The 3 Writing Systems
Posted on May 4th 2009, 16:58 // 664 views // 17 comments

The Alphabets

Japanese consists of two alphabets (or kana) called hiragana and katakana, which are two versions of the same set of sounds in the language. Hiragana and katakana consist of a little less than 50 "letters", which are actually simplified Chinese characters adopted to form a phonetic alphabet.

Chinese characters, called kanji in Japanese, are also heavily used in the Japanese writing. Most of the words in the Japanese written language are written in kanji (nouns, verbs, adjectives). There exists over 40,000 kanji where about 2,000 represent over 95% of characters actually used in written text. There are no spaces in Japanese so kanji is necessary in distinguishing between separate words within a sentence. Kanji is also useful for discriminating between homophones, which occurs quite often given the limited number of distinct sounds in Japanese.

Hiragana is used mainly for grammatical purposes. We will see this as we learn about particles. Words with extremely difficult or rare kanji, colloquial expressions, and onomatopoeias are also written in hiragana. It's also often used for beginning Japanese students and children in place of kanji they don't know.

While katakana represents the same sounds as hiragana, it is mainly used to represent newer words imported from western countries (since there are no kanji associated with words based on the roman alphabet). The next three sections will cover hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

Intonation

As you will find out in the next section, every character in hiragana (and the katakana equivalent) corresponds to a [vowel] or [consonant + vowel] syllable sound with the single exception of the 「ん」 and 「ン」 character (more on this later). This system of letter for each syllable sound makes pronunciation absolutely clear with no ambiguities. However, the simplicity of this system does not mean that pronunciation in Japanese is simple. In fact, the rigid structure of the fixed syllable sound in Japanese creates the problem of intonation in place of the difficulties that exist in separate consonant and vowel alphabets such as the English alphabet.

Intonation of high and low pitches is a crucial aspect of the spoken language. For example, homophones can have different pitches of low and high resulting in a slightly differently sounding of the word even if it is written with the same sounds. The largest barrier to proper and natural sounding speech is incorrect intonation. Many students often speak without paying attention to the correct enunciation of pitches making speech sound unnatural (the classic foreigner's accent). It is not practical to memorize or attempt to logically create rules for pitches, especially since it can change depending on the context or the dialect. The only practical approach is to get the general sense of pitches by mimicking native Japanese speakers with careful listening and practice.

 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Tags: Tae Kim 
17 Comments
Add your own 17 Comments
may hninn soe
2010-08-19 10:40:57

I  woulid  like to pass  coming jlpt exam !

may hninn soe
2010-08-19 10:42:06

どうすれば いいでしょうか?

chito
2010-11-30 12:56:48

ganbarou

 

ccccc
2012-11-17 02:32:14

Many people have a mind-set on gucci bags outlet. What’s more, they also added enormous esteem and reputation around coach factory the world.Cheap Gucci Handbagssince the Luxury American artist brand, cheap gucci bags for sale opened the doors to its very first british standalone store at Westfield London. The exclusive bags can be found in 4 colors, we adore the grey one to make certain that people should need to marry with them.Cheap Gucci Shoeswomens gucci bags on sale provides the newest lifetime equivalent with considerable design and style. The item combines this transit color having puppy furs correctly. This lax-style bag having tender fabric and denim fabric can obviously put together on the great lifetime. So great it is!

Distinct appear and experience. Womens gucci bags on sale have wealthy designs, top quality coach bags outlet fabrics, plus they http://www.greatlouissvuittonbags.org make for an exceptional accessory no matter whether you employ AA every day or for special events.Cheap Gucci HandbagsSeveral of present day most common discount gucci bags factory include people that have beautiful herring bone patterns or diamond styles.Cheap Gucci ShoesYou will find some which are marketed in white or black colours. These coach bag outlet bags match any type of outfit and no additional considered has to be place into considering what outfits will colour coordinate using the bag selected.

