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In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Feel free to practice writing in Japanese or romaji. Help each other out with corrections or replying back in Japanese

Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby solidsnake360 » Sun 08.17.2008 7:14 pm

If you're still having trouble understanding how hiragana is used, I think Clay explains it really well in his hiragana lessons. Have a read. http://www.thejapanesepage.com/beginners/hiragana
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 08.17.2008 8:31 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:Once you have learnt the kana, then start learning vocab, you will know how to pronounce them


Not unless you use audio sources also. It's not like if you see "watashi" you don't know how to pronounce it, but if you see "わ = wa, た = ta, し = shi" and then わたし you can suddenly pronounce it correctly.
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby clay » Sun 08.17.2008 8:40 pm

There's a myth that hiragana helps you with the sounds of Japanese, but what helps you figure out sounds of Japanese is listening to Japanese audio, not looking at any kind of symbol.


Unlike English letters, hiragana and katakana have one pronunciation. So as a general rule, learning the sounds of hiragana helps the beginner with pronunciation. There are obvious exceptions such as わたし or 好き or the particle は of course.

(EDIT: Added Yudan Taiteki's comment)
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby hungryhotei » Sun 08.17.2008 9:01 pm

hommie93710 wrote:now my question is wouldnt it be easier to learn words first before you start learning Hiragana?


I think I agree with Chris here more than Dustin. It's much easier and more fun to learn kana if you are associating them with actual words than just simply a sound. It's also more motivating as each row of kana you learn allows you to read a lot more words. I don't think you need to know many words, maybe have covered just the first chapter of a textbook, and once actually start learning it written Japanese should become far less scary so I wouldn't put it off too long though.
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sun 08.17.2008 9:19 pm

clay wrote:Unlike English letters, hiragana and katakana have one pronunciation. So as a general rule, learning the sounds of hiragana helps the beginner with pronunciation. There are obvious exceptions such as わたし or 好き or the particle は of course.


This still doesn't make sense to me, because the romaji sequences have only one pronunciation as well when they are used to represent Japanese. I can see a lot of the reasons for the kana-first approach, but pronunciation never seemed to make sense to me.

Basically what people are claiming is this: let's say you have two hypothetical learners. Learner 1 learns some Japanese words purely through romaji. Learner 2 studies a kana list that equates kana with romaji (i.e. "た = ta") and then learns some Japanese words through kana. The claim is that Learner 2's pronunciation will be better than Learner 1's, which makes no sense to me. Learner 2 still used romaji rather than audio sources to figure out how to "read" the kana. If "shi" leads to bad pronunciation, then so does "し = shi".

(Incidentally I think that any approach that does not involve listening to audio will not result in good pronunciation, whether you are using Japanese symbols or not. If you *are* using audio, the symbols you are using should not affect your pronunciation -- obviously the longer you use romaji the longer it takes you to learn kana/kanji, but that's a different issue from pronunciation.)

I'm also speaking from my personal experience -- I tried to learn the kana before I learned Japanese, and I pretty much completely failed. But then I did a spoken-intensive class for a semester, and after that, learning the kana was quite easy, because I could practice reading and writing so much stuff that I already knew.
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby clay » Sun 08.17.2008 9:33 pm

I don't think I'm not arguing against your point. When I said, "English letters" I meant "English letters" and not romaji. I'm simply saying compared to English, knowing how the Japanese syllabary is set up (whether using kana or romaji) helps even beginners to correctly pronounce words they have never encountered--exceptions aside.

Linguists say (I haven't counted) the five vowels in English share some 15 sounds. My single point is by learning hiragana (using sound files of course) a beginner can more or less correctly pronounce most Japanese words. Of course this can be done with romaji too, but why delay the inevitable?
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Dustin » Sun 08.17.2008 9:35 pm

I guess my experience was a little different than everyone elses.
I learned Hiragana before doing any vocab, and it worked for me extremely well, I know not the exact same approach works for everyone, but I kind of felt a general consensus that the earlier you learn Hiragana, the better.

