Tuesday, January 02, 2018

A brief overview of written Japanese language

By Peter Hanami

● Japanese has five vowels A, I, U, E, O

Japanese words with English meanings followed by pronunciation and written in Japanese script hiragana

Okonomiyaki = Japanese style pancake


Futon =  Mattress



Arigatou gozaimasu = Thank you very much 

A/ri/ga/tou Go/za/i/ma/su 


Sentence construction

English: I am looking for the book

Japanese: Hon o sagashite imasu

Translation:  Book looking am

Subject: I Object: book Verb: looking


1. Hiragana - 50 symbols
Words of Japanese origin are written in this script, for example:

a, i, u, e o

あ、い、 う、え、お 

Okonomiyaki おこのみやき 

ka, ki, ku, ke, ko 

Futon ふとん

か、き、 く、け、こ、 

Arigatou Gozaimasu ありがとうございます

sa, shi, su, se, so

さ、し, す、 せ、そ

2. Katakana - 50 symbols

Words of foreign origin are written in this script, for example:

a, i u e o  English, Written,   Pronuciation


Ice Cream = アイスクリーム aisukuree-mu


Notebook= ノート no-to


Mechanical pencil シャーペン sha-pen

3. Kanji - thousands of Chinese characters

Characters with a Chinese origin used to convey sounds, words, pictures and ideas

Dog 犬 (inu) 

Newspaper 新聞 (shinbun)

Desk 机 (tsukue) 

Company 会社 (kaisha)

Written Japanese combines the three scripts into one when writing

For Example: Do you like ice cream?

Aisukuree mu wa suki desu ka?

アイスクリーム  は  好き ですか 

● Japanese is written in columns starting at the top right hand corner of the page and continues to the left hand side of the page. Newspapers, books and magazines are read from the back page to the front page.

© Copyright Peter Hanami. 2004. All Rights Reserved.

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