Re: Is there a Japanese character for the word Unicode? (from Re: Unicode Haiku Contest)

From: Christopher Miller (
Date: Fri Dec 18 2009 - 16:37:13 CST

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    On 2009-12-18, at 4:43 AM, William_J_G Overington wrote:

    > Yet I am wondering whether there is a complete character for the word Unicode and, if there is not, could one be devised?

    One *could* (in principle only) be devised (but in principle only), as new characters could be and have been for all kinds of lexical items. This was regularly done in the past by building complex characters from combinations of simpler ones and is one of the main sources for non-Chinese characters in Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

    However, character coinages are avoided nowadays as allowing this to continue would lead to an ever-expanding profusion of characters to be learned, stored and encoded. CJKV characters are already by far the largest component of Unicode code space and the CJKV working groups have more than enough on their hands with existing characters as is.

    Nowadays, the two main character-script languages (written Chinese and Japanese) incorporate new foreign terms by transcribing them. Chinese does so by substituting characters with approximate sound correspondences to the syllables of the new term, often choosing the precise characters for appropriate meaning when combined in sequence. Japanese almost always transcribes with the angular katakana syllabary (which we have already seen in other messages for "Unicode") as opposed to the rounded hiragana used for native Japanese morphology and several part of speech classes. Kanji characters are restricted to a small(ish) subset of those inherited from Chinese or coined in Japan centuries ago, and are mostly nouns and verbs. (However, not all nouns or verbs are written with characters, but with kana instead.)

    Christopher Miller
    Montreal QC Canada

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