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11 May 2001 11:29:12 -0500
Neil Jerram <address@hidden> writes:
> So if one comes across a piece of paper with Chinese characters
> written on it, how does one know whether to read it as Chinese text or
> as Japanese text?
> As you also say, this is not specific to Japanese/Chinese; it happens
> for almost all language combinations, and is usually solved (in the
> brain) by assessing the context in which the characters appear.
Actually, at some point the Japanese simplified a lot of their
character shapes (in the early 1900's, I think), so the typical shapes
you use in Japanese are sometimes simpler than their Chinese
counterparts. So you may find someone selecting different fonts for
Chinese and Japanese, and the glyphs may suggest one language or
another. But people understand them as the same characters.
> So, is it that the language information crept in by accident and then
> programmers found that it had particular uses?
Yes, that's my impression.