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Guide to Reading Japanese Online: Dealing with Ruby

Use Japanese language open source digital texts for teaching

What is Ruby?

Ruby are small subscripts or superscripts uesd to assist in pronouncing a word. It is common in Japanese and Chinese, which have writing systems that can convey meaning, but do not necessarily indicate pronunciation. Ruby solves this issue by displaying pronunciation in a way that is unobtrusive to the reader. The following pictures show examples of the forms ruby can take in Japanese:

In the examples above, the text is read left to right. The word here is shinkansen, commonly known as the "bullet train" in English, written in kanji. The example on the left shows Ruby within hiragana. Hiragana is one of two Japanese phonetic scripts. The second example uses romanized Japanese instead of hiragana. Japanese can also be written vertically, and ruby can be oriented accordingly:

In everyday life, ruby can facilitate reading difficult kanji. It can also be used in a creative fashion for literary or poetic purposes. In the classroom it can be a great assistance to students, especially if they are studying classical Japanese. It can also be manipulated in software like Microsoft Office or OpenOffice, and to a lesser extent it can be implimented in websites.

Ruby in the Classroom

Adding dummy content.

Browser Compatibility / Technical Issues with Ruby

Curently, support for ruby is spotty. In this context "support" refers any given technology's ability to properly display ruby text. Support ranges from "none at all" to "flawless" Sadly, no support is quite common, and flawless support is only a dream. From here we cover which porgrams and technologies enable you to get the most out of using Ruby.

Subject Guide

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Molly Des Jardin
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North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
北米日本研究資料調整協議会
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