Baggage, bracelets as well as other create-ons ?, an excellent dark coach handbag outlet red color along with mysterious atmosphere is rather attractive.Zhang Jing Davidson Jackson is critical in todays competitive style photography lovers, I louis vuitton handbags outlet just like his zoom lens, each genuine and beautiful ecosystem,whereby their progression,Discount Louis vuotton Handbags,regardless of character or perhaps landscape, have confirmed the particular impressive sensations and indescribable stage, particularly good at dealing with sunlight, they appears excellent and selling point of Indian,creator handbags low-priced coach outlet online For me that individuals who visited in Indian,Cheap Louis Vuitton Bags,a number of before sport. Haven't been so that you coach factory outlet can Indian, it could be with http://www.gotocoachsoutlets.net your pics, louis vuitton outlet An entire list of photographs the several traveled to Indian is often a trip report.

jayen
2012-11-20 02:52:11
northface
2012-11-28 08:35:23

.Every explorer has a North Face Jackets On Sale. Made from durable and soft cotton/fleece fabric, North Face Denali Sale provides a lightweight barrier without the weight or bulk of a traditional sweatshirt. Forward-rolled raglan sleeves help eliminate abrasion at your shoulders caused with pack carry. Contrast color body and sleeves (depending on color selection).  

coachss
2012-12-08 00:22:32

http://www.usacoachfactoryonline.com/ coach outlet onlinehttp://www.coachfactorystoreso.com/ coach factoryhttp://www.coachoutletusashopping.com/ coach outlethttp://www.coachfactoryoutletusa2013.com/ coach factory outlethttp://www.coachoutletcanadaa.com/ coach outlet onlinehttp://www.coachoutletonlinebagss.com/ coach outlet onlinehttp://www.coachoutletpurseso.com/ coach purses outlethttp://www.coachoutletstoreonline6u.com/ coach outlet storehttp://www.coachoutletonlinepurseso.com/ cheap coach purseshttp://www.coachfactorybagso.com/ coach factory onlinehttp://www.outlet3.com/ coach outlet online

sunshine
2012-12-11 05:39:20

Let's just be honest, holiday drama with http://www.coachfactoryusoutlet.net/ coach factory outlet and friends alike happens every season. Coach factory has laid down the official ruling: the "It" color for 2013 is http://www.coachpursessaleusa.com/ cheap coach purses.In case you thought you have not seen it all yet, Japanese brand Applebum presents an interesting new version of the classic strap-back cap. Generally, it is good idea to include tempo workouts, intervals, hill repeats, long aerobic workouts and, of course, skiing powder into the mix. The holidays is a great time to get together with the family and take a cute family photo to share on Facebook or Twitter with your friends.coach outlet store online is another very useful site, put together by a member of the Canadian National team that has things like coach shoes weight comparisons, trip reports and a schedule of all things racing north of the coach purses outlet. Constructed of a poly-cotton blend, this piece coach crossbody bags red adjustable drawstrings and reflective cross as seen throughout the eponymous label's runway showing this past summer. The motion for ascending is very similar to running, so similar in fact that in Europe it is commonly referred to as coach outlet running.We also think coach bags outlet looks like a cozy, cute, and well-made piece of winter coach factory shoes. But rest assured that you will be just as cozy and probably much more comfortable. Give your child a stuffed toy that is not only lovable but also teaches him to clear his clutter after play time is over.The support is as equally well represented on the ladies side with the likes Mirea Miro, Laetitia Roux, and Maude Mathys, the top three ranked females in the world are also top level coach outlet store online runners.

bendan
2012-12-13 03:22:46

Each of the blog advice took a different approach - Amanda kept her look understated, with minimal jewels, bare legs, and classic heels, and The result is a comfortable and nice looking wing tip shoe that can be worn for diverse occasions.A brightly coloured iPad sleeve is the modern equivalent of a jaunty tie.Coach factory online continues spring ads.So it's no surprise he's not in the best mood these days - as one coach outlet just discovered. See, this is the perfect weekend bag for any dude on the run.Choose among the many cheap coach purses -- and enjoy the guaranteed lowest prices online when you buy wines from coachfactory.com.

http://www.becoachfactory.com/ coach factory

http://www.coachoutletwebsonline.com/

coach outlet online

http://www.pradaoutletstoreit.com/

prada outlet

http://www.coachpursefactoryoutlet.org/

coach purses outlet

http://www.dchatsstore.com/

cheap hats

http://www.coachoutletgg.com/

coach outlet online coach factory

coachfactoryinc.com

coach factory

http://www.coachfactorystoresales.com/

www.coachoutletonlineceo.com coach outlet online

http://www.coachoutletwebfactory.net/

coach outlet

http://www.pradasoutletcheap.com/

cheap prada bags
sweety
2012-12-13 03:33:59

http://www.usacoachfactoryonline.com/ coach factory outlet online http://www.coachfactorybagso.com/ coach factory outlet online http://www.coachoutletpurseso.com/ coach purse outlet http://www.coachoutletstoreonline6u.com/ coach outlet online http://www.coachfactorystoreso.com/ coach factory http://www.teccoach.com/ coach outlet http://www.coachoutletonlinefan.com/ coach outlet http://www.coachoutletonlinelover.com/ discount coach purses

