Japanese Braille In Brief

So, how do you transcribe Braille into languages whose scripts are not letter-by-letter as we, who regularly communicate in English, know them? Let’s skip Cyrillic and Masoretic languages for the time being and leap right into East Asian scripts.

Incomprehensible, right? Not necessarily! Once you work out which elements are important, in order to represent a language element: sound, phoneme, tone; you then have to decide how to show those elements in Braille. It’s all fairly mathematical.
The Japanese Braille system was invented in 1890 and revised in the 1970s, with developments that now allow Braille-to-print transcription for people who are blind. Excellent news! We all love it when technology can be made to promote Braille!
Japanese Braille uses the Braille cell in a similar way to that used in Braille music notation in English-speaking countries. In brief … very brief … the “bottom dots” represent consonants and the “top dots” represent vowels. You sometimes find dots before the cell to indicate qualitative differences in the sound, even if the vowels and consonants remain roughly the same, As an example, when the sound “y,” (as in “you,”) is inserted in a syllable, “ma” becoming “mya” a dot 4 occurs before the cell. When a voiceless consonant becomes voiced, (b to p, Welsh mutation backwards), dot 5 is placed before the cell.
Braille becomes pictorial, somehow, which is amazing for someone who has always viewed it as a font alternative, (again, taking shortcuts here), to Verdana or Times new Roman.
Of course, Braille short-hand or contracted Braille, in any language, is a matter for further examination, another time!
And tremendous credit to Kathleen Brady from the harvard Linguistics Department for her insightful study in Chinese and other Asian Braille scripts: