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Re: Orthography Question

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 10, 1998, 12:58
>Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 13:57:18 +0100 >To: laokou@III.ORG.TW >From: Christophe Grandsire <Christophe.Grandsire@...> >Subject: Re: Orthography Question > >At 20:24 10/11/98 +0800, you wrote: >>Christophe Grandsire wrote: >> >>> In the 10th century, the Japanese (only men) used Chinese=
>>> to write Japanese words. They used them only with their phonetic value >> >>I don't think so. Characters were used with their meanings with a >>*subset* used just phonetically (or rather with their meanings >>temporarily "turned off" [Chinese does this too for foreign names and >>loanwords]) to mark stuff like inflections. Then streamlining - if you >>had to write a seven-stroke character every time you encountered the >>English past tense "-ed", you too would probably develop a simpler, >>cursive form. >> >>> (actually approximately as Japanese phonetics are very different from >>> Chinese phonetics). Then a "female" literature began to appear. Women=
>>> have the right to write and read, but they passed through it inventing=
>>> some Chinese ideograms the first syllabary which was hiragana. >> >>[snip] >> >>>Only a century later, men created another syllabary (I think they >>> were bored of writing ideograms) from a different set of ideograms. It=
>>> thought, I think, as a kind of stenography, so it was simpler than=
>>> Now that syllabary is called katakana. >> >>The sources I link below reverse this time line; katakana come before >>hiragana. >> > > Must be wrong, as not only my sources, but also my Japanese teacher
(really Japanese) agree to say that women invented hiragana before men invented katakana. I saw also an exposition about systems of writing where the same order was given. As each of them are independent, I can't think that they all three made the same mistake.
> >>> Then I don't know really what >>> happened but the ideograms were reintroduced with, this time, their=
>>> (not only their pronunciation), >> >>Doesn't make sense. Who in their right mind if they already had a >>phonetic writing system in place would go *back* to ideograms? > > Because it's faster to write a single ideogram than many syllabes,
and also because they discovered calligraphy. I don't think it doesn't make sense as there are two ways of seeing a writing: as an image of the sound, or as an aid for memory (a kind of stenography). As both systems are still in broad use today, I don't think that one of them is better than the other. They have their advantages and drawbacks.
> > Again, >>see sites below - they place kanji writing - with their meanings - >>before kana writing. >> >>> the hiragana came to be used for the >>> gramatical endings and some native Japanese words, and the katakana lost >>> position and finally were only used for loanwords (very much used=
>> >>Okay here. >> >>> 'onomatopees' (don't know the word in English) (with a much broader use=
>>> in European languages, one can speak in Japanese only with those >>> 'onomatopees') >> >>I don't see how. With some function words thrown in, you *might* be able >>to come up with some funky sentences this way, but to say "one can speak >>only" this way (outside the most contrived circumstances [like >>children's or Tarzan speech or perhaps a comedy routine to show the zany >>hilarity that would ensue if you tried it]) doesn't sound right. >> > > Ask Mathias Lassailly about his experience in Japan. For example,
the onomatopoeia pekopeko (the noise of a can that is pressed) gives an impression of emptiness. It can so be used as an adjective to mean 'empty', or as the verb pekopeko-suru that means 'to be hungry'. As you have hundreds of onomatopoeia, you can speak only with them.
> >>>(even if 'onomatopees' are considered as very normal, though >>> very familiar -and a little childish sometimes-). >> >>Perhaps to Western ears. Japanese writing peppered with onomatopoeia is >>considered quite descriptive and evocative. >> > > Here again it was the opinion of my Japanese teacher. > >>For a brief history of hiragana, go here: >> >> >> >>and for katakana, here: >> >> >> >>and for the truly adventurous, on kanji, here: >> >> >> >>Kou >> >> > Very strange, it is totally different from what I learned. I
remember now a TV program on a cultural channel that (again and again) presented the same time line that I presented. Strange, isn't it?
> > Well, I hope I didn't bother you, but I find very strange that
different sources give so different data.
> >
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