History Of Kanji In Japan Essay

651 words - 3 pages

There are different theories speculating the origins of the writing system of kanji, though most theories assumed that the writing system originated from ancient China.
One of theoretical assumption of the existence of kanji dates back to approximately 2000 BC. People then needed to ask questions to the heavens. They believed that they can communicate with their gods through burning animal bones or turtle shells. When a turtle shell or animal bone gets burned, cracks form. From there, they would analyse these cracks and write them down, pulling meaning from them by comparing the cracks to real life things. If the cracks looked like something, they’d attribute some meaning to it. They have used this method in determining the weather patterns and preparing for disasters. The turtle-shell burnings were the base and foundation of the Chinese writing system.
But it wasn’t until the Zhou Dynasty that the writing system started to develop. From there, they ...view middle of the document...

Japan back then has already been incorporating and adapting parts of foreign culture Over time, the Japanese written language continued to distinguish itself from Chinese as new Kanji only in use in Japan were created, and as the pronunciations and meanings of the characters began to diverge from the original Chinese. Also, natural changes to the language, as well as official simplifications in both countries have led to a further deviation.
As generations pass by, the natural development of Kanji and its alteration from original Chinese Kanji led to some problems, specifically in the inconsistencies in Japanese writing as well as minor characters with the same articulation or definition as others. In addressing this problem as well as to make the language more accessible and foreign friendly to non-native speakers an official list of characters which was brought down to a summation of 1,850 characters, although slightly more are used commonly in names, place names, and technical and scientific terms among others. These came to be known as the Toyo Kanji. Later on in the year 1981, the list was expanded further into what will later be known known as the “Joyo Kanji” also known as “Regular-use Kanji”. Granting there have been minor changes and additions to the list, the contemporary number is 2,136. This includes the 1,006 basic educational characters that elementary school students in Japan are expected to learn between first grade up until the sixth grade of education.
In present-day times, the recent major revision of the Joyo was done in 2010.In addition to these regular-use characters, a new set of characters are introduced. These are the characters that are used exclusively in personal and place names. These are called the Jinmeiyo Kanji. This list is frequently updated, in part to allow for trends in how children are named, and currently the number of characters I n the Jinmeiyo Kanji is approximately around 980.

Works Cited

http://www.albany.edu/eas/205/on-yomi%20and%20kun-yomi.pdf
http://www.tofugu.com/2010/03/22/the-history-of-kanji/
http://www.learnjapanese.com/kanji-history/

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