Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Basic Japanese : Old Japanese Alphabets

Date Published: Others

Old Japanese Alphabets or Historical Japanese Alphabets

Aiueo

- "Gojyuu-on" : Hiragana version -

Aiueo Kana 1

- "Gojyuu-on" : Katakana version -

Iroha

- "Iroha-uta" -

The two red characters in “gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta” are out of use now.
Both characters had their own sounds consisting of a consonant and a vowel, but each of them changed into the same sound as a vowel which has a similar sound.

Although they couldn’t be distinguished by their pronunciations from respective vowels, they managed to survive in written texts until 1946 when the government decided to abandon them so that Japanese language could be written as it was spoken.

We call Alphabets including these left-out characters as “Old Japanese Alphabets” or “Historical Japanese Alphabets”.
The one we use now is called “New Japanese Alphabets” or “Modern Japanese Alphabets”.

“wi” and “i”

Aiueo 4
Aiueo Kana 2
Top: Hiragana
Bottom: Katakana

This character seems to be originally pronounced as “wi”, perhaps similar to English “we” but without prolonging the sound.
This one became the same sound as “i”.

“we” and “e”

Aiueo 5
Aiueo Kana 3
Top: Hiragana
Bottom: Katakana

This one was “we”, like the sound in an English word “went”.
Then became the same as “e”.

The survived characters in spite of the same pronunciation with others

There are three characters which got away from the government decision somehow.
I suppose it was because they were not as confusing as the previous two.
They are quite easy to distinguish even in speech, for they are not used as a part of a word unlike the abolished characters.
Their functions are similar to English prepositions, and usually come after a noun.

One of them has the same pronunciation as a vowel, and other two have their own sounds, but pronounced differently when used as particles.

“o”

Aiueo 6

Pronounced exactly the same as a vowel “o” (the right character in the image).
This one comes after a direct object of a verb.
For example, in a Japanese translation of an English sentence “I gave him a book”, this character should come after the word “hon” (Japanese for “a book”).
“Watashi wa kare ni hon o ageta.”

“e”

Aiueo 8

The left character is usually pronounced as “he” (like the sound in an English word “hence”), but when it’s used after a noun, its sound becomes “e” (like in “S”), the same pronunciation as the right character in the image.
This indicates direction like an English preposition “to”.
Ex.) In a sentence “I go to Kyoto”, “e” comes after the word “Kyoto”.
“Watashi wa Kyoto e iku.”

“wa”

Aiueo 7

When the left character is used as a part of a word, its pronunciation is “ha” like English “Ha”.
When it’s attached to a word like an adverb, a subjective noun or something else, it changes into “wa”, the same as the right in the image.
This has several functions, but it’s a bit complicated for me to explain properly.

Ex.) A Japanese sentence “Inu wa kawaii” can be translated as “A dog (or Dogs or The dog) is lovely” (general) or “A dog IS lovely(, but…)” (emphasis or limitation).
You need to judge from the situation or speaker’s expression.

Next post: “Iroha-uta” line by line

 

Related posts:
#Japanese Alphabet (1: “Gojyuu-on” and “iroha-uta”)

#“I” in Japanese (1) (2) (3)

#Japanese honorific titles (1:Formal) (2:Casual) (3:In text) (4:Business titles)

The following two tabs change content below.

kara

A Japanese living in Okayama. A proud "Otaku"! Loves animals, snacks, manga, games (PC, iPad, Nintendo DS, PSP), foreign TV dramas, traveling and football (soccer).

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

On-chuu

Basic Japanese : Japanese honorific titles in text

Many of Japanese honorific titles in text are the same as ones in speech. However, “sama” or “dono” is much more often used in text, especially for address. Maybe it’s because a writer is in the distance. In a letter, use the same title as one in speech. When I write a letter to my […]

Read Article

Number List 5

Basic Japanese : Trivia about numbers in Japanese

The final post about numbers in Japanese. Number over quadrillion Numbers over “chou” (trillion to quadrillion) are quite rarely used. You may hear the following unit “kei” sometimes, but numbers over the unit “kei” won’t be seen in usual life. I’ve never seen it myself even in the news and I actually can’t name units […]

Read Article

Lady saying "Arigatou"

Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese

There are several ways of saying “Thank you” in Japanese. In this post, I am going to explain the most common phrase for “Thank you”. Arigatou (gozai masu / mashita) The phrase was derived from “Arigatashi”, which literally means “difficult to be”. The Kanji in “ari” means “there is” or “be (there)”, and another in […]

Read Article

blood type

You are What You Bleed! – The Japanese Blood Type Personality Classification

What’s your blood type? – For most people, the only reason that they ask this question to others is that when they’ll be needing blood (no, not that vampire-ish type of need) for blood transfusion when something bad happens, that person may be able to help if they are compatible. But in Japan and other […]

Read Article

daiso japan

Go Shopping at a 100 Yen Shop

I’m sure many of those who have been to Japan would agree that one of the places that got them spend money are 100 yen shops. These are shops that sell items that mostly cost 100 yen exclusive of tax. The items range from food to housewares to accessories, or in other words, there’s a […]

Read Article

Number List 4

Basic Japanese : Large numbers in Japanese – Thousand and over

Large numbers in Japanese : Thousand to quadrillion From thousand to quadrillion, the common units you hear in everyday life in Japan including in the news. As I wrote in the previous post, for digits over ten, “4” is always read as “yon” and “9” as “kyuu”. “7” is generally “nana”. For bigger numbers than […]

Read Article

Kyoto Gosho

Go west : Sugawara no Michizane strikes back

After Michizane’s death in 903, people, who were involved with the conspiracy to frame him, died in a mysterious death one after another. Also, there were natural disasters in Kyoto. Victims of vengeance by Sugawara no Michizane Year: Person 906: Fujiwara no Sadakuni (Age: 40) 908: Fujiwara no Sugane (Age: 53) He reported to the […]

Read Article

Inogashira park

Japanese urban legends – Part 3 –

“Toshi densetsu” : Japanese urban legends (3) Mary-san (Ms. Mary) A girl had an old Western doll and called it “Mary”. When her family moved to another place, she disposed it because it was old. One night, a telephone rang at her new home. The girl got it, then heard the voice saying, “Hello, I’m […]

Read Article

Samurai

Basic Japanese : Historical “I” in Japanese

Old-fashioned / historical “I” in Japanese The following “I” pronouns are well-known and can be quite often heard / seen in historical stories especially those which are set in the Edo period. But, these are rarely used in the present time. Neutral [Temae] “Temae” literally means “before hand(s)”. The near side of someone / something. […]

Read Article

Japanese Number List 1

Basic Japanese : Numbers – General one to ten in Japanese

How to say one to ten in Japanese There are (more than) two ways for general counting. The one that is supposed to originate in China and the other is (probably) Japanese original. Now, the Chinese one is commonly used. The most common Japanese for one to ten With Kanji characters, their sounds should have […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