For some reason, there seemed to be a widespread belief that including characters is somehow more difficult or expensive for publishers, and that many publishers are resistant to the concept. This is why we so often see either no kanji at all, or lists of kanji way in the back of the book, like from back in the days when everything was done on typewriter and characters had to be hand-written in, then photocopied or something. Well, surprise surprise, technology has advanced since then. And if I can type in a combination of English letters と日本語の字 and then publish it on the web, or print it out on my home printer, without any extra work *at all* to deal with layouts or “harmonizing” the size of the text, then so can any publisher. Right?
An excerpt from Hashimoto Yu’s essay/chapter “The Information Strategy of Imposter Envoys from Northern Kyushu to Choson Korea in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.” in the edited volume The East Asian Mediterranean: Maritime Crossroads of Culture, Commerce and Human Migration. (Angela Schottenhammer, ed.) Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008.
Maybe scholars who’ve actually worked with publishers in the past have some special insights into this that I lack.
In any case, the Japan-based Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators (SWET) now has a nice short guide online outlining the arguments for and against the inclusion of characters in English-language texts, summarizing the advances in technology, and some material on how (and when) to include macrons and diacritics.
This doesn’t exactly put the subject to rest, as I think many publishers are likely more resistant than they ought to be, nor is this a full and thorough Style Sheet. But it’s something. Meanwhile, there is apparently some kind of fourteen-year-old Japan Style Sheet available from SWET, but only by contacting them and requesting a copy… Monumenta Nipponica’s Style Sheet is freely available online, however.
On a completely separate topic, we have an interview with kumu Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker, the new Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Theatre at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. (Kumu means “teacher”; I tend to think of it as something honorable and worthy of serious respect, like sensei, though I don’t presume to be all that knowledgeable about the nuances of Hawaiian language or culture.)
This position comes as part of an initiative to create more positions for experts in Hawaiian traditional indigenous knowledge, in various departments throughout the university. A few years ago, I might have thought it to be all hand-wavey, and to be a obvious ploy at political correctness. But, in my time at Hawai‘i (oh, how I miss it there), I think I’ve come to a better appreciation of these things. It’s actually pretty cool to have traditional experts in the Law School, and in the Medical School, if only to help their graduates interface better with local communities who distrust anything that smells even slightly of colonialism.
An ‘oli and hula performed as part of welcoming ceremonies for students at the East-West Center in Honolulu, August 2011. Kumu Hula, Mapuana de Silva; Hālau (group/school) Mohala ‘Ilima
Hawaiian culture is, of course, one very much steeped in oral tradition. They did not have a written language until Europeans came, and so stories, history, morals, beliefs were all communicated via oral tradition, and through hula and other performance forms and ritual – so it absolutely makes sense that we ought to have a Hawaiian theatre / performance program beyond that which exists in the Dance department. I don’t know quite what “Hawaiian theatre” looks like or will be like, or whether kumu Tammy Haili‘ōpua is planning on drawing from something wholly traditional, or doing something more contemporary in form and style, but either way, I think it very neat that we (they) should have a Hawaiian Theatre track running alongside the very successful Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian ones. People come from all over the country – and beyond – to study kabuki or Beijing opera at UH, and for those who want to study Hawaiian and Pacific Islands theatre forms, if UH didn’t have it, who would?
I also thoroughly enjoyed this interview because we can see quite clearly in it how people in Hawai‘i speak – even esteemed kumu like kumu Tammy Haili‘ōpua. You can really sense the distinctive culture and attitudes in the way Troy and kumu Tammy Haili‘ōpua speak in the interview, using very laid-back and friendly English, but also native Hawaiian phrases with serious cultural power.
Even though I never studied Hawaiian Studies, or got involved in cultural practices or the like at all, I do really miss living somewhere with that kind of special cultural and spiritual identity. Living in Hawai‘i, like living in Japan, is something really special for a boy from New York whose parents scarcely ever did much traveling and whose grandparents most certainly never traveled or saw the world the way that we can today. My apologies to Santa Barbara, but you’ve just not got that same energy, that same character. I have a number of friends who have very little interest in staying in Hawaii any longer than they have to, and I don’t blame them, but I surprise myself, I truly do, that I have come to like it there, to appreciate what I had there, and to very much want to go back. Maybe when I do I might get to see one of kumu Tammy Haili‘ōpua’s performances.
Finally today, we have an “open review” scholarly volume entitled Subjecting History. The concept is an interesting one – Prof. Trevor Getz and Thomas Padilla have posted the beginnings of a scholarly volume online, and are asking viewers, readers, to add their comments, which will then get added into the publication. They are also soliciting Chapter Proposals (deadline Nov. 15 2012), on topics related to questions of self-reflection on the discipline of History.
They ask, “how well does academic scholarship represent the past? Does it align or conflict with nonacademic ways of understanding the past? What are ways that academic scholarship can better represent the past without appearing to ignore interpretations that run counter to it?”
Personally, I’m hesitant to comment on the site, as anything I write there could end up in the formal, hardcopy published version of this book, and I just don’t know that anything I have to say would be perfectly well-phrased and perfectly well-thought-out enough for me to want to do that. Besides, these kinds of historiographical, philosophical, meta-analysis kinds of things make my head spin.
But I do think it a very interesting project. Go take a look, check it out.