Korean/Tamil/Hindi (was Re: Query on var.nabheda)

claude setzer cssetzer at mum.edu
Fri Mar 7 01:30:54 UTC 1997

The Japanese use as their main alphabet what might be called a
subset/superset of the Chinese script that the Japanese call Kanji. They
also use two phonetic alphabets, that I believe can represent any sound in
the language, but of course do not have anywhere near the capability of
written expression for the serious scholar. It is quite interesting that
the two alphabets are "racially" separated. One is use only for "Japanese"
words and the other is used for foreign based words.

When I was in Japan in about 1973 there was a very interesting process gong
on. At that time there was only a small handful of people in Japan that
could fully read even the newspaper because of the complexity of the Kanji
script. At that time the government was trying to pass a law that limited
newspapers to using only about 5,000 Kanji characters (out of what I
remember as being something like 20,000), so the most highly educated
people could then read the newspapers.

Claude Setzer

> From: Dan Lusthaus <dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu>
> To: Members of the list <indology at liverpool.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: Korean/Tamil/Hindi (was Re: Query on var.nabheda)
> Date: Thursday, March 06, 1997 5:46 PM
> >As I understand, these are not complete
> >and purely phonetic alphabets...  Or am
> >I mistaken?
> I'm not sure what you mean by complete. They have nearly fifty letters a
> piece. They are consonant+vowel combos, (e.g.: na, ni, no, though there
> long vowels that can be added). They are purely alphabetic and have no
> semantic significance  beyond their use in constructing phonemes.
> Dan Lusthaus
> Flordia State University

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