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Just an observation...

Japanese, general discussion on the language

RE: Just an observation...

Postby Infidel » Thu 07.26.2007 3:15 pm

I think a western accent is usually represented by using katakana particularly at the end of sentences to show the stress that westerners (are at least stereotyped as) putting on the penultimate syllable. For example if I read ありがとうございマス I would think they were most likely speaking with a foreign accent. 


in manga the text will also go sideways
Last edited by Infidel on Thu 07.26.2007 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby ghosthacker » Thu 07.26.2007 3:15 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Because morphemes are idea based and only sometimes have a secondary "sound" based to them.


It is impossible for a morpheme to have no sound associated with it. That goes against the definition of what a morpheme is. A symbol can have no sound, but if the symbol has no sound, then it does not represent a morpheme. It is also not correct to say that Kanji *are* morphemes; Kanji represent morphemes or complete words.

However phonemes (vowels for instance) can sound slightly different, but this does not stop one from spelling the word or telling others how its spelled because that single letter is used to represent all the phonemes which use the phone "a".


The roman alphabet is not a phonemic writing system for English; phonemes represented by the letter "a" can often be represented by other combinations as well, e.g. "ei", "e", "ea".

spin:
There is nothing innate or special about the English alphabet other than the fact that it is the best tool to transcribe English.


The English language uses an alphabet, but that does not mean it's the best tool for the job. It's just the one we have. I'm not sure you can say for any language that its written form is the best possible tool for representing that language.


o answer point one...

Good point, but I would argue that the phonetic parts of kanji are secondary to its meaning. Do you disagree?

To your second point..

Yes, you are correct that not all phonemes are represented by the same letter of our alphabet there are exceptions. There are allophones :)

Still how have you disproved my points? Again we can nick pick all day :)
Last edited by ghosthacker on Thu 07.26.2007 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby ghosthacker » Thu 07.26.2007 3:16 pm

hungryhotei wrote:
ghosthacker wrote:

Does Japanese give you these same tools...so that an english accent could be reproduced with the written forms of Japanese without changing the meaning?


I think a western accent is usually represented by using katakana particularly at the end of sentences to show the stress that westerners (are at least stereotyped as) putting on the penultimate syllable. For example if I read ありがとうございマス I would think they were most likely speaking with a foreign accent. 


ahhh, interesting :)
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby richvh » Thu 07.26.2007 3:27 pm

If you want an exact phonetic rendering of any language, the best tool is probably the IPA. The Latin alphabet as used by English just isn't up to the task.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby ghosthacker » Thu 07.26.2007 3:34 pm

richvh wrote:
If you want an exact phonetic rendering of any language, the best tool is probably the IPA. The Latin alphabet as used by English just isn't up to the task.


I was not stating that is was the most perfect tool. Only what the tool is used for and the thinking behind it.


The Latin alphabet is what is used to write in English so serves to compare with what is used by the Japanese to write their language.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 07.26.2007 4:03 pm

Good point, but I would argue that the phonetic parts of kanji are secondary to its meaning. Do you disagree?


Yes, I disagree emphatically. The phonetic value of a kanji is primary.

There are a number of things that support this:
1. Kanji only have meanings when they are used to represent the words in a spoken language. Separated from spoken language they have no meaning.
2. Historical development of kanji shows that meaning elements were added to phonetic elements.
3. Research indicates that native speakers read kanji primarily for sound value rather than meaning.
4. The idea that the East Asian writing systems are processed by the human brain differently from other writing systems has no foundation in any reliable experimentation or research.
Last edited by Yudan Taiteki on Thu 07.26.2007 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby stevie » Thu 07.26.2007 4:52 pm

Ghostwriter, a tip for you - if multiple people 'miss the point' that you made, on a consistent basis, then you really need to stop blaming them and start relating your points in a more understandable way.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of this whole thing is to be honest. And here's why:

So kids can spell and say written words even when they have no idea of their meaning, but with Japanese Kanji if you have no idea of the meaning or roots of words you are lost in trying to understand, say, or write them in kanji.


If you have no idea of the meaning, or the roots of the word, why would you want to say or write it anyway? When I was a kid I didn't spend time trying to spell things I didn't understand merely from the sound of them spoken to me (unless I was asked to in school). As a young child I was much more into communicating with words and body than I was with pen and paper, I think.

In any case, learning a word without its meaning or usage seems like a bit of a fruitless endeavour to me, in any language.

For example, I could learn how to read and write this kanji: 器 (ki, I guess), but I have no idea what it's supposed to be, what function it serves in the written language, the word(s) it corresponds to, etc, so why bother. I'd rather learn something I can use.

