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Symmetry and Asymmetry Chinese Writing in Japan: The Case of Kojiki (712)

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Chapter Summary

In ancient Japan both the logographic and the phonographic strategies were present and often they were used together in various ways. This chapter presents the interaction between written Japanese and Chinese from the lexical point of view, highlighting the difficulties and peculiarities born from this asymmetrical symmetry. The key point is the employment in Japan of Chinese logographic characters (symmetry) used in an isolating language as Chinese for an agglutinative language as Japanese (asymmetry). In order to discuss the matter concretely, the chapter illustrates the example of Kojiki that has two important characteristics that will help to illustrate the above subject: it is the first attempt of extended writing in Japan, and as declared in the preface in Chinese language, Kojiki is the written version of an oral tradition regarding ancient events, transmitted from generation to generation.

Keywords:asymmetry; Chinese language; Japan; Kojiki; symmetry



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