|Tomomi san who sat next to me at a cafe impressed me with all of her pink items!|
In response to Vincent’s comment, this is the continuation from the last post.
I think it’s fair to say the Roggendorf’s quote is one sided if it isn’t negative.
I again read the previous lines from the quote on P. 109 of the book, Roggendorf compares two ideas: Rafcadio Hearn’s and Spencer’s. But it is unclear to me what exactly he compared with. Roggendorf was German and studied in London before coming to Japan, and later he returned and studied a few more years to become a professor in English at Sophia University in Japan.
Another negative word I have to point out among the previous lines is this: Hearn was not as cultured. This blows me away. Again, such statement is unclear what Roggendorf compared with. Himself? Hearn’s contribution to the introduction of the Japanese literature and culture to the west is singularly important. He married a local woman from a samurai family which enabled him to know the culture from the bottom up.
At the introduction to his future wife, Hearn said to the go-between that she was ugly, but as he got to know her, his love to her deepened. To their married dwelling, she brought her entire family. Many samurai were contrary to their proud faces. They were very poor. The things Hearn hated such as she and her family helped him dress although he could dress by himself because he was not a child, but he said if that gave them pleasure, he would let them. The family members were also grateful for him, but I guess they could not express their gratitude other than helping him dress and undress or doing chores around the house. What a thoughtful man Rafcadio Hearn was! Was he cultured? Yes, he was in my opinion.
Obviously, Roggendorf wouldn’t have put so much effort in learning Japanese if he didn’t see great benefits from it. I’m sure his achievement was like conquering Mt. Everest. Maybe when he wrote the book, he was quite frustrated. Living in the foreign culture like Japan, I can understand.
Anyhow, Japan has been functioning all these years using nothing but the Japanese language. All the important and not so important documents are all written in Japanese. That means all the critical thinking in Japan has been done in Japanese. Thank goodness, we still speak and write in Japanese daily.
I think how exactly people speak or write depends on the needs and the ability of the speaker or writer in any language.
About exactness, I’ve written a blog on the Japanese usage of subject and object before. If you and your wife/husband are alone in a room facing each other, and you say “I love you,” she/he understands you. But if you omit “I” and “you,” English speakers do not understand. They probably feel frustrated and demand us to be more specific. This is unfortunate.
Let’s take a moment to think. Let’s take the grammar, tradition and habit out and think pure logic. In above situation, wouldn’t you agree that you and I are not needed to understand each other? Don’t forget, we are eliminating the base thinking of the grammar, tradition and habits. You’ve just said goodbye to them. Remember? Try to be as pure as you can be on the logic itself.
When the needs of being exact become habitual for centuries, I think people forget the original logic. The evidence of that habit probably can be seen when we compare some love letters of the Chaucer’s time and the modern times. I checked a bit although not love letters. I’ve compared the poems by Chaucer and a modern American poet once although it’s not enough sampling for a scholarly statement. The latter had many more articles and subject and objects in her poems compared to Chaucer’s.
So, the tendency is wanting to be exact in English, and it has been increasing. I’m only stating the phenomenon, not talking good or bad. But we ought to know this ongoing growth under our consciousness. And this habit is infectious, and we tend to forget the original logic.
So, what am I suggesting to you? This is my recommendation to high level writers and readers. The people who do not care about this matter do not count for obvious reason. Think of this issue deeper and try not to use many articles like a and the, and subjects and objects as much as possible to experiment in your poems or creative writing. You won’t know the result right away, but if you try a number of times over certain period, you might discover something; worthwhile.
We are habitual animals. We can stop and think what's under our consciousness. For instance, I think your readers' minds will work harder to figure out what you write if they really care to read your interesting contents. It enhances our and their imagination. Try it and find out and let me know.
Of course, this is not recommended in writing a critical manual to save people’s lives and so forth.