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Hedonologist

Issue with Hiragana not present in other writing systems

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When i try to learn other writing systems (Greek, Arabic for example), I will often try to write normal sentences in English, but using the foreign alphabet. This isn't possible with hiragana though as the syllables are only useful for Japanese. Does anyone else learn alphabets the same way as me, and is having trouble with hiragana because of it?

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I think the biggest issue here is thinking of hiragana as an alphabet; it's not. Hiragana represents phonemes, and it's very specific to Japanese - it's not designed to write foreign words. The method you're using to learn other alphabets is called "transliteration", and it unfortunately isn't a method that works with phonetic characters, as they're too limited. Unless an English word happens to conform to hiragana's rules, you're going to run into major problems.

One alternative you can try is using flash cards to help associate each character with its sound. Think of each as its own word, and once you know all 46 basic words and a few variations, you'll be able to phonetically sound out any word in Japanese. It sounds like a lot, but trust me - it goes quickly. Putting in a little bit of work at the front end will make further learning a lot easier!

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I think the biggest issue here is thinking of hiragana as an alphabet; it's not. Hiragana represents phonemes, and it's very specific to Japanese - it's not designed to write foreign words. The method you're using to learn other alphabets is called "transliteration", and it unfortunately isn't a method that works with phonetic characters, as they're too limited. Unless an English word happens to conform to hiragana's rules, you're going to run into major problems.

One alternative you can try is using flash cards to help associate each character with its sound. Think of each as its own word, and once you know all 46 basic words and a few variations, you'll be able to phonetically sound out any word in Japanese. It sounds like a lot, but trust me - it goes quickly. Putting in a little bit of work at the front end will make further learning a lot easier!

That's a very good way to put it Scurventery! As you already mentioned, flashcards come in handy when it comes to studying Hiragana and Katakana. You can certainly learn Hiragana / Katakana in a pretty short time like this! By the way, what's your Japanese level Scurventery?

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That's a very good way to put it Scurventery! As you already mentioned, flashcards come in handy when it comes to studying Hiragana and Katakana. You can certainly learn Hiragana / Katakana in a pretty short time like this! By the way, what's your Japanese level Scurventery?

Thanks! Not nearly as high as I'd like, though I'm working on that. I've taken a few classes and can struggle through some basic sentences, but I'm still short of conversational in my opinion, and I have a ton of kanji to learn. I suppose you could say I know more about Japanese linguistics than I know about using the language - I tend to work at things by learning the rules first and then moving into specifics. Grammar? No problem. Vocabulary? It's a bit of a work in progress. :)

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I see what you're saying. I was lucky enough to learn Japanese in primary (elementary) school, and our Sensei used a bunch of memory tricks for each character, and so that's how I remember all of them. One example is the character for U (pronounced Oo) is "Ooh, the rock fell on the old ladys back" because that's what the character looks like! Or "I" (pronounced Ee) is supposed to be like "HawaII", because it looks like two women doing the Hula.

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