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Old 2009-03-15, 17:50   Link #2140
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In a house
Originally Posted by Alchemist007 View Post
I wish the post WW2 'get ride of kanji' thing was successful. I hate all this memorization. Kana ftmfw.
Okay, here's a story for you...

When my grandfather went to South Korea on business trips in the 1970s, communication was easy. Although he spoke Chinese and they spoke Korean, once everyone put pen to paper and expressed their thoughts in a few kanji (mostly nouns), a degree of mutual understanding was possible. My grandfather could also understand all street signs, maps, restaurant menus, etc.

A Japanese businessman who went to South Korea in the 1970s would have experienced the same ease of communication and understanding. Ditto for Chinese people in Japan and Japanese people in China today.

However, South Korea gradually got rid of kanji over the last 30 years. When my grandfather visited in the late 1990s, communication was no longer possible without an interpreter. For Japanese visitors, Seoul's government had to design special maps and translate signs... into katakana.

In some respects, kanji and Confucianism are the two thin threads which hold together the mutually hostile and vindictive nations of East Asia. Let's preserve them, by all means.

Addendum: Another consideration would be the insane number of homonyms in East Asian languages. South Korea is facing this very problem now; despite the loss of kanji in everyday life, Korean books and newspapers still need to insert kanji once in a while to clarify the meaning of certain words.
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