On Dec 12, 2003, at 5:09 PM, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

>> What you're saying is that there is a single Japanese "script," which
>> consists of three (or more) components: kana, kanji, romaji, etc.,
>> nicht wahr? And that the overall set of characters used in the
>> overall
>> Japanese script is not interchangeable with the overall set of Korean
>> characters, and so on?
> They don't look alike; it's probably more inappropriate to use a
> Chinese
> font to set Japanese (never mind that there are some Jpn. characters
> that don't exist in China) than it is to set English in Fraktur, or
> German in romain du roi.

The vast majority of them *do* look alike. Overall, Chinese and
Japanese ways of writing these characters are far more similar than
Fraktur and Roman type. Or Italic and Roman type, for that matter.

And, in any event, one does see Japanese text written in Chinese
characters and, rather more frequently, Chinese text written with
Japanese characters.

>> Or are you saying that the set of kanji used in Japanese, hanzi used
>> in
>> Chinese, and hanja used in Korean are not interchangeable?
> They're simply not the same. They share a perhaps sizable core group of
> characters, but they don't look alike and they don't sound the same.

Well, sound is irrelevant here, since the Chinese pronunciations can
vary between dialects about as much as they do from the Sino-korean and
Sino-japanaese pronunciations. For the vast majority of the entities
in actual use, the visual appearance is identical, the pronunciations
are related, and the range of meanings are very similar or identical.
There are some which are, in actual practice, used only in Japanese, or
Korean; but, then again, there are an awful lot which are used only for
Cantonese and never for Mandarin (and rather fewer the other way). The
use of these characters within China and the various Chinese dialects
is analogous to their use in Japanese and Korean *except* that in
Japanese and Korean there are non-Chinese characters which are also
used as part of the writing system.

(And, of course, the Japanese call them kanji and the Koreans hanja,
both of which are the native pronunciations of what is in Mandarin
hanzi and Latin sinogram, all meaning "Chinese character.")

> I trust we no longer have the typewriter problem of using the same
> character for one and ell, for zero and oh; for Russian <n> and sm.cap.
> <h>; etc.
>> If the latter, then I must confess I find the conclusion rather
>> remarkable, as it's rather the opposite of the general impression of
>> people who live in East Asia, barring anti-Unicode rhetoric. While
>> there is some difference in the precise set of kanji/hanzi/hanja used,
>> and some difference is the way they're written, the fundamental
>> identity is rarely questioned.
> Perhaps that's because they're ordinary people, with
> ordinary-people-intuitions. Recall how ordinary-people-intuitions about
> language very often bear little relation to the fruits of linguistic
> investigation.

The people I'm thinking about aren't the ordinary men and women in the
street. They're the linguists and typographers. It's the computer
scientists who have been raising the big fuss.

Chauvinism is actually a bigger issue than anything else in how people
perceive these. The Chinese tend to be very comfortable with calling
them all "Chinese characters," because that boosts their own
self-esteem. The Japanese tend to be less comfortable with the
identity because having a separation between hanzi and kanji promotes
the Japanese sense of the uniqueness of their own culture. The Koreans
usually don't care much; they're so proud of hangul (and rightly so)
and so rarely use hanja that it isn't much of an issue for them.

> It's the computer engineers who insist on utterly dividing up the
> universe into watertight compartments such that every entity has its
> very own assignment, and there are no empty areas and no overlaps. That
> ain't the way human minds work.

No, but it's the way computers work.

Again, I want to emphasize: Unicode is aimed at blurring the lines
here. For a long time, if you wanted to use Japanese on your computer,
you used a *Japanese* encoding which was wonderful for Japanese but
awful at anything else. So long as you're only interested in the
watertight compartment of your own language, you don't need Unicode.

John H. Jenkins