The Japanese alphabet – Part 2

The first post on the Japanese alphabet introduced some basics of writing. Now, in this second part, we will learn some details.

Modified Hiragana and katakana

The Japanese has three diacritical symbols that change the hiragana or the katakana. The most common among them is the dakuten or ten-ten, that consist in two small lines placed at the top right of the kana, it is similar to the quotes of the Roman alphabet (゛).

Image from: http://www.kanjipower.com/jws/image/hiragana2.gif

The handakuten or maru is similar to our degree symbol (゜). It modifies only the kanas “ha”, “hi”, “hu”, “he” and “ho”.

Image from: http://www.kanjipower.com/jws/image/hiragana3.gif

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The Japanese alphabet – Part 1

The Japanese alphabet has, in fact, three different types of writing: the katakana, the hiragana and the kanji.

The hiragana consists of 46 syllables and is used on a daily basis to replace the words that are not commonly written with kanji. However, any Japanese word can be written using hiragana. Therefore, this is the first alphabet learned by children and is used in children’s books, since they know fewer kanjis. Hiragana is also used to write particles, endings of verbs and adjectives.

Hiragana table. Image from:http://www.comoaprenderjapones.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/alfabeto-japones-hiragana.jpg

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