Compensation for kanji-input basic technology subject of lawsuit

A Japanese man who says he invented the technology behind the context-based conversion of a sentence written solely in kana into one in both kanji and kana, as well as another related technology, filed suit against Toshiba on December 7, seeking some US$2.3 million in compensation from his former employer.

Shinya Amano, a professor at Shonan Institute of Technology, said in a written complaint that although the firm received patents for the technologies in conjunction with him and three others and paid him tens of thousands of yen annually in remuneration, he actually developed the technologies alone.

Amano is claiming 10 percent of an estimated ¥2.6 billion in profit Toshiba made in 1996 and 1997 — much higher than the roughly ¥230,000 he was actually awarded for the work over the two-year span.

His claim is believed valid, taking into account the statute of limitations and the terms of the patents.

“This is not about the sum of the money — I filed the suit for my honor,” Amano said in a press conference after bringing the case to the Tokyo District Court.

“Japan is a technology-oriented country, but engineers are treated too lightly here,” he said.

Toshiba said through its public relations office that it believes it paid Amano fair compensation in line with company policy. The company declined to comment on the lawsuit before receiving the complaint in writing.

Amano claims that he invented the technology that converts a sentence composed of kana alone into a sentence composed of both kanji and kana by assessing its context, and another technology needed to prioritize kanji previously used in such conversions.

Using theories of artificial intelligence, the two technologies developed in 1977 and 1978 are still used today in most Japanese word-processing software, he said.

source: Word-processor inventor sues Toshiba over redress, Kyodo News, via Japan Times, December 9, 2007

China shifting its position on traditional Chinese characters?

Many Web sites in China are running the story that Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese scholars have reached an agreement on unification of Chinese characters — and that this involves using many traditional characters.

If any “agreement” has indeed been reached, it probably won’t mean much, if anything at all — certainly not to the government of China. But the number of sites running this story and the prominence of some of the members of the PRC delegation make me wonder if this might just be a little more than much ado about nothing.

Zh?ng x?n w?ng 11 yuè 5 rì diàn jù h?iwài méit? p?lù, sh?yú Hànzì wénhuà qu?n de Zh?ngguó, Rìb?n, Hánguó S?nguó hé Zh?ngguó Táiw?n dìq? de xuézh? juédìng zhìzuò t?ngy? zìxíng (wénzì de xíngzhuàng) de 5000-6000 ge chángyòng Hànzì bi?ozh?n zì.

Hánguó “Cháoxi?n rìbào” k?nz?i wénzì jí shìpín bàodào ch?ng, dì-b? jiè “guójì Hànzì yánt?ohuì” shàngzh?u zài Zh?ngguó B?ij?ng chuánméi dàxué lóngzhòng zhàok?i, huìyì yóu Zh?ngguó Jiàoyùbù y?yán wénzì yìngyòng yánji?su? hé guóji? Hàny? guójì tu?gu?ng l?ngd?o xi?oz? bàng?ngshì zh?bàn. Huìyì jìhuà ji?ng Yuènán, M?láix?yà, X?nji?p?, Xi?ng G?ng, Àomén x?sh?u wéi x?n huìyuán, kuòdà Hànzì sh?yòng guóji? huò dìq? de c?nyù fànwéi. Huìyì juédìng zhìzuò gè guóji? dìq? Hànzì “b?jiào yánji? cídi?n”, zhújiàn t?ngy? gèguó sh?yòng de zìxíng. Huìyì hái jiù míngnián zài sh?u ?r j?xíng dì ji? jiè yánt?ohuì, gèguó f?nbié shèzhì 3 míng liánluòyuán (yánji? fùzérén) dáchéng le xiéyì.

Jù bàodào, “guójì Hànzì yánt?ohuì” yú 1991 nián f?q?. Qí mùdìzàiyú, yùfáng D?ngyà guóji? y?nwèi sh?yòng Zh?ngguó Táiw?n de fánt?zì, Zh?ngguó de ji?nt?zì, Rìb?n de lüèzì d?ng bùtóng xíngzhuàng de Hànzì ch?nsh?ng hùnluàn, quèdìng chángyòng Hànzì de zìshù, tu?jìn zìxíng bi?ozh?nhuà (t?ngy?).

