Prescriptive kanji simplification
Ph.D. Dissertation, 1994
The simplification of Chinese characters (kanji) is a recognized historical
process. Normally such a simplification grows spontaneously out of the
demands of everyday use, but simplification by fiat is at least a theoretical
possibility. Such a round of simplification by fiat, here called 'prescriptive
simplification,' seems to have taken place in the PRC in 1977. What has
gone unrecognized is that simplification by fiat was also attempted in
Japan in 1983, albeit on a much smaller scale, and emanating from the
government-controlled organ called the Japanese Standards Association.
In this dissertation I marshal evidence to show that prescriptive kanji
simplification has occurred in Japan, and discuss its consequences.
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