Useful review article by a US academic working in Japan of some recent books on the cultural stereotyping of Asians. Main issues dealt with:
Is a population of US graduate students a suitable profile for a “Westerner” when making cultural comparison?
Is it true that the use of (non-alphabetic) kanji script in Japan and China prevents abstract thinking?
Is there a link between “Western” creativity and alphabetic script?
Does a kanji (or ideographic) culture encourage an imitative rather than a creative mindset?
The really interesting question – not broached in this article – would be: what evidence is there from “biscriptuals” (users of kanji and alphabets) that script constrains thought? One candidate might be the Chinese/English blogger at Linguistic Paradise, who incidentally tells us of that Thailand is holding a World Congress on the Power of Language: Theory, Practice, and Performance in 2006. Could be a good venue to raise this script ‘n culture question – surely a “world forgotten fact” as the Congress’ website inventively puts it.