Learning the Japanese alphabet
Japanese is considered one of the revered languages of this world. Japanese language and its magnanimity -are seeped deeply into its culture. The concept of Humility is a part of their daily life and it’s so strong that in spite of being a ‘superpower’ in terms of Economy or Defence- it has always remained shrouded in mystery as they have never believed in the concept of boastfulness. The lesson to learn would be to remain humble and kind and thus embark on the journey of learning Japanese alphabets as it is the basis of any language spoken so far.
Let's now look at a brief about the Japanese writing system, and what all we can do to master the intimidating Japanese alphabet!
Reading Japanese- Before going into alphabets, let me tell you that it is supposed to be read from right to left and left to right. The good news is once you start reading daily, you will enjoy this elegant piece of writing. The thumb rule is if it is vertically written then you have to read from right to left and if it is horizontally written then you have to read from left to right. Sounds intimidating?!! Every foreign language comes with its own package of challenges and Japanese is no different. Once you start reading them often you will find them ‘normal’.
Alphabets- Japanese has two alphabets called Hirangana (curvy like English cursive) and Katakana (angular like English print). The two together are called Kana. These three systems of writings can be used in the same sentence. Unlike English where you would write only in cursive or print, here you have to combine Kana and Kanji as per the requirement.
Katakana- Katakana is only used for two reasons- to write foreign words in Japanese or to put emphasis. Sometimes you may find slang or people’s names are written in Katakana just to stylise or to put emphasis.
Hirangana and Katakana are native to Japan, whereas Kanji was imported from Chinese Hanji. Though each of the characters has its own functions. Many words are represented by a Kanji character and the sound is completed by Hirangana.
Honest truth- The honest truth is all three alphabets are quite similar. Hiragana is the most basic and it is the first writing system taught to children, so if you learn this you may convey yourself in Japanese though it may sound childish. In order to sound decent Japanese all you have to do is learn 100 essential Kanji characters along with mastering Hirangana and Katakana.
Lottery tickets for English speakers- English speakers get a head start, the reason being there are loads of loan words in Japanese from English. You do need to learn the pronunciation in Japanese; however, the understanding of the meaning becomes easier.
- “mic” → maiku (マイク)
- “table” → teeburu (テーブル)
- “Internet” → intaanetto (インターネット)
- “romantic” → romanchikku (ロマンチック)
- “driveshaft” → doraibushafuto (ドライブシャフト)
Apps to your rescue- I know the information that I gave you on top is only the tip of the iceberg and if I want the iceberg to be melted, I need to give you solutions too. So here it goes!
Duolingo– This app comes in handy when you want to learn a foreign language in a gamified manner. In fact, you get some basic lessons for free as well.
Multibhashi- It’s an ed-tech platform where you can get a professional trainer to achieve the level of your dream! The curriculum covered in class is shared with you so that you may get first-hand knowledge as to where you are getting wrong.
FluentU– It comprises music videos, inspiring talks, movie clips, news etc so that you can get a feel of personalised language learning.
LingoDeer– It gives you audio and written lessons related to Japanese vocabulary and Grammar.
In today’s modern era of learning, any skill is possible, thanks to social media. Having said that, sometimes too much information is hard to digest and harder to execute especially if you are learning Japanese for your career. My honest advice would be to get professional help and learn with all your dedication.
There’s an amazing new way to learn Japanese! Want to see what everyone’s talking about!