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Kanji/Hiragana Usage

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Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby alex_2096 » Sat 11.19.2005 3:33 pm

I've been studying japanese for a couple of months now, got basic conversation/ and grammer down and fairly proficient on the kana. So i started to learn the kanji, which im not finding to much trouble with.
But now im wondering whens the correct place to use the hiragana and kanji whilst writing. as nearly all vocab i have come across are written in kanji with hiragana links (e.g. は and の).
Is there times when u nead to write purely in hiragana, and is it just memorising which words use hiragana and kanji together to form words or just kanji.

Sorry, my confusion over this matter is making hard for me to actually explain what i want to know.
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby Kates » Sat 11.19.2005 4:41 pm

The "links" you mention are, I think, particles.
は: topic particle
が: subject particle; "but"
を: direct object marker; "from"; "through/along"
の: possessive marker; nominalizer
に: indirect object marker; "to"; "at"
で: "at"; "with"; cause/reason
へ: "to"
も: "also/too"
と: "and"; "with"; quotation marker
や: "and" (implies other things as well, which aren't mentioned)
か: question marker
から: "from"; "at"
まで: "until"; "to"

Those are the basic particles, most of which you probably know from studying for a couple of months. These words are always written in hiragana. I do not believe that there are kanji for these particles, and if there is, they are hardly ever ever used. (Maybe in classical Japanese texts...)

Now, whether you use kanji or hiragana to write a word like "neko" or "kuruma" is pretty much up to you. (or your sensei XD -- but it sounds like you are self-taught) A sentence with kanji usually ends up being easier to read the longer you study Japanese because a lot of words sound the same in Japanese. For example, there are about 10 different meanings to the word "ki"--having a kanji for "ki" instead of the hiragana just makes it that much easier to know which one (instead of just understanding from the context of the sentence).

Some words need a mix of hiragana and kanji. 買い物 (kaimono) is an example, however I HAVE seen 'kaimono' written like this: 買物. I think this happens to a lot of similar words that have a hiragana in between two kanji, since the meaning/reading of the word is easly understood.

And also, using kanji makes your writing look more 'adult'. The more kanji you know, the smarter your reader will think you are. ^_^ (Most likely, anyway.) As far as I know, there would be very FEW times when a sentence would be written solely in hiragana. It would only happen if a word had no way to be written in kanji--and really, a large majority of Japanese words have kanji. (Even 'doko' and 'arimasu' and other words that we Japanese learners are taught to write in hiragana from early in our learning, and which we rarely ever SEE in anything but hiragana.)

So... I hope that I understood your question(s) well enough to provide a decent answer. ^^; Of course if you are still confused, or have another question, please share it~ Perhaps someone else has some input to add to mine? :D
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby alex_2096 » Sat 11.19.2005 5:35 pm

Thankyou kates :)!! that cleared it up for me. I just never found anything that explained it to me properly.

Maybe you can clear up the other thing that bugs me, and thats in (well ive only noticed it) words formed of two or more kanji and the hiragana translation shows changes to the on/kun readings. e.g. 今日- kyou, has neither the kun readings ima, hi/ka or the on readings kon/kin, nichi/jitsu. also 花火 - hanabi - shouldn't it be hanahi considering that the kun reading for 火 is hi not bi. Is there a method as to why these kanji change there 'spelling' to form words like these.
I always find it harder learning something if you dont know the reason behind it.
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby Sachi » Sat 11.19.2005 5:59 pm

I don't know too much Japanese or much about kanji, but here's what I DO know:

The on readings are usually used in kanji compounds.
Kun is the pure Japanese pronunciation, and it typically used when a kanji stands alone.
NOTE: There are exceptions to this rule!!

Severak kanji use their on readings when standing alone, so it's memorazation that comes in next. I find pronunciation very confusing, so what I try to do is memorize a kanji, then several compounds and their pronunciation, so I kinda know what to use where. I bet everyone does this, but hey.

Does that answer your question? (I was kinda confused at what you were asking). And I'm not sure why the spelling changes. Not that advanced yet!
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby mandolin » Sun 11.20.2005 1:02 am

The phoneme changes in compounds comes from a rather simple concept: how easy it is to say.

If you stop thinking about kanji on/kun readings in romaji for a bit, and instead force yourself to think only of sounds, it will help. It's not a change in spelling, which is an issue that's hard to get over as a native english speaker learning romaji.

It is hanabi instead if hanahi for the same reason がんばって sounds like gambatte, when there is no 'm' equivalent in japanese (not by itself, I mean). hanahi is awkward to say, at least, moreso than hanabi.

My experience so far has been to increase vocabulary. Learn the words, spoken and written, together. The phoneme changes start to make sense, or at least "feel" right. Sort of in the same way we know that "spended" sounds wrong, but "ended" doesn't. :P

There's a few unofficial rules that float around here and there about when to expect a phoneme change. Like an 'n' sound before a 'b' 'p' or 'm' becomes 'm'. I've read through them, but haven't bothered to memorize any because they usually have a lot of exceptions, too. I thought it would be harder to learn rules and attempt to apply them than it would be to just learn a word is spelled "hanabi" and not "hanahi" and be done with it. :)

I don't know the official etymologies for kanji compounds that use special pronounciations. I know some of them are 一人 (hitori) 二人 (futari). However, I believe japanese had the words before they imported the chinese characters, and since hitori meant 'one person; alone' they used those kanji for meaning instead of pronounciation.

With other kanji, those readings became kun-readings, because it was (fairly) uniform. Because hitori, futari, kyou, etc are all pretty much special cases, they didn't add an official reading just for one word.. you just learn it that way, and that's how it is.

I don't believe there's all that many jukugo (kanji compounds, that is) that utilize strange readings. Just learn em when you find em, and you should be okay. :)
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby AsunaNegi » Sun 11.20.2005 1:51 am

For a moment, i thought he was talking about furigana, which is a godsend when reading kanji
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby tkbits » Sun 11.20.2005 3:48 am

Phoneme changes also look more logical when you look at kana, for example, hi (ひ) and bi (び). Origami is ori (folding) + kami/gami (paper). (かみ and がみ). Hiragana are kana characters (ひら + かな → ひらがな). Entrance (いり + くち → いりぐち) and exit (で[る] + くち → でぐち).
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby Kates » Sun 11.20.2005 10:19 am

I think mandolin and tkbits explained this aspect about Japanese well, alex. It's just easier for a native Japanese to say "hanabi" instead of "hanahi." When you start to learn counters (as in 'one CUP of coffee', 'two SHEETS of paper') you'll see this change a lot more often. As you get better at Japanese, you'll know instinctively (usually ^^; ) when this will happen in words.
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RE: Kanji/Hiragana Usage

Postby alex_2096 » Sun 11.20.2005 4:47 pm

awesome, thanks. Ive just come across about 5 or 6 in the 30 or so kanji ive looked at and wasn't sure if there was a specific pattern/rule to it.
It makes sense, i'll probably get more and more used to this as i progress.
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