History of Kanamoji (Katakana and Hiragana)

So anyone who knows me knows that I love knowing the history of language and writing systems. I also studied Japanese and like it, despite it not being one of the main languages to transact a lot of business in anymore.

This write up is an amazing encapsulation of how the Japanese written language evolved and how gender played a role in that.

As I love the works written by the ladies of Heian Japan (think Tale of Genji, et. a;) I found out about this sometime ago.

That they included a chart to show the exact evolution of the kana just pluses it. You should explore this topic in the blog entry at this page.

Again this is the sort of thing that they used to explore on my PBS station before they decided to be a really bad poor man’s BBCAmerica, ITV and Food Network.

Nihongo Mousou Project

     Japanese language has three different alphabets; Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana. Kanamoji is a generic name for the character of Hiragana and Katakana. It is equivalent to the English alphabet and the kana character has the 46 standard phonetic characters.

     Around 500 AD, the basis of modern Japanese Kanji developed after Japan had a culture contact with Chinese. The Chinese character in that time was called “Manyogana(万葉仮名)“.However, because Manyogana is too difficult, during the Heian Period (794 – 1192), manyogana was adapted to create a Japanese script that was partly syllabic (characters based on sounds; hiragana and katakana) and partly logographic (characters based on concepts; kanji).

      Unlike Katakana which took one part from the Kanji, Hiragana is the simplified version of Kanji.  You can see how to create both characters from Kanji in the table below (Read from right to left).


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