I put my first package on PyPI. Then I found a bug, so I made a point
release to fix it! There are probably more of those lurking, which you
can report over on GitHub.
Just like so many others before me, I wrote this library to scratch an
itch, namely providing romanized pronunciations for Omnipresence’s
(Speaking of which, if I ever get that bot’s code into a less shameful
state, I should put it on PyPI too…)
I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m also too tired to write anything
useful, so here’s a link to an autobiographical Japanese webcomic about
parenting in French Canada where the family’s only common language is
English. I saw it the other day on
and… well, okay, yes, I’m blatantly reposting it, why do you ask?
So a discussion about the relationship between written Chinese and
Japanese recently popped up on my dashboard. I hate reblog chains, so
I’ll just link to
and give my own take on this.
First, let’s get this out of the way: The modern Chinese and Japanese
orthographies are generally not mutually intelligible. The primary
problem isn’t even just one of vocabulary, but the fact that basic
morphological and syntactic elements are expressed in different scripts
in each language, since Japanese morphosyntax is expressed largely
through kana. I would use tense, but Chinese doesn’t even have tense, so
let’s look at how adverbs are indicated instead. Here, Chinese uses the
affix character 地, while Japanese instead uses
varying kana conjugations ending in に or く. These are, of course, nothing alike.
That being said, the two languages do share a large written
China and Japan’s long shared histories make tracing all this out rather
complicated, but if you want a sloppy summary, there were two large
borrowings. First, way back in the single-digit centuries AD, Japanese
took a lot of existing Middle Chinese words. Then, in Japan’s Meiji era,
a whole bunch of kanji neologisms were coined for imported concepts, and
a lot of these made their way back to China. You’re not going to be able
to figure out even a majority of what’s written in one language with
only a knowledge of the other, but some sentences will be pretty
But then, of course, there are the differing simplifications and
preferred expressions for certain phrases, which throws a wrench into
the perhaps 20 percent (I made this number up) mutual comprehensibility
rate. At this point, it’s getting late, so I won’t keep going.
TL;DR: The original analogy is silly. Maybe if the comparison had been
between English and German instead. You get the vague ability to pick
out some words that look similar, but the grammar is nowhere near the
same, and what is that weird ß thing?
P.S. Someone should find actual papers on this.
incidentally, the other scanlators’ translation of this bugs me out.
In the past, Japan was only divided into “this” and “that” realm.
However at one point in time, “yomi”, the name of “that” realm, was
engulfed in chaos due to the dead.
that’s just so unnatural. what does that quote thing even correspond
to in japanese? it’s ridiculous in english.
It’s common for Japanese text to use quotation marks for emphasis or to
indicate idiosyncratic usage, which isn’t considered improper to the
degree that it is with English. Incidentally, the construction “the name
of ‘that’ realm” also probably arises from translating the set phrase
XというY too literally; a direct translation would
be “the Y named/called X,” but nine times out of ten this sounds
redundant or out of place in English, and a simple appositive would
The more you know.
I have a question about Japanese. Why are some vowels just like not
pronounced? Like, “ichi” is spelled like that, but I don’t think I’ve
ever heard that second “i” pronounced. Or like “Yusuke” which sounds
like “Yoos-kay”, where the second “u” isn’t pronounced. Or “Asuka”.
Are they just like really short vowels (vowel length) and technically
are pronounced but my English-speaking ears don’t hear it?
The “traditional” analysis (see, e.g., T.J. Vance, An Introduction to
Japanese Phonology, 1987), is that high vowels are devoiced or elided
entirely between two voiceless consonants (/p/ /t(s)/ /ch/ /s(h)/ /k/
/h/), or word-finally after affricates and fricatives (/s/ /sh/ /ch/).
The apparent motivation for this would be assimilation to the vowel’s
surrounding environment – it’s “easier” in some sense to pronounce three
voiceless segments in a row than a “voiceless, voiced, voiceless”
sequence. There are some differences on the particular phonological
feature involved (maybe it’s [spread glottis]
and at least one
argues that this is a probabilistic occurrence rather than a
hard-and-fast rule, affected by external circumstances – but that
information is likely only of interest if you’re a phonologist.