Is Man'yōgana Still Readable?

Uncreative Name

Member
English - United States
I recently mentioned this on an etymology thread, but I think it's more appropriate here:
Man'yōgana (Kanji used for their phonetic values rather than their meaning) was an archaic script used to write Japanese before the invention of the simpler hiragana and katakana used today. Can average Japanese speakers read Man'yōgana in the modern day?
 
  • gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't think an average native speaker (one without education about the topic) would be able to make much sense of a text written in man'yogana. Probably a bit similar to a native English speaker trying to read Old English.
     

    SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Haha, interesting topic.
    My answer is "yes" to a certain degree.
    We can read them to a certain extent.
    We usually do not learn the precise grammar, usage, or list of Man'yōgana, but as native spekers, we encounter quite a lot.
    For example, it might be ironical enough, but Japanese young motorcycle freaks (
    暴走族)tend to use it as their group name, although their education level is very low.
    The most typical one is 夜露死苦 (よろしく).
    怒羅衛門(ドラえもん)

    「怒羅衛門」から「那戊怜怨」まで。難読の暴走族を一挙紹介




    Otherwise, you will see a lot of foreign countries' names, such as:
    亜米利加 (あめりか、アメリカ) ---> 米

    漢字読み方漢字読み方漢字読み方漢字読み方
    1倫敦ロンドン18濠太剌利オーストラリア35雅典アテネ52愛蘭アイルランド
    2巴里パリ19比律賓フィリピン36羅馬ローマ53瑞典スウェーデン
    3紐育ニューヨーク20印度インド

    Native spekers can understand each kanji's 音読み and 訓読み. Roughly speaking, 音読み's pronouciation equals to 万葉仮名, so we can read it to a cetain degree.

     
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