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How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

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Re: How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

Postby furrykef » Fri 10.29.2010 11:39 am

Hyperworm wrote:The stroke order diagrams in the katakana pages are using a font set to italics.

I have to wonder if I'm the only guy who really hates East Asian text set in italics. Not because it's harder to read, but because it's just ugly... the Chinese characters (and the kana derived from them... and Korean Hangul for that matter) are designed to fit into perfect square shapes. Italics turns 'em into parallelograms, which just seems weird.

Is this just me being a gaijin and having preconceived notions of what East Asian text should and shouldn't look like, or do Japanese people complain about this too? :P
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Re: How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

Postby NileCat » Fri 10.29.2010 1:50 pm

I think it is a very intriguing question.
In fact, we originally didn’t have the concept of italic or oblique style in Japanese. I suppose it became common when the word processor was introduced. I wouldn’t say it’s ugly. But it is true that it is relatively illegible for average Japanese people. However, it can be useful because we can use it like as it is in English. Our culture has been “Westernized” in a way in these, say, a hundred years. Needless to say, we originally wrote letters vertically but it seems even obsolete nowadays. We originally didn’t have many katakana words such as テレビ or オリエンテーション but we use them as Japanese today. And when we see English writings, if our culture admit the benefit of using the italic style such as `orientation`, it would be rational that we adopt the concept in Japanese writings like `オリエンテーション`.
I admit that kanji is not inherently “designed” for italic style and that it could make it look `ugly` in a sense. Many experienced professional editors actually know that overuse of italic characters makes their readers uncomfortable. But I don’t think we can get rid of it since it works when it is used in appropriate sentences.
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Re: How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

Postby phreadom » Fri 10.29.2010 1:58 pm

I really find this topic fascinating, in part because of the differences in writing systems, the adoption of 外来語 in Japanese, the arguments for "which is better" (and why such an argument is moot), and on and on...

This brings to mind a question... (although I fear I'm taking the topic a bit off course)

Are 外来語 always going to be written in Katakana? Or do they eventually become "adopted", like much of the English language is adopted from other languages, and be written in Hiragana/Kanji etc? Or will they always fundamentally lie outside of Japanese "proper" because they don't share the same language foundation?

(let me know if we should split this off into a separate discussion)
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Re: How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

Postby NileCat » Fri 10.29.2010 4:10 pm

Well...it would take a semester to explain it accurately, I’m afraid. Because it contains a fundamental question which is`where the Japanese language came from?`.

Roughly speaking, 外来語(loanwords) are written in katakana. But there are at least four kinds of loanwords in our modern Japanese language.

1. Simple exotic words (that nobody knows the Japanese words)

インク (ink), シリコン (silicon), マザーボード (motherboard), ハンバーガー (hamberger)

2. Japanized words (that many people realize they were originally foreign but altered, usually we don’t have appropriate translation : we call them 和製英語)

テレビ (television), シャープペンシル (mechanical pencil), ガソリンスタンド (gas station), サラリーマン (office worker)

3. Popular words rather than Japanese words (many people know the Japanese word but prefer the English word because it sounds simple: sometimes shortened)

プレゼント (present / 贈り物), ノート (notebook / 帳面), デパート (department store / 百貨店), ワイン (wine / 葡萄酒), ソファ (sofa / 長椅子)

4. Considered to be Japanese words (but actually not)

ミシン (sewing machine), ジグザグ (zigzag), 煙草 (タバコ / tobacco)


As you see, we use katakana for all the words above (except for tobacco). However, we actually have many kanji for foreign words which were imported in 19th century, such as 珈琲 (coffee) or 倫敦 (London). But we no longer use them mainly because it’s a pain in the ass. In a sense, we don’t “segregate” the katakana words.
Also, there are quite a few loanwords from China, Korea, Holland, or Portugal.
Did you know Tenpura, one of the most famous Japanese foods, was originally Portuguese word “tempero”?

Japanese language has a complex history. And it is still changing. I don’t know which direction it is going to. But being a member of this forum gives me a good opportunity to think about it.

(Sorry. Totally off-topic now... :cry: )
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Re: How To Properly Hand Write In Japanese

Postby Joey 鷹 Vega » Tue 11.02.2010 3:36 pm

I hold my pens and pencils differently than those who normally hold the pens and pencils when writing. But still can be able to write good, in cursive. Anyways, don't mind if I can ask, but.. What is the best assisted writing implements that I can use to do the strokes on kanji, hiragana, and katakana on regular notebook paper? I have the uni-ball VISION ELITE (grey pen, with black ink) with a bold point and uni-ball VISION ELITE (black pen, blue ink) with a fine point (both made in Japan. Thank you Japan :) ), have mechanical pencils, and pencils.
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