What's new

Why didn't the Japanese adopt a fully phonetic alphabet system?

Are you aware that forums are typically run and populated by volunteers and other amateurs? Some of us have substantial experience with Japan and Japanese, and an interest in using that experience to help others. We do, in fact, discuss buildings, also tax, law, economics, history, etc., all from our own perspectives and from our experience. It is an exceedingly common thing on forums. I am surprised that you should take issue with this. Having finished with that throat-clearing, I too have to take exception to a couple of points you try to make



I do know Japanese, and I don't know what you are talking about. The only possible consonant-ending for a Japanese word is ん, unless you are speaking about some archaic form of specialized speech. In any event, I would like to hear more about Japanese sounds that cannot be expressed in kana.

I am also curious about the comment that Vietnamese and Korean being much more dependent on kanji than Japanese. It would seem to be quite the contrary since those two language do not, in fact, rely on kanji, while Japanese, on the other hand, still does.



This too seems to be a bold statement in want of some factual evidence. This idea that there are not many homophones in Japanese is simply ridiculous. The idea that "only two or three" homophones per word wouldn't pose any problem for a phonetic-based writing system is also ridiculous. And the idea that any homophones could be remedied by a spelling variation when the very spelling system doesn't allow for variation, makes the whole section an absurdity.


This too demands a bit of interrogation. Of course a literate person can likely determine meaning most of the time, with a bit of effort, if a story is converted to a phonetic syllabary only. It does not mean it can be easily, rapidly, or universally understood, nor does it mean the readers would embrace the change. An English newspaper could, by and large, be understood if you struck the word "the" from all stories. It doesn't make it a good idea. (And I'm slightly curious about this survey you did...is it a genuine, peer-reviewed study, or just a random sample you took upon yourself).

Apologies for the hard pushback, but you seemed to have joined us looking for an argument, so I feel somewhat obliged to give you one.
Dear Mr Moderator and others,

Re: your note about your kind of forum being accessible to practically anybody, I would contend that such forums are virtually useless unless contributed to by qualified people.

Regarding Vietnamese and Korean, I should have made it plain that I was referring to those two languages prior to the adoption of the alphabet (in the former case) and Hangul. I'm not an expert on either language, only knowing something about Korean syntax, but I would say that Japanese is a good deal better adapted to a phonetic writing system than either language because of its large Yamato-gotoba component. BTW, the contributor who pretended that the Genji Monogatari was written in a mixture of kanji and hiragana does not seem to know that the original text is lost, and that the text he displays is a much later version, with kanji added. Lady Murasaki herself is obviously horrified at the idea of other female Heian writers actually including kanji in their texts.

In saying that there are only two or three homophones for many words I was of course not referring to words represented by a single kanji, but to compounds. You can do your own survey for compounds, but I think you'll find I'm right. In those cases where there are two or three homophones, differences in spelling would help to distinguish meaning. I see no reason why such differences should not be introduced. Perhaps you're aware of the major government policy of Datsu-A/Nyû-Ô (get out of Asia/enter Europe). The logical consequence of this would be the adoption of the alphabet. (You may know of the Meiji period education minister who advocated a complete switch to English.) The latter kind of switch would of course be far too drastic, dealing a blow to the whole of Japanese linguistic tradition. But you should also remember that that tradition was formed without the use of any kind of writing system, at least until the fifth or sixth century A.D. It was a great shame that the only system available was kanji – which is fatally unsuited to the representation of Japanese. This will also be a good time to reflect that language – as the term implies – is first and foremost spoken language. No human culture had a writing system before about 6,000 years ago.

In saying "I do know Japanese" you make me wonder. Language being first and foremost a spoken entity, you are completely ignoring the cases like /dɛs/ in standard Tokyo Japanese where a word ends in a consonant, and also ignoring the many cases where there are geminate consonants within a word, or at the juncture of two words. If you don't already know these examples, your knowledge of Japanese is insufficient. (In giving the example of final nasal n, I'm afraid you are following the religion of traditional Japanese phonetics. Please don't be misled by that hoary tradition.) I won't give further examples because these may be used in a forthcoming book which may inform other readers ignorant of such things about their existence. If you listen carefully to a lot more spoken Japanese, you may see what I mean…

I was not by any means looking for an argument in writing my piece – simply stating the obvious. …at least what is obvious to someone with two postgraduate degrees in Japanese and linguistics (MA dissertation in Japanese, published PhD dissertation in French), over 50 years' residence in Japan, with a book published in Japanese on the influence of katakana transcription on the acquisition of English in Japan. The current English teaching situation is certainly a mess, but too few people seem to realise the huge influence of nearly 60,000 imports distorted by katakana transcription. The book – entitled Katakana Eigo Kakumei – is available at one of Kamakura's good bookstores, Taraba Shobô (¥750). The director of language usage at NHK has a copy, as does the Ministry of Education.

Last but not least, please note that I am not by any means advocating the abolition of kanji (or hiragana) in Japan. Kanji and Kana should by all means be retained as a wonderful means of training hand and eye. Those who want to form a Shodô club at school or university would of course be welcome to do so.
 
Last edited:
Your whole premise ignores us poor learners of Japanese. It's a lot easier for us to learn コーヒー than 珈琲. So those 60,000 loan words allows me to be much more functional in Japanese than I otherwise would be. :)

I do agree with you that the English capability of Japan as a whole is really in a dismal state. Given that your recommended approach is not going to happen in our lifetimes -- if ever -- the Japanese government and school system should think of practical solutions to tackle the problem.

I would contend that such forums are virtually useless unless contributed to by qualified people.
And to this I say... welcome to the Internet. ;)
 
BTW, the contributor who pretended that the Genji Monogatari was written in a mixture of kanji and hiragana does not seem to know that the original text is lost, and that the text he displays is a much later version, with kanji added. Lady Murasaki herself is obviously horrified at the idea of other female Heian writers actually including kanji in their texts.
誤解をお持ちのようなので改めて明示しておきますが、引用した写真を原本だとは一言も言っていません。むしろわざわざ「定家本」と出展を明記しています。言うまでもなく紫式部自筆の源氏原本が存在しないのはあまりにも有名な話です。それゆえ底本として使われることの最も多い青表紙系の、さらに底本として参照されることの多い「定家本」を例として選択した次第です。
この帖が定家本人の自筆ではないとの定説が定着していることももちろん存じ上げていますが、底本の底本としての地位はいまだに保持しています。鎌倉期を「かなり後」と呼称することの妥当性はさておき、年代からすれば新発見の「若紫」のほうがより相応しい例のようにも思われますが、デジタルアーカイブにはまだ収められていませんし。
ここまでの背景を全て自明のこととの前提で、言語学者を名乗られて源氏を例示されるからには当然それを理解できているであろうと判断して「定家本」とだけ記したのですが、そこまでのリテラシーを求めたのは結果を見ると買いかぶり過ぎだったようですね。
それと、どうやら紫式部本人は平仮名のみで原本を書いたとの自信を強くお持ちとお見受けしますが、何か明確な証拠をお持ちなら是非ご例示いただけませんか。後学のためにも。類推という間接的な証拠だけでは結局のところ水掛け論の域を超えませんので。
そもそも平仮名のみの文学を例出するなら、疑義をはさむ余地のある源氏ではなく原本の存在しているほかの作品を選択されればよかったのでは?源氏に限らなくとも漢字不要論の援軍としての役割は十二分に果たしうるわけですから。

