Minggu, 08 April 2012

How to Speak Japanese

Learn Essential Japanese Phrases

Check out a few basic Japanese phrases:
  • Good morning: Ohayo gozaimasu
  • Good evening: Konbanwa
  • Good-bye: Sayonara
  • Express gratitude for meal (before eating): Itadakimasu
  • Express gratitude for meal (after eating): Gochisoosama
  • Thank you: Arigatoo-gozaimasu
  • Excuse me: Sumimasen
  • How much is this?: desu-ka?

Japanese Pronunciation and Speaking Tips

Although it can be difficult to learn, pronouncing Japanese is not difficult, as many of its sounds are similar to English. Mahalo has a page on How to pronounce Japanese words.
Remember that Japanese grammar is very different from English grammar:
  1. Pronouns are often not used
  2. People are addressed with honorific titles, such as san or sensei

Step 2: Learn to Read and Write in Japanese

Japanese uses four writing systems: hiragana, katakana, kanji, and romaji. Since romaji refers to Japanese words written with Western letters, you already know that system! A deeper understanding of Japanese requires comprehension of hiragana, katakana, and kanji.
Hiragana has 46 basic characters. Hiragana are used for words without kanji representation and after kanji to show conjugation. Any native Japanese word can be written in hiragana.
Katakana has 46 basic characters. They are used for foreign words and names, such as America; company names; and new Japanese words, like karaoke.
Kanji are symbols, brought from the Chinese language, that are used to represent words or phrases. Every term in kanji can be expressed in hiragana. However, understanding kanji is necessary for reading comprehension because written Japanese does not use spaces between words. Kanji allow readers and writers to know where one word ends and another begins.
When learning any of these writing systems, pay attention to stroke order (the direction in which it is written on paper). A different stroke order can indicate a different character. Traditionally, writing in Japan consisted of columns (running from top to bottom), read from right to left. However, a newer writing format is also used these days, which arranges characters in rows read from left to right.

Tips on Reading and Writing in Japanese

  1. If you want to learn Japanese writing, but have limited time, consider focusing on katakana.
  2. Katakana is used for foreign words and companies, so you will recognize the words once you learn how to sound out the characters.
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