The Shidinn Language

三日月綾香

The reference of this article is User:Amisiara/希顶语.

The Shidinn language (Shidinn: xdi8 aho, IPA: /ɕitjẽɪ̃ axo/) is an artificial language based on Chinese, widely used in songs, prose and other artistic creations.

In Shidinn, the word xdi8 aho means ‘burning flame of the light’. Besides, in Chinese, the pronunciation of the Shidinn word aho is similar to that of yàhé, meaning ‘peace in Asia’. The Chinese name Xīdǐng comes from the first half of the word xdi8 aho, which has the beautiful meaning of ‘the summit of hope’.

The Shidinn language was created by Huang Quefei from 1987 onwards. At the time, Huang invented the language with two objectives: to alphabetise Chinese and eliminate homophones. In the 1990s, inputting Chinese characters into computers was a difficult task. If the new language is written with an alphabet, it would be easily inputted into computers as the case of other languages such as English. Huang believes that this would make Shidinn an international language and make it easier for foreigners to learn. In addition, there are many homophones in Chinese, and the situation is exacerbated by the fact that some Chinese dialects cannot distinguish between the initial consonants n and l. Creating a language without homophones would reduce errors in writing and reading.

Huang’s creation of the Shidinn alphabet was mostly based on inspiration. His life was not smooth, and his manuscripts were often written with sorrow. ‘Sometimes I would lie in bed, half awake, half unconscious, as if my soul was completely detached from my body, and then inspiration would emerge,’ Huang describes. The Shidinn language was gradually pieced together in this way.

Huang wished that his language could gain support from official authorities. He visited Beijing twice, sleeping on the streets, only with the hope to find a way to give his language to the state, but both times ended in failure. Feeling desperate, Huang turned to the general public and posted information about the Shidinn language on online platforms. However, as the material he posted was scattered and fragmented, he did not receive much support. Worse still, there were no computer fonts for the Shidinn alphabet at that time, and most of the Shidinn characters were typed with morphological alternatives in other scripts, leading to the preconception of other people that the alphabet was an incongruous hybrid. This problem made him subject to much ridicule and attacks.

On 19 January 2020, Huang asked on Zhihu: ‘I created the Shidinn alphabet, but have been plagued with disasters ever since. Have I offended the God of Heaven, thus leading such a miserable life? Should I ruin the Shidinn alphabet?’ Huang’s Shidinn language and his tragic life caught many people’s attention. Later on, after the Shidinn Language gained its popularity, a user commented in an article, ‘I thought he was miserable, but unlike schadenfreude, I sensed in him a kernel of comedy — pure tragedy.’

On 18 February 2020, Raymond published an article entitled The Shidinn Language Revealed, in which he organised the scattered information of the language for the first time, thereby attracting a large number of adherents.

Many people have contributed to the promotion of the language since it gained popularity on the Internet. Lantern riddles, prose, poetry, novels and songs written in the language have formed a distinctive Shidinn culture. Linguistic enthusiasts have added bricks to the Shidinn edifice by inventing many Shidinn dialects. Technologies related to the language have also been developed, such as computer fonts, translators, input methods and operating systems. Although no sovereign state has yet granted official status to the language, academic research on the Shidinn language is ongoing.

(Written on 19 February 2021)