あと、すでに他の投稿でも指摘されてますが、言及されている新聞紙上の唯一の例というのも御教示願えませんか。どの日付の紙面でどの文脈で使われたどの単語なのかを是非。源氏同様に後学のためにも、あるいは、役に立たないとお考えのフォーラムにそれこそ専門的な資格を持っていると御主張のその見地からの知識を提供して有用なものにするためにも。

Yamato-gotoba
品のない揚げ足取りですが、「やまととば」ですね。「やまととば」ではなく。「大和言葉」に連濁は生じません。言語学者を称されるくらいですからライマンの法則くらいはご存知なのかと思っていました。あるいは、ライマンの法則を持ち出すまでもなく、「大和言葉」のような言語学上の頻出単語を、その長い在住期間中ずっと濁って聞き取り濁って発音していて今まで一度も注意訂正を受けたことがなかったとすれば、なかなかにお気の毒な環境におられたとお見受けしますが。

I won't give further examples because these may be used in a forthcoming book which may inform other readers ignorant of such things about their existence.
要らぬ御心配は無用です。言語学者と称する方にわざわざその専門的な知識を披歴していただかなくとも、その話題はアマチュアしかいないとおっしゃるこのフォーラムでは既に何度も扱われている既知のテーマで、用例も含めて比較的詳細に説明済みですから。例えば以下の如くに。

 
I was not by any means looking for an argument in writing my piece – simply stating the obvious. …at least what is obvious to someone with two postgraduate degrees in Japanese and linguistics (MA dissertation in Japanese, published PhD dissertation in French), over 50 years' residence in Japan, with a book published in Japanese on the influence of katakana transcription on the acquisition of English in Japan.

This is a virtual textbook example of a person looking for an argument, and a vivid demonstration to all that merely living a long time in Japan does not necessarily equate to understanding of things Japanese.

The notion that です ends on a consonant, and the follow-up notion that kana cannot represent this sound, is, prima facie, ridiculous and requires no further cross examination.

It seems you are saying that Japanese people should, in addition to learning kana and kanji, should also become adept at rendering their own language, for everday use, with the alphabet? and that somehow adding alternative spellings for the astronomical number of homonyms will... simplify things. This is the argument of someone who hasn't learned Japanese, and wishes the Japanese would make things easy for him/her.

The very lightweight discussion of compound words, the smokescreen that is the mention of Meiji-era policy, the general appeal to your own authority, and the lack of clarity surrounding your entire argument, makes you well-qualified to post on a forum run by amateurs. So in that spirit, I welcome you.
 
Last edited:
If you do not know that desu drops its final vowel in spoken standard Japanese, then either your ear is not well-trained, or you are simply arguing from the standpoint of kana hyôki. Your allegation regarding "the argument that someone hasn't learned Japanese" is totally unfounded. 90% of the time I speak nothing but fluent Japanese, read and write Japanese, have taught in Japanese at university level for 30 years – so know the language as well as a regular well-educated Japanese person, which de facto I am. Not to recognise that fact would be pure racism… which of course is rampant in the US more than most places. Of course I would do not deny that racism is a fairly common human trait – but nonetheless one which Americans are unusually fond of. If you are in fact yourself American, then I would hope to hear no further from you. The level of scholarship at the top US universities these days is deplorable. Fortunately, it was not always so, and I have a good number of excellent American colleagues. But they are mostly at least 70 years old.
 
90% of the time I speak nothing but fluent Japanese, read and write Japanese, have taught in Japanese at university level for 30 years – so know the language as well as a regular well-educated Japanese person, which de facto I am.
If you are as fluent as an educated native speaker, perhaps you would care to respond to the above post by Toritoribe-san (also a highly educated native speaker of Japanese). Certainly, he is one person here more than capable of having a debate on your level.

I don't particularly have the time, energy, or inclination to argue your points, but if you truly are the illustrious scholar you claim to be, allow me to humbly suggest that your efforts might be better spent presenting your lofty theories at academic conferences, and/or collaborating with equally preeminent native Japanese linguists (with whom you are no doubt well connected, given the respect you must command in Japanese scholarly circles) to present your revolutionary ideas for writing system reform to the Japanese government.

While I cannot guarantee that either approach will bear fruit, I'm quite certain that either would be more productive than coming to this little corner of the internet to thumb your nose at lesser minds and laymen who you clearly believe are unworthy of (and incapable of comprehending) the enlightenment you would deign to offer.
 
Last edited:
If you are as fluent as an educated native speaker, perhaps you would care to respond to the above post by Toritoribe-san (also a highly educated native speaker of Japanese). Certainly, he is one person here more than capable of having a debate on your level.

I don't particularly have the time, energy, or inclination to argue your points, but if you truly are the illustrious scholar you claim to be, allow me to humbly suggest that your efforts might be better spent presenting your lofty theories at academic conferences, and/or collaborating with equally preeminent native Japanese linguists (with whom you are no doubt well connected, given the respect you must command in Japanese scholarly circles) to present your revolutionary ideas for writing system reform to the Japanese government.

While I cannot guarantee that either approach will bear fruit, I'm quite certain that either would be more productive than coming to this little corner of the internet to thumb your nose at lesser minds and laymen who you clearly believe are unworthy of (and incapable of comprehending) the enlightenment you would deign to offer.
Thank you Benten-sama for your constructive suggestions. As for the lesser minds and laymen you mentioned, I'm simply disappointed that they're wasting space on the Internet. There seem to be one or two linguists among them, however, and there are some good suggestions here and there – so that is productive. As for academic conferences, as my specialty is in fact literary semiotics, I have read papers at two world congresses of the AISS/AIS, and published a good number of articles in the leading journal on that subject, between 2007 and 2020. There is also a major monograph published in the UK but, once again, it's on the subject of the semiotic structure of modern poetry – in three languages. The transcription of Japanese is not really a specialty of mine – just a long time interest.
BTW, there is no such thing as a "native speaker". It's simply a misnomer which has become too widely adopted, rather like COVID-19. If no one can be born speaking a particular language, then there surely can be no such thing as a native speaker. ( I believe this may be an American term, which stands to reason. There are such things as "Native Americans" after all, In the good old US of A. Anyone born in America is a Native American, so the term is another misnomer. The term indigenous would be much better.

As far as the comments of the Moderator concerned, he/she is apparently not acquainted with the actual sounds produced in standard Japanese speech. Many of these cannot be represented by the kana syllabaries. at 10 he/she is possibly wedded to traditional Japanese phonetics, which would explain the unwillingness to hear the actual sounds of the language we were discussing. These can only be happier presented by the alphabet or some other more finely chained instrument. Kana, after all, have not even progressed to the stage of distinguishing isolated consonants from vowels. That puts them on A level with the Sumerian script of around 3000 BC. of course they were very useful to Heian Period writers, but they are by no means sophisticated enough to cope with contemporary Japanese.
While I am not a hundred percent sure that a switch to the alphabet would work for all applications, it certainly would work for every day use – saving a great deal of time, particularly when you consider the convoluted method of inputting Japanese kana-majiri on a keyboard. The other great advantage would be that English borrowings in their original spelling, which would be very helpful for Japanese school students. If borrowings are left in katakana transcription b, you can say goodbye to English in Japan – except for that specially gifted 5% who go to the trouble of repeatedly watching videos, listening to songs, et cetera, and thereby becoming fluent. These people are of course very precious.
BTW, I dictate rather than typing, partly because it's faster and partly because of arthritis. Switching to the alphabet for Japanese would presumably also facilitate dictation – which is a great convenience.
 
