Kana vs. Kanji

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The hiragana and katakana syllabaries. These are made up of characters that represent individual syllables, which are are used to write Japanese words and particles. Kana are derived from kanji.


(uncountable) The system of writing Japanese using Chinese characters.

‘Japanese is written in a mixture of kanji and kana.’;


A hiragana or katakana character.


Any individual Chinese character as used in the Japanese language.

‘I know about a thousand kanji.’;


Kana (仮名, Japanese pronunciation: [kana]) are syllabaries used to write Japanese phonological units, morae. Such syllabaries include: (1) the original kana, or magana (真仮名, literally 'true kana'), which were Chinese characters (kanji) used phonetically to transcribe Japanese; the most prominent magana system being man'yōgana (万葉仮名); the two descendants of man'yōgana, (2) cursive hiragana (平(ひら)仮(が)名(な)), and (3) angular katakana (片(カタ)仮(カ)名(ナ)).


Kanji (漢字, pronounced [kaɲdʑi] (listen)) are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside the Japanese syllabic scripts hiragana and katakana.

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