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What Is Kana?

2 minute read · Mon 27 September

What Is Kana?

In Japanese, there are four different writing systems: hiragana, katakana, kanji, and romaji. Hiragana is used for Japanese original words, and this is what Japanese people learn first. Secondly, they learn katakana which has the same sounds, but different characters for foreign objects and ideas including your own name if you don’t have a Japanese name. Kanji is the words brought by the Chinese writing system, but not all of the kanji look the same as the Chinese words. Japanese people use those three in writing on a daily basis, so you need to know all of them in order to understand the written Japanese. Romaji is used to write the sounds of Japanese in the Roman alphabet, for example, to write Japanese names in foreign documents or to aid learners of Japanese to be able to read and say the words in Japanese.Kana are the two Japanese alphabet scripts which carry sounds. Hiragana is typically used for most Japanese words and Katakana for loan words.The first section of the Reference chart contains ‘Monographs’ or single kana.The second section displays the dots and circle attached to certain characters formally known as ‘Diacritics’ with either dakuten ゙ or handakuten ゚. These marks change the sound of the associated kana.With the smaller や, ゆ and よ or ‘Digraphs’ you attach the ya, yu or yo sounds to certain kana to make new compound sounds.The final section in the chart is Katakana only characters. Those characters and sounds are used for specific loan words, but are very rarely used in day-to-day Japanese.

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