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 Japanese writing today uses basically three symbols: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana.

 Kanji symbol is an ideographic script that has some pronunciations and some meanings on its shape. Imported from China in the Nara period(710-794), but Kanji is no longer thought of as an import but is firmly established as the standard way to write much Japanese. Japanese proper nouns are usually written in Kanji, the many terms that have come into the language from Chinese are still written in Kanji.

 Both Hiragana and Katakana represent a single sound voiced for a single syllable. So they are equivalent to the English alphabet.

 Hiragana symbol is used primarily to write words or parts of words indigenous to Japanese -- especially connectors and word or sentence endings. Most of writing today is a mixture of Kanji and Hiragana.

 Katakana symbol is used primarily to write loan words from English and other non-kanji languages; foreign proper nouns; and many plant and animal names. Katakana is also widely used for onomatopoeia and other sound representations.





 


 

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