written Japanese
   HOME

TheInfoList



The modern Japanese writing system uses a combination of
logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
kanji are a set of from which forms a major part of the alongside with syllabic scripts ' and '. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese characters literally means " characters". It is written with the same characters as in to refer to the ...

kanji
, which are adopted
Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...

Chinese character
s, and
syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables *Abugida, writing system us ...
kana The term may refer to a number of syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...

kana
. Kana itself consists of a pair of
syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
:
hiragana is a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

hiragana
, used primarily for native or naturalised Japanese words and grammatical elements; and
katakana is a Japanese , one component of the along with , and in some cases the (known as ). The word ''katakana'' means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hi ...
, used primarily for foreign words and names,
loanwords A loanword (also loan word or loan-word) is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguis ...
,
onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia (also onomatopeia in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

onomatopoeia
, scientific names, and sometimes for emphasis. Almost all written Japanese sentences contain a mixture of kanji and kana. Because of this mixture of scripts, in addition to a large inventory of kanji characters, the Japanese writing system is considered to be one of the most complicated in current use. Several thousand kanji characters are in regular use, which mostly originate from traditional Chinese characters. Others made in
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and in the south. Japan is a part of the , and spans of coveri ...

Japan
are referred to as “Japanese kanji” ( ja, 和製漢字, wasei kanji, label=none; also known as “country’s kanji” ja, 国字, kokuji, label=none). Each has an intrinsic meaning (or range of meanings), and most have more than one pronunciation, the choice of which depends on context. Japanese primary and secondary school students are required to learn 2,136
jōyō kanji The is the guide to kanji are a set of from which forms a major part of the alongside with syllabic scripts ' and '. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese characters literally means " characters". It is written with the same cha ...
as of 2010. The total number of kanji is well over 50,000, though few if any native speakers know anywhere near this number. In modern Japanese, the hiragana and katakana syllabaries each contain 46 basic characters, or 71 including
diacritics A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that a ...
. With one or two minor exceptions, each different sound in the Japanese language (that is, each different syllable, strictly each
mora Mora may refer to: Places * Doctor Mora, city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato * Mora (Cordillera), Bolivia * Mora, Cameroon, a town * Mora (canton), Costa Rica * Mora, Cyprus, a village * Mora, Maharashtra, India, a port near Mumbai * Mora, Port ...
) corresponds to one character in each syllabary. Unlike kanji, these characters intrinsically represent sounds only; they convey meaning only as part of words. Hiragana and katakana characters also originally derive from Chinese characters, but they have been simplified and modified to such an extent that their origins are no longer visually obvious. Texts without kanji are rare; most are either children's books—since children tend to know few kanji at an early age—or early electronics such as computers, phones, and video games, which could not display complex
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...

grapheme
s like kanji due to both graphical and computational limitations. To a lesser extent, modern written Japanese also uses initialisms from the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
, for example in terms such as "BC/AD", "a.m./p.m.", "FBI", and "CD".
Romanized Japanese Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics, is the conversion of writing from a different writing system to the Latin script, Roman (Latin) script, or a system for doing so. Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing writ ...
is most frequently used by foreign students of Japanese who have not yet mastered kana, and by native speakers for computer input.


Use of scripts


Kanji

are used to write most
content wordContent words, in linguistics, are words that possess semantic content and contribute to the meaning of the sentence in which they occur. In a traditional approach, nouns were said to name objects and other entities, lexical verb, lexical verbs to in ...
s of native Japanese or (historically) Chinese origin, which include the following: *Most
noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...

noun
s, such as 川 (''kawa'', "river") and 学校 (''gakkō'', "school") *The stems of most
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s and
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s, such as 見 in 見る (''miru'', "see") and 白 in 白い (''shiroi'', "white") *The stems of many
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), ...