The main reason I was talking about pronounciation, is because reading these posts, it seemed like she was very confused on how the phonetic system works, and typically when you learn the kana, you will learn the pronounciations along with it, whether it's using audio or otherwise.

A few friends that I have that tried Japanese for a short time and failed, did not want to try Hiragana, and the romaji seemed to confuse them quite a bit since they are so used to reading English lettering, and although they had gone over the sounds a few times, they kept getting sounds such as oo reading them as oo in food, because it was second nature.

Hiragana will not make you pronounce individual sounds better, it will just help to avoid these mistakes because you are forced to study おお much longer than oo, and it will reinforce it better in my opinion.

It's definitely not the worst thing in the world to learn some vocab before the kana, but the earlier you have it down, the better.

I am sure there are some points here that some may still disagree with, but that's the way that I have learnt it, and the people I know personally that have used this method have had much better success.

Best of luck in your studies, hope you get the help you need.
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Hyperworm » Sun 08.17.2008 9:49 pm

Edit: I feel the above two posters have said the kind of thing I want to say probably much better than I am about to. >_>
Try not to pick apart my poorly-written post too much :P


I'd guess that because the kana learner knows how words are broken down into kana and has focused on the characters individually, they are more likely to pay attention to things like long vowels (
romaji learner: so what if a word is written ending in "ii" in romaji? spelling of words in english doesn't guarantee any pronunciation... maybe it's just how it's spelled.
kana learner: so that's two consecutive "i" characters and therefore two consecutive "i" sounds, because i've learnt that (generally speaking) each kana corresponds to a syllable.
), double consonants (having learned about small-tsu and what that does to pronunciation), and how words are broken up in general (oh i'm supposed to say it as 'te-tsu-da-i' not 'tet-su-da-i'). Maybe these are things that a beginning student might not be able to pick up by listening (ear not tuned enough to Japanese yet).

Of course a romaji learner doesn't have to start with no knowledge of these things... but such concepts are naturally taught when learning hiragana anyway, so if you're going to take the time to learn separately that "tsu" is a Japanese syllable, why not just learn hiragana in the first place?

This argument is probably full of holes, but I was just offering a possible explanation... I seem to notice that a lot of people online (not here) who haven't learnt kana tend to miss out double-vowels ("kawai") and things like that, so it does tend to make me think that romaji isn't making pronunciation nuances obvious enough for some people.

Anyway, in the long-run, I don't think the choice matters much, as long as you don't put hiragana off for too long. I can't even remember whether or not I knew any Japanese words before learning kana (though I do remember being very eager to learn kana).
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby hommie93710 » Sun 08.17.2008 10:34 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:I do lots and lots of flashcards.
Every time I get a flashcard wrong, I put it in a pile for review.
Keep going back to previously learnt words, even after you are sure they are solid, it won't take long to run through them.
The more practice you can get speaking, writing, the better. Do whatever you can to add vocab that you don't have down as well into your conversations. That is really the best way to memorize it, is by using it.
Even with flashcards, if you only have individual words, full sentences will take forever.

Try keeping a journal in Japanese, writing in it every day, and find a more experienced Japanese speaker to practice speaking with, which may be tough, usually it is best if you can do language exchaange, you help with their english in exchange for them helping you with your Japanese.

A good textbook will also help to add onto your vocabulary, reviewing vocab previously learnt, add all these up, and you'll do fine as long as you're willing to put in the work.


oh wow you gave me alot of good advice thanks so much i'm gonna start doing the flashcards thing and the journal today. Hopefully this will help with memorizing everything
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Dustin » Sun 08.17.2008 10:45 pm

Thanks, glad I could be of help :D


Just as an added note, I am not sure whether or not you're going to get into the kana right away, but I feel that writing flashcards in kana helps quite a bit once you have the basic ideas down. Most vocab that I've come across will have both romaji and kana at first in textbooks, even if you write both of them on the flashcards at first, it will help you to recognize them as you write them out so many times doing this method. After writing many flashcards in this manner, I was able to very quickly recognize them, just because of the repetition you gain.

