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Language Purism in Japan

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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Sairana » Fri 05.30.2008 11:27 pm

vinniram wrote:Don't I have a right to change my posts, if I want to change what I say?


It's not about rights, it's about forum etiquette. After someone has written a response to your post, it is bad form to edit it in any way except for things that don't change the content like misspellings etc (and even then, people usually mark what they edited with a note like "EDIT: fixed spelling").

If you regret something you said and someone already posted a reply, you apologize and attempt to amend your thoughts in a new reply. That's the considerate thing to do.

Not following standard internet rules of etiquette generally makes people (read: admins) grumpy with you.

Back on topic. sort of.

Wouldn't it have been neat if MacArthur hadn't forced open the gates of Japan to the rest of the world, so somewhere on the planet earth was a living, breathing bubble of ancient custom? That would be SOO cool. To go visit, you'd have to dress up as a peasant or maybe even a Geisha so you don't disrupt the delicate atmosphere. Maybe you could even sell tickets to be conscripts in a few feudal battles to experience real warfare...... at a premium. Waivers must be signed, of course -- death is a distinct possibility.

In all seriousness, I adore Japanese lore, and a history that isn't so far distant as our own history seems to be. Not so very long ago, the Japanese had a unique lifestyle and a solid heritage. They were strongly community- and family-oriented, and that seems to be drifting away due to western influences. Gairaigo is but one glaring symptom of this trend, and I can understand the desire to shun it completely.

However, just because I would PREFER to have been able to see not-so-old Japan and to experience the culture pre-Western influence, doesn't mean that I should start imposing my "purist" views on born-and-bred Japanese people. Their language had a gap that needed to be filled, and they quite simply filled it.

As others have said, most gairaigo does not REPLACE any Japanese words. Just because it -seems- like they do to a non-native speaker at first. A ドア is a door. But not just any door, a specific kind of door. Interestingly enough, it's a WESTERN STYLE door. This is only one of many "apparent" displacements that aren't. I can't think of a single loan word that means exactly the same thing in Japanese as its closest counterpart. They adopted words, and ADAPTED them to their language. Like all languages do.

You know what Kamikaze means? It sure as heck doesn't mean the same thing in Japan as it does here. But we made it an English word that suits OUR needs, didn't we?

Meh. Anyway.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby vinniram » Fri 05.30.2008 11:42 pm

you raise some good points. Thanks for clearing up my misconception that gairaigo was replacing native Japanese, because I honestly thought that until now (ie. miruku vs. the kanji compound equivalent). But anyway, I suppose the Japanese don't want to calque, and that's just the way it is. And after all, gairaigo live and die quickly, so its not like every single term infiltrates the Japanese lexicon. all in all, I think gairaigo absorption is a trend that will continue for some time, but will eventually stop at some point.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby richvh » Sat 05.31.2008 12:04 am

Wouldn't it have been neat if MacArthur hadn't forced open the gates of Japan to the rest of the world, so somewhere on the planet earth was a living, breathing bubble of ancient custom? That would be SOO cool. To go visit, you'd have to dress up as a peasant or maybe even a Geisha so you don't disrupt the delicate atmosphere. Maybe you could even sell tickets to be conscripts in a few feudal battles to experience real warfare...... at a premium. Waivers must be signed, of course -- death is a distinct possibility.


Huh? MacArthur didn't force open the gates of Japan, that had been done nearly a century earlier, by Perry. The feudal era died with the Tokugawa shogunate, and Japan transformed itself under the Meiji emperor. And if Japan were still closed to the outside world, as it had been for most of the Todugawa shogunate, you wouldn't be able to visit it, period. (Unless you were a Dutch merchant, and then you would only be allowed on an island in Nagasaki harbor.)
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Sairana » Sat 05.31.2008 12:20 am

richvh wrote:
Wouldn't it have been neat if MacArthur hadn't forced open the gates of Japan to the rest of the world, so somewhere on the planet earth was a living, breathing bubble of ancient custom? That would be SOO cool. To go visit, you'd have to dress up as a peasant or maybe even a Geisha so you don't disrupt the delicate atmosphere. Maybe you could even sell tickets to be conscripts in a few feudal battles to experience real warfare...... at a premium. Waivers must be signed, of course -- death is a distinct possibility.


Huh? MacArthur didn't force open the gates of Japan, that had been done nearly a century earlier, by Perry. The feudal era died with the Tokugawa shogunate, and Japan transformed itself under the Meiji emperor. And if Japan were still closed to the outside world, as it had been for most of the Todugawa shogunate, you wouldn't be able to visit it, period. (Unless you were a Dutch merchant, and then you would only be allowed on an island in Nagasaki harbor.)


