日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Sobekhotep » Fri 07 Aug 2009 12:08 am

Jayan wrote:For example, the word きかん which he cited in the article has these options:
期間 (きかん): period, term, interval.
機関 (きかん): (1) mechanism, facility, engine. (2) agency, organisation, institution, organ.
帰還, 饋還 (きかん): (1) repatriation, return. (2) (electrical) feedback.
基幹 (きかん): mainstay, nucleus, key.
器官 (きかん): organ (of body), instrument.
季刊 (きかん): quarterly (e.g. magazine).
気管 (きかん): trachea.
既刊 (きかん): already published.
旗艦 (きかん): flagship.
貴翰, 貴簡 (きかん): your letter.
亀鑑, 龜鑑 (きかん): pattern, example, model, paragon, mirror.
帰艦 (きかん): returning to one's (war)ship.
軌間 (きかん): (railroad) gauge.
奇観 (きかん): wonderful sight.
飢寒 (きかん): hunger and cold.
汽缶, 汽罐 (きかん): boiler.
貴官 (きかん): you (used to address government officials, military personnel, etc.).

Only the first 7 of those are commonly used terms, though. But it's still a lot.

Talib wrote:Wouldn't context help greatly in differentiating homophones?

Absolutely. When people speak they can't see what's being said but can understand easily.

Talib wrote:What about the Japanese pitch accent? If that were marked (can't be difficult to think up a diacritic, if one doesn't exist already) then it would be helpful as well.

Only about 20% of Japanese words have pitch accent. :o

Talib wrote:What proportion of words have homophones, exactly?

Not sure, but I'd guess that most Sino-Japanese words have homophones.

Talib wrote:What is the origin of all these homophones in Japanese? Is it the restrictive phonology, Chinese influence or both/something else?

The homophones are found overwhelmingly in Sino-Japanese vocabulary because the Chinese language is morphologically monosyllabic. If you study Chinese you'll encounter the same issue of homophones but Chinese has the lexical tone which neither Korean nor Japanese have.
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Talib » Fri 07 Aug 2009 12:23 am

Sobekhotep wrote:Absolutely. When people speak they can't see what's being said but can understand easily.
So why couldn't this work in writing?
Only about 20% of Japanese words have pitch accent.
Still helpful though, right?
Talib wrote:What proportion of words have homophones, exactly?

Not sure, but I'd guess that most Sino-Japanese words have homophones.
The homophones are found overwhelmingly in Sino-Japanese vocabulary because the Chinese language is morphologically monosyllabic. If you study Chinese you'll encounter the same issue of homophones but Chinese has the lexical tone which neither Korean nor Japanese have.
That's along the lines of what I thought.

Doesn't Chinese have homophones with the same tone as well?
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby sokuban » Sat 08 Aug 2009 4:09 am

Wow, this thread exploded while I wasn't here.

Anyways, you all are missing one big reason why Japanese romaji doesn't work. It is because the Japanese language is full of syllables, not consonants. There are tons of words that would have only a single letter difference if they were written in romaji. In English if you make a typo for one letter, usually you'd be able to understand the word, but in Japanese if you make a typo - heck, even if you don't make a typo it is hard to read romaji because you need to pay attention to every little letter in order to catch what the whole word is.

The homophones stuff is bull actually. Japanese can (kinda) be used avoiding these homophones, which are all derived from Chinese. Spoken Japanese generally uses more "Japanese Japanese", while written Japanese generally can use more "Chinese Japanese". Writing the pitch accent would be mad though. I don't notice the pitch accent, I know it is there but I don't think about it, it just comes. Most people would have difficulty writing the pitch accent if they had to. That, and the pitch accent is different from the East and the West.

As for the writing system, yea, it is like that, and it isn't exactly ideal, but it is the best you can get I guess.

I personally believe that hangul could be adopted for use with Japanese though, and it could work out quite nicely. When I say adapted, I mean adapted though. You'd have to make a different orthography in order to let each Chinese Character take up one square. Here is an example of my idea:

*disclaimer* This system is far from perfect, and I'm just giving ideas of how it could work. I also haven't even thought about how "Japanese Japanese" would be written in this system, only "Chinese Japanese".

