Kana

Last updated
Kana
Type
Languages Japanese, Okinawan, Ainu, Palauan [1]
Time period
c. 800 CE to the present
Parent systems
DirectionVaries
ISO 15924 Hrkt, 412
Unicode alias
Katakana or Hiragana
U+30A0 – U+30FF

Kana( 仮名 , Japanese pronunciation:  [kana] ) are the three syllabic that form parts of the Japanese writing system, contrasted with the logographic Chinese characters known in Japan as kanji (漢字): modern cursive hiragana (ひらがな); [2] modern angular katakana (カタカナ); and the ancient syllabic use of kanji known as man'yōgana (万葉仮名), which was ancestral to both hiragana and katakana. Hentaigana (変体仮名, "variant kana") are historical variants of modern standard hiragana. In modern Japanese, hiragana and katakana have directly corresponding sets of characters representing the same series of sounds.

Contents

Katakana, with a few additions, are also used to write Ainu.

Taiwanese kana were used in Taiwanese Hokkien as glosses ( furigana ) for Chinese characters in Taiwan under Japanese rule.

Each kana character (syllabogram) corresponds to one sound in the Japanese language. Apart from the five vowels, this is always CV (consonant onset with vowel nucleus), such as ka, ki, etc., or V (vowel), such as a, i, etc., with the sole exception of the C grapheme for nasal codas usually romanised as n. This structure has led some scholars to label the system moraic instead of syllabic, because it requires the combination of two syllabograms to represent a CVC syllable with coda (i.e. CVn, CVm, CVng), a CVV syllable with complex nucleus (i.e. multiple or expressively long vowels), or a CCV syllable with complex onset (i.e. including a glide, CyV, CwV).

Due to the limited number of phonemes in Japanese, as well as the relatively rigid syllable structure, the kana system is a very accurate representation of spoken Japanese.

Hiragana and katakana

The following table reads, in gojūon order, as a, i, u, e, o (down first column), then ka, ki, ku, ke, ko (down second column), and so on. n appears on its own at the end. Asterisks mark unused combinations.

Japanese kana: hiragana (left) and katakana (right)
(Image of this table)
kstnhmyrw
a
i
u
e
o
 
 

(n)

Diacritics

Syllables beginning with the voiced consonants [g], [z], [d] and [b] are spelled with kana from the corresponding unvoiced columns (k, s, t and h) and the voicing mark, dakuten . Syllables beginning with [p] are spelled with kana from the h column and the half-voicing mark, handakuten .

Dakuten diacritic marks, hiragana (left) and katakana (right)
gzdbpng
a か゚ カ゚
i き゚ キ゚
u く゚ ク゚
e け゚ ケ゚
o こ゚ コ゚

Digraphs

Syllables beginning with palatalized consonants are spelled with one of the seven consonantal kana from the i row followed by small ya, yu or yo. These digraphs are called yōon.

Yōon digraphs, hiragana
kstnhmr
yaきゃしゃちゃにゃひゃみゃりゃ
yuきゅしゅちゅにゅひゅみゅりゅ
yoきょしょちょにょひょみょりょ
Yōon digraphs, hiragana
gjbpng
yaぎゃじゃびゃぴゃき゚ゃ
yuぎゅじゅびゅぴゅき゚ゅ
yoぎょじょびょぴょき゚ょ

Modern usage

The difference in usage between hiragana and katakana is stylistic. Usually, hiragana is the default syllabary, and katakana is used in certain special cases.

Hiragana is used to write native Japanese words with no kanji representation (or whose kanji is thought obscure or difficult), as well as grammatical elements such as particles and inflections (okurigana).

Today katakana is most commonly used to write words of foreign origin that do not have kanji representations, as well as foreign personal and place names. Katakana is also used to represent onomatopoeia and interjections, emphasis, technical and scientific terms, transcriptions of the Sino-Japanese readings of kanji, and some corporate branding.

Kana can be written in small form above or next to lesser-known kanji in order to show pronunciation; this is called furigana. Furigana is used most widely in children's or learners' books. Literature for young children who do not yet know kanji may dispense with it altogether and instead use hiragana combined with spaces.

