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Japanese Lessons: Part 2

Posted December 19th, 2011 at 12:53 PM by Esper
Tags japanese

Lesson 1: hiragana

Last lesson covered hiragana so this lesson is going to cover katakana. Katakana is a slightly more advanced lesson than hiragana, but only because it seems to be harder to grasp for a lot of learners. One nice thing about learning katakana (and there aren't many) is that it is an exact equivalent to hiragana. All the sounds and placements are the same. The only difference is in how it's written. So if you have hiragana down already (which is a good idea) it shouldn't be too difficult to memorize katakana.

So here they are:


aiueo
kakikukeko
gagigugego
sashisuseso
zajizuzezo
tachitsuteto
dajizudedo
naninuneno
hahifuheho
babibubebo
papipupepo
mamimumemo
--
ya-yu-yo
rarirurero
---
wa---wo/o
----
n----


It's pretty much exactly what you see with hiragana. Some of the shapes repeat with either a pair of lines (゛) or a circle ( ゜) marking them as different kana. (I've marked them again in gold and turquoise.) The same gaps for unpronounceable sounds are there, and so on.

There is one additional kana worth bringing up now:



This is used to mark a long vowel (as opposed to a short vowel). It comes on the end of any katakana (except ン which isn't a vowel sound) to make it, well, longer. It's more or less the same as adding an extra matching vowel kana at the end of one of your other kana. For example:


By itself it is just "ta."



Now it is the equivalent of "taa." "Taa" could also be written as タア and it would be pronounced the same. (If ya wanna know why they do this then just ask me, but I'm not getting into it here.) Moving on~.

According to many people the biggest problem with learning katakana is that so many of them look similar to each other. Case in point:

and
(so) (n)

and
(shi) (tsu)

and
(ma) (mu)

and
(ku) (ke)

, and
(mo) (te) and (chi)

, and
(su) (ta) and (nu)

, , , and
(u) (fu) (ra) (wa) and (wo)

And so on. Side by side it's easier to see how they are different, but picking them out of a sentence can be trickier.

The trickiest are probably ソ and ン(so) and (n), and シand ツ (shi) and (tsu). How you can tell them apart is by the direction the lines are made. With ソ (so) things are more top-to-bottom:



With ン (n) it's more side-to-side:



It's similar for シ (shi), which is more sideways, and ツ (tsu), which is more vertical:





There is unfortunately no easy way to learn these. You just have to practice recognizing them with your reading and, especially, writing. Even if you're only using a computer to write the more you use them the more familiar they become.



So without further ado it's time for a quiz~! Pick out the right answer from the wrong answers.

1. toire (toilet)

a.
b. イレ
c.
d. トイ

2. meido (maid)

a. イド
b.
c. メイ
d. メイド

3. pinku (pink)

a. ピンク
b. ピン
c. ビン
d. ビンク

4. sukaafu (scarf)

a. スカー
b. カーフ
c. カー
d. スカーフ

5. teeburu (table)

a. ール
b. テー
c. テーブル
d.

6. muun (moon)

a.
b. ーン
c. ムー
d. ムーン

Answers in the spoilers. No cheating.

Spoiler:
1. toire (toilet)

a.
b. イレ
c.
d. トイ

2. meido (maid)

a. イド
b.
c. メイ
d. メイド

3. pinku (pink)

a. ピンク
b. ピン
c. ビン
d. ビンク

4. sukaafu (scarf)

a. スカー
b. カーフ
c. カー
d. スカーフ

5. teeburu (table)

a. ール
b. テー
c. テーブル
d.

6. muun (moon)

a.
b. ーン
c. ムー
d. ムーン


If you have any questions or anything, just ask.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Kura's Avatar
    I'm going to be a master Nihongojins!
    Posted December 19th, 2011 at 12:59 PM by Kura Kura is offline
  2. Old Comment
    jpp8's Avatar
    FFFFFFFF-

    I WILL MASTER YOU ONE DAY, ソン.

    Unofficial Bonus:
    Shinpuru (simple):
    a. ツンプル
    b. シンプル
    c. シソプル
    d. ツソプル

    Spoiler:
    b
    Posted December 19th, 2011 at 01:11 PM by jpp8 jpp8 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Alternative's Avatar
    The only thing I know about the two is that Katakana is used to make Kanji, but Hiragana isn't or something. :) but this will be a huge help for me trying to decipher things like pixiv and other japanese assorted things.

    Also I put random things together trying to make Kanji and make Cantilever. :D
    Posted December 20th, 2011 at 04:41 AM by Alternative Alternative is offline
  4. Old Comment
    jpp8's Avatar
    A way to remember the difference is that hiragana, the more curvy of the two, is used most of the time for its simplicity, and katakana, the line-ier one, is used almost exclusively for foreign words.
    Posted December 20th, 2011 at 07:01 AM by jpp8 jpp8 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Esper's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Alternative View Comment
    The only thing I know about the two is that Katakana is used to make Kanji, but Hiragana isn't or something. :) but this will be a huge help for me trying to decipher things like pixiv and other japanese assorted things.

    Also I put random things together trying to make Kanji and make Cantilever. :D
    Hiragana and katakana are both derived from kanji (Chinese characters) so kanji came first, but you're right in that katakana looks more like kanji. That's because when they were making katakana they just took kanji and stripped them down to something simpler (as opposed to hiragana which derived from how kanji is written in caligraphy/cursive).

    I'll do a kanji lesson eventually.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jpp8 View Comment
    A way to remember the difference is that hiragana, the more curvy of the two, is used most of the time for its simplicity, and katakana, the line-ier one, is used almost exclusively for foreign words.
    Quite. Hiragana is by far more common (outside of, say, advertising where you might see more katakana used stylistically).
    Posted December 20th, 2011 at 10:34 AM by Esper Esper is offline
 

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