つまりは矛盾を覆い隠すために前言翻したり、論点ずらしてはぐらかしたりすることしかできなくて、ほんとに知識が必要なことに関しては自分が言及したことに対してさえ質問されても答えられないと。正に見事に御自身がインターネットの浪費の見本ですね。有用な議論ができるかと万が一にも期待したのは全くの無駄でしたか。
 
This feels like the textbook case of the Dunning-Kruger effect, where someone with passing or moderate familiarity with a language suddenly knows better than everyone that uses it in their daily life, and thinks that rearranging it in a way that better suits them is somehow a good idea for others.

In saying "I do know Japanese" you make me wonder. Language being first and foremost a spoken entity, you are completely ignoring the cases like /dɛs/ in standard Tokyo Japanese where a word ends in a consonant, and also ignoring the many cases where there are geminate consonants within a word, or at the juncture of two words. If you don't already know these examples, your knowledge of Japanese is insufficient. (In giving the example of final nasal n, I'm afraid you are following the religion of traditional Japanese phonetics. Please don't be misled by that hoary tradition.) I won't give further examples because these may be used in a forthcoming book which may inform other readers ignorant of such things about their existence. If you listen carefully to a lot more spoken Japanese, you may see what I mean…

It's too bad we'll have to wait for your next self-published book to learn about "dropped vowels" other than "desu," the most common example that any layperson could (and often does) observe. Are you aware that this vowel isn't dropped, but simply devoiced? There are several threads on this forum that discuss this phenomenon (@Toritoribe shared just one of them), which isn't even universally applied throughout all Japanese dialects, so your understanding of how the language works is stunted and neglects non-standard dialects you are apparently unfamiliar with. Would they just need to "fall in line" to fit into your proposed solution? I suggest you run your theories by a phonologist and see how far you get.

I'm still waiting for an explanation of "way" vs. "weigh," or "wait" for "weight," or "waste" and "waist," or "wane" and "Wayne" for that matter. There's a reason English is the only language with a spelling bee, and it's not because it's a well-organized phonetic system. To suggest it as a model for other languages would compound rather than simplify the issues in that language, and only seem intended to serve people like yourself.

If you do not know that desu drops its final vowel in spoken standard Japanese, then either your ear is not well-trained, or you are simply arguing from the standpoint of kana hyôki. Your allegation regarding "the argument that someone hasn't learned Japanese" is totally unfounded. 90% of the time I speak nothing but fluent Japanese, read and write Japanese, have taught in Japanese at university level for 30 years – so know the language as well as a regular well-educated Japanese person, which de facto I am. Not to recognise that fact would be pure racism… which of course is rampant in the US more than most places. Of course I would do not deny that racism is a fairly common human trait – but nonetheless one which Americans are unusually fond of. If you are in fact yourself American, then I would hope to hear no further from you. The level of scholarship at the top US universities these days is deplorable. Fortunately, it was not always so, and I have a good number of excellent American colleagues. But they are mostly at least 70 years old.
In saying "90% of the time I speak nothing but fluent Japanese, read and write Japanese, have taught in Japanese at university level for 30 years – so know the language as well as a regular well-educated Japanese person, which de facto I am." You make me wonder... Perhaps you could respond to Toritoribe's comments so we can all be wowed by your fluency, you do realize that Japanese dictation works quite well, don't you?

LOL it's "pure racism" not to recognize you as a "de facto well-educated Japanese person," but also, if we're American, you don't want to hear any more from us! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: This is great stuff! Nothing like attacking someone based on their identity rather than address the ideas they put forth, you must be a real joy to share an office with.

The transcription of Japanese is not really a specialty of mine – just a long time interest.
So you admit that you're just an amateur using your credentials in a tangential field as a smokescreen to create an appeal to authority?

BTW, there is no such thing as a "native speaker". It's simply a misnomer which has become too widely adopted, rather like COVID-19. If no one can be born speaking a particular language, then there surely can be no such thing as a native speaker. ( I believe this may be an American term, which stands to reason. There are such things as "Native Americans" after all, In the good old US of A. Anyone born in America is a Native American, so the term is another misnomer. The term indigenous would be much better.

WOW we're doubling down are we? You do realize that "native speaker" refers to people who grew up speaking the language in question. Literally no one is saying that anyone is born speaking a language; that's a strawman argument. If you're only capable of understanding words literally, then life as a linguist must be very difficult for you indeed. I shudder to imagine what you think "mother tongue" refers to. If you DO understand what "native speaker" refers to but insist someone use an unpopular term like "indigenous speaker" then you sound like an insufferable pedant.

If we really wanted to write out languages phonetically, we could just use IPA (which I think would be widely beneficial for all people interested in language to learn), The downside to switching to IPA, of course, is that a truly phonetic writing system would rather de-standardize the spelling structure of a language as everyone would be writing in their own accents; this would create issues for the reader who is unfamiliar with the writer's particular speech patterns. Languages evolve and change over time and geographical barriers, and any attempt to standardize will eventually fall victim to entropy as people seek to personalize their speech patterns: a language written truly phonetically can only hope to describe and not dictate the language as it's spoken. But you seem to be proposing we use some version of Vietnam's Chữ Quốc Ngữ, some kind of weird hybrid of your own making, perhaps?

As far as the comments of the Moderator concerned, he/she is apparently not acquainted with the actual sounds produced in standard Japanese speech. Many of these cannot be represented by the kana syllabaries. at 10 he/she is possibly wedded to traditional Japanese phonetics, which would explain the unwillingness to hear the actual sounds of the language we were discussing. These can only be happier presented by the alphabet or some other more finely chained instrument. Kana, after all, have not even progressed to the stage of distinguishing isolated consonants from vowels. That puts them on A level with the Sumerian script of around 3000 BC. of course they were very useful to Heian Period writers, but they are by no means sophisticated enough to cope with contemporary Japanese.
You don't seem familiar with the concept of mora... Aside from mistakenly eliding devoiced vowels, which I mentioned above, what purpose would be served by splitting kana into distinct consonant and vowel components? I guess you'd end up with some distinctly Japanese form of Korean Hangeul or Taiwanese Bopomofo, which might slightly reduce the overall number of characters, but at the expense of completely reinventing the wheel and re-educating an entire population.

