Tag Archives: writing system

The 2012 Kanji of the Year: 金 (KIN)

2012 Kanji of the year KIN

Japan’s “Kanji of the year” was just released, revealing that the recent achievements by Japanese experts were largely influential in the year-long feelings of the country. The character last year was “bonds,” because of the bonds that Japanese people were so ready to keep, create, and remember, after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. This year, the character is 金 “KIN” which means gold (and also means money).

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TED Gallery: Endangered or Forgotten Languages

Language is a massive part of culture. There’s absolutely no denying it. Anyone who speaks multiple languages that are from cultures that do not generally intertwine (i.e., not places like Pakistan, where they may grow up to speak three or more languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and English) understand well. But the internet, along with a rapidly increasing desire to communicate with people across the world, is homogenizing us in ways that some say are detrimental to smaller cultures. I decided to make compilations of TED talks among various topics, and I’m going to start with linguicide, the death of a language. We’ll start with one person who is trying to decipher the script of the Indus people; another who has studied many cultures across the globe; and another who believes that we can unite the world under one language, without doing so at the expense of other languages.

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Is Japan Losing its Culture? – Part 1: A History of Cultural Adoption

I want to talk about the problem I usually find when non-Japanese people talk about Japanese culture, which is that they generalize too much. They make sweeping statements that are inherently too loaded to be anything but false. This is usually because they approach Japan through the lens of their own culture – the etic approach, in anthropological terms. Japan can only possibly be understood in the greater Japanese context – one that considers its history, and its interaction with other nations. Making a statement like “Japan is very ________, and here’s my anecdote…” is an approach doomed to failure. For example, I often hear complaints that Japan is becoming highly Westernized, or more specifically, Americanized. A big concern is that they’re losing their culture. …But is it true? Is Japan losing its culture?

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