I am looking for examples real or con, of two foreign symbolic scripts being made into a hybrid language/script.

In my case I wish to see about making a hybrid 15th century Aztec-Chinese Hybrid language. (I know its not realistic)

I was thinking that the influence of a Chinese Empire in exile in the Americas would influence Aztec to take on the simplification of their character to be more based on simple strokes like chinese.

I.e. Chinese began as pictographs that evolved into today's simple stroke based script, Would Aztecs combine Chinese symbols with their own, adapt theirs to be more chinese?

I doubt the influence of Aztecs would inspire Chinese to have more complicated and colorized pictographs

2 Answers 2


The obvious comparison to make here is to Japanese, as it's a real-life hybrid script and is currently the only non-Chinese language to use them. However, it's important to consider that Japanese did not have an existing writing system when Chinese characters were brought over, and for quite a while the Japanese elites wrote strictly in Classical/Literary Chinese, even after the evolution of hiragana (which were more often used by women).

Given that you have actual Chinese people in this exiled empire you describe, they will almost certainly be writing in Literary Chinese but speaking some form of vernacular (the specifics of which will depend upon where in China they've come from), so it's possible that Chinese characters will be repurposed to write Nahuatl, particularly if the Chinese become the dominant group in the area. Or it's possible that the opposite will happen, particularly if the Aztecs are the dominant group, and the Chinese will begin to write their language (be it Literary Chinese or their spoken vernacular) using the Aztec script.

The idea of the Chinese script influencing the Aztec script but the opposite not being likely seems to be based on some misplaced ideas about simpler characters being inherently better and more likely to catch on -- which script becomes dominant is more likely to be influenced by the sociopolitics of this situation rather than any inherent qualities of the script. Also be sure to keep in mind that different scripts are better for different writing materials -- will the Chinese be able to continue to produce the kinds of paper, ink, and brushes they're used to in the Americas? These are the sorts of things you need to research, ponder, and decide for yourself.

  • While I think you're right about the socio factors, remember that the Manchurian script didn't overtake Chinese, despite the Manchu people ruling China for almost three centuries. So it's never simple!
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 18, 2018 at 8:40
  • The Manchurian script was invented far later than hanzi, in 1599, and Manchu elites were often Sinicized and used Chinese characters extensively even prior to the establishment of the Qing dynasty. Literary Chinese was viewed as the language of the educated throughout East Asia -- another socio factor influencing things.
    – Sparksbet
    Jul 18, 2018 at 14:28

Let's look at some real world situations of contact of writing systems

It happens that a few characters from another writing system are borrowed into an existing writing system. Examples include

  • Latin borrowing the letter Y and Z from Greek
  • Koptic: Basically a Greek alphabet with 6 character borrowed from Demotic Egyptian
  • Icelandic: Borrowing þ from Germanic runes

Sometimes, a writing system is just restyled after a foreign writing system, an example is the reformation of the Cyrillic script by Peter the Great.

Sometimes, several writing systems coexist and form a complex mixed writing system. This is the case in South Korea and Japan, where Chinese characters are mixed with either Hangul or Hiragana and Katakana.

You can pick from this list what you like most.

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