While I am not a hundred percent sure that a switch to the alphabet would work for all applications, it certainly would work for every day use – saving a great deal of time, particularly when you consider the convoluted method of inputting Japanese kana-majiri on a keyboard. The other great advantage would be that English borrowings in their original spelling, which would be very helpful for Japanese school students. If borrowings are left in katakana transcription b, you can say goodbye to English in Japan – except for that specially gifted 5% who go to the trouble of repeatedly watching videos, listening to songs, et cetera, and thereby becoming fluent. These people are of course very precious.
BTW, I dictate rather than typing, partly because it's faster and partly because of arthritis. Switching to the alphabet for Japanese would presumably also facilitate dictation – which is a great convenience.
Japanese has its problems, but your proposal does a poor job at addressing them in any realistic or meaningful way, and introduces a whole new slew of issues. ESL/EFL students (not to mention indigenous speakers) already struggle with English spelling, and you intend to leave English (or perhaps all foreign) loan-words in their original spelling when written in Japanese, rather than writing them phonetically using Japanese's admittedly limited syllabary. Again, how is this supposed to make things EASIER for Japanese students to learn JAPANESE? To put your idea on its head, this is akin to saying that we should never write "sushi," it should only be written 寿司, for the sake of Japanese speakers. Do you not see how egocentric you appear? Again, I would ask you to reevaluate your goals, and who this is all intended to serve.

Written words are a stand-in for the concept of the word in our mind; when I am reading in English I don't have to sound out words to understand them, and in fact it's the general shape and length of the word that we read, which is shown by some interesting studies that rearrange the letters within words without impacting legibility. Truly phonetic writing like IPA is helpful to learn how to pronounce things, but aside from the issues I mentioned above, without a great deal of exposure and practice to the particular spelling of a word there is a speed bump between seeing and recognizing the meaning of the word. This happens in Japanese too: if I see an English word written in katakana that I haven't seen before, I may need to sound out the word until I recognize what it's intended to say; once I realize that コーヒー is "coffee," and that it's pronounced /ko:hi:/, I can map the Japanese pronunciation to the concept I already understand in English, and from then on I don't have to "sound out" the word, but simply recognize it. It's not as common but learning to recognize 珈琲 as another permutation of this is a relatively simple connection to add on; I don't even really need to know how to write the kanji, just recognize the word. As an added bonus in this case, I've then learned how to recognize the word that means "coffee" in Chinese, although I'd need to learn the Chinese pronunciation to be able to ask for it out loud. I could at least recognize it on a menu and point to it, which is good enough to order, or I could learn the phrase "how to say" and point to it, and BOOM, new knowledge required.

Ideograms are an amazing brain hack because with kanji we can actually bridge language barriers and understand written words that may be pronounced completely differently, as exemplified by Chinese and its dialects. I had a Malaysian friend in college who was already familiar with kanji, and spoke both Mandarin and Cantonese (Japanese would've been his 5th or 6th language); he showed me how written Chinese could be read in different dialects. To learn Japanese he only needed to map new pronunciations to those characters to read out loud, but once he got the hang of kana and Japanese grammar, his reading comprehension was head and shoulders above the rest of us. If anything, this makes a great case for a WIDER adoption of kanji/hanzi. Unless you're magically able to standardize the way millions or billions of people speak, what you propose is incredibly narrow-minded and hubristic.

It's ok to be ignorant, but at some point you must admit that ignorance if you expect to learn and grow out of that ignorance. I understand this is particularly difficult for someone with your bona fides, and after 5 decades in a country I too would probably expect that I would have a grip on things; to the point that my apparent expertise on my adopted country might be something my ego clings to as an integral part of my identity. But you should probably let go of the notion that you know better than Japanese people about how their own language should be structured.

@S. MacObicin you are either a brilliant satirist, or an earnest fool. Either way, great trolling.
 
誤解をお持ちのようなので改めて明示しておきますが、引用した写真を原本だとは一言も言っていません。むしろわざわざ「定家本」と出展を明記しています。言うまでもなく紫式部自筆の源氏原本が存在しないのはあまりにも有名な話です。それゆえ底本として使われることの最も多い青表紙系の、さらに底本として参照されることの多い「定家本」を例として選択した次第です。
この帖が定家本人の自筆ではないとの定説が定着していることももちろん存じ上げていますが、底本の底本としての地位はいまだに保持しています。鎌倉期を「かなり後」と呼称することの妥当性はさておき、年代からすれば新発見の「若紫」のほうがより相応しい例のようにも思われますが、デジタルアーカイブにはまだ収められていませんし。
ここまでの背景を全て自明のこととの前提で、言語学者を名乗られて源氏を例示されるからには当然それを理解できているであろうと判断して「定家本」とだけ記したのですが、そこまでのリテラシーを求めたのは結果を見ると買いかぶり過ぎだったようですね。
それと、どうやら紫式部本人は平仮名のみで原本を書いたとの自信を強くお持ちとお見受けしますが、何か明確な証拠をお持ちなら是非ご例示いただけませんか。後学のためにも。類推という間接的な証拠だけでは結局のところ水掛け論の域を超えませんので。
そもそも平仮名のみの文学を例出するなら、疑義をはさむ余地のある源氏ではなく原本の存在しているほかの作品を選択されればよかったのでは?源氏に限らなくとも漢字不要論の援軍としての役割は十二分に果たしうるわけですから。

あと、すでに他の投稿でも指摘されてますが、言及されている新聞紙上の唯一の例というのも御教示願えませんか。どの日付の紙面でどの文脈で使われたどの単語なのかを是非。源氏同様に後学のためにも、あるいは、役に立たないとお考えのフォーラムにそれこそ専門的な資格を持っていると御主張のその見地からの知識を提供して有用なものにするためにも。


品のない揚げ足取りですが、「やまととば」ですね。「やまととば」ではなく。「大和言葉」に連濁は生じません。言語学者を称されるくらいですからライマンの法則くらいはご存知なのかと思っていました。あるいは、ライマンの法則を持ち出すまでもなく、「大和言葉」のような言語学上の頻出単語を、その長い在住期間中ずっと濁って聞き取り濁って発音していて今まで一度も注意訂正を受けたことがなかったとすれば、なかなかにお気の毒な環境におられたとお見受けしますが。


要らぬ御心配は無用です。言語学者と称する方にわざわざその専門的な知識を披歴していただかなくとも、その話題はアマチュアしかいないとおっしゃるこのフォーラムでは既に何度も扱われている既知のテーマで、用例も含めて比較的詳細に説明済みですから。例えば以下の如くに。


I'll take "brilliant satirist", thank you. At least I have managed to goad your esteemed Moderator into writing just about a full page in kana-majiri, which I will not use myself as it is possibly inaccessible to most of the bloggers in this forum. It is also precisely not what the forum is aiming at.

Suffice it to note that self-lampooning Mr Moderator, in a text peppered with katakana English (seven occurrences in a bit less than a page – which is fairly typical, but regrettable), devotes about 20 lines to the topic of the existing copies of Lady Murasaki's novel. Of course I was aware of the Teika-bon, but this should not be mistaken for the original (teibon). He does not seem to mention that a phonetic writing system was indeed adopted by Heian period court ladies. That was the whole point of my mentioning the Genji in the first place.

