Some believe that katakana’s origins are ancient Hebrew as there is some similarity between some of the letters, which are also pronounced in a similar manner, such as the letter Ka and Kaph for instance.
These similarities are often cited as evidence by proponents of the theory that one of the lost 10 tribes of Israel ended up in Japan. Books have been published in English on the topic and Japanese television programmes have also explored the subject.
However, most academics believe that katakana is in fact based on Kanji (Chinese characters) and was developed over a thousand years ago in Japan’s Heian Period (794-1185) by Japanese monks to annotate Chinese texts – mostly Buddhist texts; so they could be read by Japanese readers. The alphabet subsequently became used for non-Chinese loanwords as Japan became exposed to other countries, languages and cultures.
The so-called lost tribes of Israel reportedly started leaving and disappearing from Israel following the conquest of its northern kingdom by the Assyrians in 721 BCE.
© Red Circle Authors Limited