Thursday, November 02, 2006

Japanese Newspaper and the art of Verticle Writing

Can you read this?!

It's safe to say that most people struggle reading Japanese, but the Japanese newspaper is the most feared obstacle of any non-native speaker who tackles the language. The standard newspaper in Japan uses a daily average of 1,500 Kanji characters. Now, if you want to know the real difficulty, try figuring the permutations of such symbols which break their own 'linquistic' rules while conjugating, and you get one impossilbe test.

Some advertisements 'Japanese style'. Nottice the extreme visual overload to the layout and how they utilize three seperate alphabets simultaneous to create one text. Practically impossible to understand entirely, and well, they don't call it the hardest language to learn for nothing.

The truth is I can read only bits of news articles at the moment. The average Japanese middle schooler can't read a newspaper through and through, and even Japanese adults struggle to get through a whole paper. In a country which has the highest litteracy rate on the planet, it's almost hard to believe, but knowing the language and how to read it isn't the problem. The problem comes in the incaculable amount of kanji symbols (Chinese ideograms) a person has to memorize, use, and then use coupled with two other distinct alphabets (almost a seperat language themselves). Thus, the Japanese language becomes truly challenging for anybody.

Of course, there are always a few archaic or rarely used kanji symbols (which haven't been used since the age of the Samurai which ocassionally pop up) which have a bad habit of throwing everyone for a loop; not to mention people's names don't follow any grammatic rules what-so-ever, reading a Japanese newspapers becomes the true test of fluency.

A close up of the verticle writing.

Give me the sports section!

The 'Fighters' win the Japan Major League Championship! American baseball is more of a past time here in Japan than it is in America. Just to get even for the Japanese adopting our sport, I think all Americans should take up Sumo wrestling. God knows there's enough fatties state side to keep that sport going indefinately. We could even start the first womans division. Instead of an anouncer screaming 'get ready to rumble' he could yell, 'Get ready to jiggle!' It'd be great fun!


Jen said...

Go Fighters!!! Ogasawara rocks my socks. I base this purely on the fact that I like to say his name.

Tristan Vick said...

Hahaha. Yeah, Japanese names are fun to say. There's such a rhythmic pattern to the rounded consonent vowel, consonent vowel, progression of the language, that I especailly find not only the language, but the Japanese music, wonderful!

It's such a difficult but beautiful language, and I can't believe most of them think the same about English. Hahaha. English is not beautiful sounding... I don't care what anybody says. It's plain. But to each his own, I guess.

Noor said...

(It's such a difficult but beautiful language),, same goes on Arabic :) many people fall in love with arabic writings,, really gorgeous and few of us have this writing art talent. once i was amazed by American man became expert in arabic writings art,, he was really good!! he was in love with this and passed all difficulties he faced. amazing!!!

Anonymous said...

looks like mexican advertising! Always on the verge of cheeasiness and over load :) - love this blog site of yours with all the Japanese culture.
-justiceandcontrastchic on 360