Mr Moderator seems to be forgetting that the subject of this forum is "a phonetic writing system for Japanese". If only he would stick to the subject of this particular thread, which I believe was my suggestion that the alphabet might be used quite successfully to represent the sounds of Japanese – at least those of everyday Japanese. There may be the counterargument that the current Japanese writing system makes possible the use of all sorts of interesting kanji combinations, which is true enough. But, aside from a few very specialised discussions, the alphabet would seem to suffice. (My surveyed newspapers are old and mostly lost, except that the Nikkei used was dated 12/20—year unclear. But those were careful surveys, and might be taken into account.) Incidentally, the whole page of the Moderator's written in kanji and kana in this thread might just as easily have been written in the alphabet. True, in the 2nd to last line the word ki-chi (既知) has four homophones, but at least those in the denchi jisho used by high school and university students are all nouns, where this instance is a verb. I'm sure Mr Moderator will have an objection however.

Mr Moderator has undoubtedly had a very thorough grounding in writing Japanese in kana-majiri, and I congratulate him on the high quality of his work. That unfortunately does not detract from the way he sets aside my proposal regarding the merits of switching to a modified Hepburn system of the alphabet in order to write everyday Japanese. Where there are easily confused homophones, small differences in spelling could be used. The aim would it be to save Japanese students six years of elementary school devoted party to acquiring kanji knowledge, and a good number of years after that before the number climbs to 2,036.


It may not be generally realised, but the average Japanese adult – including university professors – can write (by hand) no more than about 800 kanji. This is of course partly due to the use of computers in writing Japanese. But it means there is partial illiteracy where kanji are concerned. In fact there are plenty of examples of a general flight from kanji, the latest casualty in the news being the term man-en (蔓延/spread [of the virus]), the character for man apparently being thought too difficult for NHK viewers. The examples are legion – but one result of this flight from kanji is the adoption of nearly 60,000 English words transcribed erroneously in katakana. Just take a look at an automobile catalogue sometime! There is of course a strong case for an appeal to the way the mother country (as China historically is) handles neologisms. For one reason or another (one of which is probably o-share, to put it kindly), the Japanese, however, prefer terebi over 電視. Etc., etc.



Another – and very important – feature of Chinese education in writing is the way the alphabet (pinyin) is used first of all, before characters are introduced. I would advocate doing the same in Japan, as Japanese people in general have little acquaintance with the alphabet, before it's too late. This would only be in line with the Meiji period government policy I have already mentioned – that of Datsu-A/Nyû-Ô: "get out of Asia and enter Europe ". Perhaps this is been done only too thoroughly from the point of view of urbanisation, domestic building, clothing, you name it. The current writing system is evidently seen as a last bastion of Japanese culture. Yet, to repeat, I am not advocating abandoning kanji as such – or hiragana for that matter. Once again, practising writing these characters by hand is a wonderful training for hand and eye.



I don't recall ever claining that I am currently a linguist. My postgraduate linguistics studies ended in early 1976 (Sophia University). My academic work since that time has been in the semiotics of poetry, like my (published) PhD research and my 2020 book. Neither can I really claim to be an expert in Japanese phonology (at least not from a traditional Japanese academic standpoint, which has its problems). But decades of work in Japanese, sometimes involving preparing a manuscript in the modified Hepburn system, have made me aware of the possibilities of that system.

[h2][/h2]

This is all dictated by the way, as arthritis makes it difficult to type. This problem, too, might bemore easily solved for written Japanese were the alphabet to be adopted for everyday use. It would also of course make that writing system very much more accessible to overseas residents – and non-Japanese in general; I'm thinking in particular of the many Southeast Asian hospital nurses so badly needed in the Japanese healthcare system. To expect these nurses to read medical terms in kanji, and only too often in katakana, is nothing less than cruel.



Dear Mr Moderator, if you happen to have a Japanese surname and can tear yourself away from kana-majiri for a while, I may suggest drafting a manuscript together. You will understand the reason for the need for at least one Japanese surname on a book cover. You're obviously very well qualified in both languages, as well as being highly literate. In any case, let me thank you for your contributions to this forum. Mine will cease as of today.

 
Mine will cease as of today.
最近二人目の「しっぽ巻いて逃げちゃった」人ですね。日本や日本語に造詣の深いメンバーがこんなにたくさんここに出入りしてるなんて思いもしなかったんでしょうけど。

死者に鞭打つようで申し訳ない気もしますが、一応他で恥をかかないように再び揚げ足を取らせてもらうと、
denchi jisho
denshi-jisho(電子辞書)ですね。denchi-jisho(電池辞書)じゃなく。「やまとごとば」同様ご本人の語彙力の問題ではなく、単なる書き間違いであればいいとは思いますが。

True, in the 2nd to last line the word ki-chi (既知) has four homophones, but at least those in the denchi jisho used by high school and university students are all nouns, where this instance is a verb. I'm sure Mr Moderator will have an objection however.
じゃあお言葉に甘えて。残念ながら最後の最後に言い逃れのできない馬脚が現れちゃいましたね。日本語ができるかどうかのレベルじゃなく、文法についての根本的な勘違いという繕いようのない失態が。


いずれにしても、JREFの良さ、というか質の高さがよく現れた一幕であったなあ、と手前味噌になるかもしれませんが改めて感服しています。:)
 
@S. MacObicin It only counts as satire if you aren't actually serious about your proposals re: Japanese transcription. You have yet to explain the reasoning behind spelling differences like "wave" and "waive," or "whale" "wale" and "wail," or how JAPANESE students learning JAPANESE are supposed to recognize the correct way to pronounce English loan-words spelled as they are in English, which is a decidedly non-phonetic system.

Like I said, Japanese dictation is available and surprisingly accurate. Your dismissiveness of Toritoribe's arguments and failure to respond to him in a language you claim fluency in does not reflect well on your claims. Dictating in English doesn't explain your spelling errors either, so I'm not buying any of this deflection. As you probably well know, Toritoribe's Japanese posts directed at you are a direct challenge to your claims of fluency; it's not antithetical to this forum to hold you accountable to your claims, and if our non-Japanese-speaking members are curious, the gist is accessible through online translators.

For a long time I've encouraged folks to get off the romaji crutch as soon as possible, as kana and even kanji recognition is not THAT hard with a little practice, and are absolutely necessary for literacy. Those who have done so gained new appreciation for written Japanese, and their studies have blossomed. Then you come along and try to regress the whole language to suit your own eurocentric predilections. What an ego you've got on you; if you've truly spent 5 decades in Japan then I'm disappointed at how little you seem to have learned in your time there.
 
Back again! I have been taking time off your Forum to have a quick discussion with a friend and colleague who is professor emeritus at Ohio State University, US. He confirms that, when invited to participate in a commission at the 国立国語研究所 in late 2013, he made a strong recommendation that use of the alphabet for Japanese transcription the standardised, in order to avoid the current variations, which are no doubt confusing.

