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A JAPANESE BOY.
horse. The poor animal is usually loaded so
When I was late from school I made out my
I BELIEVE we had no afternoon session in the oldfashioned school; and the boys had two or three pet games to play in leisure hours. One of them was played in this manner: each one is provided with a number of pointed iron sticks a few inches long. The leader pitches one of his sticks in soft soil; the second follows suit, aiming to root out his predecessor's by the force of pitching in his own close to it; then the third, the fourth, and all around the company. Another of the games was played with square chips of wood, on which were painted heads of men, demons and all sorts of fanciful figures. A triangle was drawn on hard level ground and at a distance from its base a parallel line; from which line the boys each in turn threw a common lot of the chips, contributed by all, into the inside of the triangle. It must be done with the same nicety of aim and attitude as in throwing quoits. A habit established itself among us of the players coming down to the ground on all fours immediately after the act of throwing; it was the consequence of bending too far forward in order to get in all the chips at the peril of neglecting the centre of gravity. The chips that flew outside of the triangle were gathered by the
next player and those in the inside allowed to be taken by the player, should he be able to throw a chip from his hand and lay it on them one by one. If he failed at any moment, the next player gathered together all the remaining chips and played his turn. A modification of this game consists in throwing the chips against a wall, and counting good those only that remain inside a straight line parallel with the foot of the wall, and turning over to the next player those on the outside. The game is played by girls as well as by boys, although they rarely play together.
We also used to play hide-and-seek, blind-man'sbuff and other games that are familiar in this country.
Later in my school days the government underwent great changes, and it adopted the common school system of the West. My father was to pay a school-tax and I to attend a new school, where instruction was not in penmanship alone but extended over various subjects. Text-books on arithmetic, Japanese geography and history had been compiled after the American pattern, but no grammar appeared; the educational department left the language to be taught by the purely inductive method. The fact is that the Japanese language has not been systematized; should one attempt it he would find it a tremendous task.
When I was on the point of leaving for America my brother put into my hand a Japanese grammar in two thin volumes, written by a literary man in Tokio, and said that it was being used in schools. I have them still by me and privately
consider the attempt not a very great success. The gentleman tries to follow the steps of the European grammarian; he cleverly makes out 99 noun and "pronoun, ""verb" and "adverb " even "article," (which, in good faith, I never in the slightest suspected our language was guilty of possessing) from the chaos. Upon the whole, the book has the effect of confusing instead of enlightening me; after my dabbling in languages, in Japanese I prefer to be taught like a babe.
Japanese dictionaries are for the purpose of hunting up Japanese meanings of Chinese letters, answering to your Latin and Greek lexicons. So much of Chinese has been introduced into our language in the course of centuries, that it is now impossible to read one line in a Japanese newspaper, for instance, without coming across Chinese characters. In books for women and children and in popular novels Japanese equivalents are written beside Chinese words. In getting lessons we made little use of the dictionaries; once learned by dictation from the teacher we relied on our memory and that of others; hence frequent review was needed to retain them. As the new school system took root, the school books began to have vocabularies and keys; and the Chinese classics pursued by advanced students their " pony."
Just at present a movement is on foot to simplify our tongue in its complication with Chinese. People generally suppose the two languages are alike; many of them have asked me if I could interpret to them what the down-town washees were so merrily babbling about over their flat
irons. It is a mistake; Japanese and Chinese are totally different, strange as it may appear. And yet I had to learn my Chinese in order to read our standard works. If the common people could understand Chinese as well as the learned persons, I believe we could get along very well with our language as it is; but they do not. It would be very inconvenient indeed if, for instance, in this country the "educated" people should use long words all the while, or employ French expressions freely in talking and writing. Just such a pedantry exists in my native country, and truly educated men are crying out for reformation. There are two parties. One party thinks it can do it by using unadulterated Japanese, while the other deems nothing short of the Romanization of the whole fabric-that is, the adoption of the Roman alphabet in spelling Japanese words-could accomplish the end. Opinion is equally divided between them; the second party may appear slightly stronger on account of its members for the greater part being students of other languages beside their own. Both these parties issue periodicals to advocate their theories and at the same time to carry their ideas into practice. These are worthy efforts; as yet they are experiments. We are told that the growth of a language is a matter of generations, that language has life like everything else, and that it must undergo changes despite feeble human efforts.
But to return. ter was hired by took charge of us.
Happily our former schoolmasthe new organization and still He was a gifted young gentle