Japanese should be romanized.

Jim   Friday, February 13, 2004, 01:01 GMT
One thousand nine hundred and forty-five symbols! Try something more like about sixty thousand. The one thousand nine hundred and forty-five figure is just the Japanese Ministry of Education's official list of recommended characters to be learnt at school. Then there is a supplimentry list on top of this allowable for names.

"It is believed that knowledge of about 3,300 characters is needed in order to be a literate Japanese adult. Many specialised fields, for instance medicine, use larger sets of characters, and place names often use obscure characters, making the set of total characters in use in Japan about six thousand."

I have a kanji dictionary which lists about seven thousand but even this is only a fraction of the Chinese characters in existence.

"The Hanyu dacidian that came out recently in mainland China lists over 60,000 characters."


Japanese keyboards do have the forty-six (modern) kana mapped out (the all but obsolete "wi" and "we" are omitted). Japanese software supports katakana, hiragana and kanji.

If you are typing on a Japanese computer you can choose to type in katakana, hiragana or Roman letters. If you want to write in kana, you can use the kana keys directly or you can type using the qwerty layout of Roman letters and the computer converts it automatically into kana. You can also convert to katakana into kanji.

Of course, it all depends on the software you're using, this is how things work in "Microsoft Word", for example, but "Microsoft Notepad" only supports Roman letters.

Aube déguisé   Friday, February 13, 2004, 01:30 GMT
No!! Microsoft Notepad does support Chinese characters which is the same as kanji. I know because I type Chinese on Notepad! But you need to set to SimSun font and save in Unicode encoding.
Jim   Friday, February 13, 2004, 02:56 GMT
Well, then I'm using a different version or I suppose I don't have the fount. I tried to put the letters æsh, þorn and eð ("Æ", "Þ" and "Ð" in capitals) on Notepad without success. I suppose having the right software would get around this too. Anyway, thanks for correcting me, now I know something that I hadn't known before.
Bayou Rover   Friday, February 13, 2004, 10:17 GMT
Have you ever heard about romanji? So are we talking about transliteration here?
Sara   Friday, February 13, 2004, 11:48 GMT
I've heard people say "romaNji" several times, but I've never seen it written on any Japanese lesson book. The only word I know is "rômaji" (with a long O). This one is also the word Japanese people use. It is phonetic, unlike the keyboard writing system. Here is an example of how it works.

Watashi wa ichinenhan nihongo o isshôkenmei naratteimashita. Demo, kanji ni chikara o iresugiteita node, nihonjin to no kaiwa sae hotondo dekimasendeshita. Tegami shika dekinakatta no desu! Dakara, akiramete yameyô kana to omotta kedo, yappari tsuzukeyô to ima wa kangaeteimasu. Shikashi, kondo wa chanto kaiwa ni chikara o ireru koto ni shimasu ne!
Sara   Friday, February 13, 2004, 13:37 GMT
I think that none of the "romanized" system would be adapted to Japanese. Of course the kanjis are too numerous, even to Japanese people. Some of them told me "even thought I am Japanese, there are so many of them I don't know !".
Still, a Japanese text or speech may be ambiguous without the characters. Because of the loads of homophones there are, sometimes Japanese people need to drow a character in the air to make their speech clearer.

And anyway, why drop a such a beautiful writing which is the result of centuries of history and culture ?

I agree with all this (already said above), though I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to make a reform.
An ideogram is actually made of a few other ones, originally related to its meaning. Unfortunately, the Japanese characters have been "simplified", that is the components of one character have been replaced with some simpler-looking ones. But these "simpler-looking" components often are not related to the sense that the character originally had. As a result, the ideograms have now become harder to remember.

They shouldn't have done that!
Bayou Rover   Friday, February 13, 2004, 19:42 GMT
Oh, Sara you're right...it is romaji; as roma would means Roman and ji is a character, well I suppose...
Paul   Sunday, February 15, 2004, 18:14 GMT
Hi Sara

I thought Japan had it own list of Modified Chinese Characters with occasionally quite different meanings called Kanji. Say between two thousand and 7 thousand ideograms. A nice managable number.

But you suggest that Japanese Kanji is just a Dynamic subset of the Chinese Character set, which can be expanded at any time to use any Chinese Character, no matter how classical or how modern.
This unmanagable even for the Chinese Mandarins.

What is the truth of this matter?
Excuse me for asking a Japanese Language question.

But this goes to the heart of wheter Japan has its own writing system,
or rides on the back of the Chinese Dragon.

Regards, Paul V.
Paul   Monday, February 16, 2004, 15:10 GMT
Any thoughts about this from Hawaii East?
I hear that Hawaii has a large assimilated Japanese population.
Regards, Paul
Paul   Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 15:06 GMT
I guess this posting can be closed
Simon   Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 15:22 GMT
At the moment you have:


As Japanese can't have TU and TI why not just accept that TSU and CHI are written TU and TI.

i.e. Watashi wa would be something like Vatasi fa.

If so, it would be easier to understand verbs etc.
Sara   Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 17:54 GMT
Hi Paul,

Well, actually Japan modified some Chinese characters centuries after it started using them. They also invented a few ones, still composed with other characters.

Now they continue "building" their own characters sometimes, but don't borrow anymore from China.

China has simplified its writing system as well, in its own way.
Jim   Wednesday, February 18, 2004, 01:07 GMT

Two of the systems I've mentioned do just that. It is only the Hepburn system (and variations on it) which uses "tsu", "chi", "cha", "shi", "sha", "fu", etc. In the Nippon and Kunrei systems they are romanised as "tu", "ti", "tya", "si", "sya", "hu", etc. In these systems "watashi" is spelt "watasi". There is no system in which "va" or "fa" is used (except for words not of Japanese origin in the first place).

For more detail go to http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese_romaji.htm
Simon   Wednesday, February 18, 2004, 09:51 GMT
There was a reason behind fa but i've forgotten it.
Sara   Wednesday, February 18, 2004, 10:42 GMT
Thoses Nippon and Kunrei systems are those which Japanese people usually use, and also the keyboard writting system.