Also, I have returned in order to thank the kind lady who told us that her Japanese husband confirmed that the pronunciation of desu as /des/ is normal in Japanese speech. Your readers should already be aware of this phenomenon. (please don't fall into the traditional Japanese trap of 'unvoicing': The final s can in fact be sustained in some cases.) Let's assume we're talking about standard Japanese, and not Kansai dialect (I have lived in Osaka and Kyoto by the way). Dear Mdm, your husband is 100% correct! And, as I have noted already, there are numerous examples of geminate consonants within Japanese words. Neither of these situations is addressed by kana transcription. Hiragana must've been a wonderful thing in the Heian period, when court ladies seem to have stuck to やまとことば、but today it is sadly in need of updating. The fact that it does not distinguish between consonants and vowels is another count against it, putting it back there somewhere In 3000+ BC with ancient Sumerian.
Your bloggers, perhaps including Mr moderator, seem to be still at the stage where kana-majiri is fascinating rather than being just irritating more often than not. Of course, if you have grown up with it from childhood, then you're completely used to it and will generally not object. It is more likely to offend a thoroughly trilingual person.
I will admit to having misunderstood the subject of the blog: it seems to be dwelling in the past ("why didn't the Japanese adopt…?") rather than looking ahead to the future. My colleague at Ohio State, who is a recognised authority on Japanese phonetics and phonology, looks forward to the stage at which diagraphia will be the norm. In other words, writers in Japanese will be able to choose between kana-majiri and alphabetic transcription. Wouldn't that be nice? All those millions of people who are wasting their time writing e-mails in kana-majiri will be saved a lot of time and trouble.

Here's a piece of kana-majiri which demonstrates the sort of thing that is happening these days:

NTTぷららではログイン時に不正(※)と思われる場合に限り、「2段階認証」でのログインが必要になります。
「2段階認証」とは、IDパスワードに加えてその場限りの認証コード(ワンタイムパスワード)によるログイン認証を することでセキュリティーを強化する仕組みです。

事前に設定された認証コード(ワンタイムパスワード)の通知先へ認証コードを送信することで、IDとパスワードを不正に入手 した第三者がログインに成功する危機を防ぎます。
※短時間での連続したアクセスやサービス提供外の端末など、NTTぷららのセキュリティーポリシーに則り判断します。

I do not see that anything here would be corrupted by representation in the alphabet. Even "2-dankai ninshô" would work just fine. Even 危機/kiki would work, it being the top of the list of three homonyms in my denshi-jisho, and the meaning being clear enough from context.
To stray into the subject of my カタカナ英語 book, Is there no-one on your esteemed forum who would consider this piece of kana-majiri a ghastly mess? all I am really aiming at is trying to clean up written Japanese, at the same time making English borrowings available to readers in their original form.
Some of your readers seem to think this would be too difficult for the poor old Japanese people? but why on earth should the Japanese people – and only they – have the right to distort every borrowing from another language by compulsorily forcing it into the very limited phonetic framework of kana?
Returning to the subject of "Why didn't Japanese adopt…?", neither have they properly adopted underground wiring throughout the country – 50 years after it was done in Europe. The Japanese people are wonderfully good at details (where the devil resides), but often do not seem to get the big picture. So let's try looking ahead, rather than wondering why something didn't happen in the past.

This will be my last posting on this unproductive forum. There are better things to do in the lovely spring weather we have been having...
 
あ、完全に白旗上げたわけじゃなかったんですね。それは僥倖。(ちなみに、「鼬の最後っ屁」という諺を思い浮かべてしまいました。嘘が露見してよっぽど悔しかったんだろうとお見受けしますが。)

じゃあこちらも最後に一言だけ。今回も論点ずらして最初と随分主張変わってますけど、結局のところ全ての投稿に通奏低音として流れているのは、日本語習得に困難をきたした人の恨み節ですね。誰かの受け売りだったにせよ、素直に自説を展開すればよかったものを、箔をつけようとして言語学者だの日本語が流暢だのと嘘ついて、上から目線で、素人の集まりのフォーラムには資格のある人の貢献が必要だ、なんて啖呵切るから結果的に足元すくわれるんです。

もし日本語がほんとに流暢で、文字を入力するのに支障があるだけだと主張されるなら、是非発言を録音してアップロードしてみてください。(それとも「共有空間に上げてください」とでも言い換えたほうがいいですかね。🤣)流暢といっても90%であって100%ではないから「電池辞書」みたいな間違いも犯します、というような言い訳込みでも大丈夫です。その程度の流暢さがほんとにあるなら、あるいはたとえそれよりはるかに低い正確さで、ネイティブレベルとはとても言えない外国語訛りのものであったとしても(もしそうだったとしたら数十年にわたる教え子の方々が誠にお気の毒な話ですが。もちろんもしほんとにそんな生徒が存在していればですが)、こちらの聞き取りには恐らく何の不都合もありませんから。それとも今度も録音・アップロードできない理由を何かまたひねり出しますか?あるいは、今度こそしっぽ巻いて逃げます?他にすることがあるなんて酸っぱい葡萄的な予防線張ってるし、後足で砂かけて憂さ晴らしても、結局のところ負け戦だったわけだし。
 
Why on earth should the Japanese people – and only they – have the right to distort every borrowing from another language by compulsorily forcing it into the very limited phonetic framework of kana?
Because it's their language, which gives them the right to communicate however they choose. I don't like the dog's breakfast of katakana that Japanese has become either but that's how it is and it's not something that seems to bother most Japanese.
 
あ、完全に白旗上げたわけじゃなかったんですね。それは僥倖。(ちなみに、「鼬の最後っ屁」という諺を思い浮かべてしまいました。嘘が露見してよっぽど悔しかったんだろうとお見受けしますが。)

じゃあこちらも最後に一言だけ。今回も論点ずらして最初と随分主張変わってますけど、結局のところ全ての投稿に通奏低音として流れているのは、日本語習得に困難をきたした人の恨み節ですね。誰かの受け売りだったにせよ、素直に自説を展開すればよかったものを、箔をつけようとして言語学者だの日本語が流暢だのと嘘ついて、上から目線で、素人の集まりのフォーラムには資格のある人の貢献が必要だ、なんて啖呵切るから結果的に足元すくわれるんです。

もし日本語がほんとに流暢で、文字を入力するのに支障があるだけだと主張されるなら、是非発言を録音してアップロードしてみてください。(それとも「共有空間に上げてください」とでも言い換えたほうがいいですかね。🤣)流暢といっても90%であって100%ではないから「電池辞書」みたいな間違いも犯します、というような言い訳込みでも大丈夫です。その程度の流暢さがほんとにあるなら、あるいはたとえそれよりはるかに低い正確さで、ネイティブレベルとはとても言えない外国語訛りのものであったとしても(もしそうだったとしたら数十年にわたる教え子の方々が誠にお気の毒な話ですが。もちろんもしほんとにそんな生徒が存在していればですが)、こちらの聞き取りには恐らく何の不都合もありませんから。それとも今度も録音・アップロードできない理由を何かまたひねり出しますか?あるいは、今度こそしっぽ巻いて逃げます?他にすることがあるなんて酸っぱい葡萄的な予防線張ってるし、後足で砂かけて憂さ晴らしても、結局のところ負け戦だったわけだし。
あなたのご機嫌取りのため、私の発音を録音したりするものですか!76歳にて、そのやり方すらわからないし。私の発音は(仏語と英語と同様に)完璧だと信じていただくしかないですね。53年も住めば日本人ですから(発音の指導はNHKのannouncerたちの発音訓練を担当なさっていた水谷健剛先生でした。)
ところで、通称「Nice G****n」という、ろくな英語も書けない人に、その呼び名のいやらしさを教えてやってください。昨今のNHKや民法に禁じられている、アメリカ人特有の人種差別用語そのもの!本人がそれを理解すれば良かろう。そんな人をForumに参加させることもあって、私は参加しません。
 
あ、結局また帰ってきちゃうんですね。署名に関する皮肉がほんとになっちゃいましたか。ま、それは置いといて、日本語入力は関節炎に差し触りがあるんじゃなかったんですか?

