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How do japanese(general) words translate?
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Posted 5/6/12
I love my anime and you know you pick up stuff while watching subs. http://www.linguanaut.com/japanese_alphabet.htm

Can someone tell me how to build a word in japanese?
Do you combine all three alphabets? kanji, hiragana and katakana
Then how do those letters translate towards the english alphabet?

sry if this has been done i dont know the meaning of search
Posted 5/6/12
o.0
It's not something you can just suddenly be "taught".
I mean, if I were foreign, and suddenly asked you how to make a word in English, could you tell me?

Hiragana and katakana are pretty easily translated into the English alphabet, being phonetic, but kanji... well, since there're thousands, you'd need a whole dictionary.

Any yes, they combine all three alphabets to create sentences. Although Kanji and hiragana are used a lot more. than katakana
Here's hiragana, and how they translate into english


Katakana


The only rules that I can think of is that you can't start words with the "ん" OR "NN" letter

But yeah, unless someone can prove me wrong, just learn the language. Or else, you'll find it very hard to "build words"
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Posted 5/7/12 , edited 5/7/12

haikinka wrote:

But yeah, unless someone can prove me wrong, just learn the language.


OK, the word for "bridge" and "chopsticks" is the same. So first, what is that word and second what is the difference? It's a two fold answer when relating to the spoken and the written language.

Now while you work on that I'll answer the OP.


redcookie wrote:

I love my anime and you know you pick up stuff while watching subs. http://www.linguanaut.com/japanese_alphabet.htm

Can someone tell me how to build a word in japanese?
Do you combine all three alphabets? kanji, hiragana and katakana
Then how do those letters translate towards the english alphabet?

sry if this has been done i dont know the meaning of search


I think you have to understand the difference between kanji, hiragana and katakana. Kanji is of course the borrowed Chinese writing system based on a series of pictographs, a character identifiable for its meaning. The easiest one to explain is "man" or "otoko". The kanji 男 is made from the similar kanjis for "power" 力 and "field" 田 since men used to work out in the field. Kanji gets its meaning from Chinese but it isn't spoken as Mandarin or Cantonese, the Japanese have their own way of pronouncing them, two in fact. On yomi and kun yomi are the two reading styles, knowing when to use what is a trick and takes a lot of getting used to if you're going to be reading the language often. The on yomi reading is more the traditional reading and the closest (if you will) to the true Mandarin origin than the kun yomi reading which is Japanese in origin.

Hiragana and katakana are the unique writing systems of Japan, the true difference between the two was long ago hirigana was an alphabet (for lack of a better word unless you want to call them syllabics) used only by men and katakana was used by women. When western influence started to take shape in the late 1600's and they had to add words to their vocabulary it was decided that these words would be written in katakana to distinguish them from true Japanese words. Today's rule of thumb is any word with a western meaning is written in katakana, If you want to read it as an alphabet start at the upper left corner of either syllabic chart posted above and read down. Basically "a" "ka" "sa" "ta" and so on.

Now combining, you're really only going to see kanji and hirigana in the same sentence and western borrowed words would be in either romaji (our roman alphabet) or in katakana. They sometimes encase these words in 「something like quotation marks」 to set them apart from the rest. The kanji is generally the word and the hirigana is usually the particle (SUBJECT wa OBJECT ga LOCATION ni ACTION desu). For some kanji that aren't the everyday variety they print a few hiragana above to aid the reader. This is honestly how I can say I read kanji.
Posted 5/7/12

Kuro_Kiri wrote:


haikinka wrote:

But yeah, unless someone can prove me wrong, just learn the language.


OK, the word for "bridge" and "chopsticks" is the same. So first, what is that word and second what is the difference? It's a two fold answer when relating to the spoken and the written language.