History

Development of hiragana and katakana FlowRoot3824.svg
Development of hiragana and katakana

The first kana was a system called man'yōgana, a set of kanji used solely for their phonetic values, much as Chinese uses characters for their phonetic values in foreign loanwords (especially proper nouns) today. Man'yōshū , a poetry anthology assembled in 759, is written in this early script. Hiragana developed as a distinct script from cursive man'yōgana, whereas katakana developed from abbreviated parts of regular script man'yōgana as a glossing system to add readings or explanations to Buddhist sutras.

Kana is traditionally said to have been invented by the Buddhist priest Kūkai in the ninth century. Kūkai certainly brought the Siddhaṃ script of India home on his return from China in 806; his interest in the sacred aspects of speech and writing led him to the conclusion that Japanese would be better represented by a phonetic alphabet than by the kanji which had been used up to that point. The modern arrangement of kana reflects that of Siddhaṃ, but the traditional iroha arrangement follows a poem which uses each kana once.

The present set of kana was codified in 1900, and rules for their usage in 1946. [12]

Identical man’yōgana roots of katakana and hiragana glyphs
aiueo=:≠
-==2:3
k====4:1
s===3:2
t===3:2
n=====5:0
h====4:1
m===3:2
y===3:0
r====4:1
w==2:2
n0:1
=:≠6:45:46:47:29:133:15

Collation

Kana are the basis for collation in Japanese. They are taken in the order given by the gojūon (あ い う え お ... わ を ん), though iroha (い ろ は に ほ へ と ... せ す (ん)) ordering is used for enumeration in some circumstances. Dictionaries differ in the sequence order for long/short vowel distinction, small tsu and diacritics. As Japanese does not use word spaces (except as a tool for children), there can be no word-by-word collation; all collation is kana-by-kana.

In Unicode

The hiragana range in Unicode is U+3040 ... U+309F, and the katakana range is U+30A0 ... U+30FF. The obsolete and rare characters (wi and we) also have their proper code points.

Hiragana [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+304x
U+305x
U+306x
U+307x
U+308x
U+309x
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points
Katakana [1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+30Ax
U+30Bx
U+30Cx
U+30Dx
U+30Ex
U+30Fx
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0

Characters U+3095 and U+3096 are hiragana small ka and small ke, respectively. U+30F5 and U+30F6 are their katakana equivalents. Characters U+3099 and U+309A are combining dakuten and handakuten, which correspond to the spacing characters U+309B and U+309C. U+309D is the hiragana iteration mark, used to repeat a previous hiragana. U+309E is the voiced hiragana iteration mark, which stands in for the previous hiragana but with the consonant voiced (k becomes g, h becomes b, etc.). U+30FD and U+30FE are the katakana iteration marks. U+309F is a ligature of yori (より) sometimes used in vertical writing. U+30FF is a ligature of koto (コト), also found in vertical writing.

Additionally, there are halfwidth equivalents to the standard fullwidth katakana. These are encoded within the Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms block (U+FF00–U+FFEF), starting at U+FF65 and ending at U+FF9F (characters U+FF61–U+FF64 are halfwidth punctuation marks):

Katakana subset of Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms [1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
...(U+FF00U+FF64 omitted)
U+FF6x
U+FF7xソ
U+FF8x
U+FF9x
...(U+FFA0U+FFEF omitted)
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0

There is also a small "Katakana Phonetic Extensions" range (U+31F0 ... U+31FF), which includes some additional small kana characters for writing the Ainu language. Further small kana characters are present in the "Small Kana Extension" block.

