Nikana (Syllable Groups)
The combination rules
In this level more than one syllable can be grouped in a 5×7 rectangle, according to the tables below: (+4 syllables: division is required!)
Theoretically, the syllables can be grouped in morphemes, but the latter does not always appear at the end of a syllable (ex/ the verb “hanasemasu”).
Ha + na + se + ma + su
In this case the morpheme is “hanas”. The letter “s” cannot be written alone and it requires being followed by the vowel “e” which is not part of the morpheme. This means the letter “s” is left out of the morpheme group (morpheme –) or the letter “e” is added (morpheme +).
This rule is not applied when the reading clarity is distorted by the number of the lines, or there are more than 4 syllables.
Let’s take for example the sentence: “Nihongo ga sukoshi hanasemasu” (I speak a little Japanese) and compare the actual writing of it with Manjikana.
With the actual writing, this sentence is written with 56 lines (122 hand movements), and with Manjikana it is written with 46 lines (96 hand movements).
At the table above it is denoted the number of hand movements required by the standard version of Manjikana, Nikana 1 (simple syllable groups) and Nikana 2 (maximum number of grouped syllables.)
Nikana 2 reduces 29.5% of the hand movements, 26.85% lines and 50% spaces.
In Nikana 1 the above sentence is grouped:
1-Nihon, 2-go, 3-ga, 4-suko, 5-shi, 6-hana, 7-se, 8-ma, 9-su
In Nikana 2 it is grouped as:
1- Nihongo – grouped according to scheme 3 (1-ni, 2-hon, 3-go)
2- Ga – one syllable, no group
3- Sukoshi – grouped according to scheme 4 (1-su, 2-ko, 3-shi)
4- Hanase – grouped according to scheme 3 (1-ha, 2-na, 3-se)
5- Masu – grouped according to scheme 1 (1-ma, 2-su)
The simplification rules
To group the syllables a few steps and rules must be followed. First we need to know how many syllables are about to be grouped. The word “hashi” has two syllables: ha +shi. To group the syllables, we can choose one of the first two schemes. The selected scheme must be aesthetically suitable to the other syllables as well. Other selections are not incorrect, but the process must be oriented towards the aesthetic.
However, the hand movements can be reduced by reducing the number of the lines. In the picture on the left, there is easily noticed that the lines that follow the same direction can be connected to each other. In the first combination (above), the group formed is in the standard version, and in the second combination (in the middle) and the third one (below), the vowel “a” from the syllable “ha” is connected to one of the lines of the vowel “i” from the syllable “shi”. Since “i” has two vertical lines, there are two possible connection ways, and therefore, three different versions of the group.
So, to combine these two syllables two schemes (1 or 2) can be used. Just for the scheme 1 there three ways of combinations. All three combinations are phonetically identical, but as a result of the simplification, the second and third form are written with 6 lines and 12 hand movements.
In conclusion, with only six lines can be written four sounds, giving a average of 1.5 lines for sound. The margin moves from 1 to 2 lines per sound. No system offers such efficacy, without pointing out the language’s complexity.
The grouping of two vowels
The word “Aikidō” (Japanese martial art) would be normally written with Manjikana in 4 spaces: “a” + “i” + “ki” + “dō”. The vowels “a” and “i” can be written together, like in the figure:
The vowels can be grouped following these principles:
- Short vowel + short vowel
- Short vowel + long vowel
- Long vowel + short vowel
The short and long version of the same vowel, or two long vowels cannot be grouped together!
The table below shows all the possible combinations:
Reading the grouped vowels:
- The vowel “a” is too thin to fill a 5×7 rectangle, so two short lines are added to the sides to both its versions.
- All vowels develop vertically, so their grouping also mainly consists of vertical lines (except the small elements).
- The vowels must not intersect.
- It is read first the vowel whose upper edge is higher; no matter how downward goes its development (in the group “ai” the “a” goes higher and it is read first; in the group “ia” the “i” goes higher and it is read first).