adverb
s, such as 速 in 速く (''haya-ku'', "quickly") and 上手 as in 上手に (''jozu-ni'', "masterfully") *Most Japanese personal names and place names, such as 田中 (''Tanaka'') and 東京 (''Tokyo''). (Certain names may be written in Hiragana or Katakana, or some combination of these, plus Kanji.) Some Japanese words are written with different Kanji depending on the specific usage of the word—for instance, the word ''na-osu'' (to fix, or to cure) is written when it refers to curing a person, and when it refers to fixing an object. Most Kanji have more than one possible pronunciation (or "reading"), and some common Kanji have many. These are broadly divided into ''on'yomi'', which are readings that approximate to a Chinese pronunciation of the character at the time it was adopted into Japanese, and ''kun'yomi'', which are pronunciations of native Japanese words that correspond to the meaning of the kanji character. However, some kanji terms have pronunciations that correspond to neither the ''on'yomi'' nor the ''kun'yomi'' readings of the individual kanji within the term, such as 明日 (''ashita'', "tomorrow") and 大人 (''otona'', "adult"). Unusual or nonstandard Kanji readings may be glossed using
furigana is a Japanese language, Japanese reading aid, consisting of smaller kana or syllabic characters, printed next to kanji (Ideogram, ideographic characters) or other characters to indicate their pronunciation. It is one type of ruby character, ruby ...
. Kanji compounds are sometimes given arbitrary readings for stylistic purposes. For example, in
Natsume Sōseki , born , was a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

Natsume Sōseki
's short story '' The Fifth Night'', the author uses for ''tsunagatte'', the
gerund A gerund ( abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; for exam ...

gerund
ive ''-te'' form of the verb ''tsunagaru'' ("to connect"), which would usually be written as or . The word , meaning "connection", is normally pronounced ''setsuzoku''.


Hiragana

are used to write the following: *—
inflection In linguistic morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical obj ...
al endings for
adjective In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
s and
verb A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s—such as る in 見る (''miru'', "see") and い in 白い (''shiroi'', "white"), and respectively た and かった in their past tense inflections 見た (''mita'', "saw") and 白かった (''shirokatta'', "was white"). *various function words, including most grammatical particles, or
postpositions Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various semantic ...
()—small, usually common words that, for example, mark sentence topics, subjects and objects or have a purpose similar to English prepositions such as "in", "to", "from", "by" and "for". *miscellaneous other words of various grammatical types that lack a Kanji rendition, or whose Kanji is obscure, difficult to typeset, or considered too difficult to understand (as in children's books). *—phonetic renderings of Kanji placed above or beside the Kanji character. Furigana may aid children or non-native speakers or clarify nonstandard, rare, or ambiguous readings, especially for words that use kanji not part of the
jōyō kanji The is the guide to kanji are a set of from which forms a major part of the alongside with syllabic scripts ' and '. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese characters literally means " characters". It is written with the same cha ...
list. There is also some flexibility for words with common kanji renditions to be instead written in Hiragana, depending on the individual author's preference (all Japanese words ''can'' be spelled out entirely in hiragana or katakana, even when they are normally written using kanji). Some words are colloquially written in hiragana and writing them in kanji might give them a more formal tone, while hiragana may impart a softer or more emotional feeling. For example, the Japanese word ''kawaii'', the Japanese equivalent of "cute", can be written entirely in hiragana as in かわいい, or as the kanji term 可愛い. Some lexical items that are normally written using kanji have become grammaticalized in certain contexts, where they are instead written in hiragana. For example, the root of the verb 見る (''miru'', "see") is normally written with the kanji 見. However, when used as a suffix meaning "try out", the whole verb is typically written in hiragana as みる, as in 食べてみる (''tabetemiru'', "try eating
t
t
and see").


Katakana

are used to write the following: *transliteration of foreign words and names, such as コンピュータ (''konpyūta'', "computer") and ロンドン (''Rondon'', "London"). However, some foreign borrowings that have become naturalized may be rendered in Hiragana, such as たばこ (''tabako'', "tobacco"), which comes from Portuguese. See also
Transcription into Japanese In contemporary Japanese writing, foreign-language loanwords and foreign names are normally written in the katakana is a Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle ...
. *commonly used names of animals and plants, such as トカゲ (''tokage'', "lizard"), ネコ (''neko'', "cat") and バラ (''bara'', "rose"), and certain other technical and scientific terms, such as mineral names *occasionally, the names of miscellaneous other objects whose kanji are rare, such as ローソク (''rōsoku'', "candle") *
onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia (also onomatopeia in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Cur ...

onomatopoeia
, such as ワンワン (''wan-wan'', "woof-woof"), and other
sound symbolism In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
*emphasis, much like italicisation in European languages. Katakana can also be used to impart the idea that words are spoken in a foreign or otherwise unusual accent; for example, the speech of a robot.


Romaji

The
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived ...

Latin alphabet
is used to write the following: *Latin-alphabet
acronym An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
s and
initialism An acronym is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many ...
s, such as
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Th ...
or
UFO An unidentified flying object (UFO) is any perceived aerial phenomenon that cannot be immediately identified or explained. On investigation, most UFOs are Identification studies of UFOs, identified as known objects or atmospheric phenomena, ...