Good luck :mrgreen:
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby Sairana » Sun 08.17.2008 10:55 pm

hommie, I just want to add a little caveat to all this:

It's not so much that you need to know them all very well before moving on, but that you should be familiar with -how- Japanese is put together before you try to head into the territory of grammar and such. At the very least, understand the five vowel sounds so you can read somewhat closely to the Japanese pronunciation.

I remember on the About.com forums, someone tried to tell another forum member that "aishiteru" is pronounced (and I kid you not) "EYE-SHIT-UH-ROO".

It's for those reasons alone that I think someone should be at least marginally familiar with the phonetics before going on....
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby hommie93710 » Sun 08.17.2008 11:09 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:I guess my experience was a little different than everyone elses.
I learned Hiragana before doing any vocab, and it worked for me extremely well, I know not the exact same approach works for everyone, but I kind of felt a general consensus that the earlier you learn Hiragana, the better.

The main reason I was talking about pronounciation, is because reading these posts, it seemed like she was very confused on how the phonetic system works, and typically when you learn the kana, you will learn the pronounciations along with it, whether it's using audio or otherwise.

A few friends that I have that tried Japanese for a short time and failed, did not want to try Hiragana, and the romaji seemed to confuse them quite a bit since they are so used to reading English lettering, and although they had gone over the sounds a few times, they kept getting sounds such as oo reading them as oo in food, because it was second nature.

Hiragana will not make you pronounce individual sounds better, it will just help to avoid these mistakes because you are forced to study おお much longer than oo, and it will reinforce it better in my opinion.

It's definitely not the worst thing in the world to learn some vocab before the kana, but the earlier you have it down, the better.

I am sure there are some points here that some may still disagree with, but that's the way that I have learnt it, and the people I know personally that have used this method have had much better success.

Best of luck in your studies, hope you get the help you need.



it's not the pronounciation that i'm having a problem with(not saying i dont have problems with it ) but it's mainly how things connect to the hiragana to make words. I just dont get it I look at it and i'm like where do they get that letter from?
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby hommie93710 » Sun 08.17.2008 11:13 pm

Hyperworm wrote: how words are broken up in general (oh i'm supposed to say it as 'te-tsu-da-i' not 'tet-su-da-i'). Maybe these are things that a beginning student might not be able to pick up by listening (ear not tuned enough to Japanese yet).



yes this is what i'm trying to say :)
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby hommie93710 » Sun 08.17.2008 11:32 pm

Dustin_Calgary wrote:Thanks, glad I could be of help :D


Just as an added note, I am not sure whether or not you're going to get into the kana right away, but I feel that writing flashcards in kana helps quite a bit once you have the basic ideas down. Most vocab that I've come across will have both romaji and kana at first in textbooks, even if you write both of them on the flashcards at first, it will help you to recognize them as you write them out so many times doing this method. After writing many flashcards in this manner, I was able to very quickly recognize them, just because of the repetition you gain.

Good luck :mrgreen:

no your right i should learn hiragana first. I guess in the long run it makes more sence since you'll have to learn it anyways but ok what do you learn that KA,KI,KU,KE,KO or the japanese signs that go with them or both at the same time and do you remember KA..,SA..,TA..,NA..,HA..,MA..,YA..,RA..,WA..,O,N, and the other ones like G,Z,D,B,P did this confuse you? I jsut dont know where to start?
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Re: In need of help from experienced Japanese speaker

Postby clay » Sun 08.17.2008 11:41 pm

hommie93710 wrote:it's mainly how things connect to the hiragana to make words. I just dont get it I look at it and i'm like where do they get that letter from?


You'll get used to it. It is something that is totally new for you. Eventually, you'll look at Japanese and it won't be so foreign. I'm not very fast with Japanese (especially compared to my speedy English!) but when I look at a text of Japanese I just start reading. I don't stop to think, "This is a foreign language. This is Japanese." It just becomes a language. This will come in time. 8)
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