Kanji Hangul Kana Japanese Korean
正直 쇼짘 しょうじき shoujiki syojik
食卓 석탁 しょくたく shokutaku seoktak
限定 겐태 げんてい gentei gentae
発言 핬겐 はつげん hatsugen hatgen
発射 핬샤 はっしゃ hassha hatsya
発表 핬효 はっぴょう happyou hathyo

Hangul has more vowels than Japanese. You can use some of them as the long vowels, and some of the short vowels. In my example, ㅗ is the same as Japanese "ou" and ㅓ is the same as Japanese "o". Likewise, ㅔ is the same as Japanese "e" and ㅐ is the same as Japanese "ei".

Also, you need to put the second part of the character on the bottom, rather than making it written in two blocks like Japanese. Since hangul has more consonants, I can use ㄱ to mean a Japanese "ku" and ㅋ to mean a Japanese "ki". (At the end of a Chinese Character syllable.) In this example I'm using ㅆ to mean a Japanese "tsu".

I'm also trying to keep the spelling as morphophemic as possible. Even though 発射 is pronounced "hassha" and not "hatsusha", I'm still writing the ㅆ at the bottom because it is a part of the character. Readers will be expected to read it out loud as "hassha" even though there is a ㅆ at the bottom. This is the normal way Korean is written as well. However, the next word, you can see is "happyou". This pronunciation is changed quite a bit from "hatsuhyou" that would be read if you read it out normally. I'm still writing it as 핬효 though to keep the morphophemic spelling. Actually I'm still debating over this stuff. One big difference between Japanese and Korean is that in Japanese: h, b, and p are related, while in Korean ㅂ and ㅍ are not related to ㅎ. So using the ㅎ jamo in Japanese is a bit odd. I'll think of a better way to do this one day. I could use ㅍ to represent the h sound in Japanese, but this would drive people who know Korean mad. So the current plan is to make ㅎ related to ㅂ and ㅃ, and not use ㅍ at all.

Uhh, wow. Sorry I hijacked this thread.
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Neqitan » Sat 08 Aug 2009 4:20 am

Talib wrote:
Sobekhotep wrote:
Talib wrote:What proportion of words have homophones, exactly?

Not sure, but I'd guess that most Sino-Japanese words have homophones.

Sobekhotep wrote:
Talib wrote:What is the origin of all these homophones in Japanese? Is it the restrictive phonology, Chinese influence or both/something else?

The homophones are found overwhelmingly in Sino-Japanese vocabulary because the Chinese language is morphologically monosyllabic. If you study Chinese you'll encounter the same issue of homophones but Chinese has the lexical tone which neither Korean nor Japanese have.

That's along the lines of what I thought.

Those comments totally remind me of:
Wikipedia wrote:Giko Cat
Giko Cat or Giko neko (ギコ猫) is a character-based Japanese fictional cat. He is considered one of the mascots of 2channel, the largest web-based bulletin board system in Japan, but actually predates that BBS. He is thought to have originated in Ayashii World (Strange World), an old web-based bulletin board system in Japan around 1999.

He is frequently posted saying "Itteyoshi", which is a pun: when written "行ってよし" it means "you may go" or "please go away", and this is the meaning most Japanese speakers would think of when they hear it, but when written with different kanji (逝ってよし) it means "you may die" or "please die".
Code: Select all
  ____∧∧  / ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄   
~' ____(,,゚Д゚)< 逝ってよし! 
  UU    U U    \______  

Talib wrote:Doesn't Chinese have homophones with the same tone as well?

Mandarin is more disyllabic than you think. :D
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Sobekhotep » Sat 08 Aug 2009 5:21 am

Talib wrote:
Sobekhotep wrote:Absolutely. When people speak they can't see what's being said but can understand easily.
So why couldn't this work in writing?

