Re: Japanese RTL (was RE: Mongolian (was RE: Syriac and Mongolian

From: A. Vine (
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 18:57:55 EST

Kenneth Whistler wrote:
> Andrea Vine asked:
> >
> > I am not a native reader, though. I would be interested to hear from native
> > Japanese and Chinese character readers as to whether they sense a
> > directionality, or behave as though there is one. For example, in interpreting
> > obscure characters, where do they first look for a helpful radical?
> The position of a radical in the character also likely has nothing to do
> with text directionality. A majority of the common radicals are on the left side of a
> character, but there are also many common radicals that occur on the
> top, bottom, or right side of a character. They are learned by overall
> pattern recognition that (I believe) is independent of left-to-right
> or right-to-left directionality.
> --Ken

Yes, Ken, but where does a _native_ reader look _first_? How does a native
reader parse the character? Just because handedness dictated the writing
directionality (universally, it seems) doesn't mean that it didn't provide an
inherent reading directionality. These are not mutually exclusive.

And I wait to hear from a native about parsing directionality for an unfamiliar
character. Familiar characters may well be read as a whole. Or not. But an
unfamiliar character must be parsed, at least to look it up.


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