Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hiragana and Katakana

Today I reviewed some hiragana and katakana since these are the 'alphabets' of Japanese. Even though both of these writing systems are essentially the same, same meaning that they both equate to the same sound, they're different. To put it simply, hiragana characters are for Japanese oriented words, whereas katakana characters are for foreign words.

Example:

こんにちは
konnichiwa
Hello

アメリカ
Amerika
America


In the example above, the word 'hello' is written in hiragana, while 'America' is written in katakana. It's pretty obvious that America would be a foreign word since America is a foreign country to Japan. There are plenty of other words that the Japanese have adopted into their language, not just from the English language, but from plenty of others too.

Here is a chart of all the hiragana and katakana (which conveniently also includes the stroke order; click on the chart for a bigger image):



There are forty-six basic characters in each of these writing systems, so ninety-two characters total. There are the additional characters (the ones identified with the creme background in the above chart) which use some of the basic characters and attaches apostrophes or a circle to the upper right hand corner of the character to make a new sound, but learning those formations are pretty simple since they follow the same set of rules when pronouncing.

The main way I easily distinguish the two is that I find hiragana characters more soft and bubbly, while katakana ones are more harsh and pointy. Also, keep in mind that there is another type of writing in Japanese! It's known as the dreadful kanji which I will get to later on this month!