B?njiè huìyì y? 2003 nián zài Rìb?n D?ngj?ng j?xíng de dì-q? jiè yánt?ohuì xi?nggé 4 nián. Jù bàodào, b?n cì huìyì tíyì, 5000 du? ge chángyòng bi?ozh?n zì ji?ng y? “fánt?zì” wéizh? jìnxíng t?ngy?, rúgu? gèbié Hànzì y?u ji?nt?zì, jiù jìxù b?oliú.

Ch?xí c?cì huìyì de Zh?ngf?ng dàibi?o y?u Wáng Ti?k?n (Jiàoyùbù y?yán wénzì xìnx? gu?nl? s? fù s?zh?ng, Zh?ngguó Wénzì Xuéhuì fùhuìzh?ng ji?n mìsh?zh?ng), Huáng Déku?n (?nhu? Dàxué xiàozh?ng, Zh?ngguó Wénzì Xuéhuì huìzh?ng), S? Péichéng (B?ij?ng Dàxué jiàoshòu), L? Dàsuì (B?ij?ng Dàxué jiàoshòu); Hánguó f?ng dàibi?o y?u L? Dàchún (Guójì Hànzì Zhènx?ng Xiéhuì huìzh?ng), L? Y?ngb?i (Sh?u’?r Dàxué míngyù jiàoshòu), Ji?ng Xìnhàng (Chéngj?ngu?n Dàxué míngyù jiàoshòu), Chén Tàixià (Rénj? Dàxué sh?uxí jiàoshòu), J?n Yànzh?ng (G?olí Dàxué jiàoshòu); Rìb?n f?ng dàibi?o y?u Zu?téng Gòngyuè (Zhùb? Dàxué jiàoshòu), Q?ngyuán Chúnpíng (q?nshàn bù huìzh?ng); Zh?ngguó Táiw?n dìq? [sic] dàibi?o y?u X? Xuérén (“Zh?ngguó Wénzì Xiéhuì” l?shìzh?ng).

source: Zh?ngguo, Rìb?n, Hánguó y? Zh?ngguó Táiw?n dìq? xuéjiè jiù “t?ngy? Hànzì” dáchéng xiéyì (?????????????“????”????), November 5, 2007

Pure Land Buddhism and Amida Buddha: a historical and philological analysis

Sino-Platonic Papers has rereleased for free Life and Light, the Infinite: A Historical and Philological Analysis of the Amida Cult (2.2 MB PDF), by Soho Machida.

Here’s a bit of borrowed biographical information about the author:

Soho Machida spent twenty years as a Zen monk at Daitokuji monastery, Kyoto, before moving to the United States, where he received a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at Princeton University and the National University of Singapore, and is now a professor at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He has written extensively on religion and ethics.

And here’s the table of contents of the work.

  1. Two Names of Amida Buddha
  2. Amida, Amita, or Amrta?
  3. Amida Buddha and Indian Mythology
  4. Which came first, Amitayus or Amitabha?
  5. The Idea of Luminosity in Mahayana Thought
  6. The Encounter of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism
  7. Luminosity and the Cult of Mithra
  8. Parallel Features with Iranian Religion
  9. The Old Religion of the Indo-Iranians
  10. Conclusion
  11. Endnotes
  12. Bibliography

This was originally published in December 1988 as issue no. 9 of Sino-Platonic Papers.

names of love hotels in macho kanji and other scripts

Donald Ritchie’s recent review of Japanese Love Hotels: A Cultural History, by Sarah Chaplin, has the following interesting section:

The contemporary love hotel is now much more kawaii (cute) than kinky.

