Intro to Writing Systems

For quite a while, Japan didn't have much of a writing system. But with the importation of Chinese articles sometime before the 5th century, Japan began using Chinese characters, called "hanzi" at the time. Over time, a writing system of these characters was developed for the Japanese language, called kanji. Soon, simplified kanji characters were used to represent gramatical sounds, and were organized into two new alphabets: hiragana and katakana.

A fourth Japanese writing system is romaji, which as you might guess, is Japanese script in Latin characters. This is used as a step to Hiragana, or just for understanding written Japanese without having to know Japanese characters. Romaji is also used in many Japanese company names and logos.

We will discuss each individual alphabet in the lessons Kanji, Intro to Hiragana, and Intro to Katakana.

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