoji Handbook: Your Guide to the Chinese Language Through Emoji


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Learn Chinese with a new twist! This full-color illustrated handbook introduces and explains Han characters and idioms through the language of emoji.

Even though their dates of origin are millennia apart, the languages of Chinese and emoji share similarities that the average smartphone user might find surprising. These “hanmoji” parallels offer an exciting new way to learn Chinese—and a fascinating window into the evolution of Chinese Han characters. Packed with fun illustrations and engaging descriptions, The Hanmoji Handbook brings to life the ongoing dialogue between the visual elements of Chinese characters and the language of emoji. At once entertaining and educational, this unique volume holds sure appeal for readers who use emojis, anyone interested in learning Chinese, and those who love quirky, visual gift books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781536230468
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 10/17/2023
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 536,015
Product dimensions: 7.56(w) x 9.13(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jennifer 8. Lee is a vice-chair of the Unicode emoji subcommittee and cofounder of Emojination, a grassroots group that advocates for more inclusive and representative emoji. She is also a former New York Times reporter, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, and producer of the documentaries The Search for General Tso and The Emoji Story. Jennifer 8. Lee runs the Plympton literary studio and is from New York City.

An Xiao Mina is a creative strategist, writer, and artist whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Economist, the Atlantic, and Fast Company. She's worked at the intersection of technology and culture for more than a decade at places like Meedan, Hyperallergic, and Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. The author of Memes to Movements, she splits her time between New York and California.

Jason Li is an independent designer, artist, and educator. His practice revolves around promulgating bottom-up narratives, exploring networked technology, and helping people live safely on the internet. His works have appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and on the BBC. He is an editor at Paradise Systems and a member of Zine Coop. He currently lives in Toronto.

Read an Excerpt


It’s not every day a new writing system is born.
   Emoji were developed in the late 1990s in Japan. Thanks to the spread of computers and mobile phones, emoji have traveled to the far reaches of the globe, and billions of them are sent across the internet every day, expressing joy, heartbreak, late-night snack cravings, and corny jokes. There are currently more than three thousand emoji, and many more are on the way.
   Developed thousands of years ago and traditionally written with brushes, Chinese writing might seem to be a world away from the beeps and boops of online messages, but Chinese is one of the most popular languages online. More than eighty thousand Chinese characters are recognized in dictionaries, reflecting a long, diverse history of cultural evolution and writing.
   What Chinese writing and emoji have in common is that they both convey meaning through images instead of an alphabet. Many of these images began as literal depictions of the world, from trees and birds to fire and water. Over time, both writing systems have evolved to suggest more complex concepts, like “that’s lit” or “thank you.”
   We brought Chinese characters, or hanzi (hànzì/hon3zi6), and emoji together because, as lovers of languages, we enjoy exploring and playing with words. And what better way to do that than with one of the oldest living visual writing systems in the world (Chinese) and one of the newest (emoji)? Hanmoji are a fun way of writing Chinese characters using emoji. We call this book The Hanmoji Handbook because it’s filled with surprising insights emoji give us into understanding Chinese characters—and it provides ways to understand the parallel lives of these two writing systems, old and new.
   We’ll begin around 1000 BCE as hanzi were first being developed, and span the years up to today, exploring how language grows and changes, how it’s shaped by technology, and what hanzi can teach us as we watch new languages develop. Along the way, we’ll also learn a few dozen Chinese words and a bit about linguistics, or the study of language.

Ready to start?
(zǒu ba/zau2 baa1)
Let’s go!

Table of Contents

Introduction 2

Chapter 1 Chinese, Hanzi, and Hanmoj 6

Chapter 2 The Five Elements 34

Chapter 3 How Languages Evolve 58

Chapter 4 The Hanmoji Family 76

Chapter 5 Mix and Match 96

Chapter 6 The Vast World of Hanmoji 114

Chapter 7 The Future 140

Acknowledgments 154

Bibliography 155

Image Credits 156

Index 157

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