Among the the reasons offered for this is that there has been something of a power shift in love-hotel choice. It used to be the male half that decided. Back then the places had hopeful macho monikers — Empire, Rex, King. Then the female half began to choose. Love hotels started calling themselves “fashion hotels” or “boutique hotels,” and began to have lavish lobbies with theme-shops, colors like beige and lavender, and decor like Laura Ashley.

This change can be documented in the Meguro Emperor (still in Meguro), which began in 1973 as a he-man fort before it slowly metamorphosed into a romantic Disneyland castle. The interior has been several times revised to segue from male- to female-friendly. Even the name has changed. It is now Gallery Hotel.

In most love hotels “macho” kanji has been replaced by “feminine” hiragana, trendy katakana or, more often, romaji, that romanized script that carries no male/female associations at all.

source: It’s ladies first now in Japanese love hotels, Japan Times, August 26, 2007

Japanese and attitudes toward kanji

Ken of What Japan Thinks has helpfully translated into English the results of a recent poll of 1,010 Japanese adults on their attitudes about kanji ability.

A total of 95 percent of those polled said they believe the kanji ability of elementary and middle school children is “undesirably low.” Of those giving this response, 56 percent associated the problem with a drop in school education levels.

A slight majority (52 percent) of all those polled reported a lack of confidence in their own kanji ability.

Here are the questions. For the responses, see the translation or the poll results in Japanese (?????????????, Goo Research, June 27, 2007):

  • Do you feel that elementary and middle school children’s kanji ability is sufficient?

    • It’s undesirably low
      • Why do you think that?
    • It’s not a problem
      • Why do you think that?
  • Do you have confidence in your own kanji ability?
    • Yes
    • No
      • Why don’t you have confidence in your own kanji ability?
  • What do you do when you cannot produce a kanji character?

    Japanese literacy–an SPP reissue

    Here’s another re-release from the archives of Sino-Platonic Papers: Computers and Japanese Literacy: Nihonzin no Yomikaki Nôryoku to Konpyûta, by J. Marshall Unger of the Ohio State University’s Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. The link above is to the PDF version (1.2 MB), which reproduces the original exactly.

    This is a parallel text in Japanese (in romanization) and English, so if any of you want to practice reading romaji, here’s your chance.

    The English text alone is available in HTML: Computers and Japanese Literacy.

    The essay touches on many of themes Unger explores in depth in his books, all of which have excerpts available here on Pinyin Info: The Fifth Generation Fallacy, Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan, and Ideogram: Chinese Characters and the Myth of Disembodied Meaning.

    Here is the opening, in both English and Japanese (in romanization).