yihong1
2012-12-13 05:50:53

Moncler Fly fishing rod http://www.nfdenalifleece.com Deep blue Straight down Outdoor jackets withnorth face denali jacket best layout which usually north face women denali jackets sale not merely combine tidenorth face women denali hoodie sale collocation with the winterhttp://www.tnfcollections.com, but in addition aid youcheap north face jackets outlet retain adequate cozy. Meanwhilecheap north face jackets sale, Moncler Fly fishing rod demonstrates to you http://www.tnfdenalioutlet.us the nice figuresbuy north face jackets. Enable you to simply no longeroakley sunglasses discount cool inside wintertime. ohttp://www.loveraybanoakley.com.

rayallen
2012-12-14 05:03:24

Dozens of bullets

Coach Factory Outlet

unclear is whether Mr. Obama might agree to extend the top income-tax

Gucci Belt

rates if Republicans agree to raise revenue from wealthy taxpayers by limiting their

Coach Factory Store

deductions instead, as Mr. Boehner suggested last week. The president did

Coach Outlet Online

not mention rates on Friday in his first postelection remarks on the budget

Coach Factory Online Store

talks, and people in both parties interpreted that

Coach Online Outlet

as a sign of his bargaining flexibility. Mr. Tucker waved to his supervisor,

Coach Bags Outlet

Taft Kiser, the lead archaeologist on the site, and held up

Coach Factory Online

the bullet for him to see. It would not be the last time. Hundreds of

Coach Factory Online

artifacts followed, along with the contours of a buried cellar holding

Hermes Belt

a rich trove of Civil War history sealed since a ferocious 1862 battle in this Virginia city,

Coach Factory Outlet

which today lies just beyond the suburbs of Washington. The discovery

Coach Outlet Store Online

amid construction of a courthouse was unexpected. But the site has

Coach Factory Online

astonished historians and archaeologists for another reason: it represents

Coach Factory Stores

a “time capsule,” in the words of Mr. Kiser, a rare snapshot

Coach Handbags Outlet

in time, undisturbed through more than a century of urban construction

Coach Factory Outlet

around it. Since then, the crew’s shovels and trowels have

Coach Factory Store

scraped away cinders and sand to reveal the basement’s contents: Dozens of bullets.

Coach Bags Outlet Online

Buttons from Union jackets. Shards from whiskey bottles. A

Coach Factory Online

metal plate from a cartridge box. Chinstrap buckles. Tobacco pipes. A

Louis Vuitton Belt

brick fireplace and charred floorboards. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” said

Coach Factory Online

Mr. Kiser, 53, as Brynn Stewart, the project manager, nodded

Coach Outlet

beside him.

Coach Purses Outlet Store
2013-04-11 03:18:39

Today we're very excited to bring you another giveaway from Coach Purses Outlet Store, a Hong Kong-based online store catering to our generation with a distinct sense of http://www.coachonlineoutletfactory.com coach online outlet but maintaining great quality and affordability. This was shot when we were in http://www.cheapcelinebagsusa.com celine. So breathtaking, I miss coach outlet so much there! We have not seen the sun in what feels like weeks here in Coach outlet online."My clients are often women at the top of their careers who place emphasis on investment bottega veneta bags that are not seasonally driven and therefore more classic tanger outlet," she says.Especially if you're a guy trying to get over a breakup.The celine handbags show was full of their trademark suiting and sports luxe coach store online and showed a new maturity, and commercial understanding, by the designers about what women want to wear. With all the attention on her bright coach shoes, we barely noticed her celine handbags. Then again, it's celine handbags, so we always notice cheap celine bags. (I must say here that I'm a big fan of both Men's celine handbags: the coach outlet and celine handbags a

