Mar 11, 2009

Japanese Language Made Simpler *NEW*

Have you seen my plurk series “A Jap Word A Day”? It is an impromptu project which is into the 12th lesson now. :) I’ve recently opened up my plurk timeline for the public hemisphere, to allow access to this plurk series, and not ‘force’ friends to join plurk just to see the series. Hahahahaa…

(Revised: the "A Japanese Word A Day" series has been moved to my twitter account instead. It's now at the 273rd lesson. :) Pls follow this series instead, as the plurk series has stopped.)

Anyway, Darran has suggested that I should start a series for beginners with no Japanese language foundation, as most in plurkville are not familiar with the language. In order not to confuse the plurk audience with 2 series, I’ve decided to have the fundamental series via blogging instead of plurking.

And hola… here’s the first episode to:

Japanese Language Made Simpler
Mmm.. I’ll try to keep it simple, short and sweet. Hope you’d like it!

Japanese Language Made Simpler – Lesson 1

The first lesson will be on the overview of the Japanese language; it may be a bit theoretical. Basically the Japanese language is classified into the following:
  • Romaji (blue letters) - They are like our very familiar English alphabet, somewhat similar to hanyu pinyin for Chinese learners.
  • Hiragana (black characters) - The Japanese alphabet, the Japanese version of the romanji characters. They are often of curvier strokes compared to their cousins, Katagana.
  • Katagana - Japanese alphabet created to emulate the English words, characterized by hard and angular strokes.
  • Kanji (looks like Chinese characters)

Here’s an illustration:
Sleep in Japanese is read as ‘nemasu’ and it can be written as 寝ますor ねます. They are still read as nemasu.

In this example, ‘nemasu’ means sleep in Romanji; ねます is in Hiragana and 寝ます is in Kanji. Kanji is often used in higher level reading. Thus in children’s books, Hiragana is used most often.

When do we use Katagana?

Katagana is used when it’s a direct translation of the pronounciation from English words. Often, it’s English, sometimes, they adopt other foreign language like French: ズボン Eg. Television is read as ‘terebi’ in Romanji and written as テレビin Katagana.

As a guide, all Japanese words can be written in Romanji and Hiragana.
Most of them also have Kanji versions, while only those directly translated from other foreign languages will be written in Katagana.

Hope that clears some of the doubts. Future lessons will be on the grammar structure, and how to form simple sentences. Stay tune!

//post revised on 21 June 2010.