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From:  Joe Martin
Date:  Thu Jan 7, 1999  2:52 am
Subject:  Re: bye-bye lingual

Bill, you're absolutley right about the japanese. The writing system as it
is currently used *is the combined effects of all three of those writing
systems together. (I'd say their choice to use our Roman letters for some
things is just like choosing to spell out english proper names in
english letter instead of signwriting symbols; sometimes handy, but not
really part of Signwriting.) Anyhow, it's a good point, but I was
hoping, really, that people would overlook it >;-). the main thing I *was
trying to point out is that it *can be done. Historically, too it was
done; the different scripts evolved in different social circles. Katakana
was used at Court, while Hiragana was used only by women, and in fact
Japan's hugely famous first novel, The tale of Genji, was written entirely
in hiragana. Later on the two syllabaries were both merged with the use
of the Kanji, thus evolving the present system.

So it can and does change, as now when some newly independent Soviet
states are beginning to write their languages in Arabic alphabets, instead
of Russia's Cyrillic. (or when people start using SignWriting for ASL
instead of trying to use English glosses ;,).

Us, we can write English in Hiragana, Katakana, Chinese Kanji, the
cyrillic alphabet, the Spanish alphabet, and so on. I was wrong to say
that I can't write it in Signwriting, because I can--by using the
fingerspelling symbols. However those are just another alphabet, and
qualitatively different from the rest of the system, just as
fingerspelling is dfferent from Signing.

The thang is, how ya writes it down ain't gots nuttin to do with what
language you's writin' right?

On Wed, 6 Jan 1999, Bill Reese wrote:

> Joe,
> Just a note on the Japanese. Three of the "alphabets" are used
> together, the fourth is an adaptation of the phonetics using roman
> characters and is used apart from the others. The Chinese "alphabet"
> (characters) were borrowed from the Chinese language but are pronounced
> entirely different. The Hiragana alphabet is added to the Chinese
> characters to aid in meaning and pronunciation and, as you pointed out,
> can be used exclusively (mostly by children or those first learning the
> language). The Katakana alphabet is phonetically the same as Hiragana
> and is used to write foreign words. That way they can differentiate
> borrowed words from native ones and allows a pronunciation guide for the
> borrowed words.
> So, while Japanese has different "scripts", as you say, the three used
> together represent the total language in it's pronounciation and usage.
> To use one exclusively would be like an English user using a literal
> translation of Sign language. We don't say "Now store go I". We
> understand it but we would add bits and pieces to aid in it's meaning.
> The different "alphabets" in Japanese achieve the same thing. So I
> don't think it entirely accurate to break written Japanese into parts
> and declare each part separate.
> I'm not through yet... :-)
> Let's get to your assertion that you can't write Signwriting in the
> writing system for another language. What makes you define Chinese as a
> different language? The Chinese "characters" are pictoral
> representations that started out very similar to Signwriting. They have
> been stylized through time and certain grammatical rules are used to
> define how the characters relate to each other. If that were all there
> was, there would be no romanization of the language. However, in the
> same sense that the Japanese use Katakana to pronounce foreign words and
> we use Romanji to pronounce Japanese, the key is in the pronounciation.
> Uterance of sound is the common denominator. In this we agree. But the
> pronounciation of a Chinese character has no bearing on it's pictoral
> representation. Witness the Japanese use of Chinese characters but
> using a totally different pronounciation for those characters.
> Theoretically, it could be possible that Signwriting would become
> stylized the same as Chinese characters and uterances could be assigned
> to the Signwriting "characters". So I don't think we are dealing with a
> different "type" of writing so much as dealing with a separation of the
> character from any phonetic representation.
> Joe Martin wrote:
> >
> > I want to thank Carlos; before reading his post I hadn't realized that
> > some of the confusion could be because people mean different things by the
> > word "bilingual."
> > 1. Knowing/using two separate languages (my "literal" meaning)
> > 2. the educational model that uses two languages side by
> > side--(in Carlos' meaning)--in this case a signed language and
> > a national, spoken language.
> >
> > Neither of these has anything *directly* to do with Signwriting;
> > they are about knowing/learning--Signwriting is to do with writing, which
> > is another topic.
> >
> > And what you write *IN is something else besides. For instance, Japanese
> > in its written form uses four different scripts. Faced with a Japanese
> > word, you can choose to write it with a Chinese character for the whole
> > word, or you can sound it out and write one symbol for each
> > syllable--there are two separate sets of these syllable symbols---or you
> > can write it out in our English alphabet letters.
> > Reference was made to writing a language "in its own script." Well, if
> > such a thing existed, what would be the script of Japanese? Or, are all
> > Japanese bi-bilingual because they know all these different ways of
> > writing? As far as that goes, you can sit down and invent an alphabet
> > in about ten minutes; then you can use it to write English or whatever.
> > Doesn't make you bilingual.
> >
> > What you CAN do is write pretty much any spoken language in any writing
> > system (alphabet or syllable-signs ).
> > What you CAN'T do is write a signed language in any of those same
> > writng systems.
> >
> > You can't write English in Signwriting, and you can't
> > write ASL in the English alphabet. There are good solid linguistic reasons
> > why not--but since most people don't even know what linguistics IS, all
> > you can say is that ....well, what I just said, I guess; to write signed
> > languages, you have to have a different TYPE of writing system.
> > Which SignWriting is.
> >
> > Joe Martin (^_^)

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