Okinawa info.

Okinawa info.: Kanji,Hiragana,Katakana

Friday, June 24, 2005


Japanese writing uses two principal systems of orthography: Chinese characters and syllabaries, a system in which each written character represents a syllable. Japanese was strictly a spoken language before the introduction of Chinese characters, or kanji, in the late 5th century. The system of Chinese characters is generally considered the more difficult system to learn and use because of the large number of characters and the complexity involved both in writing and in reading each character. Each character has an associated meaning, as opposed to letters in alphabets, which individually have no meaning. There are tens of thousands of characters attested in the Japanese language, but in 1946 the Japanese government identified 1850 characters for daily use. In 1981 the government increased the list to 1945 characters and gave it the name Joyo Kanji List (kanji for daily use.) The characters in the Joyo Kanji List must be learned in primary and secondary schools, and newspapers generally limit the use of characters to this list. Most characters have at least two readings: the native Japanese reading and the reading that simulates the original Chinese pronunciation of the same character. If the same character came into the Japanese language at different periods or from different Chinese dialects, the character may have several Chinese readings that represent different historical periods and dialectal differences.

The second writing system consists of syllabaries, or kana, which the Japanese developed about 1000 years ago from certain Chinese characters. Each syllabary is a character that represents a syllable in the language, and, unlike a Chinese character, it represents a sound but not a meaning. There are two types of syllabaries, hiragana and katakana, each containing the same set of sounds. For example, the sound ka in Japanese may be represented by the hiragana or the katakana , both of which evolved from the Chinese character . Hiragana is often used in combination with a Chinese character. Katakana is used to write words borrowed from Western languages such as the French language, the German language, and the English language. Kanji, hiragana, and katakana frequently appear in the same sentence. Along with Chinese characters and syllabaries, the Latin alphabet is sometimes employed for such elements as names of organizations.


Post a Comment

<< Home