Learning Japanese
  • While learning japanese language which scripts should I take in mind, cause there are lot of scripts like hiragana, katakana, kana, kanji etc. I wanna suggestion on this.
  • All. The only question is when and in which order. The most obvious thing is that you should learn hiragana・ひらがな and katakana・カタカナ first. You'll need them. Whether you learn hiragana or katakana first doesn't matter, as you should learn both of them quickly anyway.
    Then there are kanji. Lots of them. I think it's better to think of kanji not so much as a script, but as words, so as not to be overwhelmed by how much you don't know. Then, while learning Japanese, you should gradually learn kanji, just as you learn vocabulary when learning other languages. As for how to learn kanji, there are many ways. There are flash card programs, regular physical flash cards, various web-based software (google them) &c. One thing you might need is a kanji dictionary, such as Nelson, Hadamitzky & Spahn or even a Japanese one.
    Oh, and you might have heard of romaji. Don't use them. They're not important and not normally used for Japanese. romaji refers to transcribing Japanese with latin characters, useful for example when writing Japanese names in a non-Japanese context or at the very very beginning of studying Japanese to introduce kana and their pronunciation. Other than that, they have the potential to confuse more than being helpful in any way, so don't give them much attention. What's more, there are many different schemes how to transcribe, so "tyi" and "chee" for example would be the same. [edit&correction: Please read the first paragraph of my post below.]

    Good luck
    ~blutorange
  • Romaji isn't useless, mainly because it's used and it would be helpful if you could read them :p

    Hiragana is definitely top priority, and ideally any textbook you have will use that as opposed to a romaji system. (Romaji means 'Roman-letters', it's probably easier to just remember it uses English letters to phonetically spell Japanese words.)

    But some books just use romaji and if that's what you can get, then that's what you can get.

    I agree it will likely be easier to learn kanji combinations as "words", because that's usually easier for Westerners I think. Kanji can be read phonetically, but it gets quite complicated; you can just learn the major ones as you go along. Most good textbooks will introduce some as you go, likely after you've learned hiragana though.
  • For a tourist in Japan, katakana is probably slightly more useful than hiragana. Though I think hiragana is slightly easier to learn.

    blutorange, I've never seen "tyi." What scheme uses that (or "chee" for that matter)?
  • @tamatama Sorry, it seems I made a slight mistake. ち+small "yi" obviously does not exist. But that does not change much. Make that "tyu" and "choo" instead.

    A Hepburn inspired transliteration scheme seems to be the most common outside Japan, but there are many more schemes.

    The so-called 「訓令式ローマ字」, for example, is the official transliteration system in Japan. This system uses "tyu","tya","sya","o" for を, "e" for ゑ, "i" for ゐ, "ti", "hu" for ふ, "ô"for both おう and おお [instead of ō according to Hepburn], "n”or "n'" for ん &c.

    "choo" for ちゅ(う) is be a transliteration, that can be used, for example, when it is more important for an English speaker with no knowledge of Japanese to get the sound right, instead of linguistic fatithfulness. Also called the "phonetic approach" to transliteration. Of course, this depends on the language of the intended audience. In Germany, you could write something like "schüü" for しゅう. Or consider the spelling ”tokio" instead of "tokyo".

    Then there is the JSL romanization scheme, which uses n̄ for ん, omou for 思う, tookyoo for 東京 [yes, no mistake, it uses both oo and ou according to certain criteria], the particles は and へ as wa and e, and a "g-sound" either as "g" or also as "ḡ", when nasalization is possible.

    And there are many more ways to transliterate. Adhering strictly to one system actually takes quite some diligence. One thing I would like to mention, take a look at older books about Japanese, eg "Diego Collado's Grammar of the Japanese Language" [ http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21197 ]. Quoting, try to make sense of the following transliteration system examples:
    - aguete arǒzu
    - avare ague io caxi
    - agueô toqi
    - agueĩde
    - aguenando fito
    - Firagana
    - The verb Xi "to do," ※
    - Gassuru, gaxxita, gaxxeô, gaxxeyo, gaxxenu.
    - Vomonzuru, vomonjita.
    - Fatçuru.
    - Tomorrow morning' is asa, axitatô, or [160]asatocu, and 'tomorrow night' is mionia [miǒia]. 'Before' is ijen or saqi ni. 'Yesterday' is qinô or sacujit. 'The day before yesterday' is vototoi or futçuca saqi ni. 'Several days in the past' is cono giǔ. Cono fodo and xenjit have the same meaning, as does xendo.


    I think the author uses the 連用形 as the "dictionary form" instead of 連体形 (ie「する」) or 終止形 (ie「す」). One more reason why one should refrain from calling a certain form "infinitive".

    And incidentally, watching how the author tries to force Latin grammar unto Japanese, which results in epic failure, is quite funny - you should take a look it.
  • As was mentioned by blutorange, don't use romaji! Try to learn hiragana & katakana as soon as possible or you'll be hindered in your studies.
  • You already know romaji, and kana is just "hiragana and katakana", so you only need to focus on hiragana and katakana.
    I'd start with hiragana first. Get it down. And then katakana. You can learn these in less than a week.
    That only leaves kanji...good luck with kanji.
  • I'd agree that it's best to learn hiragana rather than romaji when learning Japanese. However, don't overstate the case against romaji. There is a standard which is generally used, reflected in the common names for cities and Japanese people used in the media. It's true this doesn't distinguish between long and short vowels, but that's a fairly minor point compared with the various illogical and difficult pronunciations for English names.

    Edit: This standard romanisation can also be seen on official signs in Japan, of course. For example, when you go to Fukuoka the signs say 'Fukuoka' rather than 'Hukuoka'.

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