Japanese expert speaking at Utah State

Professor Tetsuji Atsuji of Kyoto University, Japan, is a featured guest lecturer at Utah State University as part of the year-long Tanner Project, “Crossing Boundaries.”Atsuji presents “The Wonderful World of Kanji Characters” Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 4-6 p.m. at Merrill-Cazier Library, Room 101.The lecturer will discuss the history and communicative power of Japanese characters referred to as Kanji. The presentation is designed to foster an understanding of history and creation of Kanji ideograms, while simultaneously offering insight into the ways in which Kanji continues to be used in modern Japan.Kanji is one of the most important orthographies in the world languages. Originated in ancient China, Kanji is the only writing system in the world to have maintained its pictographic state from its origins more than 3000 years ago to the present day.Much like the symbols used at Olympic games or pictographs, Kanji characters are of simple composition and entirely visual in orientation, and thus, can be understood by anyone, regardless of the language he or she speaks, according to lecture organizer Atsuko Neely, lecturer in USU’s Japanese program in the Department of Languages, Philosophy and Speech Communication. Historically, Kanji was adopted into Japanese and Korean languages from China, and Kanji still offers a vital vehicle for mutual understanding amongst these three languages to this day, she said.”Because Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages still use Kanji as their orthographies to this date, one in six people on the planet read and write Kanji daily,” Neely said. “With China’s economy going strong, it has become increasing critical to understand Kanji in today’s world.”Atsuji, the guest lecturer, is the foremost expert in history of Kanji in Japan. He has published more than 45 books on the topic and frequently appears on Japanese television programs. He also serves as executive board member for a national organization for promoting Kanji education in Japan.The USU lecture is a part of year-long Tanner Project “Crossing Boundaries” and is supported, in part, by the Japan Foundation, O.C. Tanner Foundation and Department of Languages, Philosophy and Speech Communication’s Japanese Program Development Funds. For more information, contact Neely at atsuko.neely@usu.edu or 435-797-1365.

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