East Asian Writing Systems

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Sugu is a native Japanese word meaning 'immediately', 'straight away'. Sugu is the simple everyday kind of word that is most naturally written in hiragana as すぐ:

Kētai, PC de kekkon aite ni ima sugu de-aeru
You can meet a marriage partner immediately by mobile phone or PC.

But katakana スグ can also be found, as shown in the following advertisement. The main objective of using katakana is to emphasise the word sugu, similar to the use of italics in English. The advertisement claims that the service offered is available immediately.

Kore kara natsu-yasumi honban
Intānetto de, sugu yoyaku!
Hachi-gatsu no Intānetto gentei hanbai puran
Hoteru za bāgen

Summer holidays begin in earnest from now
You can book immediately via the Internet!
August Internet restricted sales plan
'Hotel The Bargain'

A Google search of the Internet in August 2003 revealed the following distribution:

No. of occurrences

Although the kanji form 直ぐ is no longer standard usage -- this kind of word is expected to be written in hiragana -- it is interesting that it still occurs in significant numbers on the Internet. This could be because:

(1) People writing web pages use word-processing software, which offers the option of writing 直ぐ. One must be doubtful if many people would choose this when writing by hand.

(2) The Internet is a very democratic medium reflecting how ordinary people want to write, not the style rules dictated by publishing houses. This allows many non-standard usages through.


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