Katakana Phonetic Extensions [1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+31Fx
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0
Small Kana Extension [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+1B13x
U+1B14x
U+1B15x𛅐𛅑𛅒
U+1B16x𛅤𛅥𛅦𛅧
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

Unicode also includes "Katakana letter archaic E" (U+1B000), as well as 255 archaic Hiragana, in the Kana Supplement block. [13] It also includes a further 31 archaic Hiragana in the Kana Extended-A block. [14]

Kana Supplement [1]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+1B00x𛀀𛀁𛀂𛀃𛀄𛀅𛀆𛀇𛀈𛀉𛀊𛀋𛀌𛀍𛀎𛀏
U+1B01x𛀐𛀑𛀒𛀓𛀔𛀕𛀖𛀗𛀘𛀙𛀚𛀛𛀜𛀝𛀞𛀟
U+1B02x𛀠𛀡𛀢𛀣𛀤𛀥𛀦𛀧𛀨𛀩𛀪𛀫𛀬𛀭𛀮𛀯
U+1B03x𛀰𛀱𛀲𛀳𛀴𛀵𛀶𛀷𛀸𛀹𛀺𛀻𛀼𛀽𛀾𛀿
U+1B04x𛁀𛁁𛁂𛁃𛁄𛁅𛁆𛁇𛁈𛁉𛁊𛁋𛁌𛁍𛁎𛁏
U+1B05x𛁐𛁑𛁒𛁓𛁔𛁕𛁖𛁗𛁘𛁙𛁚𛁛𛁜𛁝𛁞𛁟
U+1B06x𛁠𛁡𛁢𛁣𛁤𛁥𛁦𛁧𛁨𛁩𛁪𛁫𛁬𛁭𛁮𛁯
U+1B07x𛁰𛁱𛁲𛁳𛁴𛁵𛁶𛁷𛁸𛁹𛁺𛁻𛁼𛁽𛁾𛁿
U+1B08x𛂀𛂁𛂂𛂃𛂄𛂅𛂆𛂇𛂈𛂉𛂊𛂋𛂌𛂍𛂎𛂏
U+1B09x𛂐𛂑𛂒𛂓𛂔𛂕𛂖𛂗𛂘𛂙𛂚𛂛𛂜𛂝𛂞𛂟
U+1B0Ax𛂠𛂡𛂢𛂣𛂤𛂥𛂦𛂧𛂨𛂩𛂪𛂫𛂬𛂭𛂮𛂯
U+1B0Bx𛂰𛂱𛂲𛂳𛂴𛂵𛂶𛂷𛂸𛂹𛂺𛂻𛂼𛂽𛂾𛂿
U+1B0Cx𛃀𛃁𛃂𛃃𛃄𛃅𛃆𛃇𛃈𛃉𛃊𛃋𛃌𛃍𛃎𛃏
U+1B0Dx𛃐𛃑𛃒𛃓𛃔𛃕𛃖𛃗𛃘𛃙𛃚𛃛𛃜𛃝𛃞𛃟
U+1B0Ex𛃠𛃡𛃢𛃣𛃤𛃥𛃦𛃧𛃨𛃩𛃪𛃫𛃬𛃭𛃮𛃯
U+1B0Fx𛃰𛃱𛃲𛃳𛃴𛃵𛃶𛃷𛃸𛃹𛃺𛃻𛃼𛃽𛃾𛃿
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0
Kana Extended-A [1] [2]
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
 0123456789ABCDEF
U+1B10x𛄀𛄁𛄂𛄃𛄄𛄅𛄆𛄇𛄈𛄉𛄊𛄋𛄌𛄍𛄎𛄏
U+1B11x𛄐𛄑𛄒𛄓𛄔𛄕𛄖𛄗𛄘𛄙𛄚𛄛𛄜𛄝𛄞
U+1B12x
Notes
1. ^ As of Unicode version 12.0
2. ^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also

Related Research Articles

Hiragana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system, along with katakana, kanji, and in some cases rōmaji. It is a phonetic lettering system. The word hiragana literally means "ordinary" or "simple" kana.

Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script. The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable in the Japanese language is represented by one character or kana, in each system. Each kana represents either a vowel such as "a" ; a consonant followed by a vowel such as "ka" or "n", a nasal sonorant which, depending on the context, sounds either like English m, n or ng or like the nasal vowels of Portuguese.

Digraph (orthography) pair of characters used to write one phoneme

A digraph or digram is a pair of characters used in the orthography of a language to write either a single phoneme, or a sequence of phonemes that does not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined.

