Friday, July 11, 2008
Writing and drawing in Japan
The Japanese language belongs to a group of languages that are not related neither to each other or any other known languages. It is totally different from the neighboring Chinese language, yet for many centuries Chinese characters were used for reading and writing Japanese. This was because people such as monks, courtiers, and the emperor were the only people who could read and write and they valued the Chinese civilization and ideas to a great extend.
However, as the Japanese empire grew stronger, and Japanese culture developed more of its own characteristics, it became clear that a new way of writing Japanese was required when the use of Chinese characters only showed not to be sufficient enough for the grammar of Japanese. So, around 800CE, two new ways of writing (KANA) were invented. Both were based on the Chinese picture characters (KANJI) that expressed sounds and were written using a brush and ink on scrolls of paper. One type, called Hiragana is used for purely Japanese words while the other called Katakana, is used mainly for non Japanese words or Japanese loan words.
To the upper right is a chart of the Hiragana