Enzoju (音字) are the syllabic Surean scripts, as opposed to the logographic Chinese characters known in Surea as Honju (漢字) and the roman alphabet known as romaju. Enzoju is seen as the cursive writing of the Japanese katakana, but with some examptions. The source of the enzoju script came from the same used to write the katakana script. It replaced the old syllabic use of honju known as "Goju" (古字).

Similar to its Japanese counterpart, enzoju syllabograms are always CV (consonant with vowel) or V (only vowel) with the sole exception of the C grapheme for n and ng. This structure had some scholars label the system moraic instead of syllabic, because it requires the combination of two syllabograms to represent a CVC or CCV syllable.

Writing system

The enzoju consist of a basic set of characters: five singular vowels, 40 distinct consonant-vowel unions and one singular consonant, bringing up the total count of common use characters to 46.

These basic characters can be modified in various ways. By adding a natsuten marker ( ゛), a voiceless consonant is turned into a voiced consonant: k→g, s→z, t→d, h→b and r→l. Hiragana beginning with an h can also add a genten marker ( ゜) changing the h to a p and n to a ng.

A small version of the enzoju for "ya", "yu" or "yo" may be added to enzojus ending in "i". This changes the "i" vowel sound to a glide (palatalization) to "a", "u" or "o". Addition of the small "y" enzoju is called yoenzo.

A small "tsu" called a choenzo indicates that the following consonant is geminated (doubled). It also sometimes appears at the end of utterances, where it denotes a glottal stop. However, it cannot be used to double the "na", "ni", "nu", "ne", "no" syllables' consonants - to double them, the singular n is added in front of the syllable.

Enzoju uses a vowel extender mark called a chōon. This is a short line following the direction of the text, horizontal for horizontal text, and vertical for vertical text.


Syllables beginning with the voiced consonants g, z, d, b and l are spelled with enzoju from the k, s, t, h and r columns, respectively, and the voicing mark, natsuten. Syllables beginning with p are spelled with enzoju from the h column and the half-voicing mark, genten. The syllable n may also be changed to ng by adding the genten to it.


Syllables beginning with palatalized consonants are spelled with enzoju from the "i" row followed by small "ya", "yu" or "yo". This is called yoenzo.

  • There are no digraphs for the half-consonantal y and w columns.
  • The transcription is with three letters, leaving out the i: CyV.
  • syV and tyV are often transcribed shV and chV instead.

Modern usage

Since the introduction of enzoju, it is mostly used to indicate prefixes, particles, and grammatical word endings (oberuenzo). It is also used to represent entire words (usually of Surean, rather than Chinese, origin) in place of honju.

Lately, more and more oberuenzo is replaced with full enzoju, leaving honju to be used mainly for names, nouns, pronouns and objects. Words such as "naga" (田, field), "umai" (海, sea) or "Kimizui" (清水, a family name) are written in honju, but words like "抱キズ" (Hakarikizu "to hug") and "欲シイ" (Yukushii "want/desire") are more common to write as "ハカリキズ" and "ユクシイ" respectively nowadays,although the former is still widely used.

See also

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