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

Discussion in 'Serious Discussions' started by Shahar1992, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Mark of Zorro

    Mark of Zorro 先輩

    Saying Japanese know something we don't? That cuts both ways. Most of the rest of the world know the convenience and ease of a simpler writing system, even if they are not really book smart experts on such a subject. Most people are not, and cannot clearly label all or even most of the pros and cons.

    People who studied something don't want to abolish it? Yep. Who wants to change things in such a way that they spent potentially months of their life learning a now useless art. That would be like a skilled factory painter screaming "Bring on the robots!"

    And while pretty much all Japanese may use this system of theirs, they are the only ones in the entire world of 6 billion people that I know of currently using such a mixed up, inconsistent, confusing and time consuming system of writing. The only other people I know of with this much madness in their system was the ancient Egyptians, and we still would not be able to decipher that insanity if we never got the Rosetta Stone.

    Its both. Rote memorization plays a HUGE role. It gets easier over time, yes, but this is due to relations with what you learned through rote, which is massive.

    That's a pro. But the most insignificant pro ever and hardly fool proof, truly accurate or consistent.

    I think I pretty much summed that up with the factory painter analogy. Although I will say that kanji can be interesting and obviously took a lot of time to create and be made into what it is....but that is hardly a good basis for a written language.

    Yes we have heard the argument for change a million times. Yet nobody EVER suggested any other language adopt a similar strategy to the Japanese writing system.

    And while Japanese love to say that kanji is "hard", that is not at all the problem. What it is is an inefficient, time consuming pain in the *** just to learn how to read and write, something pretty much everybody else simplified a long time ago. Even the Chinese are consistent with their written language making it not so bad even if they use pictograms too.

    When I was in elementary school, adult encyclopedias were completely accessible to me, by myself, in the corner with a dictionary close by. Not for Japanese kids and that stifles learning.

    There is a boatload the Japanese can and should learn from outsiders. And that one also works in reverse. But we are talking about a people who seem to have not even learned the value of zero yet. When they make kids books, they use spaces but use them improperly because they don't disjoin articles from other words. They don't use or seem to have a proper kanji for zero, and as a fix, inserting the kanji for ten in numbering. They have not revalued the yen leading to huge numbers even for fairly regular purchases. Their counting system ignores the commas in numbers they use everyday and so every single one of them expresses confusion with these big numbers they are forced to use so much. In short, Japan needs few hard kicks in the *** from the boot of reform to the point its not even funny anymore. Kanji is just the biggest example.

    Hell, I have seen English speakers not be able to read the spellings of some names, but at least they could offer a close guess. Here in Japan I have seen so very, very many people, especially TEACHERS who should be the least confused, have no clue how to read a person's name, names being at the very CORE of human communication.

    And now, even old people can't remember how to write kanji because of smart phones. This dinosaur should have died long ago.
  2. Mark of Zorro

    Mark of Zorro 先輩

    #27 Mark of Zorro, Apr 16, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
    I LOVE this!!! Despite Juli trying to make it seem hard or crazy, anyone who understands what is happening will see the opposite. I read and understood that much faster than a first grader would read the same sentence "properly" spelled. The only reason it seems strange at all is because we did not grow up with it. If everyone spells like that, in a few years it would be as natural to everyone as today's spelling, same as it took you years to feel English spelling was natural...you just forgot cause it was so long ago.

    Even in English we sight read words...we generally do not phonetically suss them out as we did in first grade. We sight read English words the same as kanji is sight read. Its amazing how people don't realize they are sight reading, and don't understand that it was just seeing that word a hundred times that way that made them able to do that. But its a HELL of a lot easier to deal with the 52 block letters of the English alphabet than it is all those damned kanji parts even if sight reading is the general rule in both languages.
  3. Julie.chan

    Julie.chan 後輩

    The kanji for zero is 零. Not used very often as far as I'm aware (because of the number of strokes, I assume?), but it's there.

    We in the U.S. split up our currency into two different forms, and then we use decimal numbers. What's the sense in that? Japan's currency system just uses one form of currency and plain old integers, nice and simple. I think it's a superior system.

    Or, the commas ignore the counting system they have been using for much longer. Perhaps that is the defect. Maybe commas should be at every fourth digit, or not used at all. Or maybe rather than e.g. "600,000,000", "六億" should be used because it's much easier to read.

    More like point out that it takes effort to adapt to something totally different from what you're used to. That's a major disruption for everyone involved, so it just isn't going to happen. People have lives to attend to; you can't ask them to re-learn how to spell because the government says so, unless you're North Korea, perhaps.
  4. johnnyG

    johnnyG 先輩

    @Mark of Zorro Instead beating this dead horse...

    ...please convince the U.S. to go metric.

    It'd be a better, more productive use of your time.
  5. nice gaijin

    nice gaijin Resident Realist

    #30 nice gaijin, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    My intended point was that the more you study a language system, the more you understand the reasoning behind it. It may not always be the most logical outcome, but the cause and effect becomes clearer. The deeper understanding breeds a deeper respect for the language, and piques a greater interest in studying it.

    I recently gave a listen to Mark Forsyth's Etymologicon, which was a delightful romp through the history of English vocabulary, and served as a reminder to just how unaware we are of the convoluted history of English as we use it. Despite its seemingly simple writing system, English is a complex mishmash of influences that is sometimes reflected in its spelling, which is an absolute nightmare for EFL students. But how strong is the academic movement to establish "textspeak" (which is arguably simpler) as the new standard spelling convention, for the sake of those EFL students? As the world's de facto lingua franca, it seems that English would be more compelled than Japanese to give itself a simpler and more standardized spelling structure, like that of Spanish or French.

    When you first encounter a kanji you don't know, you can either get discouraged by it or get excited to learn a new thing. I think there's value in fostering the latter mindset, and not completely rearranging someone else's language just to make it feel more accessible. It seems to me that the majority of people that are arguing for abolishing kanji have studied just enough to realize that kanji literacy doesn't come easy, but not enough to appreciate it beyond their frustration.

    I believe that the changes to a language need to be made to first serve the native speakers of that language and solve their communication problems, so I agree about the names of people and places, which frequently pose problems for native speakers. But abolishing kanji altogether seems a bit like cutting out your liver to cure your alcoholism.
  6. OoTmaster

    OoTmaster 先輩

    Not going to happen. You'd have more productive use of your time trying to convert everyone else away from metric. Not going to argue which is "better" or "worse". We're just stubborn as heck over here, for better or for worse. We'll keep our inches, feet, furlongs, fortnights, pounds and I'm sure there's measurements in toes in there somewhere.
  7. Toritoribe

    Toritoribe 禁漁期
    Staff Member Moderator

    As same as we will keep on using the Japanese writing system. That's johnnyG-san's point.:emoji_wink:
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  8. OoTmaster

    OoTmaster 先輩

    I was aware of that. It's a bad American habit to make everything about ourselves though. :emoji_smile:

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