By William C. Hannas
This paintings examines using chinese language characters in East Asia. It tackles the difficulty from many alternative views, alongside the best way deflating numerous renowned fallacies.
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Additional info for Asia's Orthographic Dilemma
For a Japanese, neither of these tasks could be accomplished easily because of the two languages’ different structures. As I have mentioned, Chinese is an isolating language. Its grammatical relations are identified in subject-verb-object (SVO) order and through the use of particles similar to English prepositions. Inflection plays no role in the grammar. Morphemes are typically one syllable in length and combine to form words without modification to their phonetic structures (tone excepted). Conversely, the basic structure of a transitive Japanese sentence is SOV, with the usual syntactic features associated with languages of this typology, including postpositions, that is, grammar particles that appear after the words and phrases to which they apply.
Shiba Kokan (1747–1818), author of Waran tensetsu (Holland’s Divine Teachings, 1796), was another admirer. Shiba saw no reason why Sinitic vocabulary could not be written phonetically in kana instead of in characters as was the practice (Twine 1983:116). In 1798, Honda Toshiaki (1744–1821), another Rangakusha, suggested that the Latin alphabet was the better choice since it is used internationally and can represent more sounds than kana with half the number of symbols (Thranhardt 1978:108). These speculations on the propriety of writing Japanese phonetically did not constitute a movement to replace the character writing system in terms of popular support or as articulated by the various individuals.
The option of writing Chinese with an alphabet had been known to Chinese at least since the sixteenth century. Early phonetic systems designed by missionaries for proselytizing and bilingual instruction attracted the attention of Chinese toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the alphabet was considered as a means of facilitating literacy and arresting China’s decline. In 1892, Lu Zhuanzhang (1854–1928), a native of Fujian province, published China’s first (modern) attempt at an alphabetic system, which included fifty-five letters derived from Chinese and Western elements with diacritics for tone.