UFO
*Japanese personal names, corporate brands, and other words intended for international use (for example, on business cards, in passports, etc.) *foreign names, words, and phrases, often in scholarly contexts *foreign words deliberately rendered to impart a foreign flavour, for instance, in commercial contexts *other Japanized words derived or originated from foreign languages, such as Jリーグ (''jei rīgu'', " J. League"), Tシャツ (''tī shatsu'', "
T-shirt '' A T-shirt, or tee shirt, is a style of fabric shirt Charvet shirt from the 1930s, Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo, Norway A shirt is a cloth garment for the upper body (from the neck to the waist). Originally an undergarment worn exclusively by m ...

T-shirt
") or B級グルメ (''bī-kyū gurume'', "B-rank gourmet heap and local cuisines)


Arabic numerals

Arabic numerals (as opposed to traditional kanji numerals) are commonly used to write numbers in Yokogaki and tategaki, horizontal text. See also Japanese numerals.


Hentaigana

, a set of archaic kana made obsolete by the Meiji reformation, are sometimes used to impart an archaic flavor, such as in items of foods (esp. soba).


Additional mechanisms

''Jukujikun'' refers to instances in which words are written using ''kanji'' that reflect the meaning of the word though the pronunciation of the word is entirely unrelated to the usual pronunciations of the constituent ''kanji''. Conversely, ''ateji'' refers to the employment of ''kanji'' that appear solely to represent the sound of the compound word but are, conceptually, utterly unrelated to the signification of the word. Such admitted oddities, in combination with the need for the aforementioned ''furigana'', a script component that annotates another script component for the assistance of the non-scholar, led the British linguist and diplomat Sir George Sansom to write:
One hesitates for an epithet to describe a system of writing which is so complex that it needs the aid of another system to explain it. There is no doubt that it provides for some a fascinating field of study, but as a practical instrument it is surely without inferiors.


Examples

Here is an example of a sentence that uses all three Japanese scripts (kanji (red), hiragana (blue), katakana (green)), as well as the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals (black): The same headline, transliterated to the Latin alphabet (''romaji''): The same headline, translated to English: Below are further examples of words written in Japanese, all of which are viable ways of writing the sample words. Although rare, there are some words that use all three scripts in the same word. An example of this is the term くノ一 (Romanized Japanese, ''Rōmaji'': ''kunoichi''), which uses a hiragana, a katakana, and a kanji character, in that order. It is said that if all three characters are put in the same kanji "square", they all combine to create the kanji 女 (woman/female). Another example is 消しゴム (Rōmaji: ''keshigomu'') which means "eraser", and uses a kanji, a hiragana, and two katakana characters, in that order.


Statistics

A statistical analysis of a corpus of the Japanese newspaper ''Asahi Shimbun'' from the year 1993 (around 56.6 million tokens) revealed:


Collation

kana#Collation, Collation (word ordering) in Japanese is based on the kana, which express the pronunciation of the words, rather than the kanji. The kana may be ordered using two common orderings, the prevalent ''gojūon'' (fifty-sound) ordering, or the old-fashioned ''iroha'' ordering. Japanese dictionaries, Kanji dictionaries are usually collated using the Radical (Chinese character), radical system, though other systems, such as SKIP (Kanji indexing), SKIP, also exist.


Direction of writing

Traditionally, Japanese is written in a format called , which was inherited from traditional Chinese practice. In this format, the characters are written in columns going from top to bottom, with columns ordered from right to left. After reaching the bottom of each column, the reader continues at the top of the column to the left of the current one. Modern Japanese also uses another writing format, called . This writing format is horizontal and reads from left to right, as in English. A book printed in tategaki opens with the spine of the book to the right, while a book printed in yokogaki opens with the spine to the left.


