When kanji were first developed in China they were
each designed to express a specific meaning or word in the Chinese
language. They serve the same function in Japanese. Although Japanese
can be written phonetically with both hiragana and katakana, it
is the kanji, and words formed by combinations thereof, that bring
meaning to what is written.
The Development of Kanji
As with Egyptian hieroglyphics and other ancient writing systems,
kanji began with drawings of natural objects. Such characters
are celled pictographs. The first kanji represented objects
that were often seen in daily life. Some examples are sun 日
and tree 木.
Shell and Bone Pictographs
In ancient times Chinese government officials consulted soothsayers
about important matters. In the 14th century B.C. they devised
a system of characters to record their advice by carving primitive
pictographs on tortoise shells and animal bones. These shell
and bone pictographs are the oldest kanji and the forerunner
of the complex system that later developed.
The Evolution of Kanji
Shell and bone pictographs
These pictographs were used from the 12th century B.C. to the
3rd century A.D. They were, carved on bronze war and other tools
made from metal. They were much more stable in shape than the
shell and bone pictographs.
In the Year 221 B.C. China was united under the Ch'in Emperor.
At this time kanji were standardized into a universal form.
These were abbreviated versions of the seal characters.
These characters were more systematic than any of the others.
Copyright (C) 2000-2013"; ?> eigoTown.com, Limited. All rights reserved.
All other trademarks are the sole property of their respective owners.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.