*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Too much trouble for a regional language

Arististhenes: Fine, my pronunciation's wrong.  How do I say 'curry'?

His J-wife: Curry.

Arististhenes: In Japanese, genius.

J-wife: Ahh...  'káree'.*

Arististhenes:  The fish?

J-wife: 'Káre-i'.

Arististhenes:  To age?

J-wife: 'Karée'.

Arististhenes:  Fuck your provincial language.  It's no way worth the trouble.

*Romanizations are my own improved version, easy to print and to type, which would do for Japanese what's been done for Vietnamese: bring it out of the Sinophile dark ages.
- accents mark inflection, rather than all other versions which ignore it
- simple doubled vowels mark lengthened vowels
- double consonants mark glottal stops
- consider not only using 'n' for final-consonant, but also 'm' for the final-consonant when mouth is closed and 'ng' when nasal, because the final-consonant is not always the same
- no denoting of loan words, because all languages borrow and maybe Japanese could get the fuck over it
- no kanji, because this is not Chinese, or in its language family


  1. I'm not for doing away with kanji, but teaching romanization in parallel with the kana wouldn't be that difficult, given that Japanese isn't all that complex anyway. The difficulties of Japanese come from it's primitive nature...

    1. "Primitive" Language?
      - uses an offshore idiographic script which couldn't be a worse choice
      - had to gerry-rig graft a syllabic script to deal with kanji illiteracy and the fact that Japanese is agglutinative, unlike Chinese
      - created another syllabic script because it cannot let loan words pass unremarked
      - no stress marks in any script, even Romaji, though Japanese needs stress marks
      - as it has so few phonemes
      - making so many homonyms
      - not just class-conscious, but obsequious
      - vague to the extent sentences lack subject and/or predicate (verb, object or both)
      - sentences which are in any case more often replaced with grunts, whines or moans
      - but what it lacks in traditional grammar and syntax it makes up in a Byzantine collection of counters

      Perhaps so.

  2. I haven't yet found a Japanese person who was even just trying to think about why the Japanese language is like it is, then grasping the basic concepts and teaching it on any kind of conceptual level instead of just rote repetition.
    Foreigners have done that job for the Japanese, and I've seen plenty other examples when I lived where for how their culture is over their own heads.
    If you never learn the basic idea that one should be able to answer theoretical questions about things and matters, and at the same time indoctrinate children to accept that asking someone something more complicated than "don't you think lunch is tasty?" is a social gaffe and huge shitsurei, then you create exactly this society where the 99% have no control over their own culture and therefore future.

    1. Now although I do believe the majority of 'Westerners' are intellectually capped, I would have to agree that in Japan it is the VAST majority.

    2. But in "the Western world", there is at least the notion that one should be able to explain him/herself. Even the dimwits know it and if they can't explain something they said, they'll feel bad about it.
      On the other hand, the Japanese are often dumbfounded just by being asked about something. I've often had people tell me "we Japanese don't discuss things, you just have to accept it like it is."
      And when they do try to explain something, they usually do a very bad job at it.
      Like when I asked "why are the ATMs closing at 17:00" and the best answer I got was "they close so you can't use them" - Simply restating the situation seems to be an acceptable way to answer a question in Japan. I've heard similar stuff on TV shows, at the company, etc.
      Have you never got this?

    3. "And when they do try to explain something, they usually do a very bad job at it.
      Like when I asked 'why are the ATMs closing at 17:00' and the best answer I got was 'they close so you can't use them'"

      Oh good god how many times have I got that? Had another one tonight, which post I'll shortly complete. Never had it from other people except religious... interesting thought there: being Japanese is their religion.

  3. You're both onto something with this inability the Japanese have to describe something about themselves, their country, or their culture, in their own language.
    I have lost count of the number of times I have asked questions and been told 'because this is Japan', with a calm straight face, and I walked away every time thinking 'you don't know why, and you have never been self-aware enough to know that you don't'.
    I put a lot of the blame for that on the Japanese education systems emphasis on wrote learning at the expense of essay writing, and a confucian system of social control that rewards submissiveness and punishes creative thinking.