Spacing and punctuation

Japanese is normally written without spaces between words, and text is allowed to wrap from one line to the next without regard for word boundaries. This convention was originally modelled on Chinese writing, where spacing is superfluous because each character is essentially a word in itself (albeit compounds are common). However, in kana and mixed kana/kanji text, readers of Japanese must work out where word divisions lie based on an understanding of what makes sense. For example, must be mentally divided as (''Anata wa okaasan ni sokkuri ne'', "You're just like your mother"). In romaji, it may sometimes be ambiguous whether an item should be transliterated as two words or one. For example, 愛する, "to love", composed of 愛 (''ai'', "love") and する (''suru'', "to do", here a verb-forming suffix), is variously transliterated as ''aisuru'' or . Words in potentially unfamiliar foreign compounds, normally transliterated in katakana, may be separated by a punctuation mark called a ''interpunct#Japanese, nakaguro'' (中黒, "middle dot") to aid Japanese readers. For example, ビル・ゲイツ (Bill Gates). This punctuation is also occasionally used to separate native Japanese words, especially in concatenations of kanji characters where there might otherwise be confusion or ambiguity about interpretation, and especially for the full names of people. The Japanese full stop (。) and comma (、) are used for similar purposes to their English equivalents, though comma usage can be more fluid than is the case in English. The question mark (?) is not used in traditional or formal Japanese, but it may be used in informal writing, or in transcriptions of dialogue where it might not otherwise be clear that a statement was intoned as a question. The exclamation mark (!) is restricted to informal writing. Colons and semicolons are available but are not common in ordinary text. Quotation marks are written as 「 ... 」, and nested quotation marks as 『 ... 』. Several bracket styles and dashes are available.


History of the Japanese script


Importation of kanji

Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and in the south. Japan is a part of the , and spans of coveri ...

Japan
's first encounters with Chinese characters may have come as early as the 1st century AD with the King of Na gold seal, said to have been given by Emperor Guangwu of Han in AD 57 to a Japanese emissary.Miyake (2003:8). However, it is unlikely that the Japanese became literate in Chinese writing any earlier than the 4th century AD. Initially
Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it ...

Chinese character
s were not used for writing Japanese, as literacy meant fluency in Classical Chinese, not the vernacular. Eventually a system called developed, which, along with
kanji are a set of from which forms a major part of the alongside with syllabic scripts ' and '. The Japanese term ''kanji'' for the Chinese characters literally means " characters". It is written with the same characters as in to refer to the ...

kanji
and something very similar to Chinese grammar, employed diacritics to hint at the Japanese translation. The earliest written history of Japan, the , compiled sometime before 712, was written in kanbun. Even today Japanese high schools and some junior high schools teach kanbun as part of the curriculum.


The development of man'yōgana

No full-fledged script for written Japanese existed until the development of , which appropriated kanji for their phonetic value (derived from their Chinese readings) rather than their semantic value. Man'yōgana was initially used to record poetry, as in the , compiled sometime before 759, whence the writing system derives its name. Some scholars claim that man'yōgana originated from Baekje, but this hypothesis is denied by mainstream Japanese scholars. The modern
kana The term may refer to a number of syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...

kana
, namely
hiragana is a Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

hiragana
and
katakana is a Japanese , one component of the along with , and in some cases the (known as ). The word ''katakana'' means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hi ...
, are simplifications and systemizations of man'yōgana. Due to the large number of words and concepts entering
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in the north toward the and in the south. Japan is a part of the , and spans of coveri ...

Japan
from China which had no native equivalent, many words entered Japanese directly, with a pronunciation similar to the original Chinese language, Chinese. This Chinese-derived reading is known as , and this vocabulary as a whole is referred to as Sino-Japanese vocabulary, Sino-Japanese in English and in Japanese. At the same time, native Japanese already had words corresponding to many borrowed kanji. Authors increasingly used kanji to represent these words. This Japanese-derived reading is known as . A kanji may have none, one, or several on'yomi and kun'yomi. Okurigana are written after the initial kanji for verbs and adjectives to give inflection and to help disambiguate a particular kanji's reading. The same character may be read several different ways depending on the word. For example, the character is read ''i'' as the first syllable of , ''okona'' as the first three syllables of , ''gyō'' in the compound word , ''kō'' in the word , and ''an'' in the word . Some Linguistics, linguists have compared the Japanese borrowing of Chinese-derived vocabulary as akin to the influx of Romance vocabulary into English during the Norman conquest of England. Like English, Japanese has many synonyms of differing origin, with words from both Chinese and native Japanese. Sino-Japanese is often considered more formal or literary, just as latinate words in English often mark a higher Register (sociolinguistics), register.


Script reforms


Meiji period

The significant reforms of the 19th century Meiji era did not initially impact the Japanese writing system. However, the language itself was changing due to the increase in literacy resulting from education reforms, the massive influx of words (both borrowed from other languages or newly coined), and the ultimate success of movements such as the influential which resulted in Japanese being written in the colloquial form of the language instead of the wide range of historical and classical styles used previously. The difficulty of written Japanese was a topic of debate, with several proposals in the late 19th century that the number of kanji in use be limited. In addition, exposure to non-Japanese texts led to unsuccessful proposals that Japanese be written entirely in kana or rōmaji. This period saw Western-style punctuation marks introduced into Japanese writing. In 1900, the Education Ministry introduced three reforms aimed at improving the education in Japanese writing: * standardization of hiragana, eliminating the range of hentaigana then in use; * restriction of the number of kanji taught in elementary schools to about 1,200; * reform of the irregular kana representation of the Sino-Japanese readings of kanji to make them conform with the pronunciation. The first two of these were generally accepted, but the third was hotly contested, particularly by Linguistic conservatism, conservatives, to the extent that it was withdrawn in 1908.


