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"Can't even shout, can't even cry, the gentlemen are coming by."
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July 05 2011

What do the Chinese characters on the computers in Serenity and Firefly actually say? Hardware hacker Phil Torrone from takes a gander. Courtesy of io9.

No clue about the Chinese characters, but the Japanese katakana on the left says: i ma mi ni hi mi ri te

Which is just gibberish.

Edit: There's more katakana on the far right! It says: hi to ri i ha i hi i su

"Hitori" can mean "one person" or "alone" just as "ima" means "now" but there's no context without kanji (Chinese characters). For example, "hi" can also mean "fire" and "tori" can also mean "bird." Ha.

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-07-06 02:33 ]

[ edited by Waterkeeper511 on 2011-07-06 02:38 ]
I noticed the katakana the first time I saw Serenity, too, and wondered why everyone was only talking about the Chinese culture, but I'd also heard a bit about the modern Chinese written language, and I wondered if what looked like katakana wasn't actually Pinyin.

After a glance at the article I just linked, there doesn't seem to be any connection. Still, maybe someone involved in production had that thought, that in the future, pinyin would evolve and borrow from Japanese to further simplify the phonetics, just as Japanese originally borrowed the Chinese characters to transcribe their own language.

...Probably not, but if all else fails, it still makes a nice fanwank. :)
I think they just went "oooh look more Asian glyphs!" and just stuck 'em in there.
Yeah, quite likely though in fairness, symbols on a GUI might have some fairly weird direct translations but still make sense in the context of a user interface. Windows dialogues have an underscore, a square and a big red X for instance which are gibberish directly "translated" but which any PC user understands implicitly and I click a symbol composed of the Earth wrapped in a fox with a flaming tail to browse the web. Context is king.

Love all this stuff, makes me appreciate Al Gore's contribution to global communications all the more ;).

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