Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji ひらがな、カタカナ、漢字

 Japan has four different writing systems.

日本語には4種類の文字があります。

They consist of hiragana, katakana, kanji (Chinese character), and Roman alphabets.

ひらがな、カタカナ、漢字、アルファベットから成っています。

The former two scripts are phonetic symbols, and each symbol represents a syllable.

ひらがな、カタカナは表音文字で、それぞれの文字は一音節からできています。

Kanji have their own meanings.

漢字は表意文字です。

The most frequent use of these four is hiragana.

もっとも使われている文字はひらがなです。

Hiragana were first used by aristocrats about 1100 years ago in the Heian Period.

ひらがなは平安時代に、今からおよそ1100年あたり前から使われ始めました。

Hiragana was created by making use of parts of some kanji.

漢字の一部を利用してひらがなをつくったのです。

In the Nara period, only Chinese characters were used.

 奈良時代には漢字だけが用いられていました。

The records of ancient matters, the oldest chronicles of Japan, and the collections of ancient poems, all were written in Chinese characters.

古事記、日本書紀、万葉集など、すべてが漢字で書かれています。

 

Katakana was first used by Buddhist priests when they read sutras written by Chinese characters.

カタカナは僧侶の間で使われていました。漢字で書かれた経典を読むときに使われました。

 

When Japanese children enter primary school,  they learn hiragana first.

 子供たちは小学校に入学すると、ひらがなを習います。

There are only 48 symbols in hiragana, easier to write than Chinese characters.

たったの48文字で、漢字に比べると書きやすいです。

The development of hiragana was a revolutionary event.

ひらがなの発明は画期的なことでした。

Until then, only men were engaged in writing business.

それまでは、物書きは男の仕事でした。

It must have stimulated women's creative mind.

女性たちの創作意欲を引き出したにちがいありません。

How glad women aristocrats were when they first saw hiragana!

彼女たちはひらがなを見てどんなに喜んだことでしょう。

 

Female writers appeared in the imperial courts.

宮廷で女性がはじめてものを書くようになったのでした。

They began to write novels, essays, and diaries in hiragana and Chinese characters.

ひらながを使って、物語を書き、エッセイをつづり、日記をつけました。

As you know, some calligraphies contain hiragana and kanji.

They look feminine  and  less imposing than that of Chinese characters.

 ご存知のように、ひらがな混じりの書道は漢字だけのものよりも、女性的で、威圧感もありません。

Roman alphabets were used by only a few people in the Edo period , but it didn't spread until the Meiji era.

アフファベットは江戸時代、一部の人に寄って使われていましたが、明治になるまで一般には広まりませんでした。

When you walk shopping streets in Japan, you will be able to see these four scripts on the signboard of every shop.  

日本の商店街を歩くと、店の看板にいろいろな種類の文字を見ることができます。

 

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