Foreign Alphabet/Japanese

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III This is a Category III Language.

Introduction[edit]

The Japanese language has three different writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are collectively known as Kana. Originally borrowed from the Chinese language, Kanji is an indispensable part of the writing system of the modern Japanese.

Kanji[edit]

Kanji is essentially Chinese characters that are imported from China during the Han Dynasty. Although there are over 50,000 kanji characters (many of them rarely used), the Japanese government has approved 1,945 so-called "daily use" kanji characters, known as 常用漢字 (じょうようかんじ jouyou kanji) for publications.

Even so, they are not alphabets but are pictogram (pictures that each depicts a meaning or part of a meaning). Hence, they are not elaborated on here.

Note on Romanization[edit]

Japanese has two competing transliteration methods: the Kunrei-shiki developed by the Japanese government in the mid-20th century and taught in elementary school; and the more widely used Hepburn-shiki developed by Reverend James Curtis Hepburn in the late 19th century. This section would mainly use the Hepburn-shiki version.

Kana[edit]

  1. Hiragana
  2. Katakana