Kanji 漢字

  • Published on : 18/01/2018
  • by : M.H.
  • Rating :
    3/5
Some handwritten kanji characters

Some handwritten kanji characters

DR

The pillar of Japanese writing

Kanji are written characters of Chinese origin that make learning Japanese complicated, but so much more methodical.

Before the import of kanji to Japan in the 5th century, the Japanese had no writing system. Once introduced, they adapted the pronunciation of the Chinese ideograms to the Japanese language, and today almost all Japanese words can be written in kanji. There are more than 10,000 characters listed as kanji, which can be discouraging when thinking about learning Japanese. Yet in reality only around 2,000 kanji are used in everyday life.

Kanji are accompanied by two syllabaries, called hiragana and katakana (or kana), which are themselves derived from kanji and form two tables of 46 signs representing all the sounds present in the Japanese language. You can write Japanese using just kana, but homonyms are so numerous in Japanese that it would be very difficult to comprehend. So the use of kanji is justified!

Calligraphy

Calligraphy

ecodallaluna

A COMPLEX SYSTEM

Learning kanji requires great dedication. Each ideogram has a meaning and a particular stroke order (way of writing), with several meanings and also several different readings. There are two types of reading, on-yomi and kun-yomi, respectively the Sino-Japanese reading and the Japanese reading. Thus the Japanese have adapted the Chinese writing system to their language by adding their own phonetics.

Although it seems difficult to remember all these characters, some methods can help to make learning the meanings of kanji a little easier. We can break down the most complicated kanji ideograms (some have more than twenty strokes!), and find radicals (key symbols) that appear in many kanji. There are about 200 radicals, and they help a lot in understanding, especially when they "look like" the idea they are trying to convey ( for example 木: tree, 林: wood, 森: forest).

Japanese numbers

Japanese numbers

DR

Latest Articles

Le hiragana "a" dérive du kanji 安 (an) qui signifie "paix"

Hiragana and Katakana : How to learn Japanese ?

Taught to Japanese students in their first year of school from the age of six, hiragana and katakana are the essentials prerequisites for learning the Japanese language.

The Japanese language does not know Mr., Mrs. or Miss

15 Interesting Facts About the Japanese Language

Japanese is a fascinating language for a Westerner, made up of multiple ideograms, many homophones and a grammar far very different from other languages.

Le Hi no Maru ou drapeau du Japon faisant référence au Soleil Levant.

Japan, the land of the rising sun: meaning and origin

Who has not once asked this question: why do we speak of the land of the rising sun to designate Japan?

See All (14)

Comments

Rate the content

Your comment

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.