Today's topic covered is The Japanese "Alphabets": I've taken a year of Japanese at a University, I did fairly well and really enjoyed the language. I learned enough to ask for directions and understand the very basic structure of the language. I suppose I could have a very simple conversation with someone in Japanese. That being said, it was two years ago since I've last studied the language at all. I'm a bit rusty and I want to take my skills even further. Enter Textfugu. Textfugu is a Japanese learning resource for people who want to self teach themselves Japanese. I'm now a subscriber to this resource and I figured I'd journal my experiences here. SO, anyone who wants to follow my progress or practice with me I'll be writing this over here :3 Oh and the first part here.
Chapter 2 - The Japanese "Alphabets" Starting with this chapter of the resource, the author, who I'm going to start referring to by name because it's easier, Koichi, is introducing the chapter with why you're learning what you're learning in the chapter. I think it's a nice little touch that helps me understand the reasoning behind it. This chapter's "Why?" is that there are multiple Japanese "Alphabets" and in order to learn them effectively, you need to be able to differentiate between them. Apparently chapter 3 starts learning Hiragana, so chapter 2 is so that you can easily tell what that is and when to use it in comparison to the other "Alphabets". Ok, on to the actual chapter.
Japanese has FOUR "Alphabets" four. That's a lot, granted one of them isn't commonly used and shouldn't be used. Oh and the reason I'm putting alphabets in quotations is because technically Japanese doesn't have alphabets, it has syllabaries or symbols consisting of the syllables of speech rather than letters. But, Textfugu's approach is to continue to call them alphabets, because it is easier to associate them in your mind that way. They are big on associating new information with information you already know so that it's easier to understand and remember. So, lets begin learning to differentiate between the four languages.
Remember that I said one of the alphabets isn't commonly used and shouldn't be used? That alphabet is Romaji. Here's a quote from the author:
Romaji is completely useless. Don’t learn it because you already know it - Koichi
Romaji is the Romanization of the Japanese language, meaning it's in the english alphabet, it's pretty unimportant to learn much more than this statement right here about it. Because it's not going to help you learn Japanese in the long run and you're going to hinder yourself from learning the others. He's a big proponent of the idea that the text use romaji at the very beginning so that we can get a hang of the other alphabets, and then ditching it for Hiragana as soon as possible.
On to Hiragana! Hiragana's the phonetic alphabet for Japanese and apparently the first thing taught on Textfugu. It's curvier katakana and less complex than kanji, the other two alphabets and is used for: Difficult Kanji, Words with no Kanji, Particles, Suffixes, and Verb/Adjectives Inflections (whatever that means, I suppose it's conjugation, but that's what'll be explained later I guess).
Katakana is the third alphabet, and it's a bit more angular and pretty neat looking if I do say so myself. It has all the same sounds as Hiragana, but it's written differently! So why learn it? because it's used for a whole bunch of stuff and is useful when reading the language. So what is it used for? It's used for: Foreign words, Scientific words, Food, onomatopoeia and emphasis.
On to the big one, the main event, the big scary one. Kanji. It's an alphabet where you need to have 2000 characters memorized or be able to read in order to carry on daily life in Japan, more if you want to get into academics. Kanji each has multiple readings and pronunciations associated with them. Oh and most vocabulary consists of at least some kanji. I'm afraid of it O.o
That's it for tonight! Next chapter is Hiragana! Huzzah! actual learning!