Observation over the actual condition of homonyms
The Japanese language has a relatively small number of sounds. Also, the number of syllable combinations are relatively small compared to other languages. Eventually, the formation of homonyms has been inevitable.
Homonyms are divided into three groups:
- Homophones (words that sound the same but have a different meaning)
- Homographs (words that sound differently, but are written the same)
- Homophones & Homographs (words that sound and are written the same, but have a different meaning)
There are a lot of studies on this topic, but the exact number of homonyms has never been identified. All the studies show that their number is high enough to create confusion in the writing process and daily communication.
This is the main reason why the Japanese language cannot give up the Kanji symbols. A word with multiple meanings cannot be written with a sound based system without creating confusion, while there is a different Kanji mark for each one of them. This also shows the tight connection of the symbols with the spoken language.
If the language could be set free from homonyms, there will be no more need for the Kanji symbols.
On the next pages it is explained how the “Manjikana” system can contribute to fixing this major issue.
Heterographics through the accent
The accent is an element easily distinguishable while articulating sounds, but not when it’s written. In this case the problem are the homographs. To fix this, the accent can be written with the “Manjikana”.
The real question here is how much can the writing of the accent improve the condition, where in different dialects the accent is written differently?
The fact that not all possible variations can be arranged must be taken into great consideration. Taken in account only the standard language, the only one used in legal papers and documents, laid through all Japan, the accent indentation solves the problem in great a deal.
Heterographics through grouping
The word “Sanka” (Participation) and “Sanka” (rust) sound the same, but can be written in different ways, just like in the figure. This makes the meaning distinguishable through writing.
Heterophonies by including new syllables
In average, over 93% of the words have only one meaning. 4% have two meanings, and 1.5% three. From these data the conclusion that if any way that can phonetically differentiate till 5 (or even more) homonyms is found, the language can be cleaned up to 99% is reached. By these numbers it is fair to say that the problem would easily be called solved.
One possible solution would be including 5 or more non-Japanese syllables that do adjust the Japanese ones‘ structure, in the empty spaces in the table of syllables.
The empty spaces can be filled with the syllables listed in the figure. In this list are not included syllables with long vowels or stopping points.
These can function as homonymic suffixes. In the example of the word “Sanka” by adding the first two suffixes from the list: (sanka +si) – participation / (sanka +se) – rust
To write these words there are two possible versions:
1) by index numbers
Sanka 1 (si) – Sanka 2 (se)
2) by Nikana
Sankasi (1) – Sankase (2)
Heterographics through index signs
The numbers can be used to distinguish the word’s meaning. If a word has 5 meanings and there are listed from one to five, then at the end of the word the respective number can be placed. The numbers which are essential to the word’s meaning take a horizontal line on the top.
In the figure are represented “Sanka 1” and “Sanka 2”, where the numbers 1 and 2 distinguish the first and second meaning of this word. This method is very practical, since there are very few words having more than 9 meanings.
Heterographics through included index signs
The numbers used to distinguish meanings can be placed within the rectangle where the syllable is. This completes even more the basic scheme, forming two extra positions (7 and 8). Position 7 lays in the space between positions 1 and 4, no matter its relation with position 3. Position 8 lays in the space over the positions 2,5 and 6. In these positions will be placed the signs and mansūji -numbers which distinguish the words‘ meanings without violating the phonetic system.
Both positions will be used according to the 30 schemes below:
In position 7 will be placed none, one, or two signs corresponding to the word’s first, second or third meaning. These triple groups will make the “short listing”. In the next level it is represented the “long listing”, the one showing how many small listings are there. This number is placed in position 8. These numbers start from 0(empty)to 9.
If we are about to write the eighth meaning of a word, then it means we have two long listings (6 short ones) and two short listings, so in position 8 it is placed the number 2 and in position 7 it is placed a line, corresponding to the number 2.
If a word has two or more homonyms and two or more syllables, the index signs are written only in the first syllable. If this syllable get way overwhelmed, the index signs can be distributed to the other ones.
To use this system to maximum efficacy these steps must followed:
- A database of homonyms must be created. (The rendition must be according to the 33 sounds of Manjikana)
- The rendition must be according to the frequency of the usage.
- Less homonyms words have, easier it is to make up them visually.
- Homonyms having larger frequency of use will have a simplified construction.
This will make possible the appearance of the complicated schemes only in 0.1% of the cases in total.
Combining the three aspects: 1) the phonetic writing, 2) the syllable grouping and the 3) heterographics, makes easier and more complete the writing of the Japanese language.
An example: The first law from the Universal Declaration for Human Rights, in Japanese, written with the actual writings: