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Re: [Lingo] Conservatism (was: So happy I cried... )

> > > Depends on who you ask.  If you ask a real linguist they'll say
> > > yes.
> >
> > I'm a real linguist and actually we don't care :-)
> That's what I mean by a real linguist will say they're all valid.

Well, ok, but in that case you could just as well have replaced
"linguist" with "bus driver" or "architect" :-)

> Actually, I think Japanese writing is of a piece with Japanese urban
> renewal.  When the Japanese are forced to rebuild a city from scratch
> by disasters natural and artificial [...], they invariably choose to
> rebuild the same rabbit warren of streets that are too narrow for the
> traffic they carry [...] This is often attributed to the desire to
> make life difficult for outsiders (whether foreign invaders or native
> radicals).[1]

I could agree to a certain extent up till the 20th century or so
(maybe Kantou Daishinsai, 1923), but I find it hard to imagine that
anyone is making decisions like this in the post-WWII era.  I think
it's more easily explained by appeal to the familiar.  When something
goes away and you need to replace it, you tend to replace it with
something like what was there before, because you want things to be
the way they used to be.  Sure, you'd like them to be better, but a
bottom-up movement for change of that sort is very unlikely.  In that
sense there's a conservatism at work, for sure (the sort that is not
at all unique to Japan).

If you want to ask why there was no top-down effort to improve the urban
landscape, well, there are lots of things one could say :-)  I believe
it has been noted on the TLUG list before (regarding standardization of
the electric utility) that Japan really runs more on a consensus-based
"standardization" than on centralized policy-setting and enforcement.
As long as everything is moving along smoothly, everyone's happy.

> I see the writing system as the same kind of thing.  So this
> apparently complex fluidity is actually rooted in conservatism.

I'm finding it a stretch, but you'll forgive me :-)

> Look how much good it's done the French!

Oui oui, but orthographic standardization for gov't documents,
newspapers and the like is a FAR more tractable problem than what the
French have tried to do, which is regulate the way people talk on the
street.  HAxtu!

> This is particularly apparent at the University of Tsukuba,
> deliberately (I am told) architected from scratch to have few
> large open spaces within the academic part of campus, none of
> which have accesses that will hold more than about five people
> walking abreast.

This is fascinating, if it indeed reflects a conscious design.  How
old is the campus? (guess I could just look on Wikipedia... why
ever ask anyone a question ever again, eh :-)


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