Japanese character confusion
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26 / M
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Posted 6/23/12
So I wanted to learn Japanese and bought Rosetta Stone, and don't get me wrong I love the program and it's helped me immensely but I'm having a little confusion with some of the japanese characters. Before I bought the program I had already purchased some books on the language.

The book told me the japanese character for "wa" is わ、but when I use the program, it's telling me that the character for "wa" is は which I learned as "ha" the reason why I bring this up is because I was using the program it was teaching me how to spell and speak, おんなのこたちははしています。(for those who can't read Japanese, it says girl's are running) So what I don't understand is shouldn't it be おんなたちのこわはしています? And not the other way around? Or was the book I purchased wrong. Another thing is when I use the Japanese keyboard on my iPhone, and type こにちわ、my phone uses わ、and not は、and same thing goes for my iPad, and iMac. but for some reason Rosetta Stone says "wa" is は、in こにちは。

So, was I taught wrong or is some characters shared in some situations. Please let me know! (sorry for the sideways-ness)
Posted 6/23/12 , edited 6/29/12
i think おんなのこたち is correct. coz おんなのこたち means "girls", but if you use おんなたちのこ, it makes the "こ" [from kodomo=children] is the おんなたち [women]'s, おんなたちのこ could mean the women's children.

about こにちわ, u should write it as こんにちわ [Konnichiwa, not Konichiwa. Double "N"].
but u can always use "は" to write こんにちは
it's depend on which "wa" u want to use. for particle u should use "は" not "わ" . Ex: watashi wa Nihon ga Suki desu = 私日本が好きです. and "は" could read as "wa" too.

hope someone could explain it better. =____="
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Posted 6/23/12 , edited 6/23/12
おんなのこたち, meaning "girls" (plural noun form) is correct, as killua_zoldyeck says. The ending "-tachi" (-たち) can be added to nouns (not sure about all nouns, but many of them) to make them plural.

While the sound "wa" is indeed represented by the hiragana わ, in the sentence おんなのこたちはしっています, the first は represents the topic particle, which while written as は, is always pronounced "wa." Basically, it just is that way. The particle denotes the topic of the sentence, in this case "girls" (おんなのこ). The second は is part of the verb はしる or はしります, "to run," and is pronounced as usual, i.e. "ha."

As for "konnichiwa," I'm not sure of the precise explanation, but it is apparently a partial sentence, in a way... The final syllable "wa" is again the topic particle は, and thus pronounced "wa." It's the same with "konbanwa," for "good evening." That's こんばんは.

Basically, your book, the computer program, and your iPhone are all correct. However when speaking or reciting, you do have to recognize when は occurs as the topic particle and when it occurs as a phonetic element of a word.
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Posted 6/24/12
I see, thank you both for your response! Both of you helped a lot! and thank you for helping me understand!
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Posted 6/24/12
Japanese doesn't have as many "weird" exception rules as English does, but there are a few that unfortunately you just have to get used to.

Since you are just starting, may I suggest that you work kanji into your studies as soon as possible.
I can't remember if Rosetta babies you with only the hiragana and katakana.

If you don't learn the words the way they are written, you are just going to have to relearn them later.

For example, the word おんなのこ is usually written as 女の子, using the kanji instead of the kana.

The sooner you start learning kanji, the quicker everything else comes together.
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Posted 6/30/12
Makingpickles is right: there are still exceptions that you just have to get used to.

For now, you only have to worry about certain particles. You've run into the topic marker はwhich is pronounced as わ. There's also the directional particle へwhich is pronounced as え. Finally, there's the direct object particle をwhich is pronounced as お, though some speakers and dialects seem to follow the をsound under some circumstances.

The set phrase こんにちは uses the particle は because it is a shortened form of an older more formal expression for saying good afternoon/day. No one really uses the old form so it isn't something you have to worry about. The Japanese love shortening phrases and words for convenience, so you'll run into this on occassion.

Once you start to learn Kanji, there's all sorts of pronunciation exceptions. Fortunately, it isn't too bad to memorize them.
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Posted 7/24/12
Shouldn't someone who has questions like that, contact rosetta stone and ask them that question?.
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Posted 7/26/12 , edited 7/26/12

Ferbster wrote:

So I wanted to learn Japanese and bought Rosetta Stone, and don't get me wrong I love the program and it's helped me immensely but I'm having a little confusion with some of the japanese characters. Before I bought the program I had already purchased some books on the language.

The book told me the japanese character for "wa" is わ、but when I use the program, it's telling me that the character for "wa" is は which I learned as "ha" the reason why I bring this up is because I was using the program it was teaching me how to spell and speak, おんなのこたちははしています。(for those who can't read Japanese, it says girl's are running) So what I don't understand is shouldn't it be おんなたちのこわはしています? And not the other way around? Or was the book I purchased wrong. Another thing is when I use the Japanese keyboard on my iPhone, and type こにちわ、my phone uses わ、and not は、and same thing goes for my iPad, and iMac. but for some reason Rosetta Stone says "wa" is は、in こにちは。

So, was I taught wrong or is some characters shared in some situations. Please let me know! (sorry for the sideways-ness)



The character "ha" is only pronounced "wa" when used as a particle.
In the case of konnichiwa (spelled こんにちは in hiragana and 今日は in kanji), if literally translated, konnichi is something along the lines of today, and "ha" is the particle "is"
The common greeting literally means, "Today is...?" and is really an incomplete sentence. More understandably, in American English terms, "How are you?" It's like that one question you fling around without really meaning it or answering it. I say "What's up?" as a greeting to my friends all the time, and we don't really go into some explanation of what is going on in our day or what the current situation is.

It's the same with konbanwa, only konban means tonight/evening.

I hope I explained it well enough :)

EDIT
Oh yeah, also, I hear some of the younger generation is spelling it こんにちわ for kicks, which is irking the older generation.
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