When learning foreign languages, the learners will need to practice their ability of comparing. By doing this, they can get a deep understanding of the language they are learning. Chinese and Japanese all contain characters, but there is great difference between the writing systems in them.
When learning foreign languages, the learners will need to practice their ability of comparing. By doing this, they can get a deep understanding of the language they are learning. Chinese
and Japanese all contain characters, but there is great difference between the writing systems in them. Then what is the difference between them?
Chinese uses three basic symbol sets: pinyin, Bopomofo, and hanzi.
Hanzi means Chinese characters. Three distinct forms or styles of hanzi exist: traditional, simplified, and handwriting style. The traditional hanzi character set is used currently in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The simplified character set is used in mainland China: the characters were systematically modified and simplified after the revolution with the idea of making reading and writing accessible to a broader spectrum of the population. The handwriting style is a complication of the simplified or traditional characters, with additional connecting strokes resulting from not lifting the pen or brush from the paper between strokes.
Bopomofo is the common name (like ABC) for the traditional Chinese phonetic syllables consisting of 37 phonetic characters and 4 tone markings. Tones indicate the pitch at which a syllable is uttered (English uses tones to indicate emphasis, a question, irony, etc., but not spelling).
Pinyin is a way to write Chinese pronunciations using Roman characters (the English alphabet). Even though Chinese sounds only roughly correspond to the English pronunciation of pinyin, the advantage of pinyin is that it closely corresponds to the Bopomofo writing system, and that it is the standard phonetic system used in (mainland) China.
Unlike English and Chinese, which use one character set each, written Japanese intermixes three different types of characters or symbols: kanji, hiragana, and katakana. Additionally, English names, words, phrases, and numbers may be used freely in a Japanese sentence. Separately, Japanese may be transliterated into the English alphabet. Such writing is called romaji (roman characters).
Kanji is Japanese for "Chinese (kan) characters (ji)." These characters originated in China approximately 4000 years ago, and were imported into Japan, where they were adapted to the Japanese spoken language. Consequently, kanji are very close to the Chinese hanzi and share many identical characters, although they are pronounced differently (e.g., "kan" instead of "han," and "ji" instead of "zi").
Hiragana is comprised of 46 phonetic symbols. Each hiragana character represents a specific sound or combination of sounds used in Japanese. In English, this type of character set is called a syllable.
Every Japanese word can be written phonetically in hiragana. However, since Japanese contains so many words with the same pronunciations, to avoid confusion, kanji are often used in place of hiragana to clarify meaning. Hiragana is also used to write words not derived from the traditional Chinese characters, or in place of kanji which have been dropped from everyday use, or when the number of kanji in a sentence becomes so great as to be visually unaesthetic, or makes the author seem "bigheaded."
Romaji is a way to write Japanese words phonetically using Roman symbols (the English alphabet). In essence, the English alphabet is used phonetically in place of hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Romaji is analogous to Chinese pinyin.