Katakana a masculine script

Posted on January 17, 2012

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If you are a foreigner, probably first thing you gonna learn in Japan is how to write your name in Katakana. First time I wrote my name in Katakana I didn’t like it that much, Katakana has straight strokes with sharp, angular corners. I thought it is so aggressive compare to serene and rounded Hiragana.

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In Japanese they use hiragana for Japanese words, kanji for chinese words and katakana for foreigner words like name of the companies or name of the movies…

Last week our teacher told us the story of three Japanese scripts. It seems situation were different before WWII and they were using more Katakana and Kanji. Katakana for japanese words and Kanji for words which came from Chinese and Hiragana, it was exists but was a Feminine script which were used by women. It was for unofficial writing like personal letters, when katakana and Chinese were used for official documents. They had otokode 男手 (men’s writing) and onnade 女手 (women’s writing). That’s the reason The Tale of Genji and other novels by female writers have been written in hiragana.

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Could you recognize hiragana in The Tale of Genji?

Nowadays you still see difference between women and men language in Japan. there’s many words just for men or just for women. It seems new generation started to make their own unisex language. I hear my girl friend freely using words they warn us in school to don’t use them as women, then if you are going to learn standard Japanese, make yourself ready for this feminine masculine rules.

Thinking about it having two different script for women and men is kind of strange, it looks like women and men were two social cast which has been clearly separated from each other because of their gender.

for now I am happy they chosen hiragana as the main script for japanese words. I love writing in hiragana with its curves and simple shapes. I’m thinking about starting shodo (japanese calligraphy)but I guess it should wait till I found more balance in this busy lifestyle.

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Posted in: Noushinography