Similarly, I could learn how to say and how to recognise in speech, the japanese word 'sakana' - but without knowing its meaning it'd be useless. So whether I can write it or not just from the sound using Kanji, becomes a moot point. You're right, if I didn't have foreknowledge, there'd be very little chance of me nailing 魚 (though I could try using a Kanji or a Kanji compound with similar readings, if I knew such kanji - it just wouldn't make much sense to anyone else reading it). But again, in this situation, what's the point of knowing any of it without knowing the meaning or the usage?

So I do see your point, I just think it's a moot one, in the context of this forum.

In terms of the wider world of Linguistics, I think you've taken a grand statement and tried to make it really simple. I am almost certain that an expert in this area of lingusitics would say that it's not as simple as you're making it out to be. I'm no linguist, but in just a few moments I thought of a bunch of examples to try and illustrate Ghostwriter's point, but then thought of an equal example within Japanese (and Chinese) that illustrates the same point holds true for these languages and their writing systems as well.

Again, if I missed the point, then please make it clearer - I'm sure everyone here would appreciate it.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby stevie » Thu 07.26.2007 5:17 pm

Good point, but I would argue that the phonetic parts of kanji are secondary to its meaning. Do you disagree?


I just think this statement (and those like it) are totally overused and given an overexaggerated, if not downright false, importance. If I had to pick, I'd say the phonetic element is more important to me because if I can recognise and read the word in Japanese (ie, read along and dictate what I read in Japanese), it helps me so much with improving pronunciation, flow of speech in general, recognising the word/general shape of the word, the list goes on.

If I know that 馬 'means' (maybe better to say corresponds to or translates to) 'horse', then.. well, whoopee. I guess I learned one new thing instead of learning something, remembering something, and improving a handful of other aspects of my Japanese.

Some people seem to be really into the idea that Kanji have a 'meaning'. I don't see how kanji have any more of a 'meaning' than a written word does in English - and a written word only has as much meaning as its spoken counterpart. It just serves little function outside of the language. Even with Han characters, the meanings, connotations, and pronunciations will vary - sometimes to great effect - between the languages that use them or use writing systems influenced by or derived from them.

When I first learn to read or write a word made up of Kanji I don't think "hey that must mean x" just by looking at it - I can't. Maybe you can guess sometimes depending on how much you know, but why guess and risk being wrong? Learning a language is challenging enough as it is without inventing more hardship!
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby spin13 » Thu 07.26.2007 6:13 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
spin:
There is nothing innate or special about the English alphabet other than the fact that it is the best tool to transcribe English.


The English language uses an alphabet, but that does not mean it's the best tool for the job. It's just the one we have. I'm not sure you can say for any language that its written form is the best possible tool for representing that language.


Make that the best tool we have to transcribe English. Why? Because its ubiquitous and the only system understood by the majority of English speakers.

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RE: Just an observation...

Postby stevie » Thu 07.26.2007 6:24 pm

Well surely it depends how you define 'best', or which criteria you're judging the effectiveness of the 'tools' against.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 07.26.2007 6:34 pm

If all "best" means is "that's what people use", then that's a trivial statement.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby spin13 » Thu 07.26.2007 6:38 pm

It was originally meant to be trivial. The English alphabet is only good for English and has no little connection to Japanese and trying to use it otherwise is inefficient at best.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 07.26.2007 7:17 pm

Actually the roman alphabet works quite well for Japanese; IMO better than English because the smaller inventory of phonemes means that it's much easier to encapsulate with a 26-letter system.

I'm not quite sure what "the English alphabet" is, though.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby stevie » Thu 07.26.2007 7:23 pm

And let's not forget that the latin/roman alphabet is used in Japanese adverts, store names, on some TV shows, etc, quite frequently. And within Japan it is used to spell words from multiple languages (not least of which is Japanese), whether they would usually be written with the roman alphabet or not.
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RE: Just an observation...

Postby Harisenbon » Thu 07.26.2007 9:21 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Actually the roman alphabet works quite well for Japanese; IMO better than English because the smaller inventory of phonemes means that it's much easier to encapsulate with a 26-letter system.


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. How is writing two letters for each sound better than writing one character?

ex: ko vs こ

Or am I completely missing your point?

Personally, I find it more difficult to remember names/words when written in romaji than in Japanese, as all the letters start to blend together because of the number of repetitions.

For example I have problems reading/remember the name Matsushima Kazuyuki when looking at it in romaji, but 松嶋 和幸 is much easier to read/remember at a glance.
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