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kyokiruThursday 23rd of June 2005 02:43:09 AM
Learning Japanese - Kana vs. Romaji - When I began learning Japanese I didn't know if I should learn kana, kanji, or vocabulary first. Kanji was too complicated, so I decided to learn kana first and then as I learned my vocabulary I could write them in Japanese kana rather than romaji. I personally have found it easier that way because although I can't yet understand much of what I can read ( because I have just now begun the actual vocabulary ), writing the vocabulary in the actual kana has greatly improved my ability to correctly and quickly read the characters.

So, I was wondering how everyone else was learning their Japanese. Is it easier for you to write your vocabulary in romaji or in kana or even in kanji? Which did YOU learn first, vocabulary or characters?

PsyThursday 23rd of June 2005 03:06:41 AM
- Bingo.

Kana comes first. Though it's initially easier, to use romaji for any length is a crutch. As for me, after I learned kana, I have been taking the rest of my studies (grammar, vocabulary, kanji and so forth) simultaneously-- though I certainly favor one over the other at any given time. (one of my Kanji sessions lasted four months!)
kyokiruThursday 23rd of June 2005 03:19:47 AM
- How did you learn kana? I bought these awesome little workbooks, "Let's Learn Hiragana" and "Let's Learn Katakana" and they were absolutely awesome. Lots of good practice exercises.
youjinbouThursday 23rd of June 2005 02:19:01 PM
- In my opinion Romaji is probably the worst way to begin to learn Japanese. I say that because there is NO standard set of Romaji that is used today. You can look in just about every japanese work book that has romaji in it, and they are ALL different, they all write the words differently. If you took into account all the different ways you can write Japanese in English..... You could write the name Tokyo like: Tokyo, Toukyou, toukyo, tokio, toukyyou...im sure the list goes on and on... And while most except TOKYO as the official spelling, I just pulled that outta the had as a way of spelling Japanese.

Besides.... who wants to learn a language by not USING the language? LoL, imagine a novel written ENTIRELY in Romaji! LOL!!! that'd be a headace...

As for myself, I learned Hiragana and Katakana on the 16hr plane ride over there :) lol, it was either that or watch some movies on a tiny screen 10rows infront of me using cheap ass airplane headphones and get interrupted by the pilots and the flight attendants using the com....
graffixnerdFriday 24th of June 2005 04:14:50 PM
- To learn Hiragana or Katakana the best thing you can do is memorization. Learn it's structure (a i u e o ka ki ku ke ko etc). Practice writing basic Japanese words, and in no time you will get it. Katakana is easy to read and understand once you take a moment to match it's foreign influence....but it tends to be (for me atleast) a bit harder to write. Not in the sense of the kana, but in how the word should be spelled....either way, you would not be writing to much in katakana. The best way that i am learning Kanji is through a book called "Kanji & Kana". It has a green cover. The book is amazing! You should seriously take a look at it. Without learning Kanji, you will not be able to read Japanese articles and information. Hope that this could help you in some sort of way. じゃまた!

P.S. - It is good to use romaji for about less than a week (to get familiar with the way Japanese phonetics work). Aside from that it is worthless.
Ainariel-himeSunday 26th of June 2005 12:08:30 AM
- Yeah, I heard you should start with kana... I did, and since I'm broke, I use a website http://www.nihongoresources.com which I think is a great help! I started with hiragana, it says that's easier at first. Anyway, I can recommend to all beginners this website, it's really good for beginners! (which I am :D)

With kanji, do you have to memorize them? But then how do you know how to say a kanji you've never seen before?
PsySunday 26th of June 2005 01:48:26 AM
- Sadly, yes to the first, and to the second, you can't. It's a real pain in the butt, too. Even native Japanese speakers cannot always be sure how to pronounce them. (this is especially true with obscure name spellings)

The Chinese, who have recently simplified their character set, have been quietly sniggering at Japan ever since.
kyokiruSunday 26th of June 2005 08:48:32 AM
- I read that Japanese can often be seen "writing" the kanji out on their hands while speaking, to clarify which kanji they are referring to since there are so many. I didn't believe it until my friend Asami did it while talking to me.

