Monday, April 18, 2011

Japanese Writing Systems

Any person who begins studying Japanese might think that learning this interesting language is impossible and frustrating. In fact, there are many people who can speak Japanese really well, but they cannot write it. Let me tell you that in my personal experience, I found Japanese writing system so appealing, challenging, and amazing. I couldn't stop learning it. Of course that for any Japanese learner, there must be something clear......learning the writing system will require time, effort, and dedication. It is not an impossible task; nevertheless, it won't be easy. But you will feel fascinated when you find out that you can read step by tep signs in the street, books, manga, etc. Here you can read a brief description of the Japanese writing system.
Modern Japanese uses a combination of:
(1) Chinese characters, known in Japanese as kanji (). There are currently 1,945 officially approved characters for use in the media, etc, although quite a few more are actually in use. The kanji are Chinese-style characters that the Japanese adopted around the fifth century A.D. Kanji are still used to write many words in Japanese.

(2) Two kana syllabaries, hiragana and katakana, which are 'alphabets' based on syllables rather than single sounds. Each syllabary has a total of 46 basic letters, more if modified letters (letters with voicing, reduced-size letters, etc.) are included. The hiragana characters are written in a curving, flowing style. They are used for writing some native Japanese words and word endings.

The katakana are more angular characters. They are used mostly for writing foreign-derived words. Words adapted into Japanese from English or other European languages are usually written in katakana.

(3) Roman letters and Arabic numbers borrowed from the West.

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