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Re: [SCA-JML] More book reccomendations

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  • Ii Saburou
    ... I did not mean to suggest that men did not write poetry--such would be absurd. However, the attention given to classical Chinese (equated by one of my
    Message 1 of 15 , May 29 10:13 PM
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      On Thu, 29 May 2003, Solveig wrote:

      > It's pretty clear that men were writing poetry and that writing poetry was
      > an important part of political life in Heian Japan. One primary difference
      > was the greater emphasis of classical Chinese in men's literature and a
      > greater emphasis on Japanese in women's literature. Men were writing
      > Chinese poems and niki. When Ki no Tsurayuki wanted to write a monogatari
      > he wrote it pseudonyminously as a woman.

      I did not mean to suggest that men did not write poetry--such would be
      absurd. However, the attention given to classical Chinese (equated by one
      of my professors as being similar to how Europeans used Latin--up into the
      19th century in some cases--to show education) seems to have influenced
      their writings, as I recall.

      Didn't Ki no Tsurayuki also write his monogatari in hiragana to emulate a
      woman's hand, as well? And I thought that one of the important things
      about that was that a man wrote a tale like he did, besides just the fact
      that he emulated a woman's hand. I was led to believe that most of the
      romances and 'leisure' reading was done by the women and it was more
      texts, histories, and the like that were done by the men. Even today if
      you want your writings to seem more 'scholarly' people seem to gravitate
      towards words using kanji compounds read in 'on-yomi*' rather than

      I thought I had also stated that I wasn't sure if it had been ossified in
      period or not. I would love some hard documentation of the ossification
      if there is some--I really only know what little I have about the alphabet
      back in the Heian period.

      A quick look in "Twelve Centuries of Japanese Art from the Imperial
      Collections" (ISBN 1-56098-893-2) shows that at least a few of the
      alternative kana are around by the end of the 16th century. I would have
      to really get better at reading calligraphy and do an in depth survey to
      say for sure what kind of frequency each kana is found at.

      I'll try to find the sheet, eventually, and I'll be happy to share it once
      it comes to light again (I'm afraid it is hidden away at the moment,
      though I have an inkling of where it is).

      > >Now, the problem is that it isn't quite finalized until later (I'm not
      > >sure if it was ever standardized before the SCA cutoff in the 17th C), so
      > >in the Heian period at least we still see different characters being used
      > >for the same phonetic sound. I believe there are also similar
      > >'abbreviations' that are used for different phonetic sounds, too.
      > Where are you getting this? I recall substitute letters (kana) being ossified
      > pretty early. Yes, in the Manyoshu you do see more than one letter used for
      > the same sound. But, the Manyoshu is a long time ago. More problematic is
      > phonetic change in Japanese. While some people claim that there has not been
      > any phonetic change in Japanese since the eighth century, I seriously doubt
      > this theory and am more inclined to believe in phonetic drift.

      While studying at NGU (Nagoya Gakuin Daigaku, Seto-shi, Aichi-ken, Japan)
      we had a brief course on the linguistics and history of the Japanese
      language and one thing that was discussed was the evolution of kana
      characters. One of the handouts that I still have was an 'alphabet' of
      various characters that, at least as I was told, became commonly used as
      phonetic characters. However, it did not have just one character per
      sound, but often two or three, or at least different ways of writing the
      kana character even if it came from the same kanji. Accompnaying it were
      a few examples of script.

      Okay, it is 1 am and I need to be up by 5:30 AM, so I really need to stop

      O-yasumi nasai**, everyone!


      *On-yomi is the reading of a kanji for its 'sound'--supposedly the
      'Chinese reading' (sometimes it sounds close to modern Chinese, but if
      you read Chinese script in on-yomi I doubt any Chinese speaker would
      understand you. Then again, even in China you have mutually
      unintelligible dialects, so does it matter?).
      *Kun-yomi is also termed the 'Japanese reading' and is often the sound of
      the purely Japanese word that goes with the kanji character.

      **Equivalent of 'good night' (lit. 'Do a rest' in the honorific
      imperative, if I'm remembering the English definitions at 1 AM).
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