Definition of syllabary in US English:



  • A set of written characters representing syllables and (in some languages or stages of writing) serving the purpose of an alphabet.

    • ‘Eight in 10 foreigners attending Japanese-language schools can read hiragana Japanese cursive syllabary but only around five in 10 can read Roman characters, a survey conducted by the Cultural Affairs Agency said Thursday.’
    • ‘They also write these first and last names with Japanese characters - not with the phonetic syllabary used for foreign names.’
    • ‘It was enough that we be able to read the syllabary.’
    • ‘Akkadian is written with wedges on clay, and has a syllabary containing several hundred signs.’
    • ‘He used this experience to complete the translation into English of a manuscript on healing, originally in the Sequoya syllabary, which had been begun by another scholar.’
    • ‘Cherokee is written with a syllabary invented independently by Sequoyah in the 1830s.’
    • ‘Their equivalent of an alphabet was similar to a Japanese syllabary, where each symbol stood for a syllable in their tongue.’
    • ‘So I got into university knowing only the Romanized syllabary.’
    • ‘The Japanese phonetic syllabaries (characters representing syllables) or the Roman alphabet is used to transcribe Ainu speech.’
    • ‘Each kana, as these two systems are called, is a separate phonetic syllabary and each hiragana character has a corresponding katakana character.’
    • ‘This same paradigm of identical shapes in varying orientations made the syllabary easy to learn, resulting in a high rate of literacy among the Cree people.’
    • ‘While disappointing for epigraphy fans, the find adds 101 characters to the Isthmian syllabary and should represent a step toward retrieving Olmec history.’
    • ‘At the same time, a sophisticated syllabary developed.’
    • ‘Independently, the Sumerians and the Egyptians developed much simpler phonetic syllabaries consisting of about 26 letters.’
    • ‘Hiragana and katakana are both phonetic syllabaries, wherein each of the 46 symbols equates to one phonic.’
    • ‘One page was written in our syllabary, which is our alphabet, and the other page was written in English.’
    • ‘Linear-B was a syllabary - each character represented a complete syllable.’
    • ‘A clear-cut distinction cannot always be made between alphabets proper and syllabaries, sets of syllabic symbols as in the Japanese kana systems.’
    • ‘Over time, the continual re-use of the same characters to represent sounds led to the evolution of a syllabary based on the sounds of the spoken language.’
    • ‘A similar system in use in Japan at about the same time, known as man'yogana, eventually evolved into hiragana, one of the syllabaries used to write modern Japanese.’
    system of symbols, alphabet, script
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Mid 19th century: from modern Latin syllabarium, from Latin syllaba (see syllable).