I'll answer your question, although you'll have to explain to me it's relevance o.0

The word for both of them is "Hashi" or ”はし” in hiragana.
The main way of differentiating between these two words would be context I'm afraid. No one will eat noodles using a bridge, or cross a river with chopsticks. The less obvious difference is the intonation, but this is hard to put across on the internet for obvious reasons o.0 Although I must say, even Japanese people get the intonation wrong sometimes, due to dialect, carelessness, or whatever o.0

The difference when written is a lot more obvious. Pretty much all homophones in japanese have a specific kanji assigned to them.
In the case of Hashi, a
bridge 橋
Chopsticks is 箸
There are also words that are Hashi too such as
Edges 端

But yeah, spoken difference is intonation, written difference is different kanji.
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Posted 5/7/12
Yokatta!!

Some people don't get it. It's like the word for "tongue" and "under". Even the inflection is unidentifiable. And relevance, well, kind of a boast you're making. I mean I've seen Japanese people discussing these differences so it's not an easy question.
Posted 5/7/12

Kuro_Kiri wrote:

Yokatta!!

Some people don't get it. It's like the word for "tongue" and "under". Even the inflection is unidentifiable. And relevance, well, kind of a boast you're making. I mean I've seen Japanese people discussing these differences so it's not an easy question.


Oh, rofl. You thought I was boasting? Ooops :P
Haha, so this was a kind of test I take it. The nerve!
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Posted 5/7/12
Whoever decided to make se in hirigana and sa in katakana look so similar is an asshole.

at least you sparred them the little " and how it can change those letters from se to ze or sa to za for both -_-

When I saw Kanji I was like



The really cool thing about Japanese words is that they sound exactly like how they are spelled (for simple hirigana and katakana .... I have no idea about kanji seeing as I have seen them change how they sound depending on context .... I think ...... yeah not so certain now that I think about it ....)
No useless e's or silent letters like the "k" in knife either.

Anyways, good luck with your endeavors to learn Japanese. I think Kinka was trying to say that it would take a lot of studying and hard work to write a sentence out properly in Japanese. I mean take this sentence for example "The Computer loves to be turned on" and translate that into Japanese for me and see how many of the 3 alphabets come up. I know Katakana will be one of them for sure.

Many people can learn Japanese it just takes a little longer then lets say Spanish since most people in the Western world are used to the "romantic languages" ..... That said, I have heard learning English as a second language is a real bitch as well and plenty of people learn it so don't get discouraged redcookie. You can do it if you have the right resources (which there are plenty on the internet) and are willing to put forth the effort. I have heard learning hirigana and Katakana and then learning the general vocabulary first helps out before you start getting into something I call "crazy kanji" (of which I have limited knowledge)

I decided to post because the two people responding seemed to know all the ins and outs of the language while I know only some basic vocabulary (mostly anime) and as someone who has tried to learn Japanese in the past ..... if I were to read those posts? ... I probably would have never even started to try Seriously, it's pretty intimidating
Posted 5/7/12

funnyginsan wrote:


I decided to post because the two people responding seemed to know all the ins and outs of the language while I know only some basic vocabulary (mostly anime) and as someone who has tried to learn Japanese in the past ..... if I were to read those posts? ... I probably would have never even started to try Seriously, it's pretty intimidating


Rofl, oops, I guess that was a mistake on my part :lol:
Still, I only answered the way I did due to the nature of the question...
And just incase you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly the greatest of teachers :P
But I'm not a horrible person, honest! :tears:

Anyway, everything this guy just said is probably true. Listen to him o.0
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Posted 5/7/12

haikinka wrote:


Rofl, oops, I guess that was a mistake on my part :lol:
Still, I only answered the way I did due to the nature of the question...
And just incase you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly the greatest of teachers :P
But I'm not a horrible person, honest! :tears:

Anyway, everything this guy just said is probably true. Listen to him o.0


The internet can be stupid in that way. I know you meant well but others may have seen it as cocky or elitist or something like that

And for the love of god, please don't listen to everything I say when it comes to learning languages!! I have an INCREDIBLY hard time with languages so this is just some stuff I picked up. Seriously, I think I would rather take advanced calculus than take an intro class to any language

Good to know I have someone to ask now when I have Japanese language questions though
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Posted 5/7/12

haikinka wrote:


Kuro_Kiri wrote:

Yokatta!!