御機嫌取りという単語選択が適切かどうかは別にして、やり方がわからないというのはこれはまたド直球の理由付けでした。懇切丁寧に方法を御説明申し上げるのも不可能ではないとは思いますが。

日本語表現の節々の不自然さに、今まで流暢と公言してきた手前その使用を躊躇されていたのもむべなるかなという気もします。修正したい欲求を置いて、一点だけ。民法は民放の誤変換という解釈でよろしいですよね?

御指摘のユーザーネームに関して言えば、御本人も語義を十分に御存知の上で敢えて使用されていると理解しています。日本語に堪能な方ですから。伏字にして、あたかも禁句であるかのような印象操作を試みていらっしゃいますが、「アメリカ人」と十把一絡げに呼んで全体を一つの均一な集団であるかのようにまとめて非難しようとするのと、「外人さん」と敬意をこめて呼びかけるのとでは、どちらがより差別的な思考の持ち主であるのか、という用法論も絡んだ問題のように見受けられます。あるいは、これこそが外来語表記等に関する御自身の主張にも通底する、自己本位の思考法の発露と言えなくもないのかもしれません。その傲慢さへの無自覚も含めて。

外来語を原語表記しても発音修正の契機にはならないとか、別表記で同音異義語を差異化する方法の詳細を知りたいという指摘への反論くらいはお聞きしたかったところですけどね。御主張の本質に関わることですし、しかも民法ー民放なんて好事例もちょうど出たことですしね。よもや分が悪いと感じてカタカナ表記の外来語の多用がそもそもの論点だった、なんて逃げを打つお積もりではないと信じますが。まさに言及されている御本の内容ように。
 
I do not see that anything here would be corrupted by representation in the alphabet. Even "2-dankai ninshô" would work just fine. Even 危機/kiki would work, it being the top of the list of three homonyms in my denshi-jisho, and the meaning being clear enough from context.
To stray into the subject of my カタカナ英語 book, Is there no-one on your esteemed forum who would consider this piece of kana-majiri a ghastly mess? all I am really aiming at is trying to clean up written Japanese, at the same time making English borrowings available to readers in their original form.
Some of your readers seem to think this would be too difficult for the poor old Japanese people? but why on earth should the Japanese people – and only they – have the right to distort every borrowing from another language by compulsorily forcing it into the very limited phonetic framework of kana?
How would using foreign words in their original spelling actually solve the problem?
From your example: login, one time password, security, code, access, service, security policy
The pronunciation of all of these words require learning the English rules of pronunciation and rote memorization for all the exceptions.
In other words, to be successful, the Japanese people will need to learn English. So why not just focus on improving English education?
 
These are all English words not "foreign". (Why do Americans so love the term "foreign"?
You are absolutely right that for this ploy to be successful, Japanese readers would need to learn English. That is exactly what I propose in my katakana book (Taraba Shobô would perhaps mail you a copy: 0467-22-2492: カタカナ英語革命, by Jack Hobson- I have a couple of pen-names). our son started studying English at the age of three. He became completely bilingual, and now has twice the salary of a monolingual graduate from a top university. There are some great American TV programmes which really help. We started with Sesame Street and graduated to Full House.
BTW, "English education" seems to be an American expression. It is not strictly English: Education is one thing, teaching is another.
 
Back again! I have been taking time off your Forum to have a quick discussion with a friend and colleague who is professor emeritus at Ohio State University, US. He confirms that, when invited to participate in a commission at the 国立国語研究所 in late 2013, he made a strong recommendation that use of the alphabet for Japanese transcription the standardised, in order to avoid the current variations, which are no doubt confusing.

Also, I have returned in order to thank the kind lady who told us that her Japanese husband confirmed that the pronunciation of desu as /des/ is normal in Japanese speech. Your readers should already be aware of this phenomenon. (please don't fall into the traditional Japanese trap of 'unvoicing': The final s can in fact be sustained in some cases.) Let's assume we're talking about standard Japanese, and not Kansai dialect (I have lived in Osaka and Kyoto by the way). Dear Mdm, your husband is 100% correct! And, as I have noted already, there are numerous examples of geminate consonants within Japanese words. Neither of these situations is addressed by kana transcription. Hiragana must've been a wonderful thing in the Heian period, when court ladies seem to have stuck to やまとことば、but today it is sadly in need of updating. The fact that it does not distinguish between consonants and vowels is another count against it, putting it back there somewhere In 3000+ BC with ancient Sumerian.
Your bloggers, perhaps including Mr moderator, seem to be still at the stage where kana-majiri is fascinating rather than being just irritating more often than not. Of course, if you have grown up with it from childhood, then you're completely used to it and will generally not object. It is more likely to offend a thoroughly trilingual person....
Oh, who is your friend? Have they published about the theory they presented to NINJAL? I guess their recommendation didn't seem to make much of a splash; they didn't even make it into the summary of the research group's activities from 2013/14: https://repository.ninjal.ac.jp/ind...ribute_id=22&file_no=1&page_id=13&block_id=21

Probably because like I said earlier, and is confirmed in every single section of that document, everything in linguistics and phonology is about describing, not defining how language is used. Every other language writes and pronounces loan words with their own phonetic structure and writing system, including Korean, Chinese, Russian, and ENGLISH. We also often positively BUTCHER those words, even when we preserve their spelling! Ask the French if they approve of how we say croissant, or ask the Dutch if we're saying van Gogh correctly, or ask an Ashkenazi for a loaf of Challah, or ask a Thai for directions to Phuket. Don't go around casting stones when you live in a linguistic glass house.

And who is this kind lady you speak of? I don't see any post here to that effect. You have an ever-growing cast of imaginary friends who agree with you, it seems.

Here's a piece of kana-majiri which demonstrates the sort of thing that is happening these days:

NTTぷららではログイン時に不正(※)と思われる場合に限り、「2段階認証」でのログインが必要になります。
「2段階認証」とは、IDパスワードに加えてその場限りの認証コード(ワンタイムパスワード)によるログイン認証を することでセキュリティーを強化する仕組みです。

事前に設定された認証コード(ワンタイムパスワード)の通知先へ認証コードを送信することで、IDとパスワードを不正に入手 した第三者がログインに成功する危機を防ぎます。
※短時間での連続したアクセスやサービス提供外の端末など、NTTぷららのセキュリティーポリシーに則り判断します。

I do not see that anything here would be corrupted by representation in the alphabet. Even "2-dankai ninshô" would work just fine. Even 危機/kiki would work, it being the top of the list of three homonyms in my denshi-jisho, and the meaning being clear enough from context.
To stray into the subject of my カタカナ英語 book, Is there no-one on your esteemed forum who would consider this piece of kana-majiri a ghastly mess? all I am really aiming at is trying to clean up written Japanese, at the same time making English borrowings available to readers in their original form.
Some of your readers seem to think this would be too difficult for the poor old Japanese people? but why on earth should the Japanese people – and only they – have the right to distort every borrowing from another language by compulsorily forcing it into the very limited phonetic framework of kana?
Returning to the subject of "Why didn't Japanese adopt…?", neither have they properly adopted underground wiring throughout the country – 50 years after it was done in Europe. The Japanese people are wonderfully good at details (where the devil resides), but often do not seem to get the big picture. So let's try looking ahead, rather than wondering why something didn't happen in the past.