<i>Manyōgana</i> System of writing Japanese based solely on Chinese characters

Man'yōgana is an ancient writing system that employs Chinese characters to represent the Japanese language, and was the first known kana system to be developed as a means to represent the Japanese language phonetically. The date of the earliest usage of this type of kana is not clear, but it was in use since at least the mid-seventh century. The name "man'yōgana" derives from the Man'yōshū, a Japanese poetry anthology from the Nara period written with man'yōgana.

The historical kana orthography, or old orthography, refers to the kana orthography in general use until orthographic reforms after World War II; the current orthography was adopted by Cabinet order in 1946. By that point the historical orthography was no longer in accord with Japanese pronunciation. It differs from modern usage in the number of characters and the way those characters are used. There was considerable opposition to the official adoption of the current orthography, on the grounds that the historical orthography conveys meanings better, and some writers continued to use it for many years after.

In the Japanese writing system, hentaigana are obsolete or nonstandard hiragana. They include both stylistic variants of current hiragana and distinct alternative hiragana characters. Today, with a few exceptions, there is only one hiragana for each of the fifty consonant–vowel sequences (moras) in Japanese. However, traditionally there were generally several more-or-less interchangeable hiragana for each. A 1900 script reform ordained that only one selected character be used for each mora, with the rest deemed hentaigana. Although not normally used in publication, hentaigana are still used in shop signs and brand names to create a traditional or antiquated air.

The dakuten, colloquially ten-ten(点々, "dots"), is a diacritic sign most often used in the Japanese kana syllabaries to indicate that the consonant of a syllable should be pronounced voiced, for instance, on sounds that have undergone rendaku.

Japanese Braille braille script of the Japanese language

Japanese Braille is the braille script of the Japanese language. It is based on the original braille script, though the connection is tenuous. In Japanese it is known as tenji (点字), literally "dot characters". It transcribes Japanese more or less as it would be written in the hiragana or katakana syllabaries, without any provision for writing kanji.

, in hiragana, and , in katakana, are Japanese kana, both representing one mora. In the gojūon system of ordering of Japanese syllables, it occupies the 25th position, between ね (ne) and は (ha). It occupies the 26th position in the iroha ordering. Both represent the sound. It is highly similar in form to the Kangxi radical 丿, radical 4.

in hiragana or in katakana is one of the Japanese kana that each represent one mora. あ is based on the sōsho style of kanji 安, and ア is from the radical of kanji 阿. In the modern Japanese system of alphabetical order, it occupies the first position of the alphabet, before い. Additionally, it is the 36th letter in Iroha, after て, before さ. Its hiragana resembles the kana no combined with a cross. The Unicode for あ is U+3042, and the Unicode for ア is U+30A2.

in hiragana or in katakana is one of the Japanese kana each of which represents one mora. い is based on the sōsho style of the kanji character 以, and イ is from the radical of the kanji character 伊. In the modern Japanese system of alphabetical order, it occupies the second position of the alphabet, between あ and う. Additionally, it is the first letter in Iroha, before ろ. Both represent the sound. In the Ainu language, katakana イ is written as y in their Latin-based alphabet, and a small ィ after another katakana represents a diphthong.

In the Japanese language, the gojūon is a traditional system ordering kana by their component phonemes, roughly analogous to alphabetical order. The "fifty" (gojū) in its name refers to the 5×10 grid in which the characters are displayed. Each kana, which may be a hiragana or katakana character, corresponds to one sound in Japanese. As depicted at the right using hiragana characters, the sequence begins with あ (a), い (i), う (u), え (e), お (o), then continues with か (ka), き (ki), く (ku), け (ke), こ (ko), and so on and so forth for a total of ten rows of five columns.

The sokuon (促音) is a Japanese symbol in the form of a small hiragana or katakana tsu. In less formal language it is called chiisai tsu (小さいつ) or chiisana tsu (小さなつ), meaning "small tsu". It serves multiple purposes in Japanese writing.

