Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Global and International Studies

First Advisor

Jeffrey Angles

Second Advisor

Shu Yang


The complexity of the Chinese and Japanese writing systems has intrigued those in the West from their first encounter with the characters. Though the two languages are very different, they share components of their writing systems that have been adapted to each language. This paper looks at the differences and similarities between the two strikingly different languages, as well as the effects on literacy the complexity of the orthographies has had in East Asia. The reforms created by each respective government and the motivations behind these reforms is also explored, as well as the future of the use and form of these characters in Asia and around the world. The goal of this research paper is to help non-native Japanese and Chinese speakers to understand the reasoning behind the use of the characters in their respective language, as well as to look at the current and past usage of the characters.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access