Writing System

Topics: Japanese language, Kanji, Chinese language Pages: 9 (1454 words) Published: May 21, 2013
JS2203 Sound, Grammar and Meaning
Semester I 2012-2013AY Emi Morita



Roman alphabet hiragana

Division of labor
Katakana Hiragana Roman alphabet content words Western loans words function words and Japanese words English words, etc.

野菜 たっぷりの ワンディッシュメニュー

• inflectional endings of verbs, “i” adjectives ~る、 ~い • particles ね、よ、に、は、が • demonstrative words この、それ • the copula だ です • grammatical nouns こと もの の • certain very general words ある、いる、する、 なる、とても、あんまり、たくさん、あいさつ

• similar to italics in printed English (for unusual words or for special effects). loan-words other than from classical Chinese コーヒー、パイナップル、サッカー クッキー、シンガポール、フランス、etc.

onomatopoeic expressions Katakana introduced new mora shapes such as ti, fa, etc.

ヴァイオリン、ティーン、 ファッション、 ジェット機、プロデュース

• Logographic (Morphographic) = Each symbol represents a single morpheme or a word. & $ ¥ € 〒 © • Used to write content words

• Arrival of Chinese characters --1st century AD coins and golden seals Probably perceived as mere decoration

• 3rd century ~ 5th century Inscriptions on mirrors and swords, brought from China or Korea • Include Japanese personal and place name • Work of immigrant scholars from Korea

• 6th century, AD - importing Chinese culture = vocabulary (technology, governmental systems, Buddhism and especially Chinese writing system). Spoken – Japanese, Written – Chinese


• Japanese approximation of Chinese reading of the Chinese characters to write Japanese syllables - To write down place or person’s name - To write down syntactic element (e.g., honorifics, verb ending, particles)

“spring” meaning /haru/ Kun(訓)-reading (‘meaning’ reading)

Japanese words with Japanese sounds /shun/ On(音)-reading (‘sound’ reading) Approx. of Chinese pronunciation

Kun-reading, On-reading
• Kun(訓)-reading
– Shō-kun(正訓)-- Japanese pronunciation with Chinese meaning 月/tsuki/ ‘moon’ – Shaku-kun (借訓)-- Japnaese pronunciation with no meaning 見鶴鴨 /mi tsuru kamo/

• On(音)-reading
– Shō-on(正音) – Approx. of Chinese pronunciation with original meaning 餓鬼 ‘hungry ghost’ – Shaku-on (借音)– Approx. of Chinese pronunciation with no meaning 於保吉民 /ohokimi/ (honorific term)

e.g., 岐美<君>/きみ/ 伊奴 似奴 <犬>/いぬ/

いぬ イヌ
Manyō gana : Japanese approximation of Chinese reading of the Chinese characters to write Japanese syllables • To write down a place or person’s name • To write down syntactic elements (e.g., honorifics, verb ending, particles)

Imagine how to write a English sentence using Chinese characters…. “I came home” 愛 克 己 母 家 /mu/ /home/ /ai/



Development of Hiragana
Kokinshu (905) Manyō gana ↓ cursive writing ↓ hiragana

乃 の

(women’s hand: on’na-de)
Mainly used by women who needed to write diary, poems, and letters.

Development of Hiragana
安→あ 加→か 左→さ 太→た 奈→な 波→は 未→ま 也→や 良→ら 和→わ 以→い 幾→き 之→し 知→ち 仁→に 比→ひ 美→み 利→り 為→ゐ 宇→う 久→く 寸→す 川→つ 奴→ぬ 不→ふ 武→む 由→ゆ 留→る 衣→え 計→け 世→せ 天→て 禰→ね 部→へ 女→め 礼→れ 恵→ゑ 於→お 己→こ 曾→そ 止→と 乃→の 保→ほ 毛→も 与→よ 呂→ろ 遠→を 无→ん

Developed by monks to read Buddhist script (Chinese) in Japanese.

Development of katakana



Okurigana: : grammatical particles added to the word stem. ス

kaeriten: marking how the text should be rearranged.

With the writing of the Heike Monogatari (Tales of the Heike) in the 12th century, the use of Chinese characters, kana phonetic script, and Japanese language structure had become completely intertwined.

Imperial Constitution (1889)

The Constitution of Japan (1947)

Problems with the writing system
• Kanji (which is morphographic – i.e, represents idea/meaning) is forced to represent Japanese sounds. • Chinese=mostly monosyllabic (1 word=1 morpheme = 1 symbol) • Japanese=multisyllabic with regular CV syllable structure. Complex inflectional morphology (lots of endings)

Why can one kanji have many...
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