Weekly Classic Computer Trivia Question (20150105)

Rich Alderson RichA at LivingComputerMuseum.org
Mon Jan 5 19:22:57 CST 2015

From: Noel Chiappa
Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2015 2:04 PM

> From: Chuck Guzis

>> I suspect that other languages have similar exercises, though 
>> I don't know what the Japanese do in Kanji.

> Err, think you mean kana, right? (Kanji are the ideograms, there are over a
> thousand in common use.) ...

No, they are not.  Kanji are *LOGOgrams*, expressing *words*, not *ideas*.
(In fact, in Japanese they can express more than one word, given whether
they are read as Japanese or one of several different Chinese pronunciations,
of which kanon[1] and goon[2] are most common.)

> ... There is something called the 'iroha':

>   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroha

> which is a poem which uses every element of the Japanese syllabary - and
> exactly once! It was used to teach writing, no idea if it's used for the
> keyboard thingy.

A fellow graduate student in linguistics, a young lady from Japan, told me
35+ years ago that this poem was no longer used in schools, and that kana
were taught with reference to a grid layout.  She also characterized it as
not very good poetry.


[1] "Han pronunciation", where orthographic <h> represents a velar fricative
    like the German ach-laut
[2] "Wu pronunciation", where the reconstructed Middle Chinese pronunciation
    of the character read as "wu" in Mandarin is [gwou] or [gwouə].

Rich Alderson
Vintage Computing Sr. Systems Engineer
Living Computer Museum
2245 1st Avenue S
Seattle, WA 98134

mailto:RichA at LivingComputerMuseum.org


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