Are the Japanese, thieves?Ken Cannon here,
Ok I want to make this as basic as possible for people who really don’t know what the hell is going on with all those squiggly lines.
Now as this obviously doesn’t serve much of a purpose for anime, it is important if you’re fond of Manga. And in general I believe all learners of Japanese even if they only wish to learn for anime purposes should learn to write. Simply because the Japanese writing system has some wicked awesome insights to the actual spoken language, for instance why you say certain things, plus it just looks cool, and you can laugh at your friends when they get a tattoo that says something that they didn’t want it to.
Alright to break it down the Japanese have 3 different writing system (don’t get happy yet, it gets better)
First they have an alphabet of 46 like we do that spell/sound things out.
Hiragana = ひらがな
Second, they have a second version of the same exact alphabet. (the Japanese are real efficiency experts…)
Katakana = カタカナ
The reason for this is that Japanese apparently were even more sexist than me at one point (I’m just kidding, I was always more sexist)
So the hiragana being more curvy and cursive in appearance was adopted by women, where the more “official” katakana was reserved for the obviously superior men.
And then a couple hundred years later men realized that they couldn’t make women be with them by sticking a giant samurai sword to their throat anymore, and that they had to actually be nice to them (I still have my samurai sword though… just in case…) So they let them use their writing system.
Anyways, then there’s the third writing system, the dreaded....
Kanji = 漢字
The Kanji are actually stolen Chinese characters (Now you know the real purpose of the ninja, writing system robbers!)
Ok, the real history of how the Japanese started using the Chinese character is actually shrouded in mystery because the records for this time period… well didn’t exist (this was before they stole the characters remember?)
And in the process of this grand thievery the Japanese had to change a lot of the meanings and pronunciations of the characters. So in essence they effectively made the two thousand plus blobs of lines even more confusing.
Now the hiragana and katakana I talked about earlier are simplified versions of the original Chinese characters. Or it might be better to say they are kanji “inspired. Since they are nothing like them anymore and only resemble them in appearance.
And as I said the hiragana and katakana are an alphabet of sorts like in English. The kanji on the other hand actually have no sounds attached to them and can’t be sounded out. So you won’t be seeing any "Hooked on Phonics" – Kanji Edition.
Instead each one has a unique meaning attached to them, and the way to pronounce them changes on what other characters are around them, and the situation.
So in case you’re wondering, yes there is a katakana, hiragana, and a kanji version to pronounce every single word in the Japanese dictionary. However nowadays katakana is mainly used to depict English "loan" words (..they call them loan words because they don't want another repeat of the kanji incident..)
As for the reason for this ancient torture method and exactly how it all works, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow, since I haven’t slept since last week and my eyes are starting to bleed.
:'( (…that’s not a tear…)