Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 10, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
___Wednoidny, May !0, 1972 THE IETHBRIDGE HERA1D 43 CAVETT THE BROOM-PUSHER-Surrounded by youths, television personality Dick Cavett pushes a broom in a cleanup campaign in the Bronx borough of New York. He was invited to the cleanup session by representatives of street gangs who appeared on his show. wnung By MARK FIUNKLAM) London Observer Service TOKYO Foreigners who live in Asia perked up their ears the other day when they read that the well-known Peking scholar Kno Mo-jo had proposed that steps be taken towards ro- manizing the Chinese language. The characters in which Chi- nese and to a large extent Japanese are written are a forbidding barrier lo anyone trying lo learn the languages. Were the Chinese to abandon their characters in favor of a phonetic system using t h e Roman alphabet their lagnuage would be immensely more ac- cessible. Sinologists in Tokyo say they do not think much will come from Kuo Mo-jo's proposal, even though he buttressed it with supporting quotes from Chairman Mao, but one sus- pects this is partly because tho Japanese themselves have no intention of Romanizing their language, in spite of the diffi- culties that their present sys- tem causes themselves and oth- ers. The feeling is thai, if the Japanese arc sticking to char- acters it is unlikely the Chi- nese will get rid of them. The Japanese have two meth- ods of writing which in theory are quite contradictory. There are characters (borrowed from China) which are symbols ex- pressing ideas, and there are kana, a system for writing m o n o s y ables phonet.ica.lly. Since the Second World War the government has consider- ably simplified the use of char- acters. After six years of ele- mentary schooling children are supposed (o have mastered 88] basic characters. The minis- try of education lias declared that only 1.0) characters arc to be considered essential. Or- dinary books, magazines and papers now keep to these characters. KOKKOWKl) Kana are necessary lo add prammatical inflections to the characters or to write words for which no characters exist. But just (o complicate matters the .Japanese invented a sec- ond kann system just to write words borrowed from for e i g n languages mainly Western today's FUNNY BACHELOR LIBERTY BELLES covering iispeels c[ West- ern life which did not exist in Japan, such us types of clothes, 1 furnilure and food, as veil as the more obvious technical bor- j rowings. 1 In theory you can write Ja- ipanese cntircy in kana easi- ei by far than learning the sep- i orate characters. And in fact the less well-educated a Jupan- is the more kana lie will i use. A newspaper is judged easy or hard in proportion to its use of kana or characters I respectively. The trouble is that in Japanese many words have the same sound but a different meaning. Characters get round this difficulty, because although they may be pronounced in the same way they are written differently. Nevertheless, the .Japanese do use a Romanized version of j their language quite exten- sively. Most Japanese learn English m school these days, so the Roman alphabet is no longer anything very strange. The government has introduced I an official system of Romaniza- Uon which, in the way of offi- j cial systems devised by the i very best experts, is excessive- I lv complicated and less often i used than other "unofficial" systems. Any Japanese wanting to send 1 an international telegram has lo use Romanized Japanese. I Japanese journalists have to write their dispatches from a b r o a d in Romanised form. And a surprising number of Japanese offices have taken to using Jftomanizalion for commu- nications within the office large- j ly because of the advantages of using a Roman alphabet j typewriter, i One conies across other uses j too. A science student at Tokyo University confessed to typin letters to his friends in Roman. The reason, lie said, was that i his handwriting was so bad. It i is a matter of some shame to have very writing in Japan. win-re skill with the writing brush has for centurk's h equated wilh moral excellence. HOOTS Vietnam is the only one of j the countries roots going deep into Chinese dvili7.nlion I which tins abandoned the Chi- I ne.se system of writing. Kurt pcan missionaries gave thr Vi- etnamese a Roman alphnhe.1 which has been so successful that today most, educated Viet- namese know no mure Chinese than a European, although their language is full of Chinese words. The Vietnnmes prece dent is not a happy one. It seems probably that the loss nf the old syslem of writing has in r.omo way contributor! (o Hie Viol name.se uneasiness about. their national idcnlily. It is a problem which t h r j Ja panese. first of the great j Asian nations to realize that Western civilization had to be borrowed'from and no! resisted, arc very much aware. Had tho Unman alphabet hern necessary (o Japan's survival as an inde- pendent nation the Japanese would already hnve ndoplrd it. As things a IT they seem to bo doing well enough without il. SIMPSONS-SEARS CARPET BONANZA Turned on with famous Du Pont carpet nylon itarburst of Savings! It's long-wearing. Fibres withstand a tremendous amount of use and still bounce back like new. It's easy-care, spot-stain-soil resistant. It's daringly bright, colourfast, fade resistant. It's double jute backed for strength, durability. you sink your toes into o fioorful of our lush high pile Wyndmoor shag, you know you can really relax. 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