Some people don't get it. It's like the word for "tongue" and "under". Even the inflection is unidentifiable. And relevance, well, kind of a boast you're making. I mean I've seen Japanese people discussing these differences so it's not an easy question.


Oh, rofl. You thought I was boasting? Ooops :P
Haha, so this was a kind of test I take it. The nerve!


I'm a New Yorker.

We've got a lot of nerve.
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Posted 5/7/12
The OP's questions (more so the first and third questions) are a bit odd, I thought-- sincere, no doubt, but odd. I read it last night, wanted to somehow answer, and yet couldn't think of anything helpful as it was difficult to understand what exactly was being asked.

It's like asking if one knows the English alphabet A-Z, a-z, how does one make words from these. However, knowing only an alphabet, one in fact can't even begin to make real words from them. Instead, one has to know words in the language first, and then one can ask how those words can be written using the alphabet. Speaking very very generally, English and Japanese alphabets function similarly in that the individual symbols represent sounds, and the symbols are combined to represent the sound(s) that make up specific words. As mentioned earlier, Japanese is for the most part written as it sounds (if using hiragana or katakana), while English, in stark contrast, has very highly irregular spelling (and, as I hear, makes English indeed quite difficult for foreigners to learn).

It may be worth pointing out that while hiragana and katakana can be considered alphabets for the Japanese language (i.e. a set of symbols representing basic sound units of the language), the kanji are not an alphabet at all. Kanji (漢字 or "Han words/characters," Han being the largest ethnic group, comprising nearly all Chinese peoples, and thus essentially synonymous with "Chinese" in this usage) are Chinese characters borrowed into the Japanese language. The individual kanji carry particular meanings (e.g. 男 for "male" or "man"), but their pronounciation in Japanese can be multiple (unlike in Chinese, by the way-- in Chinese, nearly all characters have a fixed single pronounciation in all contexts). Put another way, kanji in Japanese carry general meanings, but can stand for multiple different Japanese words (each with their own pronounciation) that have similar or related meanings. (男 otoko, "man"; 男性 dan-sei, "male gender"; 長男 chou-nan "eldest son"). When reading kanji, one has to know the underlying Japanese word in order to know how it's pronounced in each specific case (especially if no furigana, or the small hiragana or katakana pronounciation guides on top of the kanji, are provided). In Chinese, many characters actually contain clues to pronounciation (e.g. 楊,陽,揚,煬 are all pronounced "yang"-- note the similarities? It's not a coincidence.), but this is largely lost in Japanese.

While many kanji are composed of multiple smaller units (e.g. 田 and 力, making 男), these smaller units can't really be considered an alphabet either. The kanji (and Chinese characters, for that matter) are all fixed forms-- you can't combine units on your own to create your own new characters-- if you do, no one else will understand what you're writing.

As I understand it, Japanese could be written entirely in hiragana, or entirely in katakana, as these are both purely phonetic alphabet systems, and are completely parallel (i.e. represent the exact same set of sounds). In actual usage, it's of course not done that way (although perhaps to some degree by young Japanese children, before they learn kanji), but it is technically possible. In actuality (as far as I can tell-- I'm only learning Japanese myself), non-Chinese borrowed foreign words are rendered in katakana, and kanji are used in substitution for Japanese words in hiragana (if they have an official kanji for that word) and usually for Chinese borrowed words (which are also rendered in hiragana, if one doesn't want to use or doesn't know the kanji). So, "I am an American" could be written in several ways:
わたしはアメリカじんです。
私はアメリカ人です。
私は米国人です。
Artfan 
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Posted 5/10/12
こんにちは、皆さん!

I'm learning Japanese as well (1+ years non-stop, independently, with a JLPT N5 certificate under my belt), and I would like to post a few comments about the previous posts in this thread:

As my Japanese calligraphy instructor says, hiragana was actually the soft, feminine form of extremely simplified kanji that was originally written by women. I have also read that katakana is the even further simplified form created by Buddhist monks. So there's that little tidbit.

Regarding grouping syllables ("mora"), the customary way to do so is by a i u e o, ka ki ku ke ko, sa shi su se so, and so on.

