AskDefine | Define kana

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From sc=Jpan.

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. The hiragana and katakana syllabaries. These are used to write Japanese words and particles using characters that represent syllables. Kana are derived from kanji.
  2. A hiragana or katakana character.

Bosnian

Etymology

From kına < sc=Arab < verb sc=Arab.

Noun

  1. henna

Breton

Verb

  1. to sing

Croatian

Etymology

From kına < sc=Arab < verb sc=Arab.

Noun

  1. henna

Estonian

Noun

  1. chicken
  2. hen

Fijian

Etymology

, compare Indonesian makan.

Verb

  1. eat

Noun

  1. meal

Finnish

Etymology

Noun

  1. chicken
  2. hen

Declension

fi-decl-kala kan

Japanese

Noun

  1. The hiragana and katakana syllabaries. These are used to write Japanese words and particles using characters that represent syllables. Kana are derived from kanji.
  2. A hiragana or katakana character.

Romani

Adverb

  1. when

Serbian

Etymology

From kına < sc=Arab < verb sc=Arab.

Noun

  1. henna

Swahili

Verb

  1. to deny

Extensive Definition

Kana is a general term for the syllabic Japanese scripts hiragana (ひらがな) and katakana (カタカナ) as well as the old system known as man'yōgana. These were developed from the logographic characters of Chinese origin known in Japan as Kanji (; Chinese pronunciation "hànzì"), as an alternative and adjunct to these latter.
In addition, kana were borrowed into Taiwanese to indicate the pronunciation of Chinese characters like furigana during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. See Taiwanese kana.

Hiragana and katakana

  • Neither Hiragana nor Katakana have kana to represent ye, yi or wu sounds. However, ye is believed to have existed as a syllable in pre-Classical Japanese (prior to the advent of kana), and is generally represented (for purposes of reconstruction) by the kanji 江. In later periods, the syllable we (represented by the katakana ヱ and hiragana ゑ) came to be realized as [jɛ], as demonstrated in 1600s-era European sources, but later merged with the vowel e and was eliminated from official orthography in 1946. "Ye" in modern orthography is commonly represented using いぇ or イェ.
  • While no longer a part of standard orthography, both wi and we are still sometimes used stylistically, such as in ウヰスキー for "whiskey," and ヱビス for Yebisu, a beer brand.

Modern usage

Hiragana is mostly used to indicate prefixes and grammatical word endings. It is also used to represent entire words (usually of Japanese, rather than Chinese, origin) in place of kanji. See the article hiragana for details.
Today katakana is most commonly used to write words of foreign origin that do not have kanji representations. For example, "George W. Bush" can be expressed as ジョージ・W・ブッシュ. Katakana is also used to represent onomatopoeia, technical and scientific terms, and some corporate branding. See the article katakana for details.
Kana can be written in small form above or next to lesser-known kanji in order to show pronunciation; this is called furigana. Furigana is used most widely in children's books. Literature for young children who do not yet know kanji may dispense with it altogether and instead use hiragana combined with spaces.

History

Both hiragana and katakana developed from the ancient kana system man'yōgana, a kind of phonetic characters using kanji. Man'yōshū, a poetry anthology assembled in 759, is written in this early script.
Kana is traditionally said to have been invented by the Buddhist priest Kūkai in the 9th century. Kūkai certainly brought the Siddham script home on his return from China in 806; his interest in the sacred aspects of speech and writing led him to the conclusion that Japanese would be better represented by a phonetic alphabet than by the kanji which had been used up to that point.
The present set of kana and rules for their usage were codified in 1946.

Collation

Kana are the basis for collation in Japanese. They are taken in the order given by the gojūon (あ い う え お … わ を ん), though iroha ordering is used for enumeration in some circumstances. Dictionaries differ in the sequence order for long/short vowel distinction, small tsu and diacritics. As the Japanese do not use word spaces (except for children), there can be no word-by-word collation; all collation is kana-by-kana.

Kana in Unicode

The Hiragana range in Unicode is U+3040 ... U+309F, and the Katakana range is U+30A0 ... U+30FF. The obsolete characters (WI and WE) also have their proper codepoints, except for hentaigana, as hentaigana are considered glyph variants of more common kana. Code points U+3040, U+3097, and U+3098 are unassigned as of Unicode 4.1. Characters U+3095 and U+3096 are hiragana small ka and small ke, respectively. U+30F5 and U+30F6 are their katakana equivalents. Characters U+3099 and U+309A are combining dakuten and handakuten, which correspond to the spacing characters U+309B and U+309C. U+309D is the hiragana iteration mark, used to repeat a previous hiragana. U+309E is the voiced hiragana iteration mark, which stands in for the previous hiragana but with the consonant voiced (k becomes g, h becomes b, etc.). U+30FD and U+30FE are the katakana iteration marks. U+309F is a ligature of "yori" (より) sometimes used in vertical writing. U+30FF is a ligature of "koto" (コト), also found in vertical writing.
Additionally, there are halfwidth equivalents to the standard fullwidth katakana. These are encoded within the Halfwidth and Fullwidth Forms block (U+FF00–U+FFEF), starting at U+FF65 and ending at U+FF9F (characters U+FF61–U+FF64 are halfwidth punctuation marks): There is also a small "Katakana Phonetic Extensions" range (U+31F0 ... U+31FF), which includes some extra characters for writing the Ainu language.

See also

External links

kana in Afrikaans: Kana
kana in Catalan: Kana
kana in German: Japanische Schrift#Kana
kana in Spanish: Kana
kana in French: Kana (caractères)
kana in Galician: Kana
kana in Classical Chinese: 假名
kana in Korean: 가나 (문자)
kana in Italian: Kana
kana in Latin: Cana
kana in Lojban: ponle'u
kana in Dutch: Kana (Japans)
kana in Japanese: 仮名 (文字)
kana in Polish: Kana (pismo)
kana in Portuguese: Kana (escrita)
kana in Romanian: Kana
kana in Russian: Кана
kana in Simple English: Kana
kana in Slovak: Kana
kana in Sundanese: Kana
kana in Finnish: Kana (kirjoitusjärjestelmä)
kana in Swedish: Kana (skriftsystem)
kana in Thai: คะนะ
kana in Vietnamese: Kana
kana in Tajik: Кана (ҷопонӣ)
kana in Ukrainian: Кана
kana in Contenese: 假名 (日文)
kana in Chinese: 假名
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