Show me ONE peer-reviewed academic phonology paper that disproves devoicing in Japanese and makes a case for restructuring the written language to accommodate consonants that seem to be uncoupled from their vowels (which are easily described by phonological rules). I'll even award extra points if it's from a Japanese scholar. The expression of devoiced vowels in です or したくて doesn't mean throwing out kana is a good idea, unless you want to swap that headache for explaining where these vowels suddenly came from in ですが and したくない or 次第 or 島. Again, Japanese is a moraic language, like ancient Greek or Sanskrit; you didn't even compare it to the right dead languages! How long will you continue to try to fabricate an appeal to authority to pretend there's academic support for your selfish desire to make Japanese easier for you? I wonder when you'll choose to either give up the troll, or just reveal yourself as a charlatan who never bothered to learn how the language works.

Your suggestion is still just a joke because you complain how Japanese transcription isn't phonetically accurate enough for you, but suggest that foreign loanwords should be written as they are in their original language. English is NOT the only source for loanwords, so they wouldn't have to just learn English spelling, but spelling conventions of other languages as well, in order to have any hope to pronounce things correctly. Katakana may not be a great way to accurately represent foreign words, but it's still phonetic and works within the confines of Japanese phonology, such as they are.

@S. MacObicin, you're the Annie Wilkes of Japanese studies; you'd hobble the whole language if it meant you could hold onto it forever. (For anyone who doesn't get the joke, which is probably everyone, she's the character played by Kathy Bates in the 1990 film Misery, who imprisons her favorite author and breaks his legs to keep him from running away).

I will admit to having misunderstood the subject of the blog: it seems to be dwelling in the past ("why didn't the Japanese adopt…?") rather than looking ahead to the future. My colleague at Ohio State, who is a recognised authority on Japanese phonetics and phonology, looks forward to the stage at which diagraphia will be the norm. In other words, writers in Japanese will be able to choose between kana-majiri and alphabetic transcription. Wouldn't that be nice? All those millions of people who are wasting their time writing e-mails in kana-majiri will be saved a lot of time and trouble.
You don't have to wait for this; Japanese people already use QWERTY keyboards to input Japanese (using a variety of spelling conventions, no less!); they just don't leave it in Romaji because it doesn't actually improve legibility. You're free to your own personal preferences, and you can even use a Romaji translator to revert Japanese back into your idyllic hooked-on-phonics Japanese. Sorry, they prefer to use the barbaric macron to describe the 長音符 over your precious circumflex: Japanese Translator | RomajiDesu

あなたのご機嫌取りのため、私の発音を録音したりするものですか!76歳にて、そのやり方すらわからないし。私の発音は(仏語と英語と同様に)完璧だと信じていただ かないですね。53年も住めば日本人ですから(発音の指導はNHKのannouncerたちの発音訓練を担当なさっていた水谷健剛先生でした。)
I'm sure everyone is terribly unimpressed with and confused by my uneducated American English, since as you point out I can't even write decently in my own 母国語 so I'm just going to code-switch and randomly throw my blasphemous かな混じり into the mix, because I can. Honestly, there are few linguistic joys greater than sharing multiple languages with your friends and effortlessly blending them together in conversation, plucking the nearest 単語 that come to mind, knowing both that you are not speaking any one language coherently yet being completely understood, 問題なしで。特に文法を混ぜて日本語と英語か中国語か韓国語か何国語でも、pidgin Englishより、fully immersive language synthesisになって、超funなexperienceですよ。やってみたらわかるかもしれないが、わかりたくもなさそうでThat's just your loss, I guess. Because 人々が言語に興味を持って習いつつあって, languages will further influence one another, and they will change in ways that you clearly won't like. That's just how the 未来 is shaping up.

There are entire fields, careers, and lives swallowed up in the study of the chaos that is human communication. The best we can do is make sense of it in knowing how and why it has changed in these ways. If you think you can force order upon that chaos, you are by far the biggest fool (or fascist) in the room.

ところで、通称「Nice G****n」という、ろくな英語も書けない人に、その呼び名のいやらしさを教えてやってください。昨今のNHKや民法に禁じられている、アメリカ人特有の人種差別用語そのもの!本人がそれを理解すれば良かろう。そんな人をForumに参加させることもあって、私は参加しません。
HAHAHA 自分で教えてやれよ, why don't you? That's a pretty off-topic ad-hominem though, you should probably make a whole other thread to scold me for my bad manners in using such a taboo term in a self-referential bilingual pun. I've been called that term enough times in Japan (in mostly friendly ways) that I feel no shame in my use of it. Do you choose to feel ostracized when someone uses that word? You're awfully sensitive for someone who makes insulting blanket statements about Americans. And which commonwealth country spawned your condescending お尻? Your posts absolutely reek of colonizer mentality.

These are all English words not "foreign". (Why do Americans so love the term "foreign"? You are absolutely right that for this ploy to be successful, Japanese readers would need to learn English. That is exactly what I propose in my katakana book
パン?リュックサック?レントゲン?イクラ?ピエロ?カルタ?アルバイト?ピーマン?Even イギリス, the freaking word for ENGLAND comes from Portuguese! I'm sorry I mischaracterized you as being eurocentric, you're unabashedly anglocentric.

our son started studying English at the age of three. He became completely bilingual, and now has twice the salary of a monolingual graduate from a top university. There are some great American TV programmes which really help. We started with Sesame Street and graduated to Full House.
You should watch some of Bob Saget's stand up comedy, that's some truly advanced American English.
 
Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed Bob Saget in Full House, but from the negative comments on the web, think I will stick to Fluffy. Now there's a comedian who can do sounds!
Incidentally, sounds are what language is made of, Not writing systems. But when the two are so divergent as the sounds of Japanese and the Kana orthographies, you should be able to see that kana cannot adequately represent the range of those sounds. Once again, it must have been very convenient back in the Heian Period, but it is sadly inadequate now. Unless and until you recognise that, you and your forum mates will be missing out on a lot of what is actually happening in spoken Japanese. And it will be a mistake to rely on the writings of Japanese nationals, unless they are those rare birds who happen to be trilingual at least. I'm sure that they exist, however: Japanese nationals with a really good ear for what is happening in their own spoken language. One such was a student of mine, another is a young Sophia graduate who taught herself English in Japan – of course using all kinds of media including songs – and who is really quite brilliant. I do feel that it is people such as these who will have a future influence on the transcription of spoken Japanese. So I and my Ohio State colleague will look forward to the point in time when digraphia becomes the rule rather than the exception. Who cares why most Japanese are stuck in their kana-majiri rut; let's look forward to the future! Yes, kana-majiri has its uses – as your moderator ably demonstrates. But it is surely not the only possibility...
 
Back
Top Bottom