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Subject: Katakana ( 18 of 58 )
Posted by The Skwee G.

I thought I'd just throw in some of my own thoughts here.As a scholar of Japanese language and literature (in addition to being an avid British and American lit) , I've learned that yes, language does havew a hug impact on thought, especially in a literary context. I believe that one of the best pieces of advice ever given to an aspiring writer is that one should study the literature of a language as foreign and dissimilar to one's own. And I picked Japanese.
It's interesting to learn that Japanese is not based on an alphabet like Germanic and Latin based languages, but rather on syllabaries. They have two syllabaries, the hiragana and katakana -identical in all but written shape, that is, the sounds are exactly the same...but the reason for having two rather than one, is that the first (hiragana) is used for Japanese words, while Katakana is reserved for all foreign words that Japan has imported, such as cheese and Madonna. To study these syllables will help one understand why a syllable-count based poetry evolved rather than accent, syllable and rhyme. In addition, the Japanese have several levels of language, from the very humble to plain to polite to extremely honorific. These levels do not translate well into English, and a writer can learn amazing things from studying a language with such subtleties in tenses.

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