Whoops, wrong war hero. Anyway, I was trying to make a tongue-in-cheek scenario, not really express a desire for that to have happened, or even to pretend it would be possible. In fact, the sheer absurdity of it was precisely my point.... I stand corrected (and mortified) that I pulled up the wrong name from my memory, though. :oops:
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby richvh » Sat 05.31.2008 1:04 am

If you're thinking of the American commander at the Battle of Lake Erie, you're still thinking of the wrong man. Oliver Hazard Perry served at that battle, it was his younger brother Matthew Perry that opened Japan. (Matthew did have war service during the Mexican War, but isn't particularly famous for that.)
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby vinniram » Sat 05.31.2008 1:09 am

yeah, with his horrible "Black Ships"... God colonial empires were horrible. I'm glad that phase of history is over, where the European countries thought themselves superior to all others, when in fact they had stolen most science and technology from the Middle East and Asia... a truly bleak page in the history books. unfortunately, many history books (aka Western history books) seem to skim over all the horrendous things done by the british empire, and yet countries such as britain and america still criticize Japan for alterations of WWII information in the history books. Most ironic.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Sairana » Sat 05.31.2008 1:51 am

vinniram wrote:yeah, with his horrible "Black Ships"... God colonial empires were horrible. I'm glad that phase of history is over, where the European countries thought themselves superior to all others, when in fact they had stolen most science and technology from the Middle East and Asia... a truly bleak page in the history books. unfortunately, many history books (aka Western history books) seem to skim over all the horrendous things done by the british empire, and yet countries such as britain and america still criticize Japan for alterations of WWII information in the history books. Most ironic.


We all have our skeletons. And it may be hypocrisy, but it is not irony. ^_^
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby richvh » Sat 05.31.2008 2:23 am

vinniram wrote:yeah, with his horrible "Black Ships"... God colonial empires were horrible. I'm glad that phase of history is over, where the European countries thought themselves superior to all others, when in fact they had stolen most science and technology from the Middle East and Asia... a truly bleak page in the history books. unfortunately, many history books (aka Western history books) seem to skim over all the horrendous things done by the british empire, and yet countries such as britain and america still criticize Japan for alterations of WWII information in the history books. Most ironic.


Do you really think anyone else's empire was any better? And what was so horrible about Perry's Black Ships, other than the fact that the Shogun had nothing he dared counter them with, to keep Perry from landing and presenting the treaty that America wanted? America didn't conquer the place then, or depose anyone (that came later, and internally.)

Much of the science that Europe had in ca. 1500 may have been developed elsewhere (though I'd dispute that it was stolen), but the technology that let them conquer a significant portion of the world - specifically, guns (yes, gunpowder was developed in China, but guns weren't) and deep water sailing vessels - was home-grown, and there wasn't much in the way of technology or science transfer to Europe from elsewhere until probably well into the 20th century.

In addition to Britain and America, China and Korea (among other East Asian countries) also criticize Japan for what they put (or don't put) in their history books about WWII. Heck, there was a recent flap in Okinawa over how the battle there was presented in the history books, so this criticism doesn't just come from outside Japan.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby hyperconjugated » Sat 05.31.2008 3:23 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:You can't impose a deliberate change to a language on the scale you are talking about. It's not even about change vs. preservation, it's just impossible.

They have been conscientiously doing things similar that in Iceland for awhile now.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_purism_in_Icelandic
Of course, they didn't create whole lot of loanwords and then change them to Icelandic
versions but strong control over the language has been exercised nevertheless.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Wakannai » Sat 05.31.2008 5:04 am

Sairana wrote:We all have our skeletons. And it may be hypocrisy, but it is not irony. ^_^


Neither Hypocrisy nor Irony.

A lot of people, especially in foreign countries, don't understand that the US government really does NOT control our media. Sure the Government designs tests so it dictates what must be in textbooks, but it does not designate what must not be in textbooks in general. That is the History teachers that write the books.

What people need to keep in mind is "most history books" are survey books. All they do is establish a line of cause and effect throughout history, so that later the student will be able to place an event in general context when it is studied more specifically later. In essence, pretty much the same purpose of the "begat" lists in the bible and often just as interesting. The begat lists do not imply that there weren't other people being born. It just designates them as not consequential to the line of continuity. Same with survey books, but instead of "so and so begat so and so. It is , x happened on date then y happened on date. Which then caused z to happen __ years later.

Generally, if some event happened, but it did not cause or at least strongly influence the next "important" point that must be included, then it is left out. This is not a sign of a cover up or any such thing, it is merely a sign that, that event does not fit the scope of the book. If you want more details, those details are still available in other books with a more focused purpose and time window.

and yet countries such as britain and america still criticize Japan for alterations of WWII information in the history books. Most ironic.