    Watakusi wa saikin, gendai no konpyûta siyô to Nihongo ni tuite kenkyu site orimasu. Gengogakusya mo konpyûta no nôryoku ya mondaiten ni tuite iken o happyo suru sekinin ga aru to omou kara desu. I am currently engaged in research on contemporary computer usage and the Japanese language. Linguists too, I believe, have a responsibility to present their views on the potentials and problems of computers.
    Sate, Amerika no zen- Kôsei Kyôiku tyôkan, John Gardner-si no kotoba de hazimetai to omoimasu. Sore wa “aizyô nasi no hihan to hihan nasi no aizyô (Eigo de iu to, “unloving criticism and uncritical love”) to iu kotoba desu. Gardner-si wa, Amerikazin no aikokusyugi ni tuite Amerika o sukosi de mo hihan site wa ikenai to syutyô suru hito wa kangaetigai da, aizyô nasi ni syakai ya bunka no ketten o hihan bakari suru koto wa motiron warui keredo, hihan sore zitai o kiratte kokusuisyugi o susumeru koto mo syôrai no tame ni yoku nai, to iimasita. Kono koto wa bokoku igai no syakai to bunka ni tai suru baai de mo onazi de wa nai desyô ka? Gengogakusya ya rekisigakusya mo “aizyô nasi no hihan to hihan nasi no aizyô” to iu ryôkyokutan o sakeru yô ni sita hô ga ii to omou no desu. Watakusi wa Nihon no gengo to bunka o senmon ni site, Nihon ni tai site aizyô o motte orimasu kara koso, Nihongo no hyôkihô ya Nihonzin no yomikaki nôryoku ni tuite no teisetu o mondai ni site iru wake desu. Iwayuru zyôhôka syakai no zidai ni hairi, ippan no hitobito ga pasokon ya wâpuro o kozin-yô ni tukau yô ni naru ni turete, nettowâku tûsin, kyôiku-yô sohutowea, sôzôteki na puroguramingu nado ga yôkyû sarete kite iru desyô. Mosi sono konpon ni aru yomikaki nôryoku no henka to genzyô o gokai sureba, gôriteki na konpyûta siyôhô o kaihatu dekinai darô to omou kara desu. Let me begin by quoting the former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, John Gardner. I am thinking of his phrase “unloving criticism and uncritical love.” By this, he meant that it was wrong for proponents of American patriotism to oppose even the slightest criticism of the United States: although it is bad to dwell unsympathetically on finding fault with social and cultural shortcomings, it is equally bad for the future of society to advance nationalism and eschew all criticism. I think that this is also true when considering foreign societies and cultures. Linguists and historians would do well to avoid the twin extremes of “unloving criticism and uncritical love.” As someone professionally involved with the language and culture of Japan, I have an affection for the country, but for that very reason, I wish to call into question the accepted theory of Japanese script and literacy. As we enter the age of the so-called informational society, and as more and more ordinary people begin to use computers on an individual basis, demands on network communications, educational software, creative programming, and so on, will steadily increase. Unless we understand the present situation and history of literacy, which underlies all these applications, we cannot hope to develop a rational basis for computer usage.
    Sate, hyôi mozi to iu kotoba wa Nihongo ni tuite no hon ni yoku dete imasu kara kokugogaku no yôgo da to itte mo ii hodo desu ga, hyôi mozi to iu mono wa zissai ni sonzai site iru desyô ka? Kyakkanteki ni kangaete miru to, dono gengo mo konponteki ni wa hanasu mono desu. Mozi wa syakaiteki, rekisiteki na men ga arimasu ga, mozi wa kotoba no imi no moto de wa arimasen. Tatoeba, itizi mo yomenai mômoku no hito de mo, hoka no syôgai ga nai kagiri, bokokugo ga kanzen ni hanaseru yô ni narimasu. Sitagatte, hanasi-kotoba to wa mattaku kankei ga nai mozi nado to iu mono wa muimi na gainen desu. Gengo no imi wa gengo no kôzô kara hassei si, mozi wa sono han’ei de sika nai wake desu. Kore wa toku ni kore kara no konpyûta o kangaeru toki ni wasurete wa ikemasen…. The term “ideographic characters” appears so often in books on the Japanese language that one might say it has become a stock phrase of Japanese linguistics. I wonder, however, whether such things as “ideographs” actually exist. When examined objectively, all languages are fundamentally speech. Characters are not the source of the meanings of words, although they do have their social and historical aspects. For example, blind people who cannot read a single character can nonetheless speak their native tongues perfectly, unless they suffer from some other handicap. The very idea of characters totally divorced from speech is therefore meaningless. For the meaning of language emerges from the structure of language, of which writing is merely a reflection. It is particularly important that we not forget this when we consider the computers of the future….

    This was first published in January 1988 as issue no. 6 of Sino-Platonic Papers.

    reviews of books related to China and linguistics (2)

    Sino-Platonic Papers has just released online its second compilation of book reviews. Here are the books discussed. (Note: The links below do not lead to the reviews but to other material. Use the link above.)

    Invited Reviews

    • William A. Boltz, “The Typological Analysis of the Chinese Script.” A review article of John DeFrancis, Visible Speech, the Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems.
    • Paul Varley and Kumakura Isao, eds., Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu. Reviewed by William R. LaFleur .
    • Vladimir N. Basilov, ed., Nomads of Eurasia. Reviewed by David A. Utz.

