Saturday, 30 April 2011

Introduction to Japanese

Okay, time for my very first update on Japanese. I'll start off with explaining the Japanese script -
The Japanese originally do not have their own writing script so they've borrowed the Chinese script; they call it Kanji.

By definition Kanji is basically a pictographic representation of words or an idea. You'll need to be familiar with 1945 Kanji to be able to fully read everyday Japanese - sounds like a herculean task doesn't it? with proper practice and discipline one can achieve that, in time i.e.
                                         Now that there is an actual script for reading/writing Japanese, is that the end of the story? No.The problem with Kanji was that it was hard to convey certain expression or verbs in the present/past tense - Enter Hiragana.

           Hiragana was derived from Kanji a long time ago, it consists of 46 syllables, unlike English, each of them have a definite phonetic sound (pronouncing won't be an issue for most). Once you've learned the Hiragana syllabary, you could easily jump into reading,writing Japanese in Hiragana (which I'll guarantee you, will be an amazing experience).

                 Okay then, there's Kanji for writing, Hiragana to give proper meaning to the Kanji, are the Japanese satisfied? yet again, No (with a capital "N"). When conveying/writing some foreign word/name (English for example), the Japanese do not make use of Hiragana - they have yet another writing script *drum-roll*

               As said earlier, the Japanese make use of Katakana to write foreign words/sentences, you'll find most of the information on the "made in japan" goods written in Katakana. As Hiragana, Katakana also consists of 46 syllables, all with a definite phonetic sound but Katakana, is a tad complicated when compared to Hiragana since there are a few different syllables depending on the phonetic sound of the foreign word (you'll find out more as you learn Katakana). Apart from writing foreign words, it is also used to specify various sounds - for example, the sound produced when one closes a door or something falls to the ground. Don't be alarmed when people write Japanese in Katakana as well, it is no different than writing something in italics for emphasis.

                       Now that you know what Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana are, its time to learn. It is advised that one starts learning Hiragana first, then Katakana and finally Kanji (although you are bound to learn a few Kanji by the time you actually start learning it).


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