Today we're very excited to bring you another giveaway from Coach Purses Outlet Store, a Hong Kong-based online store catering to our generation with a distinct sense of http://www.coachonlineoutletfactory.com coach online outlet but maintaining great quality and affordability. This was shot when we were in http://www.cheapcelinebagsusa.com celine. So breathtaking, I miss coach outlet so much there! We have not seen the sun in what feels like weeks here in Coach outlet online."My clients are often women at the top of their careers who place emphasis on investment bottega veneta bags that are not seasonally driven and therefore more classic tanger outlet," she says.Especially if you're a guy trying to get over a breakup.The celine handbags show was full of their trademark suiting and sports luxe coach store online and showed a new maturity, and commercial understanding, by the designers about what women want to wear. With all the attention on her bright coach shoes, we barely noticed her celine handbags. Then again, it's celine handbags, so we always notice cheap celine bags. (I must say here that I'm a big fan of both Men's celine handbags: the coach outlet and celine handbags and assortments are exceptional and I can generally get in www.legacyoutlet.com and out in minutes!)

youtlet.com and out in minutes!)

haoba119
2013-04-16 07:13:49

You want to red bottom shoes read the Cheap Red Bottom Shoes weaknesses and Red Bottom Evening strengths in the bunch not to mention possess a plan in accordance these Red Bottom Wedges functions. China Wholesale Cheap Jerseys, you may have Red Bottom Ankle Boots remarkable measurements. so that as regular christian louboutin discount football cheap christian louboutin fundamentals but nonetheless debt staff Christian Louboutin Sandals speed, or else the actual undersized but yet preserve reasonable prices Christian Louboutin Ankle Boots speed up not to mention soccer understand Christian Louboutin Boot how. And something cheap christian louboutin element is you cheap red bottom shoes may be used convincing Christian Louboutin Evening properly, but lacking the score you could Christian Louboutin Flats have attack area or perhaps Christian Louboutin Sandals an other way round. A whole the primary cheap christian louboutin shoes here is to evaluate Christian Louboutin Sneakers the actual soccer club not to Christian Louboutin Flats mention create this program a person Christian Louboutin Wedges echoes their duties and that we advantages. Players often wear cheap mbl jerseys in the training Christian Louboutin Booties. christian louboutin outlet ebay.  

coachkors
2013-04-18 01:14:03

http://coachsfactoryoutletonline.webs.com/ coach factory outlethttp://www.newmichaelkorspurse.com/ michael kors purses outlethttp://www.mk-mmichaelkorsoutlet.net/ michael kors outlet onlinehttp://www.guccishoesoutletsfactory.com/ gucci outlet onlinehttp://www.northsfaceoutletonline.net/ north face outlet onlinehttp://www.monsterobeats.net/ monster headphones outlethttp://www.coach-storeonline2013.net/ coach store onlinehttp://www.ourcoachoutletonline.com/ coach outlet online usahttp://www.coachbagsc.com/ coach outlet coach outlet onlinehttp://coachfactoryshop.webs.com/ coachfactory.com/shop shop.coachfactory.comhttp://michaelkorssale.tumblr.com/ Michael Kors Outlet Online Michael Kors USA

kengdie
2013-04-29 03:05:54

We want to celebrate the freedom that comes from and is expressed through running.coach outlet stores online continues to take a ton of self shots; So, just in case you're not following me on there, here's a quick update, via the art of photography and shameless selfies, about what I got up to this week. Beauty High rounds up the best silicone-free and sulfate-free hair products.Marc jacobs doesn't lie - the women in http://www.coachonlineoutletfactory.com coach online outlet books tend to be rebels, troublemakers, and free thinkers.Claire Danes, who also chose a Prada gown, arrived in a baby-blue hued number, while Kerry Washington opted for a black and white halter-style gown from Coach outlet stores online" | scambook.com. One glance at her makes you - OK, me - feel ancient. It's like The http://www.marcjacobs.com, only this time Goldilocks isn't just sitting in your chair, she's having her cake and eating it, too, or so her 300,000 followers will claim.coach outlet features like a top-of-the-line king-size bed and a rainfall showerhead cascading at perfect pressure are undoubtedly luxurious.

Dexman
2013-05-01 20:29:35

Modern progress has influenced practically all spheres of human life and politics is not an acceptation. High-technologies are used by them as a mean to influence public opinion. Therefore all in this piece of information is so true to life. It might be of a great interest as it was reviewed twice. Professional research paper writing help for college and other students is a reasonable way.

Got something to add?
Let us know what you think!

Login or register today for a free account.

Besides the ability to comment on articles, you'll get access to a wide range of features to help you on the path to Japanese fluency!

Flashcards, training exercises, practice tests, grammar explanations and much more are just waiting for you inside!