RE: [Very OT] Japanese economy failing -- it's the Japanese langu age and

Date: Fri Oct 20 2000 - 06:51:42 EDT

Patrick Andries wrote, quoting from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
> [...] drei völlig getrennte Schriftsysteme gewissermaßen in bunter
Mischung [...]

I am not sure which "three completely separate writing system" the author
had in mind. There are several possible ways of counting "Japanese writing
system(s)", that yield different results. E.g.:

a) 1: the Japanese writing system (including romaji) seen as a whole;
b) 1: the traditional Japanese writing system (excluding romaji) seen
as a whole;
c) 2: kana + kanji;
d) 2: the traditional Japanese writing system seen as a whole + romaji;
e) 3: hiragana + katakana + kanji;
f) 3: kana + on + kun;
g) 3: kana + kanji + romaji;
h) 4: hiragana + katakana + on + kun;
i) 4: hiragana + katakana + kanji + romaji;
j) 4: kana + on + kun + romaji;
k) 5: hiragana + katakana + on + kun + romaji;

("On" kanji are those whose pronunciation is derived from Chinese; "kun"
kanji are those which have a native Japanese pronunciation; most kanji fall
in both categories. "Romaji" are Latin letters, which are often used within
Japanese text for acronyms and foreign words.)

Counts <b, c, e, f, h> consider romaji as occasional foreign characters,
which are not to be counted, while the others counts consider it as an
integral part of the Japanese spelling.

As you see, there are at least three counts that yield "3": <e, f, g>.

If FAZ's choice was <e>, then I would not agree with the others that count
hiragana and katakana separately (<h, i, k>), because the fact of having two
forms for the kana syllabary doesn't have a noticeable impact on the
difficulty of reading and writing Japanese.

It would be like counting 2 alphabets for English (uppercase and lowercase),
or even 4 (uppercase, lowercase, uppercase italic, lowercase italic), and
assuming that the difficulties with English spelling are derived from having
so many "separate alphabets".

For the purpose of what the article id discuss (provided I understood it
correctly), it could be more appropriate to count on and kun pronunciations
apart (<f, h, j, k>), because this does in fact have quite an impact on the
difficulty of learning the Japanese writing system, both for natives as for

_ Marco

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:14 EDT