kanji – 何ですか?

Kanji, the script from

the giant across the pond,

is not doin` gr8.

But fear not, it`s nothing to do with the current political issue.  That would be a bit much.  It relates to mobile phone usage making people dumb down.   Like the English speaking world, language writing ability is falling in quality because of text speak.  In Japan, I imagine, people must be using hiragana and katakana words in their messages and not bothering to pick out the correct kanji, or any kanji for that matter.      That`s unfortunate considering all the time given to kanji writing in school.   I know they say kids have brains like sponges but even so kanji must be really difficult to learn as a child.

I just read quickly over the article I spotted about this so I`m not sure which age groups they were talking about.  I think it was people in their 20s though.  I`ve had another look at the paper and can`t locate the article now (I wasn`t imagining it I swear).  I was thinking I shouldn`t feel so bad about not being able to write kanji naturally and off the top of my head but in fairness, the adults who are not bothering to write kanji on their phone could probably still remember a few thousand if they were pressed!!   So they`re still miles ahead of me (thousands and thousands of miles).

Kanji really is a lovely script but it takes time and effort to be really natural at it.  I can thankfully read a lot of it at this stage – despite generally concentrating on my grammar – and when typing I can bring up the correct kanji but I`m still far from being great at it.  As for dictation or composing an essay that actually involves handwriting and doesn`t involve typing it out (and thus having easy access to kanji in the system), well thank god I don`t have much reason to have to do that!!  This JLPT exam in two months time does not involve writing essays thankfully and long may that last.

Anyway, back to text speak.   It`s just part of language reality whether we like it or not.   Language changes according to necessity and due to globalisation everything is done as fast as possible whenever possible.   If you`re texting your friends on your way somewhere, that`s fine.  You can`t spend too long looking at your phone because you might bump into someone or into a telephone pole or something but in a formal situation it`s different.  In a classroom situation, especially an exam situation, in an English speaking country (I`ll take this example as I am a native English speaker), it would be pretty bad if people wrote things in text language when they were warned not to.  In that case, take marks off the culprit and they`ll know better next time.  Problem solved.    I was one of those kids who liked spelling tests as a child and I`m not judging bad spellers (just their parents) but I think if I was a teacher I`d want to stamp out laziness at spelling.   God I sound like a dictator.  Oh well.  However, all the campaigns in the world won`t catch up with the current reality.     I see spelling and grammar mistakes in newspaper editing all the time because people rush their work which then goes unnoticed, until it`s too late and fussy readers notice (and I can`t speak.  I`ve made quite a few mistakes during this blog with punctuation – not spelling, correct me if I`m wrong –  but only because I was typing so fast and dying to get my thoughts published : P   Yeah I know excuses excuses).

I think kanji will survive somehow.  Just like other languages, its users are slaves of time management when it comes to text speak but generally people who appreciate their language will use it well when required.

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