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Random Observations on The Japanese Writing System

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Written by   99
10 months ago

About 12 years ago, I used to think that the Japanese Language is difficult to learn. Now I think it's much easier than I used to say. It's basic but not easy...

The Japanese Language is written using three different types of characters. Hiragana, Katakana an Kanji. The typical Japanese script uses all of them and you can't read Japanese without learning the three components of this system.

This is is the article version of a conversation I had on D.Buzz comments. With some context & thoughts added for clarity.

After posting my article NAKAMA, I figured it would be fun to talk about the webpage from "Japanese with Anime" which I used as a reference in a shorter post/buzz.

I was asked by a user named "Jadeaca" if I can speak Japanese? I don't, (yet.) But I reached a level where I can vaguely understand a story if I had enough context and the words were clear enough. (Unsurprisingly, I understand Japanese in voice more than I do in writing.)

She also said that she's learning Japanese and found conflicting sources about Japanese characters. She asked me if the characters she wrote in her notebook are the ones she was supposed to learn.

I went full teacher mode & explained from my experience. Here's what I said. Please keep in mind that I'm a beginner/learner too. I would be happy if someone corrected me in comments if I'm wrong at any point below:

[***] As far as I know, Japanese letters are called Syllables not Alphabet. Not sure what's the difference between though.

The photo above only shows #Hiragana though... Japanese has 3 types of letters, including #Katakana & #Kanji. You have to learn them all to understand the language.

I was asked if the other types are all the sounds, like the extended sounds of a language: ch, sh, sion...

It doesn't work that way in Japanese. They only have a limited set of sounds. They don't even use the sound "V" they have a character for... My answer was:

[***] Hiragana & Katakana use the same sounds but different writing. Hiragana is mainly used for words that are originally Japanese. Katakana is for foreign words (mostly English/Chinese.) The photo I posted only lists Hiragana, but there's a katakana equivalent for every character.

You probably notice it if you play Japanese content. They often use English words pronounced in the Japanese way. Those words are written in Katakana...

[***] I only memorise about 150 Kanji now...

I'm familiar (but have trouble) with maybe 100-200 more. That's still not enough, I can barely read anything without context. I can understand it if it was accompanied by a voice like in an anime or a game...

[***] Why Kanji is important? Because Japanese is a basic language, one sound has many different meanings! Their writing has no spaces between words. Kanji indicates where a phrase ends & also makes the meaning clear.

What do you think?

As I said above, I'm still a beginner/learner and I won't call everything I said above a fact.  If you're interested in learning Japanese or any other language, here's a motivational video for you: "The Video Game Map Theory For Language Learning." For now, I leave you with that. Have a nice day, you all~


  • The lead image was made with Canva. Second one was taken from google.

  • This article is also posted on Hive's PeakD.

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Written by   99
10 months ago
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