Watch out for the dreaded language headache!

Japanese uses three (four, if you count romanji) methods to write the language: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.  All methods can and may be used in any particular piece of writing.  Fun stuff!  It actually begins to make sense after a while so give it some time.  Here’s a quick introduction to some of the basics of the written language.

Hiragana uses symbols to represent syllables and is used to write Japanese words.

Katakana uses symbols to represent syllables and is used to write foreign words or to accent a word or phrase, much like italics in English.

Kanji is based on Chinese characters but the pronunciation is different and sometimes the meaning is different.  There are many kanji and I will not explore them here but they are necessary to read the language.  The interesting thing is that the pronunciation can change depending on the context of the surrounding words.  There is sometimes a handy furigana (a small version of hiragana) that shows up next to the characters to aid with pronunciation.  It isn’t always there so you can’t depend on it.

Hiragana        Syllables

あいうえお     a i u e o

かきくけこ     ka ki ku ke ko

がぎぐげご     ga gi gu ge go

さしすせそ     sa shi su se so

ざじずぜぞ     za ji zu ze zo

たちつてと     ta chi tsu te to

だぢづでど     da ji zu de do

なにぬねの     na ni nu ne no

はひふへほ     ha hi hu he ho

ばびぶべぼ     ba bi bu be bo

ぱぴぷぺぽ     pa pi pu pe po

まみむめも     ma mi mu me mo

やゆよ             ya yu yo

らりるれろ     ra ri ru re ro

わを                wa wo

ん                   n


One Response to Language

  1. mjduroch says:

    Learning a language needs to be taken in big leaps followed by small detailed steps. Just saying… Let the headache pass and come back later. The dreaded language headache has arrived.

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