I believe it could. In it's purest forum, written language is nothing more than a phonetic (or at least phonemic) rendering of the spoken language, right?
But, the Japanese language has always been written with Chinese characters. I don't think they're ready to abandon them yet although I believe a day will come when Japanese is written only in kana.

Talib wrote:Doesn't Chinese have homophones with the same tone as well?

Yes. But when morphemes are combined together to make lexical units the choices are fewer, especially when you factor in the sandhi.
To give an idea of the homophones for Chinese versus Japanese consider this: if I type yi, a syllable with the most homophones (I think), in my Chinese IME I get 75 possibilities, and that's for all tones. If I type kou in my Japanese IME with the "bias for speech" turned on, I get 101 possibilities. Now here's the fun part. If I turn on the "bias for names" I get 457 possibilities. 457! :mrgreen:

sokuban wrote:The homophones stuff is bull actually. Japanese can (kinda) be used avoiding these homophones, which are all derived from Chinese.

Even native Japanese has lots of homophones. Take miru. This could be <見る> (to see; to look; to watch, etc), it could be <診る> (to examine medically; to look over/on), it could be <看る> (to look after; to take care of), or it could be <観る> (to view, as in flowers or a movie).
Another example is with horu. It could be <彫る> (to carve; to engrave; to sculpt, etc), it could be <ほる> (to tattoo), or it could be <掘る> (to dig or excavate).

sokuban wrote:I personally believe that hangul could be adopted for use with Japanese though, and it could work out quite nicely. When I say adapted, I mean adapted though. You'd have to make a different orthography in order to let each Chinese Character take up one square. Here is an example of my idea:

*disclaimer* This system is far from perfect, and I'm just giving ideas of how it could work. I also haven't even thought about how "Japanese Japanese" would be written in this system, only "Chinese Japanese".

Kanji Hangul Kana Japanese Korean
正直 쇼짘 しょうじき shoujiki syojik
食卓 석탁 しょくたく shokutaku seoktak
限定 겐태 げんてい gentei gentae
発言 핬겐 はつげん hatsugen hatgen
発射 핬샤 はっしゃ hassha hatsya
発表 핬효 はっぴょう happyou hathyo

Hangul has more vowels than Japanese. You can use some of them as the long vowels, and some of the short vowels. In my example, ㅗ is the same as Japanese "ou" and ㅓ is the same as Japanese "o". Likewise, ㅔ is the same as Japanese "e" and ㅐ is the same as Japanese "ei".

Also, you need to put the second part of the character on the bottom, rather than making it written in two blocks like Japanese. Since hangul has more consonants, I can use ㄱ to mean a Japanese "ku" and ㅋ to mean a Japanese "ki". (At the end of a Chinese Character syllable.) In this example I'm using ㅆ to mean a Japanese "tsu".

I'm also trying to keep the spelling as morphophemic as possible. Even though 発射 is pronounced "hassha" and not "hatsusha", I'm still writing the ㅆ at the bottom because it is a part of the character. Readers will be expected to read it out loud as "hassha" even though there is a ㅆ at the bottom. This is the normal way Korean is written as well. However, the next word, you can see is "happyou". This pronunciation is changed quite a bit from "hatsuhyou" that would be read if you read it out normally. I'm still writing it as 핬효 though to keep the morphophemic spelling. Actually I'm still debating over this stuff. One big difference between Japanese and Korean is that in Japanese: h, b, and p are related, while in Korean ㅂ and ㅍ are not related to ㅎ. So using the ㅎ jamo in Japanese is a bit odd. I'll think of a better way to do this one day. I could use ㅍ to represent the h sound in Japanese, but this would drive people who know Korean mad. So the current plan is to make ㅎ related to ㅂ and ㅃ, and not use ㅍ at all.

