By William C. Hannas
This paintings examines using chinese language characters in East Asia. It tackles the difficulty from many various views, alongside the way in which deflating numerous well known fallacies.
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Extra info for Asia's Orthographic Dilemma
Moreover, the indigenous part of the Japanese lexicon is composed of morphemes that are predominantly polysyllabic. Since these words have to be accommodated too, the regular one-character-one-syllable pattern of Chinese gives way in Japanese to a system in which a character can represent as many syllables as there are in the word or some fraction of that number, depending on how the word is analyzed and represented, or even less than one syllable. If this seems complex, I have only begun to describe it.
One of them was Nishi Amane (1829–1894), a philosopher who had coined from Sinitic morphemes many of the new Western-inspired loan translations then entering the language. His own accomplishments notwithstanding, Nishi maintained in an 1874 article for the inaugural issue of Meiroku zasshi that it would have been easier to introduce this new vocabulary directly from the Western languages through a romanized script. Just as Chinese characters were used at a time when Japan’s model was China, so should romanization be used now that the model had changed.
A good example of the extent to which some Japanese were prepared to go in dealing with the complexity of their writing system is provided by Mori Arinori (1847–1889), later head of Japan’s Ministry of Education, who in the same issue of Meiroku zasshi proposed that English supplant the Japanese language entirely, the latter being unsuited to modern times. Other reformers, disenchanted with the alternatives, Japanese 41 invented their own writing systems based on characters, kana, the Roman alphabet, Braille, shorthand, or a combination of these systems, none meeting with any acceptance (Kim Min-su 1973:491).
Asia's Orthographic Dilemma by William C. Hannas