Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 10, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
__. Wednoidny, 10, 1972 THE lETHBRlDGE HEHAID 43 CAVETT THE BROOM-PUSHER-Surrounded by youlhs, television personolily Dick Cave It pushes a broom in a cleanup campaign in Ihe Bronx borough of New York. He was invited Jo the cleanup session by representatives of slreel gangs who appeared on his show. writing oarrier By HUSK FKANKLAM) London Observer Service TOKYO Foreigners who live in Abia perked up their ears Ilic oilier day when they rear! that the well-known Peking scholar Kun Mo-jo had proposed that steps be taken lowards ro- manir.ing Ihe Chinese language. The characters in which Chi- nese and to a large extent Japanese are written arc a forbidding barrier to anyone trying to learn the languages. Were the Chinese lo abandon their characters in favor of a phonetic system using I h c 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 Ilia Japanese themselves have no in ten! ion of Romanizing their language, in spile of the diffi- culties thai 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 llicui. The Japanese have two meth- ods ot writing which in theory are guile contradictory. Then; are characters (borrowed from China) which arc symbols ex- pressing ideas, and there are kana. a system for writing m o n o s y 1 allies phonetically. Since the Second World War Uie government hns consider- ably simplified the use of char- acters. After six years of ele- m e n t a r y schooling children are supposed (o mastered 8B1 basic characters. The minis- try of education has declared words ctvciiny inspects ct YVcsL- crn lite which did not exist in Japan, such as of clothes. furnUure and footl. well as I the more obvious technical hor- rowings. In theory you c.ui wrile Ja- par.csc enliicy in kana ca.si- ei by fur than learning Liie sep- j aratc characters. And in fact the less well-educated a Jupan- is the more kana he will use. A newspaper is judged easy or hard in proportion to its ILSC of kana or characters respectively. The trouble is that 1 in Japanese many words have the same sound but a riiifcrcnt I meaning. Characters [jet 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 I their language quite exlen- isively. Most Japanese learu English iti school these days, so the Roman alphabet is no longer anything very strange. The government has introduced an official system of Komumza- lion which, in the way of offi- i cial .systems devised by the very best experts, is excessive- I lv complicated and less ofien I used than other "iinolficial" systems. Any Japanese wauling to send an international telegram has lo use Romanized Japanese. Japanese journalists have to 1 their dispatches from a b r o a d in Romanised form. And a surprising number of I Japanese offices have taken lo using Jlomanization for commu- nications within the office large- I ly because of lhc advantages of using a Roman alphabet j typewriter. One across oilier uses i too. A science student at Tokyo I'jih ersily runfe-ssi'd lo h characters. iiOHiiowiu) Kana arc ueerssary lo mid grammatical inflections to Ihe characters or lo wrile words for which PO characters exist. But just lo complicate mailers the .Japanese indented a sec- ond kann system just lo wiir words borrowed from for r i g n lapgunprs mainly Wcslern today's FUNNY BACHELOR have very bad in Japan, wburo skill Ihe writing hni.sh has fur ccniin-ics IIL-LM equated wiih moral excellence DKKP HOOTS is lhc only one of Ihe countries -vitii roots j dei'p inld civiliznlion whirh hr.s ahnndpnrd Ibo C'hi- I nnsr syslrm of pcan gave Mir Vi- etnamese a lloman alpbah'M which has been so Fuccrssful 'that loday most educated namcsc know no more Chinese I limn a aUJwupli Ihcir language is full of Chinese words. The Vietnames prece- dent is not a happy one. It seems probably thai Ihe loss nf Ihe old syslrm of in romr way contribulfd to I be nncasinrss ;ihont Ihcir national idmlily. 11 is n problom which I h p J a p a n c s i1, firs! of the great Asian nations lo realize thai Western civilizalion had lo be liorrowod from and no! resislod. arc very much aware. 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