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October 22, 2010

3 forms of Japanese writing (Basic knowledge)

This is for people who don't have any knowledge of the Japanese language.

When you open manga (written in Japanese), you can see 3 types of characters: ひらがな(Hiragana), カタカナ(Katakana), and 漢字(Kanji).

This is very unique that a language uses 3 character forms, and we sometimes use the English alphabet too.
The Japanese language doesn't have spaces between words like English.
So, if all words are written only ひらがな(Hiragana), it is too complicated to figure out
where one word ends and another word begins.

I am going to write how all 3 characters used for, but there are a lot of exceptions.
So, please remember them as basic knowledge.

ひらがな(Hiragana) is used for Japanese nouns (my first name is written in Hiragana), transition, verbs (a lot of times combination of ひらがなHiragana and 漢字Kanji), adjectives, adverbs, onomatopoeia, and sound effects. Also, ひらがな(Hiragana) is often written  on the right side of  漢字(Kanji) for little kids. Until Japanese kids graduate grade 6, they don't have enough knowledge of 漢字(Kanji), and ひらがな(Hiragana) is written to help them.  this is also good for foreign people trying to learn Japanese.  We call the ひらがな(Hiragana) beside 漢字(Kanji) ふりがな(Furigana). By the way, there are no ふりがな(Furigana) for newspaper.

カタカナ(Katakana) is used for foreign words: コンピューター(computer), チーズ(cheese), ピアノ(piano), and so on...and, I just noticed カタカナ(Katakana) is also used for sound effects too. カタカナ(katakana) is used often times when words want to be emphasized.
English screams are written like "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!!"
In Japanese, you can see 「あああぁぁぁぁぁ!!」、「あああーーーーー!!」 a lot.
あis the first letter of Japanese alphabet, and it is pronounced "a" like when you pronounce "ah".
あis not like English alphabet "a" or "a" of apple.
If you want to know more Japanese pronunciation, please check You tube.
There are many Japanese pronunciation videos.

漢字(Kanji) is originally from China, and some people call them Chinese Character.
However, 漢字(Kanji) in Japan and mainland China are mostly different because
the Chinese government changed complicated characters to simplified one.

Therefore, many Chinese kanji are not used in Japan in these days.
漢字(Kanji) is used for nouns, verbs (combination of Kanji & Hiragana), adjectives, adverbs, and so on.

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