Japanese Alphabets By LaShunda Bonner Zen

Japanese Alphabets
By LaShunda Bonner
Alphabet Soup
• Written Japanese
uses four separate
• The four are called
hiragana, romaji,
katakana, and Kanj,
and consist of fairly
simple characters
used to represent
Dake- only
• Accents do exist in the Japanese
language, however, to a lower extent than
in the Chinese language.
• In addition, there are many words that are
pronounced the same, but have different
What is Kanji?
• Chinese characters kanji were imported
from China over1,500 years ago and
develoved and changed in Japan.
• They are neither syllabic letters like the
kana nor a way of spelling words like the
• Each kanji has its own particular meaning.
• Oldest kanjis are pictographic characters
• The third alphabet, kanji, was
imported over the centuries
from China.
The pictograms are typically
more complex than kana
("kana" refers collectively to
hiragana and katakana) and,
have different readings and
meanings depending on how
they're combined with other
• It's not uncommon to see
a kanji with its reading
spelled out in very small
kana, written just above
• Kana used in this way, to
show you how to
pronounce a kanji, are
known as "furigana".
daigaku (university)
(lit.: "big learning")
with furigana (above)
The Reading of Kanji
• The same kanji can often be read in
different ways.
• For example, the kanji sei can be read as
sei when in "sensei" (teacher), or as u in
"umareta" (I was born), or nama in "nama
biiru" (draft beer).
• Kanji have two sorts of readings, or ways
of being pronounced:The "on" readings
and "kun" readings.
The "on" reading
• The "on" readings are based loosely on
the original Chinese pronunciation of the
kanji, and are typically used when a kanji
is part of a compound, written with at
least one other kanji to form a word.
• When the kanji is used as part of a
compound noun, an on-reading is
normally used.
The "kun" reading
• The "kun" reading is used when kanji are used
on their own, either as complete nouns in their
own right or as adjective and verb stems.
Kun-readings are used for adjective stems and
verb stems.
How it works
• The kanji is used for the root of the word with a
hiragana suffix. The hiragana changes as the
adjective declines but the kanji reading remains
the same.
The same kun-reading can also be used as the
stem of a verb. Kanji forms the stem of the verb
with a hiragana suffix hiragana changes as the
verb conjugates but the kanji stays the same.
History Chart
The moral of the story
• Chinese is a completely different
• The pronunciation and grammar are
completely different.
• And Japanese people cannot understand
or speak Chinese unless they have studied