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An image showing a selection of symbols from the Hiragana, Inuktitut and Tagalog syllabries


A syllabary is a phonetic writing system consisting of symbols representing syllables. A syllable is often made up of a consonant plus a vowel or a single vowel.

The illustration on the right shows a selection of symbols from Japanese Hiragana, and Inuktitut. In Hiragana each syllable is represented by a separate symbol. In Inuktitut the orientation of the symbols is used indicate different vowels, and the small symbol is used to write syllable final consonants, as in Inuktitut.

Please note

transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are used extensively throughout this website. The IPA transcriptions are the letters and other symbols which appear in square bracketts, like this [b], [p]. etc.

You can learn about the IPA and phonetics at

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