We have seen how the original KanJi Characters brought over from China then went on to become the stylised forms of the Kana syllabaries, the Hiragana and Katakana in Part I. Here, we shall put forward the use of Romanisation to represent the sounds in the Kana tables, and also the formation of the other sets of sounds that are found in Modern Japanese today.
Modern Romanisation and the Representation of Sounds
There are two Japanese romanisations used today. As you can see from the above, there are rows of syllables which have the same vowel, each syllable has a different initial letter per column. The layout can show us the general sounds of the character themselves, and is mainly in the Japanese 'kunrei-siki' system () (little used). There is also the Hepburn Romanisation system which mimics the characteristics of the sound much better. Below, were show both systems, with the /wi/ and /we/ sounds removed.
The table show four main differences, they are
So far, the sound inventory has only included the vowels and the syllables beginning with the initials, k, s, t, n, h, m, y, r, and w, in that order.
This is not a full inventory, since, there are kana which can be changed by the addition of a mark to signify a different sound. This mark is called the Nigori ( ) or Daku-ten ( ) ( ). In the case of p, the HanDaku ( ) mark ( ) is used.
We see from the table that the addition of the nigori mark changes the kana representation of the sounds. Under the Kunrei system, the romanisations look tidy and ordered, (with the ti > zi and tsu > zu kana the exceptions ) but the Hepburn system shows the actual sounds that we hear in Modern Japanese better. There is another group of sounds composed of the kana we see above. These are multiple kana compounds which for a sound and uses half-sized versions of the syllables ya, yu and yo and the -i kana initial syllables. The process in Japanese is called You-On ( ).
This table gives us a more complicated romanisation in Kunrei and Hepburn. They are as follows:
The absorbtion of the -i- in the romanisation is a peculiarity in both transcriptions, as it has merged with the -y- semi-vowel.
Long vowels, and other marks
To elongate a vowel, we can repeat the vowel of the previous kana, in the case of -a, -i, and -u, that is, the sound becomes, -aa, -ii, and -uu respectively. In the case of e, i is added, so the elongated sound is -ei. The -o ending is elongated with the addition of -u, so we obtain -ou. This proceedure is known as Chou-On ( ) in Japanese, literally, long sound. In the usual Japanese style kana table representation of Kou ( )and Dan ( ),
In Katakana transcription, the horizontal line is used for indicating that a vowel should be extended. For instance the english word "coffee" is written in katakana as .
This brings us finally to the use of the small tsu (tu) (top hiragana, bottom katakana) as opposed to the normal tsu (tu) kana. The term used is the Soku-On ( ), whereby the following consonant is doubled. The literal use of the sound tsu is disregarded, it serves merely as an indicator of the following changes in pronunciation. We can demonstrate the use in the Kanji compound which has the hiragana and katakana .