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  • The modern Japanese writing system is a combination of two character types: logographic kanji, which are adopted Chinese characters, and syllabic kana. Kana itself consists of a pair of syllabaries: hiragana, used for native or naturalised Japanese words and grammatical elements, and katakana, used for foreign words and names, loanwords, onomatopoeia, scientific names, and sometimes for emphasis. Almost all Japanese sentences contain a mixture of kanji and kana. Because of this mixture of scripts, in addition to a large inventory of kanji characters, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be the most complicated in use anywhere in the world. Several thousand kanji characters are in regular use. Each has an intrinsic meaning, and most have more than one pronunciation, the choice of which depends on context. In modern Japanese, the hiragana and katakana syllabaries each contain 46 basic characters, or 71 including diacritics. Each different sound in the Japanese language is represented by one character in each syllabary. Unlike kanji, these characters intrinsically represent sounds only; they convey meaning only as part of words.

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