[KS] formal question (which version of Chinese characters?)

Robert Provine provine at umd.edu
Sat May 30 15:44:39 EDT 2015

Dear Andrew (and Marion) et al:

 > Secondly, I am not sure why you would insert characters at all if you 
 > think what they represent is nothing but that word in that language. 
 > "Denshō" would be completely sufficient to represent the Japanese
 > word for "folklore". (Marion)

> If the article is not written in Korean language, then for terminology I
> agree with Marion on the point that strictly speaking, nothing is
> semantically gained by giving the characters, unless the discussion is
> specifically highlighting the pan-East Asian spread/usage of the terms
> themselves. (Andrew)

Small point, I guess, but I'm a little unhappy with the "nothing is 
semantically gained" matter. When I write about Korean music, in 
English, my audience can be most anyone anywhere, such as a) Japanese 
who know English, but not Korean (on top of not knowing the 
romanization), b) Italians who know English and Chinese, but not Korean 
or Korean romanization, etc etc. Having simply a romanization, even if 
not ambiguous in its reference, is not nearly as effective as having the 
romanization together with (in my case) traditional characters, which 
can be read by many categories of readers to their semantic enlightenment.

Example: "the musical instrument noego 雷鼓" allows anyone who knows 
Chinese characters access to which instrument (or at least type of 
instrument) is meant (quite independent of the particular romanization) 
and even to its rather intriguing name.

If all readers know all three of the main languages employing Chinese 
characters, as Marion does, then I'm happy to accept the point about 
nothing being semantically gained, but for lesser mortals like me, 
having the characters present (regardless of traditional or simplified) 
can convey a lot.


Rob Provine

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