Japanese/日本語

皆さん、こんにちわ!

Seeing as I’ve been getting a number of hits on this page, I guess it’s about time I actually add something here. 🙂

I live in Japan and like many people here I’m going about the task of teaching myself the language.  There’s a lot to cover so let’s take it from the top!

The AlphabetS

The Japanese language is tough.  But whatchagonnado except give it go.  Let’s start with the alphabet.  There are two, hiragana and katakana.  English has consonants and vowels.  Japanese combines consonants and vowels so that there are 5 sound combinations for most groups. But they use the vowel sounds A E I O U for the combinations so that’s a plus.  But their order is A I U E O.  Combined with the first consonant is th letter K which yields Ka Ki Ku Ke Ko.  I could write them all out, but it’s been done so check out the wiki for the details:  Hiragana.  Now, the strange thing is that the Japanese people decided to make another group of letters, Katakana, that have the EXACT same sounds as Hiragana.  Nothing like doing twice the work for no reason. 😦 Now, an easy way for foreigners to read Japanese is to put all those sounds down in OUR Romanized alphabet. So, yes, the THIRD alphabet is Romaji.  So, let’s recap. One, two, THREE different representations of the same exact sounds.  Wonderful.  Let’s move on.

The Stolen Characters!

A little before I was born, Japan had a spoken language, but didn’t have a written language.  When they saw that China had one, they stole it.  Then they went and took the WHOLE of the Japanese language and beat it with a really big hammer into the Chinese ideographs and gave it a new name, Kanji.  Of course, it didn’t quite fit and a lot of the words kept hanging out of the kanji looking really messy.  So they decided to call that hiragana.  How efficient!

There are four groups of kanji. The education list, the general use list, the people names list and the other list. It’s no easy task to learn kanji.  But I’ve finally decided to tackle it.  I decided to use the Heisig mneumonic method because I was already doing something similar and a friend told me about the book. Once I started, I got hooked and started making short stories for every kanji.

Anki

Anki, 暗記, means memorization.  But the software is a spaced recognition software system that aids in remembering pretty much anything.  It’s a very cool flash card program that is especially sweet with Japanese.  Once you set up a deck of cards on your pc, you can upload it to the internet.  You can study on your pc, on-line or even on your cell phone.  And all the info syncs up so you stay up to date.  I highly recommend it!

Okay, so I got ALL the general use kanji into the software and finally finished the list. Finished is too definitive.  I am now familiar with them. Time to move on.

Vocabulary

Kanji is also like an alphabet because you can combine different kanji to make different words.  Now what’s uncool is that kanji have different pronunciations in different combinations.  The drawback to the Heisig system is that book one doesn’t teach the pronunciations, only the English meanings.  I discovered that there are kanji frequency lists and vocabulary frequency lists and have created a flash card deck for anki and study that practically everyday.  I’m hoping to learn the vocabulary words and absorb the kanji pronunciations as opposed to studying each character, learning the on/kun readings and samples of popular kanji pairings/words.  Learning the kanji alone is a huge task. The vocabulary list is even bigger so I WON’T be finishing that anytime soon. But it feels reallllllly good to recognize kanji and read a bit.

To be continued…

Responses

  1. Hello~! ( ^ д ^) /
    I’m Daisuke!
    Do you remember me?
    Uh….
    It is difficult for me to reading English…

  2. Hi Daisuke, of course I do! 英語を読めなくてもいいですよ!ただ合気道と空手道の下のページにビデオがあるのでゆっくり見てください。11/14 & 11/21を探して見てね。じゃあ、テストや合気道の勉強を頑張ってね!

  3. Hi Eddie, thank you so much~.
    テスト頑張ります!(受験間近;
    14と21見ておきますb
    では学校で。 See you later!

  4. はろ~(^皿^)!!
    実はまだブログ読んでません。。
    27日受験なので。。。。(--〆)
    合格したらじっくりよむんで…
    I all wrote it in Japanese, but were you readable?

    See you!!

  5. りさちゃん, my blog を見てくれてありがと!読めたよ!受験勉強を頑張ってね!See you soon!

  6. hello!
    Do you know history about hiragana or katakana?
    Japanese people were using only Kanji until the Heian Period.
    Hiragana was made in the Heian period, and Hiragana was using by only woman.
    Do you know that?

    英語で書いてみたけど、意味わかるかなぁ~・・・・

  7. Hi Risa, thanks for writing in English! I think your English might be better than my Japanese! I’d forgotten about hiragana being for women. Thanks for reminding me! I don’t mind hiragana so much, but I really dislike katakana. Katakana has letters for the exact same sounds as hiragana so it’s twice the work to remember. And it’s painful for me to read!! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  8. It’s too difficult for me to read your coment!!
    But I’m understood a little, because usesd electronic dictionaly(^-^)

    I like katakana. I think it is easyer than hiragana. Because it have fewer kakusuu (画数) than hiragana.

    I teaching you origin to katakana, and you may understand it a little.
        阿→ア 伊→イ 宇→ウ 江→エ 於→オ
    Katakana is part of kanji or transform from part of kanji.

    Do you understand?

    英語でかくのはホントむすかしい。。。。。

  9. Hi Risa, 難しくて、ごめんね!君のmessage を分かったよ!頑張っているね:) カタカナの事を知らなかったんですよ。教えてくれてありがと。日本語の先生みたい!かっこういい!

  10. 『かっこいい』には『う』いらないよ~

    Wikipediaで「カタカナ」って検索したらもっとくわしい絵があるよ~☆

  11. Risa 先生は厳しいですよね;)Wikipedia って…宿題ですか?いやだよ!でも土曜日は昼からスターバで勉強をするんですよ!Have a nice weekend!!

  12. 久しぶりのコメントで~す!!
    そういえば、エディって干支【えと】しってますか?

  13. こんばんわりさ!その言葉知らなかったけど意味が分かるよ。辰年です!怖いですか?;)きみほ何年?

  14. 辰か~!!
    いいな~、かっこいいやん!
    わたしは酉年【とりどし】。。。
    こんどの辰年は2012年やね(^v^)


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