    Reviews by the Editor

    • “Philosophy and Language.” A review article of Françcois Jullien, Procès ou Création: Une introduction a la pensée des lettrés chinois.

    Language and Linguistics

    • W. South Coblin, A Handbook of Eastern Han Sound Glosses.
    • Weldon South Coblin. A Sinologist’s Handlist of Sino-Tibetan Lexical Comparisons.
    • ZHOU Zhenhe and YOU Rujie. Fangyan yu Zhongguo Wenhua [Topolects and Chinese Culture].
    • CHOU Fa-kao. Papers in Chinese Linguistics and Epigraphy.
    • ZENG Zifan. Guangzhouhua Putonghua Duibi Qutan [Interesting Parallels between Cantonese and Mandarin].
    • Luciana Bressan. La Determinazione delle Norme Ortografiche del Pinyin.
    • JIANG Shaoyu and XU Changhua, tr. Zhongguoyu Lishi Wenfa [A Historical Grammar of Modern Chinese] by OTA Tatsuo.
    • McMahon, et al. Expository Writing in Chinese.
    • P. C. T’ung and D. E. Pollard. Colloquial Chinese.
    • Li Sijing, Hanyu “er” Yin Shih Yanjiu [Studies on the History of the “er” Sound in Sinitic].
    • Maurice Coyaud, Les langues dans le monde chinois.
    • Patricia Herbert and Anthony Milner, eds., South-East Asia: Languages and Literatures; A Select Guide.
    • Andrew Large, The Artificial Language Movement.
    • Wilhelm von Humboldt, On Language: The Diversity of Hunan Language-Structure and Its Influence on the Mental Development of Mankind.
    • Vitaly Shevoroshkin, ed., Reconstructing Languages and Cultures.
    • Jan Wind, et al., eds., Studies in Language Origins.

    Short Notices

    • A. Kondratov, Sounds and Signs.
    • Jeremy Campbell, Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life.
    • Pitfalls of the Tetragraphic Script.

    Lexicography and Lexicology

    • MIN Jiaji, et al., comp., Hanyu Xinci Cidian [A Dictionary of New Sinitic Terms]
    • LYU Caizhen, et al., comp., Xiandai Hanyu Nanci Cidian [A Dictionary of Difficult Terms in Modern Sinitic].
    • Tom McArthur, Worlds of Reference: Lexicography, learning and language from the clay tablet to the computer.

    A Bouquet of Pekingese Lexicons

    • JIN Shoushen, comp., Beijinghua Yuhui [Pekingese Vocabulary].
    • SONG Xiaocai and MA Xinhua, comp., Beijinghua Ciyu Lishi [Pekingese Expressions with Examples and Explanations] .
    • SONG Xiaocai and MA Xinhua, comp., Beijinghua Yuci Huishi [Pekingese Words and Phrases with Explanations] .
    • FU Min and GAO Aijun, comp., Beijinghua Ciyu (Dialectical Words and Phrases in Beijing).

    A Bibliographical Trilogy

    • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Linguistics: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.
    • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Dialectology: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.
    • Paul Fu-mien Yang, comp., Chinese Lexicology and Lexicography: A Selected and Classified Bibliography.

    Orality and Literacy

    • Jack Goody. The interface between the written and the oral.
    • Jack Goody. The logic of writing and the organization of society.
    • Deborah Tannen, ed., Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy.

    Society and Culture

    • Scott Simmie and Bob Nixon, Tiananmen Square.
    • Thomas H. C. Lee, Government Education and Examinations in Sung China.
    • ZHANG Zhishan, tr. and ed., Zhongguo zhi Xing [Record of a Journey to China].
    • LIN Wushu, Monijiao ji Qi Dongjian [Manichaeism and Its Eastward Expansion].
    • E. N. Anderson, The Food of China.
    • K. C. Chang, ed., Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives.
    • Jacques Gemet, China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures.
    • D. E. Mungello, Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodation and the Origins of Sinology.

    Short Notice

    • Roben Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe.

