Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 167 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
JAPANESE. Zenaku wo saiban suru tame no Virtue vice-judging sake of mochiitaru yuitsu no hyojun we used unique standard jiai no koi lade benevolence of conduct only kore nomi. this alone. It will be observed that in the above sentence there are two untranslated words, wo and wa. These belong to a group of four auxiliary particles called te ni wo ha (or wa), which serve to mark the cases of nouns, te (or de) being the sign of the instrumental ablative; ni that of the dative; wo that of the objective, and wa that of the nominative. These exist in the Korean language also, but not in any other tongue. There are also polite and ordinary forms of expression, often so different as to constitute distinct languages; and there are a number of honorifics which frequently discharge the duty of pronouns. Another marked peculiarity is that active agency is never attributed to neuter nouns. A Japanese does not say " the poison killed him " but " he died on account of the poison;" nor does he say " the war has caused commodities to appreciate," but " commodities have appreciated in consequence of the war." That the language loses much force owing to this limitation cannot be denied: metaphor and allegory are almost completely banished. The difficulties that confront an Occidental who attempts to learn Japanese are enormous. There are three languages to be acquired: first, the ordinary colloquial; second, the polite colloquial; and, third, the written. The ordinary colloquial differs materially from its polite form, and both are as unlike the written form as modern Italian is unlike ancient Latin. "Add to this," writes Professor B. H. Chamberlain, " the necessity of committing to memory two syllabaries, one of which has many variant forms, and at least two or three thousand Chinese ideographs, in forms standard and cursive —ideographs, too, most of which are susceptible of three or four different readings according to circumstance,—add, further, that all these kinds of written symbols are apt to be encountered pelt melt on the same page, and the task of mastering Japanese becomes almost Herculean." In view of all this there is a strong movement in favour of romanizing the Japanese script: that is to say, abolishing the ideograph and adopting in its place the Roman alphabet. But while every one appreciates the magnitude of the relief that would thus be afforded, there has as yet been little substantial progress. A language which has been adapted from its infancy to ideographic transmission cannot easily be fitted to phonetic uses. Dictionaries.—F. Brinkley, An Unabridged Japanese-English Dictionary (Tokyo, 1896) ; Y. Shimada, English-Japanese Dictionary, (Tokyo, 1897) ; Webster's Dictionary, trans. into Japanese, (Tokyo. Lightning. Exhalation. Electricity. Telegram. Electric light. Negative electricity. Positive electricity. Thermo-electricity. Dynamic-electricity. Telephone.
End of Article: JAPANESE

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