Pre–World War II

The partial failure of the 1900 reforms combined with the rise of nationalism in Japan effectively prevented further significant reform of the writing system. The period before World War II saw numerous proposals to restrict the number of kanji in use, and several newspapers voluntarily restricted their kanji usage and increased usage of
furigana is a Japanese language, Japanese reading aid, consisting of smaller kana or syllabic characters, printed next to kanji (Ideogram, ideographic characters) or other characters to indicate their pronunciation. It is one type of ruby character, ruby ...
; however, there was no official endorsement of these, and indeed much opposition. However, one successful reform was the standardization of hiragana, which involved reducing the possibilities of writing down Japanese morae down to only one hiragana character per morae, which led to labeling all the other previously used hiragana as hentaigana and discarding them in daily use.


Post–World War II

The period immediately following World War II saw a rapid and significant reform of the writing system. This was in part due to influence of the Occupation authorities, but to a significant extent was due to the removal of traditionalists from control of the educational system, which meant that previously stalled revisions could proceed. The major reforms were: *—alignment of kana usage with modern pronunciation, replacing the old historical kana usage (1946); *promulgation of various restricted sets of kanji: ** (1946), a collection of 1850 characters for use in schools, textbooks, etc.; **kanji to be used in schools (1949); **an additional collection of , which, supplementing the ''tōyō kanji'', could be used in personal names (1951); *simplifications of various complex kanji letter-forms . At one stage, an advisor in the Occupation administration proposed a wholesale conversion to rōmaji; however, it was not endorsed by other specialists and did not proceed. In addition, the practice of writing yokogaki and tategaki, horizontally in a right-to-left direction was generally replaced by left-to-right writing. The right-to-left order was considered a special case of vertical writing, with columns one character high, rather than horizontal writing per se; it was used for single lines of text on signs, etc. (e.g., the station sign at Tokyo reads ). The post-war reforms have mostly survived, although some of the restrictions have been relaxed. The replacement of the ''tōyō kanji'' in 1981 with the 1,945 —a modification of the ''tōyō kanji''—was accompanied by a change from "restriction" to "recommendation", and in general the educational authorities have become less active in further script reform.Gottlieb, 1996 In 2004, the , maintained by the Ministry of Justice for use in personal names, was significantly enlarged. The ''jōyō kanji'' list was extended to 2,136 characters in 2010.


Romanization

There are a number of methods of rendering Japanese in Roman letters. The Hepburn romanization, Hepburn method of romanization, designed for English speakers, is a de facto standard widely used inside and outside Japan. The ''Kunrei-shiki'' system has a better correspondence with kana, which makes it easier for native speakers to learn. It is officially endorsed by the Ministry of Education and often used by non-native speakers who are learning Japanese as a second language. Other systems of romanization include ''Nihon-shiki'', JSL romanization, JSL, and ''Wāpuro rōmaji''.


Lettering styles

*Japanese calligraphy, Shodō *Edomoji *Ming (typeface), Minchō *East Asian sans-serif typeface


Variant writing systems

*Gyaru-moji *Hentaigana *Man'yōgana


See also

*Genkō yōshi (graph paper for writing Japanese) *Iteration mark (Japanese duplication marks) *Japanese typographic symbols (non-kana, non-kanji symbols) *Japanese braille *Japanese language and computers *Japanese manual syllabary *Chinese writing system *Okinawan writing system *Kaidā glyphs (Yonaguni) * *Siddhaṃ script (Indic alphabet used for Buddhist scriptures)


References


Sources

* * * * * * *


External links


The Modern Japanese Writing System
an excerpt from ''Literacy and Script Reform in Occupation Japan'', by J. Marshall Unger.
''The 20th Century Japanese Writing System: Reform and Change'' by Christopher Seeley

''Japanese Hiragana Conversion API'' by NTT Resonant

''Japanese Morphological Analysis API'' by NTT Resonant
{{DEFAULTSORT:Japanese Writing System Japanese writing system, Writing systems without word boundaries