(keitai-l) Re: The economy of Japanese text?? Kill me now. (Or kill me later.)

From: Michael Turner <leap_at_gol.com>
Date: 12/05/01
Message-ID: <006301c17d7e$8c1dd080$c74fd8cb@phobos>
Curt Sampson writes, in part:
> But after further thought, I reckon that most of this efficiency is
> due to the language itself. Even with abbreviations ("wher ru now?",
> it's rare that English gets as compact as Japanese ("どこ今?", "また").

By what measure? Syllables?

"Where are ya?"  "Again."

One less syllable.

Bytes?  English takes more, but it's pretty close.

How long it takes to say it?  About the same, to my ear.

Screen area?  The sample is too small--precisely why I chose large samples.

> The writing system helps, but without that big boost from a language that
> reguarly leaves out most of what you're talking about--to the point that
> even the Japanese regularly get confused about the topic of conversation--

So that the amount of time people expect to save by leaving the topic
implicit is lost anyway, because of the need to remedy confusion more often.
So it comes out about the same.  (Unless you're a clueless space-case gaijin
like me, who can't keep track at all.)

> One more thing that would be interesting to look in to, though, would
> be the space in terms of non-technical books. I suspect that the
> Emacs book had a lot of katakana in it, ....

The first same-page-area paragraphs had 65 katakana out of a total of just
over 1600 characters total, or about 4%.  Scrounging around in our piles of
non-computer books here, I'm having trouble finding a Japanese page with a
smaller percentage.

It could, of course, simply be that the translator chose to translate well,
rather than fluff his way along with gairaigo.  But then, the original seems
unusally well written, so this is only fitting.

-michael turner

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Received on Wed Dec 5 13:40:17 2001