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hyph

Japanese braille

Japanese braille is a braille code for writing the Japanese language. It is based on the original braille system. In Japanese it is known as , literally "dot characters". Below is a basic chart of Japanese braille with the Japanese hiragana character followed by the standard roman character reading above each braille character.

Japanese braille is a vowel-based abugida. That is, the glyphs are syllabic, but unlike kana contain separate symbols for consonants and vowels, and the vowels take primacy. The vowels are written in the upper left corner (points 1, 2, 4) and may be used alone. The consonants are written in the lower right corner (points 3, 5, 6) and cannot occur alone. (An isolated t would be read as wo, for example. The only exception is m, which when written alone is the syllabic nasal, which may perhaps be a design feature rather than coincidence.) However, the semivowel y is indicated by point 4, a vowel point, and the vowel symbol is dropped to the bottom of the block. When this is written in isolation, it indicates that the following syllable has a medial y, as in mya. For syllables beginning with w the vowel is also dropped, but no consonant is written. (Except for the syllable wa, historic w is silent in modern Japanese.)

Main chart

  あ a い i う u え e お o
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k か ka き ki く ku け ke こ ko
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s さ sa し shi す su せ se そ so
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t た ta ち chi つ tsu て te と to
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n な na に ni ぬ nu ね ne の no
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h は ha ひ hi ふ fu へ he ほ ho
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m ま ma み mi む mu め me も mo ん n
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y や ya   ゆ yu   よ yo    -y-
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r ら ra り ri る ru れ re ろ ro
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w わ wa ゐ wi   ゑ we を wo   -w-
   
   
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Other symbols

In kana, the voiced consonants g, z, d, b are derived from the voiceless consonants k, s, t, h by adding a diacritic called dakuten to the kana, as in ぎ gi. Similarly, p is derived from h by adding a small circle, handakuten. Two kana are fused into a single syllable by writing the second small, as in きゃ kya; this is called yōon.

dakuten
(voice)
handakuten
(p-)
yōon
(-y-)
yōon +
dakuten
yōon +
handakuten
   
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In Japanese braille, the signs for these are prefixes. That is, the order is dakuten ki for ぎ gi. When more than one occurs in a single syllable, they are combined in a single prefix block, as the yōon-dakuten used for ぎゃ gya.

The yōon prefix uses the point that represents y in the blocks ya, yu, yo. When placed before ka, ku, ke, ko, it produces kya, kyu, kye, kyo. Likewise, the yōon-tenten prefix before ka, ku, ke, ko creates gya, gyu, gye, gyo. Similarly for the other consonants. The syllable ye is written yōon plus e. (Note that kye, gye, and ye are not found in native Japanese words.) Yōon and yōon-dakuten are also added to chi to represent the sounds ti, di found in foreign borrowings; and similarly yōon-handakuten and yōon-dakuten-handakuten (all three points on the right side of the block) are added to tsu to write tu, du. This differs from the system used in kana, where the base syllables are te and to respectively, and where handakuten is only used to represent p.

There is a second yōon-like prefix for medial w. When combined with ka, it produces the obsolete syllable kwa. It may also be fused with the voicing prefix for gwa. For foreign borrowings, it may be combined with the vowels i, e, o for wi, we, wo (note that in the original Japanese kana for wi, we, wo the w is now silent), with ha, hi, he, ho for fa, fi, fe, fo and va, vi, ve, vo (vu is written dakuten u), and with ta, chi, tsu, te, to for tsa, tsi, tu, tse, tso and (with dakuten) du.

There are two other kana. One, called sokuon, is a small kana tsu, っ; it is used to indicate that the following syllable is geminate, or (in interjections) as a glottal stop. The other is a dash, ー, called a chōon used only in katakana to indicate a long vowel. This also looks like a dash in braille.

sokuon chōon
   
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The placement of these blocks mirrors the equivalent kana: the sokuon indicates that the following consonant is geminant, whereas the chōon indicates that the preceding vowel is long.

Punctuation

Besides the punctuation of Japanese, braille also has symbols to indicate that the following signs are Hindu numerals or in the Latin alphabet.

num. Latin hyph.
   
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There are several additional punctuation marks, including one to indicate that the following signs are in English and not just in the Latin alphabet.

See also

External links

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