Is Man'yōgana Still Readable?

Uncreative Name

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.


    Senior Member
    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).


    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


    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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