Scholarship | One Morning’s Internet Offerings


One Morning’s Internet Offerings

©2018 Vernon Miles Kerr

For the (self-syled) scholar, learning never ends.  Or, one should hope so.  Today’s surfing-of-the-web (what an archaic term, eh?) yielded these two gems:

Adapting indigenous people’s “illiterate” memory methods to modern scholarship:
Following the link in that article to the illustration of a memory device called a  Lukasa led me to a study of the centuries-old Luba civilization in central Africa and it’s eventual demise due to the intrusion of the slave and ivory industries. Previously. I had no knowledge of the existence of this civilization.
Next:
Google’s honoring Zhou Youguang, the creator of Pinyin,
   Pinyin is the ISO’s (International Standards Organization’s) recognized method for rendering Mandarin Chinese using the Roman alphabet (Which later became the gateway to being able to type Chinese characters with a QWERTY keyboard, thus enabling the programming and operation of computers using Mandarin).
   You might find the table of his scholarly works in his Wikipedia article as intriguing as I did. But my having studied Mandarin and having used Pinyin extensively in that study probably influences my interest.  I was surprised that the Pinyin system—which once learned, is so simple—took Zhou and collaborators years to perfect, given the hundreds of dialects and derivations of Mandarin spoken in China.
   Here’s an irony:  while the PRC (People’s Republic of China) has modernized and simplified the writing of Chinese characters and has adopted Pinyin,  so-called “modern” Japan and Taiwan insist on using the complex, traditional Chinese characters along with some earlier (in my opinion inferior and non-standardized) method of rendering them with Roman characters. For Taiwan, the reason is probably political.  For Japan, knowing and using a great number of Chinese characters sprinkled in your Hiragana (the syllabic/phonetic alphabet) is viewed as “educated” and “scholarly.”  English-speaking students of Japanese compare their mutual levels of accomplishment by how many of those traditional Chinese (Kanji) characters they know. One such, an older man, once told me, years ago, “When I lived in Japan, I knew 25,000 Kanji.”  Uh, okay if you say so.
Hope you enjoy:
VMK 1/13/18

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