Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I'm always looking things up in Henshall's excellent book, so I was pleased to find on Amazon another book exploring the wonders of kanji, Eve Kushner's Crazy for Kanji. I've only glanced through so far, but I'm loving it. Her approach is fresh and irreverent, and she emphasizes the connections among kanji and their sounds, parts, and meanings, as I sometimes have tried (with less success) to do here. She's also saying a lot about the importation of 漢字, the effects that had, and the relationship with earlier 和語 (wago, indigenous Japanese language), an area I've wanted to read much more about.* She also explores more subtle topics, such as what the use of kanji may suggest about Japanese culture and how the Japanese themselves feel about kanji. To boot, she includes a variety of quizzes and games that challenge the perception of kanji as one big, dark room.

I find it all no less daunting, but I'm stoked.

*For Japanese script reform, 国語国事問題, see eg here and here.

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