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CONLANG  November 1998, Week 2

CONLANG November 1998, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Orthography Question

From:

Christophe Grandsire <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 10 Nov 1998 13:58:02 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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>Date: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 13:57:18 +0100
>To: [log in to unmask]
>From: Christophe Grandsire <[log in to unmask]>
>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=
 ideograms
>>> 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=
 didn't
>>> have the right to write and read, but they passed through it inventing=
 from
>>> 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=
 was
>>> thought, I think, as a kind of stenography, so it was simpler than=
 hiragana.
>>> 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=
 meaning
>>> (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=
 nowadays),
>>
>>Okay here.
>>
>>> 'onomatopees' (don't know the word in English) (with a much broader use=
 than
>>> 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:
>>
>>http://members.aol.com/Joyo96Kana/Hiragana.html
>>
>>and for katakana, here:
>>
>>http://members.aol.com/Joyo96Kana/Katakana.html
>>
>>and for the truly adventurous, on kanji, here:
>>
>>http://members.aol.com/Joyo96/Kanji.html
>>
>>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.
>
>
                                                Christophe Grandsire
                                                |Sela Jemufan Atlinan C.G.

"R=E9sister ou servir"

homepage: http://www.bde.espci.fr/homepage/Christophe.Grandsire/index.html

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