However, Ainariel-hime, there are some instances ( like in manga, ex. ) that next to the kanji are small hiragana called "furigana" to aid the reader with unknown kanji. Now whether or not furigana's use is widespread, I couldn't tell you. But when they are there, they sure are a big help!!
PsySunday 26th of June 2005 10:51:25 AM
- [quote]Originally posted by kyokiru
Now whether or not furigana's use is widespread, I couldn't tell you. But when they are there, they sure are a big help!![/quote]

It largely depends on the publication, but furigana (also called ruby) is often used with obscure characters/compounds, children's books, and when the use of a character is ambiguous: 家, for instance, when is it うち or いえ? Context won't always tell you.
krisguySunday 26th of June 2005 11:43:39 AM
- [quote]Originally posted by graffixnerd


To learn Hiragana or Katakana the best thing you can do is memorization. Learn it's structure (a i u e o ka ki ku ke ko etc). Practice writing basic Japanese words, and in no time you will get it. Katakana is easy to read and understand once you take a moment to match it's foreign influence....but it tends to be (for me atleast) a bit harder to write. Not in the sense of the kana, but in how the word should be spelled....either way, you would not be writing to much in katakana. The best way that i am learning Kanji is through a book called "Kanji & Kana". It has a green cover. The book is amazing! You should seriously take a look at it. Without learning Kanji, you will not be able to read Japanese articles and information. Hope that this could help you in some sort of way. じゃまた!

P.S. - It is good to use romaji for about less than a week (to get familiar with the way Japanese phonetics work). Aside from that it is worthless.[/quote]

I have that book also, I bought it from Barnes and Noble, and it is a two part series of books by Tuttle Publishing. That book is great! I've been using it to write the names of all of my co-workers at my job (more for practice, than anything) and most everyone is getting a real kick out of it.
kyokiruMonday 27th of June 2005 08:01:47 AM
- [quote]Originally posted by krisguy


I have that book also, I bought it from Barnes and Noble, and it is a two part series of books by Tuttle Publishing. That book is great! I've been using it to write the names of all of my co-workers at my job (more for practice, than anything) and most everyone is getting a real kick out of it.[/quote]

The book I am using for kanji is also by Tuttle. Have you ever heard of Kanji Power?
graffixnerdTuesday 28th of June 2005 07:33:44 AM
- Kanji usually tend to have certain (basic) rules. If you read a kanji within furigana than it is usually read as it's KUN reading (or japanese reading). Ex. あの人 is read "anohito" hito being its KUN reading. On the other hand if you tend to read a sentence composed of only kanji, it tends to be read in it's ON reading (or chinese reading). Ex. 日本人 is read "nihonjin" jin being it's ON reading.
graffixnerdTuesday 28th of June 2005 07:35:28 AM
- By the way.....those are not the only rules (which makes japanese 無図化し!)
Ainariel-himeWednesday 29th of June 2005 12:43:11 AM
- Oh dear... this kanji business is HARD :) I wish the government would just leave everything written in kana! Like the chinese simplified their horribly complicated language :)
*dreams on*
PsyWednesday 29th of June 2005 09:28:44 AM
- [quote]Originally posted by graffixnerd


By the way.....those are not the only rules (which makes japanese 無図化し!)[/quote]
I picked my brain for a long time trying to figure out what you meant by that, and then it finally clicked: I think you meant to write 難しい! Though I find the interpretation of changing (化) northward(北)without a map (無図)rather creative as well!

[quote]Originally posted by Ainariel-hime


Oh dear... this kanji business is HARD :) I wish the government would just leave everything written in kana! Like the chinese simplified their horribly complicated language :)
*dreams on*[/quote]

Yeah, it's a certifiable pain in the neck, but I think I can vouch for many by stating no you don't. While I wholeheartedly agree kanji must be simplified, to abolish it would make Japanese-- a language already utterly dependent on context-- even moreso. Rather like the way Hebrew is written without vowels, in kana many words are spelled identically, leaving the meaning to be drawn from the context of the sentence.

Simply put, it would make your studies harder.
DuffieWednesday 29th of June 2005 10:46:23 PM
- Just say no to romaji. :)
kyokiruFriday 01st of July 2005 01:34:14 AM
- [quote]Originally posted by Psy

Yeah, it's a certifiable pain in the neck, but I think I can vouch for many by stating no you don't. While I wholeheartedly agree kanji must be simplified, to abolish it would make Japanese-- a language already utterly dependent on context-- even moreso. Rather like the way Hebrew is written without vowels, in kana many words are spelled identically, leaving the meaning to be drawn from the context of the sentence.

Simply put, it would make your studies harder.[/quote]

Plus, could you imagine the tremendous pain in the hind-quarters for the ministry of education, having to redo the entire Japanese education system to make it kana only.