Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Asahi Shimbun on Kokuji

漢字にも「方言」 早大教授が100以上の地域文字発見 (Google cache) - The Asahi Shimbun (April 16, 2007)

This article focuses on Japanese kokuji (国字), Siniform characters constituting a subclass of the kanji script. The kokuji characters were created in Japan using the organisational principles of the kanji characters, which had been originally developed in and adopted from China. While some of the kokuji characters encode such basic lexemes as 'farming field' and '(to) work', others represent more vernacular ones such as family names, place names and local commodities. The article introduces the reader to a survey conducted by Professor Hiroyuki Sasahara (笹原 宏之) of Waseda University, in which he has collected more than 100 vernacular characters from communities across Japan. Until now these characters were virtually unattested because they had been known only to particular members of the individual communities. According to Professor Sasahara, kokuji reflect the culture and history of the people's struggle to write their own words.

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