I doubt that any Japanese people (aside from the Zainichi Koreans) would be too keen on writing their language with a script invented by a Korean king. :mrgreen:
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Talib » Sat 08 Aug 2009 5:52 am

sokuban wrote:Anyways, you all are missing one big reason why Japanese romaji doesn't work. It is because the Japanese language is full of syllables, not consonants. There are tons of words that would have only a single letter difference if they were written in romaji. In English if you make a typo for one letter, usually you'd be able to understand the word, but in Japanese if you make a typo - heck, even if you don't make a typo it is hard to read romaji because you need to pay attention to every little letter in order to catch what the whole word is.
This may be true, but we were talking about ways to reform Japanese's writing system which already exists, not adopting a new one (Romaji).
Sobekhotep wrote:I believe it could. In it's purest forum, written language is nothing more than a phonetic (or at least phonemic) rendering of the spoken language, right?
But, the Japanese language has always been written with Chinese characters. I don't think they're ready to abandon them yet although I believe a day will come when Japanese is written only in kana.
Maybe, but with official support more could be done. The PRC was able to switch over to simplified characters; why couldn't Japan start phasing out kanji with the aim of writing solely in kana? It wouldn't even have to be obligatory.

Do you know of any Japanese which is written in kana only?
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby sokuban » Sat 08 Aug 2009 11:29 am

Sobekhotep wrote:
sokuban wrote:The homophones stuff is bull actually. Japanese can (kinda) be used avoiding these homophones, which are all derived from Chinese.

Even native Japanese has lots of homophones. Take miru. This could be <見る> (to see; to look; to watch, etc), it could be <診る> (to examine medically; to look over/on), it could be <看る> (to look after; to take care of), or it could be <観る> (to view, as in flowers or a movie).
Another example is with horu. It could be <彫る> (to carve; to engrave; to sculpt, etc), it could be <ほる> (to tattoo), or it could be <掘る> (to dig or excavate).


No, I like to think of those as being all the same words. The original Japanese word has a wider meaning than the kanji used to write them, and people use different kanji to write the same word depending on its application.

Take a look at miru, most of those so called "homophones" are all around the same thing, the word generally has to do with looking.

While I think there are a few homophones in native Japanese, none come up to my mind at the moment, and it is much easier to distinguish them by context than with Chinese borrowed words.

Sobekhotep wrote:I doubt that any Japanese people (aside from the Zainichi Koreans) would be too keen on writing their language with a script invented by a Korean king. :mrgreen:


XD. Yea, that's the only problem.

Talib wrote:Do you know of any Japanese which is written in kana only?


Yes. Classic games were often kana only because they couldn't handle kanji back then. Most kids books are also in kana.

If you are interested in kana only texts you might want to take a look at this site: http://www1.ocn.ne.jp/~kanamozi/
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Sobekhotep » Sun 09 Aug 2009 7:10 am

Talib wrote:why couldn't Japan start phasing out kanji with the aim of writing solely in kana? It wouldn't even have to be obligatory.

I'm sure they could. But, they have no intention of doing so. And I, personally, like having kanji. :mrgreen:

sokuban wrote:No, I like to think of those as being all the same words. The original Japanese word has a wider meaning than the kanji used to write them, and people use different kanji to write the same word depending on its application.

Take a look at miru, most of those so called "homophones" are all around the same thing, the word generally has to do with looking.

OK, you're probably right about that one. :)

sokuban wrote:While I think there are a few homophones in native Japanese, none come up to my mind at the moment

How about kiru? There's <切る> (to cut or sever) but there's also <着る> (to wear or put on).
I got another one: iru. That could be <居る> (to be or exist; stay), <鋳る> (to cast or mint), or <射る> (to shoot), <入る> (to get/go in), or <要る> (to need).
Those can't just be the same verb, right?
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby Talib » Sun 09 Aug 2009 7:12 pm

Sobekhotep wrote:I'm sure they could. But, they have no intention of doing so. And I, personally, like having kanji. :mrgreen:
I suppose they don't intend to, but I'm just curious why. Many countries have initiated language reforms in the past century, including those with less complicated orthographies.

I guess it's the same situation as English, where history matters more than practicality.
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Re: 日本語の隅 - Nihongo no Sumi - Japanese Corner

Postby sokuban » Mon 10 Aug 2009 3:40 pm

Well, I for one like English spelling. Spelling reform would make me very sad.

