First  Prev  1  2  3  Next  Last
Post Reply Lesson 3 Writing 書き方 Introduction
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/9/08 , edited 2/17/08
Introduction of Writing

We all know that the Japanese use a different style of writing than we do, so I'm going to try and explain the history behind the mysterious "kanji" through the way I learned it!
(Please point out if I'm wrong at all)

When I first started learning Japanese, I started to wonder why the Japanese had so many alphabets(three to be exact), and I wasn't comfortable with using it until I understood it more clearly.

Kanji (These "pictographs" you see usually in names of organizations or important documents) has many uses in the modern world. From universal translations to shortening sentences (sometimes elongating).

Back way back when, Japan travelled to China to trade with them. Consequently, they picked up some of their writings and culture, and ended up taking back some of it to Japan. For instance,  金 = pronounced as "kane" was used to represent the idea of money, or gold. This Kanji for money/gold can be written in three ways: 1) Hiragana 2) Kanji 3) Katakana(rarely)

1) The japanese use hiragana mainly for conveying "particles" or grammatical words that serves the only purpose of making the sentence "come alive" and actually make sense. Since we're not the japanese, we mainly use hiragana when we don't know the kanji form of the word. かね = 金 = Kane (Cah-Neh)

2)
Kanji is used, as described earlier, to shorten, or to make their medium universal. There's no real reason other than these that the Japanese use kanji in their writing, but if you look at your own culture, and you're one of those kids who asks the teacher, "Why do we have to learn new vocab?! I can have a descent conversation with the words I already know!", then it's kind of like that. The Japanese learn kanji to increase their level of intellect, and to expand their vocabulary at times in different languages (China/Korea etc)

3) Katakana is almost always used for foreign words like, "Bo-ru"(Boh-Roo) = ボール= Ball. Japanese, essentially, is a language taken from other languages. It has elements in its grammar/vocabulary/writing style from every corner of the world. In a more confusing situation, katakana is also used in random situations (yeah you heard me right). (Also used in foreign names like "Ari-sa")


In addition to foreign words, katakana is also commonly used to write onomatopoetic words, that is to say words that describe a sound. For example if you want to write "woof woof" (dog bark), you write it in katakana: ワンワン=wanwan.

Also, the names of plants and animals are usually written in katakana (or hiragana), even though most have a kanji version as well.

And about learning kanji... I've seen many people complain about it and being like "why on Earth do they use kanji, why don't they just write with the same alphabet we do? DD: " but actually in my opinion kanji is far better for written Japanese because of the Japanese language's vocabulary. Japanese has many words that can mean different things, for example "kami" can mean 1. paper, 2. god, or 3. hair. In speech you'll get the meaning of the word from the context or the word's syllables might be "stressed" differently depending on which meaning the speaker is using the word in. However, in written Japanese you obviously can't know the stresses and also the context might be hazier, so isn't it great that all of these different meanings of a word are written with a different kanji, despite that they are pronounced the same way? In "kami"'s case, that would be paper=紙, god=神, and hair=髪. This way there's no fear of a mix-up and if you just know the kanjis, I think it makes the text a lot faster to follow than if it were written only in (for example) hiragana.

awatemono~ sent in by
Member
3855 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
24 / F / I`m right behind...
Offline
Posted 2/9/08
HUH??? I knew they had thee alphabets, i appreciate your help, but I didn't get much from your description! My classmate at school knows how to write japanese but when I asked some help from her shesaid it was waay to hard for me to understand it yet. =S
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/9/08
It's all good in learning! It's easy to get confused about their way of writing, but with time you'll start to understand (their cranziness that is)

日本の書き方はそんなにわかりやすくないからがんばって!

日本=にほん
nihon = nihon (nee-hon)
Kanji = Hiragana


It's basically two ways of writing the language, no real difference between them because they're both read the same.

It's like... Underwater, and Submerged... The two words basically mean the same thing, but submerged is a more complicated way of saying that an object is underwater.

Your friend is crazy, anyone can learn to write Japanese.
Member
3855 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
24 / F / I`m right behind...
Offline
Posted 2/10/08
Im so slow.... I know three languages, but none of them are as hard as this...

oh, my head hurts, my head hurts... ;P

and yea, guess my "friend" doesn't want competition! ;D
Member
347 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / F / 143 Lolita Garden...
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
wow! this is really helpful!
I tried learning japanese from a book from the library,
but it's seriously hard! any tips on making it easier?

I find that there are too many things to rememberr!
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
Don't try to learn the language as a language! (sounds stupid right?)

Learn it like you would learn anything else, step by step.

Learn one grammar form, then practice on it, then move on.

I'll post up one of the best grammar books you can have later.
Member
132 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
26
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
For beginners (like me) is it alright for them to use hiragana then when they understand more step up to kanji? Because hiragana and katakana are hard enough to memorize... Like give me more time, and I'll start to use kanji.. sorta thing
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
OH definetely! Every beginner starts with hiragana/katakana, but it's inevitable for you to pick up some easy ones along the way like "nihon" - japan.
Member
347 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / F / 143 Lolita Garden...
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
LOL thanks sunwooz! YOU ROCK!!
the grammer books would be really helpful!

I'm trying to quickly learn japanese because I'm going there next summer!
Still pretty far away, so I decided to pick up on the language first! ;D
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
yeah, this summer i'm heading down to korea, and at the last 2 weeks, i'm going to visit japan with one of my friends from korea. I'm going to have so much fun!
Member
1196 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / M / Toronto, Canada!
Offline
Posted 2/11/08
Wanna Teach me the alphabet?
Creator
1946 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27 / M / NJ
Offline
Posted 2/12/08
http://yosida.com/en/hiragana.html

here's a good site you can use to learn to write hiragana! It'll take a while before you can read it instinctively though, so work on it! good luck!
Member
1196 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / M / Toronto, Canada!
Offline
Posted 2/13/08
Thanks for the site.
Member
1494 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
27
Offline
Posted 2/16/08
I'll add a few things I've learned about hiragana/katakana/kanji, I hope that's ok.. ^^ (and please correct me if I'm wrong!)

In addition to foreign words, katakana is also commonly used to write onomatopoetic words, that is to say words that describe a sound. For example if you want to write "woof woof" (dog bark), you write it in katakana: ワンワン=wanwan.

Also, the names of plants and animals are usually written in katakana (or hiragana), even though most have a kanji version as well.

And about learning kanji... I've seen many people complain about it and being like "why on Earth do they use kanji, why don't they just write with the same alphabet we do? DD: " but actually in my opinion kanji is far better for written Japanese because of the Japanese language's vocabulary. Japanese has many words that can mean different things, for example "kami" can mean 1. paper, 2. god, or 3. hair. In speech you'll get the meaning of the word from the context or the word's syllables might be "stressed" differently depending on which meaning the speaker is using the word in. However, in written Japanese you obviously can't know the stresses and also the context might be hazier, so isn't it great that all of these different meanings of a word are written with a different kanji, despite that they are pronounced the same way? In "kami"'s case, that would be paper=紙, god=神, and hair=髪. This way there's no fear of a mix-up and if you just know the kanjis, I think it makes the text a lot faster to follow than if it were written only in (for example) hiragana.
Also, I recall one professor of Japanese (who I think is a native or at least of Japanese origin) saying in an article that it'd be stupid to write Japanese otherwise since the Japanese "look at the text, they don't read it" per say.
Member
1655 cr points
Send Message: Send PM GB Post
23 / F / i won't tell!
Offline
Posted 2/22/08
still... it is hard to learn...
First  Prev  1  2  3  Next  Last
You must be logged in to post.