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Japanese literacy question

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Japanese literacy question

Postby BuddhaGeo » Mon 12.10.2007 12:55 pm

My mother keeps on asserting that in Japan/China not everyone is literate due to the difficult and complicated writing system.
I don't agree with her though, but she still insists on her opinion.
Maybe an intelligent reply from one of you fellows might make her change her mind towards this question.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby SirFirestorm » Mon 12.10.2007 1:07 pm

Where in the world would you presume everyone is literate?
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Nibble » Mon 12.10.2007 1:08 pm

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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 12.10.2007 1:08 pm

It's a complicated issue that's hard to address because of a lack of good studies of the issue.

In my mind, there's no doubt that the complexity of the writing system affects the overall literacy of the population in both China and Japan. It is not a problem for the highly educated, but for the lower class it is.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby BuddhaGeo » Mon 12.10.2007 1:18 pm

SirFirestorm wrote:
Where in the world would you presume everyone is literate?


Of course I'd expect there to be illiterate people in any country.
The point of the question was "Are there problems with literacy problems in Japan/China?".
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby JaySee » Mon 12.10.2007 2:20 pm

I think a big problem here is how to define literacy; different researchers now and in the past have used different standards, making it harder to compare the results. Are you literate if you can read and write you own name? If you can read childrens books? Newspapers? Academic texts? In Japan and China this is of course even further complicated by the question of how many characters you need to know in order to be considered literate.
Last edited by JaySee on Mon 12.10.2007 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby BuddhaGeo » Mon 12.10.2007 4:42 pm


SirFirestorm wrote:
Where in the world would you presume everyone is literate?


Quite bizarre, but the link above states that my country has a literacy percentage of 100%.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Yoshioka » Mon 12.10.2007 4:55 pm



Well, my country Sweden according to that list has a literacy rate of 99.0 % wich is the same as Japan, wouldn't that be enought to prove that it doesn't really make that much of a difference? Of course I don't know, I'm just guessing, but probably it depends more on the way of teaching and the ability to do so more than the way we "choose" to write down our thoughts and conversations with? I might be very wrong though....
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Mon 12.10.2007 5:09 pm

Japan's claim of a 99% literacy rate is highly questionable, as are many countries' claims. The problem is that the literacy rate is often determined by arbitrary factors like "literate means you finished elementary school" rather than true tests of literacy.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Yoshioka » Mon 12.10.2007 5:18 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
Japan's claim of a 99% literacy rate is highly questionable, as are many countries' claims. The problem is that the literacy rate is often determined by arbitrary factors like "literate means you finished elementary school" rather than true tests of literacy.


Aha, I see. I most say that I too questioned that list a bit, and as you say it's really hard to determin what literacy really is, I guess it's different from country to country. I saw that Finland had a rate of 100%, I recently saw the news on a Swedish TV-channel called "SVT" where they talked about this subject, and according to that program Finland actually had a lower literacy rate than both Sweden and Norway, so maybe we shouldn't trust that list to 100%?
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby JaySee » Mon 12.10.2007 5:31 pm

Lists like that really shouldn't be published at all, they're a completely unscientific load of hokey.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Wakannai » Mon 12.10.2007 5:55 pm

Aha, I see. I most say that I too questioned that list a bit, and as you say it's really hard to determin what literacy really is, I guess it's different from country to country. I saw that Finland had a rate of 100%, I recently saw the news on a Swedish TV-channel called "SVT" where they talked about this subject, and according to that program Finland actually had a lower literacy rate than both Sweden and Norway, so maybe we shouldn't trust that list to 100%?


In a lot of countries, the literacy rate is self-designated. In other words, they give you a written questionare. "Do you consider yourself literate?"

Then they tabulate the results. The illiterate people can't read the questionare so they don't reply, so they aren't counted. That's why you get 99% or 100% literacy rates.

It reminds me of these signs I would see on city buses. "Are you illiterate? If you would like to learn to read please call this number to contact the Reading Foundation." then it would give a number.

If you go to the census sites, they actually give the standards that literacy is declaired. Countries with higher standards have lower literacy rates. Go figure.
Last edited by Wakannai on Mon 12.10.2007 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese literacy question

Postby Chris Hart » Mon 12.10.2007 6:02 pm

JaySee wrote:
Lists like that really shouldn't be published at all, they're a completely unscientific load of hokey.


I feel I must quote Benjamin Disraeli at this point:
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
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