And Japan /has had/ lots of reform.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical ... rthography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABjitai

Here is an example of old spelling with old letters from the book "Wagahai wa Neko de Aru":

吾輩は猫である。名前はまだ無い。
 どこで生まれたか頓と見當がつかぬ。何ても暗薄いじめじめした所でニャー/\泣いて居た事丈は記憶して居る。吾輩はこゝで始めて人間といふものを見た。然もあとで聞くとそれは書生といふ人間で一番獰惡な種族であつたさうだ。此書生といふのは時々我々を捕へて煮て食ふといふ話である。然し其當時は何といふ考もなかつたから別段恐しいとも思はなかつた。但彼の掌に載せられてスーと持ち上げられた時何だかフハフハした感じが有つた許りである。掌の上で少し落ち付いて書生の顏を見たが所謂人間といふものゝ見始であらう。此の時妙なものだと思つた感じが今でも殘つて居る。第一毛を以て裝飾されべき筈の顏がつる/\して丸で藥罐だ。其後猫にも大分逢つたがこんな片輪には一度も出會はした事がない。加之顏の眞中が餘りに突起して居る。そうして其穴の中から時々ぷう/\と烟を吹く。どうも咽せぽくて實に弱つた。是が人間の飮む烟草といふものである事は漸く此頃知つた。


And here is the new version:

吾輩は猫である。名前はまだ無い。
 どこで生れたかとんと見当がつかぬ。何でも薄暗いじめじめした所でニャーニャー泣いていた事だけは記憶している。吾輩はここで始めて人間というものを見た。しかもあとで聞くとそれは書生という人間中で一番獰悪な種族であったそうだ。この書生というのは時々我々を捕えて煮て食うという話である。しかしその当時は何という考もなかったから別段恐しいとも思わなかった。ただ彼の掌に載せられてスーと持ち上げられた時何だかフワフワした感じがあったばかりである。掌の上で少し落ちついて書生の顔を見たのがいわゆる人間というものの見始であろう。この時妙なものだと思った感じが今でも残っている。第一毛をもって装飾されべきはずの顔がつるつるしてまるで薬缶だ。その後猫にもだいぶ逢ったがこんな片輪には一度も出会わした事がない。のみならず顔の真中があまりに突起している。そうしてその穴の中から時々ぷうぷうと煙を吹く。どうも咽せぽくて実に弱った。これが人間の飲む煙草というものである事はようやくこの頃知った。


Sobekhotep wrote:
sokuban wrote:While I think there are a few homophones in native Japanese, none come up to my mind at the moment

How about kiru? There's <切る> (to cut or sever) but there's also <着る> (to wear or put on).
I got another one: iru. That could be <居る> (to be or exist; stay), <鋳る> (to cast or mint), or <射る> (to shoot), <入る> (to get/go in), or <要る> (to need).
Those can't just be the same verb, right?


Well, most of these are easy to distinguish when speaking with the context, so they aren't really needed. I've never heard of 鋳るor 入る before either, (Well, I know 入れる, so I guess I knew that 入る is a form of that verb, but I have never used or heard anyone use 入る in my memory.) and 居る and 要る are the only two that are commonly used. Also they are conjugated in a different way so you can tell the difference. (Same with the two きる) In fact in writing it is acceptable to not use kanji for those two いる.

Ahh, I felt something in the back of my head. I remember someone talking about about the way people don't write as much kanji and how much trouble it causes. Who cited this sentance:

「才能が有る或る若手社員が或る要職に在る」

Nowadays since not many people write kanji for ある, it would come up like this:

「才能があるある若手社員がある要職にある」

Which is confusing.

But other than things like that it is generally possible to distinguish words like these from context so it isn't much of a problem. I'm not saying kanji shouldn't be used for these words though. Kanji is a very useful visual aid, and it helps to read faster. When you listen, you hear as fast as the speaker, which is usually fast enough, but reading works completely in kana is more difficult.

Source: http://www.sekitechnologies.com/blog200 ... 60000.html
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