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 --- Nik Taylor <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >
Tristan McLeay wrote:
> > Really? How did they do it before hand? Both as
> KIYO?
> > And a big TSU for geminate consonants?
>
> Yep.  So, there was an ambiguity between, for
> example, _kyo_ and _kiyo_
> and between _atta_ and _atsuta_
>
> > How much reform has Japanese writing gone through?
>
> The pre-1946 orthography was fairly conservative,
> but still generally
> easy to figure out (at least for a native or fluent
> foreigner).  The
> rules, as I understand them:

Thanks for the summary! Very interesting.

...

> inflections (2)
> Also, since the use of kanji with furigana was
> *much* more common then
> than it now (in most text, *every* kanji, even basic
> ones like "person"
> or "one", had furigana over it; a shame that that
> was abandoned in the
> 1946 reform - the major reason being an intention to
> phase out kanji!),

That sounds ... utterly bizarre! It seems to me it
would've just made sense to recommend that people use
kana, and leave it at that (so that people would
probably add furigana as often as before, if they
chose to use kanji). Yet another example of why people
should ask me before making any design decisions!

> the rule could be expressed in terms of kanji, e.g.,
> ha/hi/fu/he/ho =
> wa/i/u/e/o in the middle of a kanji and in
> inflections.

I'm a little confused by this.

> Some of the old hentaigana (as well as the forms for
> the now-obsolete we
> and wi kana) can be found here
> http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/rose.jpg  Some of
> them, it's pretty
> obvious why the modern forms won out.  :-)
> Particularly look at ki, ke,
> shi, so, ha, fu, he, mi, mu, re, and ro.

Ooh! They're so cool! I love KU's third option, but so
many of them run rings around the modern forms! (I
have a friend learning Japanese at Monash Uni. Just
felt it seemed relevant...)

> So, not too terribly hard to *read*, but writing was
> another matter.

Are there any lessons English could learn, p'r'aps? :)
How did the reform manage to work? Indeed, how does
any spelling reform manage to work?

> Still, since, with the exception of the little kana,
> all the modern
> spellings existed pre-1946, it wasn't difficult to
> adjust to for those
> brought up on the old script.  And the small kana
> were surely easy to
> pick up.

I guess that answers it... How do we get to that
stage? :)

> (1) Incidentally, wo/o merged sometime in, if I'm
> not mistaken, the 9th
> century, at the same time as ye/e.  I don't know why
> _wo_ was kept but
> not _ye_.

Given the phoneticity of the modern orthography, it
seems amazing that they'd keep something around for 11
centuries... But I guess that's how you get something
phonetic, isn't it: restandardise something
unphonetic.

--
Tristan.

--

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