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As Japan struggles with the mushrooming of English loanwords in its midst, there are signs that the Japanese language might be exploring another new relationship with English — by absorbing the English alphabet and even some grammar directly.

This emerging trend is not to do with the superficial profusion of English lettering in advertising copy and the names of buildings. In fact it is potentially far more profound, and suggests Japanese may be on the way to adopting the English alphabet as its fourth set of characters along with hiragana, katakana and kanji.

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