One of the most interesting thing
about Japanese is surely the script. There are three different
ones: kanji, hiragana and katakana.
Also, there is a transliteration of Japanese to the Roman alphabet
The first three scripts are in
a mixed everyday use. I.e., in one sentence there can be glyphs
of all three writings.
Kanji is the set of ideographic
characters that are borrowed from Chinese. Hiragana and katakana
are syllabic writings (the symbols represent syllables, which
build up world). For more information, please click
history of the Japanese script
Until the 3. century AD, the
Japanese didn't have any mode of writing. Then they adapted
the Chinese, and named it "kan-ji", the writing from
the Kan dynasty of China.
Because, the kanji has a lot
of different glyphs for every syllable, the hiragana and katakana
came to be, where every syllable has one representation (with
the exception of "ji" and "zu"). Hiragana
was the women's way of writing. It was indeed used by females,
because it was considered that kanji is too complex for them.
Katakana was introduced because of the need to take notes fast,
so it's was a way of shorthand writing (stenography).
In time, the use of these
writings changed, so hiragana is no longer used only by women
but it is the entry level Japanese alphabet, and katakana is
mostly used to write foreign words and loan words.