Ok…I had a feeling this was going to come down to terminology. Despite the fact that it’s obviously not phonetically regular, I still think of English as using a phonetic writing system and it didn’t occur to me that my choice of words there would cause confusion (it didn’t even occur to occur to me).
Thanks, I went back and found it too. This is actually the line that I was thinking of too.
With the information that “it’s like an alphabet; the doesn’t convey meaning (like kanji) or phonograms (like kana)” I just figured that we were talking about a consonant-vowel paradigm. From what I could tell, 表音文字 includes kana (where each character is a complete sound), but not necessarily English letters (from the English wikipedia article, “igh” is a single phonogram that contains three letters). So it’s totally possible that the letters have sounds associated with them, but aren’t comparable to a syllabary like kana.
This line just makes me think it’s basically the same as English, where misspelling a word could change its meaning but not necessarily its pronunciation, like “knight” or “night”, or vice-versa.
After processing it out like that, I guess it makes sense that she might need to learn the correct way of writing certain words, even if she knows how they sound. Or who knows, maybe it’s like Tibetan and you basically have to learn all the words as units because the spelling is just so busted.
I’m confused about this too – in the scene where she visits the 雑貨屋, there’s this exchange:
「お、おじさんっ！ これは？ これは何!?」
Am I to understand that she’s thinking in Japanese but speaking in the local language? Is the old man actually saying some other word that she transparently understands as “book”? When she has to relearn the word for “book”, does that come in a later volume or did I miss it in what we’ve read so far?