August 15th, 2010

yoshitoshi: caocao

I shall start a society for the preservation of Chinese characters...

I never got a handle on the whys and wherefores of hanzi/ kanji simplification, but I assumed it had to do with general standardization and, possibly, the promotion of universal literacy. Now I find my 1971 author blandly declaring that the Chinese government effected both simplification and pinyin as preliminary steps in the *abolition* of hanzi, and a move to a phonic western-alphabet-based writing system. (Which 1971 guy thinks is long overdue.) Was he totally on crack, as my reflexes say he must be, or is there something to this?

And I have to say, I do not get the character-hatred. The idea of reading Chinese in pinyin, even with tone markings, gives me the horrors. This is because I've read all hiragana Japanese and it's horrible. Horrible for the foreign reader, certainly; a native speaker might provide meaning and context by ear, but god knows I can't. So pace almost everyone I've read, dispensing with characters will *not* make reading easier for foreigners at all at all at all.

Also watched an hour of an NHK special on tea caravans that travel through Tibet. May rethink this taking ikkyuu business because dear god my ear (and my vocabulary) is so baaaad.