KANSAI UNIVERSITY

Research Digest

Date:2018.03.15

Insights into East-West cultural interaction via Chinese literature

Keiichi Uchida

Professor, Department of Foreign Language Studies, Kansai University, Japan
Director, Kansai University Open Research Center for Asian Studies (KU-ORCAS)

At the start of his academic career, Professor Uchida studied Chinese grammar and vocabulary. However, for the last 20 years he has focused on Western people's research on China and East-West cultural interaction.

Specifically, projects include how Aesop's Fables were communicated to East Asians, and how European missionaries studied Chinese. Furthermore, Professor Uchida’s group was selected for the Global COE by MEXT in 2007 and he is aiming to establish a new academic area of research called cultural interaction studies.

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Professor Uchida notes that translating languages is an important aspect of East-West cultural interaction. “This is actually a major problem,” he says. “For example, in Japanese railway stations, passengers are told to stand 'inside' the white line drawn on the platform. A direct translation of this into Chinese would result in major problems because Chinese people would wait on the outside of the line, along the railway line.”

The point is that, although inside and outside are simple words, they have different meanings in different countries. That is, translation is not simply a replacement of a vocabulary but also translation of culture.

Publications

A Study of Cultural Interaction and Linguistic Contact Approaching Chinese Linguistics from the Peripheryery, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Gmbh & C, 2017.
ISBN 978-3-8470-0699-2

“Research on CHINESE LANGUAGE STUDIES BY MISSIONARIES FROM THE END OF 16TH TO THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY”, Leuven Chinese Studies 34, FERDINAND VERBIEST INSTITTUTE, KU LEUVEN, 2017, pp 225-243.
ISBN 978-90-8209-099-4

“The Peripheral Approach in Chinese Linguistics as an Area of Cultural Interaction Studies”, A Selection of Essays on Oriental Studies of ICIS (ICIS Oversea Publication Series Vol.1), Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies, Kansai University, 2011, pp123-137.
ISBN 978-4-990516-45-1
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10112/4350

Date:2018.03.15

Digital technology to decipher the meaning of ancient Chinese writings recorded on wooden strips

Takao Fujita

Professor, Department of Asian Cultural studies, Kansai University, Japan

Takao Fujita is using the power of digital technology to analyze characters and writing on ancient Chinese wooden strips—‘mokkan’—that was recorded more than 2000 years ago. In Chinese culture some writing on wooden strips was executed carefully and conscientiously and other scribes were written more hurriedly.

“I think that the differences in the styles of the characters reflects differences in the importance of the 'mokkan' in society,” says Professor Fujita.

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Traditional research on ancient wooden tablets offers almost no viewpoints on font analysis. This research, however, has yielded objective insights into the broken forms of fonts and styles of writing. Professor Fujita and his colleagues are aiming to establish new standards for research on these ancient wooden tablets.

Furthermore, by using handwriting analysis, it may be possible to realize dream-like goals of identifying individuals who wrote the characters on wooden tablets more than 2000 years ago in China. This research will also make significant contributions to optical character recognition technology (OCR) for identifying handwritten characters.

Typical wooden strips with Chinese characters written 2000 years ago.

Publications

“The Establishment of the Field of ‘Oriental History’ in Japan: To Facilitate Consideration of East Asian Studies in Modern Japan”, A Selection of Essays on Oriental Studies of ICIS (ICIS Oversea Publication Series Vol.1), Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies, Kansai University,
2011, pp19-28.
ISBN 978-4-990516-45-1
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10112/4342