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Learning Hiragana

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Learning Hiragana

Postby Bobcat » Fri 01.27.2006 11:03 am

I was told I should learn hiragana before I try to speak japanese...

I found the little flash card/ study hiragana page on this website very very useful! I learnt the first few (a,i,e,o,u) and will study more each day... I figured out that hiragana is used for pronounation? like, I used to prounouce number 1 (itchi) as "itchy", but after learning the first hiragana I think its actually pronounced "ee-chi"? well, im new ... so I might be wrong :P

So, anyone have any tips for learning hiragana?
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RE: Learning Hiragana

Postby Mandrake » Fri 01.27.2006 11:13 am

That's a strange way to put it: "Hirigana is used for pronunciation."


I used a program called "Dream Kana" for learning Hirigana and Katakana (http://www.dreambreed.com/software.html). It's like the flashcard thing on this website, but it's a windows program instead.

Years ago, when I began learning Japanese, I also used to substitute letters in english words for hirigana and katakana (depending which one I was trying to learn at the time). Since I hand wrote a lot of notes to myself for work, it meant the characters got drummed into my head quite quickly.

Once I could read the characters I did the same wth words, and kanji. My old work notes are a horrible mixture of Enlgish and Japanese characters.

To be honest, I'd stick with Dream Kana, or the flashcard doodad on this site. I found Dream Kana was very good for helping me with the characters I seldom used.
Last edited by Mandrake on Fri 01.27.2006 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Hiragana

Postby mandolin » Fri 01.27.2006 12:16 pm

Repetition practice is the only sure fire way to learn hiragana.

To help you along later when you get into dictionary use, you should get used to japanese vowel order. a-i-u-e-o It might not seem to make much difference now, but you'll thank yourself down the line. :)

Hiragana IS phonetic, as is katakana, not entirely different from the roman alphabet. Easy part about japanese is each character only has one pronounciation, and very few combination characters compared to english and its plethora of dipthongs.

Good luck in your studies!
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RE: Learning Hiragana

Postby Gan » Fri 01.27.2006 2:05 pm

Well alot of times ”ろ” sounds like "lo" or "rlo" , sometimes i also get confussed between りょand ろ. And the syllable ”ん” sounds like Mm.. or even "um".... alot of times ”し” sounds like "sh". I notice in many japanese songs that ”明日” sounds alot like ”あshて" and ”を” seems to always sound like "O". One more thing, ”つ” is sometimes shortend to "Ts" and they leave off the ”う” sound. My only reasoning that I can think of for this is because the japanese want to make the word shorter so they pronouce simplified versions of different syllables. But it is true that they really have one "true" pronounciation. I dont know, maybe I'm just not hearing things right.

EDIT: Grammer Mistakes.
Last edited by Gan on Fri 01.27.2006 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Hiragana

Postby mandolin » Fri 01.27.2006 2:47 pm

Japanese has no 'r' sound, or 'l' sound. the "r" series hiragana only use r in romaji because it's the closest thing we have to the japanese sound. It would be a mistake to say those are variations of the sound, it is simply your perception with an "english speaker's ear". Listening to a lot of japanese would help to alleivate the problem as you begin to develop new listening patterns for japanese.

The dropped vowels, again is due to the english ear being used to hearing every vowel. Latin-based (english, french, spanish, german, etc) vowels are considerably longer than japanese vowels, in normal speech, they are difficult to hear.

I have had this conversation with several native japanese speakers, and they all say they don't skip vowels, they all believe they are pronouncing each sound with perfect clarity -- and they are.

を might be romanized as "wo" and at one time it was pronounced 'wo' in japanese, but it is said 'o' these days for simplicity. I only ever hear 'wo' in songs.

These are all great reasons not to rely on romaji as a crutch, it's too easy to slip into expecting english sounds, which they aren't.
Last edited by mandolin on Fri 01.27.2006 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Learning Hiragana

Postby CajunCoder » Fri 01.27.2006 3:25 pm

Yes, kana is essential. When I first started and was using romaji a lot, even though I knew how to pronounce the vowels, a few words (such as "おおい") I subconciously learned to pronounce the wrong way, because I was reading english, not japanese.

Yeah, vowels tend to be much shorter in japanese than in english, and it can seem like they're not there at all - especially with す And つ, but if you listen closely, you'll almost always hear a very slight "u" sound. Also, I find りょ To often just sound like "yo"、 And g's can occasionally sound like ng,m, or n even.

Put hey, in comparison with english, japanese pronunciation is *extremely* easy! I'd hate to learn english... our vowels have no consistancy...
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