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Why do hiragana and katakana have the same form for "へ"?

When you start studying Japanese, you first learn hiragana and katakana, right?🤭

Then, you may have noticed that hiragana and katakana have some similarities.

Among them, you may have wondered why only “へ” is the same in hiragana and katakana.

Today, I’m gonna briefly explain about that!✍️

Originally, hiragana and katakana were created based on kanji during the Heian period (794 - 1185).🌸

Hiragana was originally used by women to write down spoken words, but its formation was based on a breakdown of the entire kanji.

For example, “あ” was created by changing the kanji character for “安”.

Katakana, on the other hand, is a character used by men to add furigana (phonetic guides to tell you how to read) to kanji, but its origins are made by omitting parts of kanji.

For example, “ア” was created by taking out only the left part of the kanji “阿” and changing it.

Similarly, the hiragana “り” is made by changing the entire kanji “利”, while the katakana “リ” is made by taking only the right part of the kanji “利” and changing it.

Because of the different origins, the hiragana “り” has a “hane”(An upward turn at the bottom of a stroke) part and a wider middle.

However, in the case of “へ,” both hiragana and katakana are based on "部".

Since many people in ancient Japan had the surname "○○部” and used a writing system in which the left side was omitted, the hiragana “へ” was not formed from the entire "部" but only the right side of "部" was broken down. Also, the katakana “へ” was similarly formed from the right side of "部".😳

In other words, hiragana was created based on a portion of the kanji, not the entire kanji, since abbreviations were used in the first place.

Moreover, the base of the character was the same as katakana, which is why the characters look so similar.

Learning the origin of hiragana and katakana in this way also makes studying the Japanese language fun!☺️



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