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Mikiko Talks on Malaysia 
 マレーシア国民大学外国学部講師 伴 美喜子
2000.05.14
 
挑戦を受ける新千年紀の日本語
 前回に引き続き、マレーシアから日本語を眺めてみたい。今日は学生が自主的に書いた日本語の「卒業論文」(レベル5修了レポート)を原文のままお届けする。 IT時代の日本語を論じた本稿は次のような言葉で締めくくられている。

 「日本語を学んだ者として、私は日本語が漢字、ひらがな、カタカナの3つの文字を有するユニークな言語であることを誇りに思うとともに、日本語がそのような美しい姿をいつまでも留めてほしいと願っている」因みにこの学生は、マレー語、英語、中国語でレポートを書くことが出来る、マルチリンガルである。


Japanese Language Soaring Towards Challenge
in the New Millennium

                                Cedric Tong Sin Chong

   When technology is developing rapidly, everybody is looking for the easiest and fastest way,  and revolution is seen in the world.

   Culture is one of the factors that has been affected by the drastic change in human behaviour. Nowadays human is looking for simplification in this technology booming era. Therefore, we could notice that language as part of culture has been affected since the last century or before that. Beside the colloquial language has spoilt the beauty of original language, what draws attentions from the public is the usage of language especially in writing.

   There are arguments on Japanese language, saying that Kanji should not be used since there is substitute for it, which is Hiragana. Revolution in language not only happened to Japanese language, but other languages such as Chinese language. Chinese characters could be derived into two, which are *original* version and *simplified* version. For example, "學"to "学". For Japanese language, difficulties in writing and reading Kanji have been brought up as an issue and action like Kanji should be abolished has been suggested. Obviously, position of Kanji as part of Japanese language has been challenged in this IT(Information Technology) era.

   Kanji which is originated from Chinese characters(HanZi 漢字) is not only beautiful but meaningful. Kanji is derived from beautiful natural scene of the world. Every strock is written with meaning. For example, "川" is derived from drawing of stream, "日" is derived from the scene of sun. "かわ" or "ひ" cannot represent the above mentioned origin which can be guessed by one look. This shows the uniqueness of Kanji that cannot be found in Hiragana.

   Another challenge faced by Japanese language is the development of technology which brings new vocabularies to the language. Due to the fact that most of the new technology is invented in western countries, English is used commonly. IT brings the new words or vocabularies to eastern countries. By this time new vocabularies have to be invented to represent the English  words. For example the word "computer" is translated into "コンピューター" in Japanese language compared to "komputer" in Malay language. Malay language and Japanese language share one common rule which is using direct pronounciation to invent new vocabulary.

   On the other hand, Chinese language shows different approach in adopting foreign vocabularies by taking the meaning of the foreign word or the usage of the new invention. "電脳" which means 「electronic brain」 is used to adopt the word "computer" that react like human brain with electrical power supply. Same as "網際網絡" has been used to represent "internet" while "internet" is used in Malay language and "インターネット" is used in Japanese language. This shows Chinese has better way in adopting new words due to the nature HanZi, which is taking the "meaning" instead of the "sound".

That is not all!Recent years, adopting foreign words or vocabularies have been widely practised in Japan until there exist such a trend that vocabularies in Japanese language have been "Englished". For example, "ミーティング" has been widely used among Japanese while there is a existing word "会議", which both bring same meaning - meeting!

   Language is an important part of the culture. Foreigners will find out more about a culture through its language. I think this the primary reason for foreigners to learn other languages beside their native language. They wish to enforce better communication with those from that culture in attempt to explore more about the culture. This means that identity is essential to be built because it is the most powerful tool to make the language unique and attract people to learn.

   It was not easy for a language to be invented by our ancestors and it took a long period to be born. Futhermore, the development of the language in ancient days was difficult in making it widely used with powerful vacabularies. No doubt that in path of development and golobalisation, language should be flexible in adopting new foreign words. But these do not mean that we should let go our native language. All these apply to Japanese language.

   An essay, which is written in Japanese language without Kanji is like a house without windows. An essay written in Japanese language with full text of Katakana shows the lost of origin of the language. Efforts should be taken to promote Kanji and encourage users to use more Kanji.   Difficulties in writing and reading are not good excuse to let go Kanji, an origin of character where Hiragana and Katakana derived from. At the same time, Japanese language should be protcted from being corrupted by foreign language. Katakana should be used wisely to ensure that Japanese language whould not lose its origin in the name of scientific development.

   No other greater achievements could compare with one's language that should be proud of. As someone who knows Japanese language, I am proud and wish to  see it remain as a unique language with 3 types of characters - Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.


 前回のコラム「漢字・ひらがな・カタカナ融合の美
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