Kanji and Haiku


Kanji Characters and Studying Haiku

Some haiku friends have asked:

Will studying Chinese characters (kanji 漢字)
help our understanding of classical Japanese haiku ?

Click for original / members.aol.com !

The answer is, YES, but NO !

If you intend to study at least about 2000 of the basic kanji,
then it will help you, YES!
Otherwise, NO !

If otherwise, just read the WIKIPEDIA :

Kanji are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system along with hiragana (平仮名), katakana (片仮名), and the Arabic numerals. The Japanese term kanji (漢字) literally means "Han (China) characters".


Chinese characters first came to Japan on articles imported from China. An early instance of such an import was a gold seal given by the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty in 57 AD. It is not clear when Japanese people started to command Classical Chinese by themselves. The first Japanese documents were probably written by Chinese immigrants.

For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to Emperor Shun of the Liu Song Dynasty in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Later, groups of people called fuhito were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. From the 6th century onwards, Chinese documents written in Japan tended to show interference from Japanese. This suggests the wide acceptance of Chinese characters in Japan.

When first introduced, texts were written in the Chinese language and would have been read as such. Over time, however, a system known as kanbun (漢文) emerged, essentially using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to read the characters in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar.

The Japanese language itself had no written form at the time. A writing system called man'yōgana (used in the ancient poetry anthology Man'yōshū) evolved that used a limited set of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning.

The characters for Kanji, lit. "Han characters".

Man'yōgana written in cursive style became hiragana, a writing system that was accessible to women (who were denied higher education). Major works of Heian era literature by women were written in hiragana. Katakana emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified man'yōgana to a single constituent element. Thus the two other writing systems, hiragana and katakana, referred to collectively as kana, are actually descended from kanji.

In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language such as nouns, adjective stems and verb stems, while hiragana are used to write inflected verb and adjective endings (okurigana), particles, native Japanese words, and words where the kanji is too difficult to read or remember. Katakana is used for representing onomatopoeia and non-Japanese loanwords.

Kokuji (国字; literally "national characters")
are characters peculiar to Japan. Kokuji are also known as wasei kanji (和製漢字; lit. "Chinese characters made in Japan"). There are hundreds of kokuji (see the sci.lang.japan FAQ: kokuji list). Many are rarely used, but a number have become important additions to the written Japanese language.

In addition to kokuji, there are kanji that have been given meanings in Japanese different from their original Chinese meanings. These kanji are not considered kokuji but are instead called kokkun (国訓)

The same kanji character can sometimes be written in two different ways, 旧字体 (kyūjitai; lit. "old character style") (舊字體 in kyūjitai) and 新字体 (shinjitai; "new character style").

Pronounciation of kanji

Because of the way they have been adopted into Japanese, a single kanji may be used to write one or more different words (or, in most cases, morphemes). From the point of view of the reader, kanji are said to have one or more different "readings". Deciding which reading is meant will depend on context, intended meaning, use in compounds, and even location in the sentence. Some common kanji have ten or more possible readings.
These readings are normally categorized as either
on'yomi (or on) or kun'yomi 訓読み (or kun).

There is much much MUCH more to it ...

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


School children here in Japan have to remember a basic lot of about 1000 characters nowadays., but with that they are still not able to read the daily newspaper fluently. It takes about 6000 kanji to read with ease about all newspaper subjects.

Just imagine the amount of effort and discipline the children have to put into this "simple" task of memorizing the first one thousand kanji!
It is a great training of the perception of shapes and forms, when you have to copy each kanji for umpteen times ... to get it into your head finally.
It does affect the way you SEE the world around you, believe me (I had to study more than 2000 for starters! )

And certainly this rigorous training also affects the way you express yourself in haiku when using the Japanese language.

More learned people have written about the effects of memorizing kanji, I will try and find some essays later.

GOOGLE : japan "memorizing kanji"

the way you can choose to express yourself in written Japanses does affect the way Japanese write their haiku. The choice of the writing system, choice of the line arrangement and so on all give a possibility to your individual approach in each haiku via the written media.
This is an aspect that can hardly be imitated when writing in another language system. (For me, that takes away half the joy when composing haiku in English ...)

Lately, with the many digital devices, sentences in Japanese tend to appear from left to right on the screen and children feel more comfortable with this way than the classical writing way from top to bottom, since they spend so many hours in front of a screen.

CLICK for more arrow photos, or better, click not !

Are we heading into a one-way writing road in Japan too ?


I came across a kind of re-export for the word haiku in English in a Japanese text from the haiku town Matsuyama in Ehime/Japan:

eigo HA.I.KU 英語ハイク English Ha-I-Ku

The katakana spelling of ハイク (in my re-translation: HA.I.KU) indicates this is a foreign word not common in traditional Japanese language.

Translating Haiku ... its Problems !

eisaku ha.i.ku 英作 ハイク English-language ha.i.ku
source : www.haiku-hia.com
Haiku International Association


The more you learn about a different culture, the better indeed!
It is a problem of the time you can afford. Priorities are important.

If your time is limited, then better study the
vocabulary of classical haiku,
as presented through the season words (kigo). This gives you a better chance to polish your language and vocabulary.

The Wolrd Kigo Database, at your service !

Gabi Greve
. World Kigo Database .


Can't resist? some external LINKS

Quick summary of Japanese characters

Some LINKS to
Study Kanji Online !

The Japanese Writing Systems Demystified
Dr Kazuomi Kuniyoshi

The Japanese Mental Lexicon:
Psycholinguistics Studies of Kana and Kanji


CLICK for original LINK ! Japanese Online Com


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My Haiku Theory Archives  

of my KANJI information .


1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

A reader for dekoboko handwriting