    In Memoriam
    Chang-chen HSU
    August 6, 1957 – June 27, 1989

    • Hsu Chang-chen, ed., and tr., Yin-tu hsien-tai hsiao-shuo hsüan [A Selection of Contemporary Indian Fiction].
    • Hsu Chang-chen, T’o-fu tzu-huiyen-chiu (Mastering TOEFL Vocabulary).
    • Hsu Chang-chen, Tsui-chung-yao-te i pai ke Ying-wen tzu-shou tzu-ken (100 English Prefixes and Word Roots).
    • Hsu Chang-chen, Fa-wen tzu-hui chieh-koufen-hsi — tzu-shou yü tzu-ken (Les préfixes et les racines de la langue française).
    • Hsu Chang-chen, comp. and tr., Hsi-yü yü Fo-chiao wen-shih lun-chi (Collection of Articles on Studies of Central Asia, India, and Buddhism).

    This is SPP no. 14, from December 1989. The entire text is now online as a 7.3 MB PDF.

    See my earlier post for the contents of the first SPP volume of reviews and a link to the full volume.

    reviews of books related to China and linguistics

    Sino-Platonic Papers has just released online its first compilation of book reviews. Here is a list of the books discussed. (Note: The links below do not lead to the reviews but to other material.)

    Invited Reviews

    • J. Marshall Unger, The Fifth Generation Fallacy. Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
    • Rejoinder by J. Marshall Unger
    • Hashimoto Mantaro, Suzuki Takao, and Yamada Hisao. A Decision for the Chinese NationsToward the Future of Kanji (Kanji minzoku no ketsudanKanji no mirai ni mukete). Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
    • S. Robert Ramsey. The Languages of China. Reviewed by Wm. C. Hannas
    • James H. Cole, Shaohsing. Reviewed by Mark A. Allee
    • Henry Hung-Yeh Tiee, A Reference Grammar of Chinese Sentences. Reviewed by Jerome L. Packard

    Reviews by the Editor

    • David Pollack, The Fracture of Meaning
    • Jerry Norman, Chinese
    • N. H. Leon, Character Indexes of Modern Chinese
    • Shiu-ying Hu, comp., An Enumeration of Chinese Materia Medico
    • Donald M. Ayers, English Words from Latin and Greek Elements
    • Chen Gang, comp., A Dictionary of Peking Colloquialisms (Beijing Fangyan Cidian)
    • Dominic Cheung, ed. and tr., The Isle Full of Noises
    • Jonathan Chaves, ed. and tr., The Columbia Book of Later Chinese Poetry
    • Philip R. Bilancia, Dictionary of Chinese Law and Government
    • Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China
    • Robert K. Logan, The Alphabet Effect
    • Liu Zhengtan, Gao Mingkai, et al., comp., A Dictionary of Loan Words and Hybrid Words in Chinese (Hanyu Wailai Cidian)
    • The Mandarin Daily Dictionary of Loan Words (Guoyu Ribao Wailaiyu Cidian)
    • Shao Xiantu, Zhou Dingguo, et al., comp., A Dictionary of the Origins of Foreign Place Names (Waiguo Diming Yuyuan Cidian)
    • Tsung-tung Chang, Metaphysik, Erkenntnis und Praktische Philosophie um Chuang-Tzu
    • Irene Bloom, trans, ed., and intro., Knowledge Painfully Acquired: The K’un-chih chi of Lo Ch’in-shun
    • Research Institute for Language Pedagogy of the Peking College of Languages, comp., Frequency Dictionary of Words in Modern Chinese (Xiandai Hanyu Pinlyu Cidian)
    • Liu Yuan, chief compiler, Word List of Modern Mandarin (Xianhi Hanyu Cibiao)
    • The Editing Group of A New English-Chinese Dictionary, comp., A New English-Chinese Dictionary
    • BBC External Business and Development Group, Everyday Mandarin

    This is SPP no. 8, from February 1988. The entire text is now online as a 4.2 MB PDF.