Chōonpu

The chōonpu, also known as chōonkigō (長音記号), onbiki (音引き), bōbiki (棒引き), or Katakana-Hiragana Prolonged Sound Mark by the Unicode Consortium, is a Japanese symbol that indicates a chōon, or a long vowel of two morae in length. Its form is a horizontal or vertical line in the center of the text with the width of one kanji or kana character. It is written horizontally in horizontal text and vertically in vertical text. The chōonpu is usually used to indicate a long vowel sound in katakana writing, rarely in hiragana writing, and never in romanized Japanese. The chōonpu is a distinct mark from the dash, and in most Japanese typefaces it can easily be distinguished. In horizontal writing it is similar in appearance to, but should not be confused with, the kanji character 一 ("one").

in hiragana or in katakana is one of the Japanese kana, each of which represents one mora. In the modern Japanese system of alphabetical order, they occupy the third place in the modern Gojūon (五十音) system of collating kana. In the Iroha, they occupied the 24th position, between む and ゐ. In the Gojūon chart, う lies in the first column and the third row. Both represent the sound. In the Ainu language, the small katakana ゥ represents a diphthong, and is written as w in the Latin alphabet.

In Japanese writing, the kana (hiragana) and (katakana) occupy the fourth place, between う and お, in the modern Gojūon (五十音) system of collating kana. In the Iroha, they occupy the 34th, between こ and て. In the table at right, え lies in the first column and the fourth row. Both represent.

In Japanese writing, the kana (hiragana) and (katakana) occupy the fifth place, between え and か, in the modern Gojūon (五十音) system of collating kana. In the Iroha, they occupy the 27th, between の and く. In the table at right, お lies in the first column and the fifth row. Both represent.

, in hiragana, or in katakana, is a nearly obsolete Japanese kana, each of which represent one mora. It is presumed that ゐ represented [ɰi](listen) and that ゐ and い indicated different pronunciations until somewhere between the Kamakura period and the Taishō period when they both came to be pronounced. Along with the kana for we, this kana was deemed obsolete in Japanese in 1946, and replaced with い and イ. It is now rare in everyday usage; in onomatopoeia and foreign words, the katakana form ウィ (U-[small-i]) is preferred.

Okinawan scripts

Okinawan language, spoken in Okinawa Island, was once the official language of the Ryukyu Kingdom. At the time, documents were written in kanji and hiragana, derived from Japan.

In contemporary Japanese writing, foreign-language loanwords and foreign names are normally written in the katakana script, which is one component of the Japanese writing system. As far as possible, sounds in the source language are matched to the nearest sounds in the Japanese language, and the result is transcribed using standard katakana characters, each of which represents one syllable. For example, America is written アメリカ (A-me-ri-ka). To accommodate various foreign-language sounds not present in Japanese, a system of extended katakana has also developed to augment standard katakana.

References

  1. Thomas E. McAuley, Language change in East Asia, 2001:90
  2. Hatasa, Yukiko Abe; Kazumi Hatasa; Seiichi Makino (2010). Nakama 1: Introductory Japanese: Communication, Culture, Context 2nd ed. Heinle. p. 2. ISBN   0495798185.
  3. 1 2 Seeley, Christopher (1991). A History of Writing in Japan. pp. 109 (footnote 18). ISBN   90 04 09081 9.
  4. 1 2 3 "Is there a kana symbol for ye or yi?". SLJ FAQ. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 Katō, Nozomu (2008-01-14). "JTC1/SC2/WG2 N3388: Proposal to encode two Kana characters concerning YE" (PDF). Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  6. 1 2 "Kana Supplement" (PDF). Unicode 6.0. Unicode. 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  7. More information is available at ja:ヤ行エ on the Japanese Wikipedia.
  8. "Japanese Kana Chart from the Netherlands". www.raccoonbend.com.
  9. Katō, Nozomu. "L2/08-359: About WG2 N3528" (PDF).
  10. 1 2 "伊豆での収穫" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2008-03-03.
  11. More information is available at ja:わ行う, ja:ヤ行イ and ja:五十音#51全てが異なる字・音: 江戸後期から明治 on the Japanese Wikipedia.
  12. "Writing reforms in modern Japan".
  13. https://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1B000.pdf
  14. https://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U1B100.pdf