There is no irony in America's criticisms. While certain information might not make it into every history book, it IS available in publicly accessible authoritative sources recognized by the government. Legitimate decisions to include or not historical references due to space constraints cannot be compared to denial or alteration of these same references for the sake of convenience, and ostracizing any historian that disagrees. Nor can censorship for the sake of National Security be compared to censorship for the sake of saving face. There is a great difference between a government that is daily declassifying secret information and releasing it to the public domain , even though much of it is embarrassing and sometimes damming, and a government that increasingly denies past mistakes with the passage of time.

And even though I wasn't going to reference this since others have already pointed out the transgression of altering a post after it has been replied to, however, since the OP has chosen to criticize others for censorship, I feel obligated to point out the hypocrisy of deliberately altering a historical document (the original post) after the consequences have already occurred for the sake of convenience, then criticizing others for the same.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby vinniram » Sat 05.31.2008 6:04 am

oh my god you really are just itching for a fight aren't you wakannai. launching personal attacks against me, and criticizing sairana's post as well. Who have I criticized for "censorship"? Name one person on this thread who I have criticized for censorship. NO ONE. That's because I haven't been on a tirade of personal attacks. Just stop it. Can you just please stop posting in this thread if you're just going to constantly personally attack me and others. I don't appreciate it, and I doubt anyone else appreciates it either. Of course, if you have something constructive and non-derogatory to say, by all means post. Otherwise, just LEAVE ME ALONE. I have every right to have my own opinions, and if you're not happy with that, tough luck.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Wakannai » Sat 05.31.2008 6:39 am

I'm beginning to be amused.

vinniram wrote:oh my god you really are just itching for a fight aren't you wakannai.launching personal attacks against me,


Hrm, I fail to see any personal attacks. You screwed up and I called you on it. That's not a personal attack.

and criticizing sairana's post as well.


Sairana's a big girl, she can handle it. What, did you think this was only a pretend forum where everyone always agreed with each other? This is a learning forum, how can we learn if we hesitate to point out the faults in other's posts? Trust me, she can defend herself if she feels the need, and she's even convinced me that my arguments were wrong before.

Who have I criticized for "censorship"? Name one person on this thread who I have criticized for censorship. NO ONE.


Try improving your reading comprehension and your writing comprehension. You said, "and yet countries such as britain and america [sic] still criticize Japan for alterations of WWII information in the history books. Most ironic." I even quoted it to remind you in my previous post. I don't know why you are trying to limit your culpability merely to transgressions against others on this thread. You criticized Britain and America. Whether President and Prime Minister are available--in this thread--to defend themselves is irrelevant, unless perhaps you would wish to argue that anyone unavailable to defend themselves is fair game?

That's because I haven't been on a tirade of personal attacks. Just stop it. Can you just please stop posting in this thread if you're just going to constantly personally attack me and others. I don't appreciate it, and I doubt anyone else appreciates it either.


Too bad. Pointing out fallacies in your arguments does not constitute a tirade of personal attacks and your attempt to construe them as such does not weaken my arguments.

Of course, if you have something constructive and non-derogatory to say, by all means post. Otherwise, just LEAVE ME ALONE. I have every right to have my own opinions, and if you're not happy with that, tough luck.


All of my comments so far have been constructive and non-derogatory. I can became derogatory if you wish, but since you can't handle my gentle remonstrances, I hesitate to issue something more direct. I suggest you part with the conceit of presuming only agreement is constructive.
Last edited by Wakannai on Sat 05.31.2008 6:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby vinniram » Sat 05.31.2008 6:49 am

"You screwed up" sounds like a personal attack to me. I don't know who you think you are (centre of the universe, no doubt), but you obviously have an inflated opinion of yourself. Seriously, GET OVER YOURSELF (america could take the same advice 8)) am I being a hypocrit now? well I really don't give a damn. I want you to keep posting huge, verbiose comments, because that just means more words for me to skip over and not read :D You're not the centre of the universe, and really, whatever your opinions and ideas are, I don't give a damn about people like you. Sorry to be blunt, but that's the way I see it. Now keep those comments coming!!
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby Sairana » Sat 05.31.2008 6:53 am

Wakannai wrote:Trust me, she can defend herself if she feels the need


bwahaha I have a reputation.


Anyway... Wakannai and I don't always see eye to eye, but debate is par for the course around here, especially if you bring up controversial topics. As the cliche goes, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen." Don't make heated political statements if you don't want them debated till the cows come home.
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Re: Language Purism in Japan

Postby vinniram » Sat 05.31.2008 7:00 am

well that clarifies things nicely :) let this be a long-lived thread :D
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