Imported Chinese words (recently imported, that is) are also considered foreign words, and so are written in katakana.

Yes, new kanji can be and are created. One example is 糎(センチメートル, centimeter), which happens to also be an exception to the foreign word-katakana rule, although this word seems to usually be written using katakana after all.

I would like to say thank you to sushipath for telling us about the lack of variant kanji pronunciations in Chinese. I had no idea.

My current thoughts on language learning: Most people (kids) learn language by speaking first, without writing, so maybe it's smarter to pay more attention to the sounds and less attention to the writing.

Closing note: people here seem to be somewhat concerned with boasting and smartypantsness. Please have a humble heart while learning a language. It might help you out. Every time I think I've got some rule down pat, exceptions pop up.

Happy learning everybody. よろしくお願いします。
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Posted 5/10/12

Artfan wrote:
Imported Chinese words (recently imported, that is) are also considered foreign words, and so are written in katakana.


Any foreign word will be written in katakana and the "spelling" reflects the origin of the word. Personally, I enjoy tracing the roots of some of these words. :)

Also, katakana can be used for emphasis--it's a bit like CAPS in English. You'll find this occasionally in stories, but more often in manga. I've never seen it used this way in a newspaper, but I won't rule it out.


Artfan wrote:
Yes, new kanji can be and are created. One example is 糎(センチメートル, centimeter), which happens to also be an exception to the foreign word-katakana rule, although this word seems to usually be written using katakana after all.


Kanji invented in Japan are called 国字 (kokuji). A better example, I think, would be 畑 (hatake): field or cultivated land . There are relatively few of these kanji.


Artfan wrote:
I would like to say thank you to sushipath for telling us about the lack of variant kanji pronunciations in Chinese. I had no idea.


The variation comes about mostly because kanji were "imported" in several waves over centuries from both Korea and China. As sushipath noted, China doesn't exactly have this problem, however Mandarin and Cantonese are very different. Cantonese even has quite a few unique characters. Also keep in mind that the Japanese meaning doesn't always match the Chinese meaning.

To complicate the pronunciation problem is a large set of special pronunciations that don't follow the regular kanji rules. Most of these are あてじ (ateji), original Japanese words where the kanji have been selected for reasons other than pronunciation. Examples are:
今日 (kyou) -- today
明日 (ashita) -- tomorrow
大人 (otona) -- adult

You just have to memorize these when you come across them.

The history of the Japanese language is pretty interesting. Knowing this information isn't necessary, but it can help explain some of the surprises in store for a new learner.


Artfan wrote:
Closing note: people here seem to be somewhat concerned with boasting and smartypantsness. Please have a humble heart while learning a language. It might help you out. Every time I think I've got some rule down pat, exceptions pop up.


Well said.
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Posted 6/22/12
Well i know japanese fluently and if you were to say a simple phrase such as こにちは わたし は よらこ です。 it would literally translate into good afternoon this is yorako. but if i were telling someone who just new english that they would be confused so it usually just translates to good afternoon my name is yorako ^^ hope i could of been help to u!
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Posted 6/22/12

haikinka wrote:

o.0
It's not something you can just suddenly be "taught".
I mean, if I were foreign, and suddenly asked you how to make a word in English, could you tell me?

Hiragana and katakana are pretty easily translated into the English alphabet, being phonetic, but kanji... well, since there're thousands, you'd need a whole dictionary.

Any yes, they combine all three alphabets to create sentences. Although Kanji and hiragana are used a lot more. than katakana
Here's hiragana, and how they translate into english


Katakana


The only rules that I can think of is that you can't start words with the "ん" OR "NN" letter

But yeah, unless someone can prove me wrong, just learn the language. Or else, you'll find it very hard to "build words"


but in japan most of the signs are in katakana so there all used the same arent they??? But you do have a point and its actually easier to learn hiragana then to just lern the english alphabet. most people i know learning japanese still dont get it. I dont know any kanji yet it s o difficult!! but then once you learn you dont know what you would do withot it ya know???
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