The back streets

Moji no ura-dōri (freely, "The Back Streets of Orthography") has an interesting post about a library poster with インターネット利用 (internet riyō, "internet use") furiganafied as インターネットをつかう (internet o tsukau, "use the internet"). In other words, these furigana aren't just a pronunciation guide -- they're a gloss, giving the native Japanese words roughly equivalent to the Sino-Japanese word below them.

That in itself isn't so unusual. It was all but normal back in the Meiji period, when you could apparently use whatever the hell kanji you wanted to write a word, as long as the furigana were clear. The unsettling thing for me is that these furigana change the very structure of what they're attached to. インターネット利用 is a (compound) noun, but インターネットをつかう is a sentence (or at least a clause). The furigana undermine the kanji at the most fundamental level, but the overall meaning of the poster remains unchanged.

Incidentally, this is all probably for the benefit of very young library users, who might not know the word riyō no matter how it's written.

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With a language in which "adjectives" have renyoukei and "adverbs" have rentaikei, you can't be too particular about parts of speech.


the second example from the original post is much worse, no? not only is the stucture changed, but the meaning is different too. though i guess that's a matter of how exactly you feel about 'miru' and likewise english 'watch'.


My favorite, although it's not so radical as your example, is 年齢 with(けいけん)writen above it on a job search website's advertisement. As in, "We value 年齢" ...


Amida: That's the first time I've seen scare quotes used around the word "adverb".

James: I guess it's the closest they could get using words that a child would understand. I don't think 観る is all that far off...

Suihanki: Clearly the message there is "We want old people. (But not unskilled old people. Y'all can go live under a tarp or something.)"


This is just another expression of the eternal Japanese impulse to make their language, especially their written language, completely impenetrable by foreigners.

Or maybe I'm just bitter.


But surely this makes it easier to understand...? You can choose either of two options!


i have seen "party" written in katakana above/next to the kanji "kai"

i don't know, i kind of liked it

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