December 24, 2010 | Japanese
Yes to Kana, Sorry to Kanji
There's only so much a girl can do.
I have been consuming a balanced diet of Pimsleur lessons, Rosetta Stone, and my various Japanese books.
Japanese Books Work Better With Coffee
Today in my Kana de Manga book by Glenn Kardy, I read, “Children in Japan learn to read and write hiragana and katakana (collectively known as kana) long before they are introduced to Chinese characters, or kanji.” As I proceed, it has become clear to me that of course I am not going to bother with kanji for this project. Learning thousands of Chinese symbols is not exactly a realistic goal at the moment.
It is, however, realistic to think I could at least try to learn all the hiragana and katakana. What’s another 92+ symbols to shovel into my brain?!
Seriously, though, one of the most enjoyable aspects of this project is studying new writing systems. It is calming, like art therapy, or like I would imagine art therapy would be had I ever done it, or seen it, or had anything whatsoever to do with it.
The abovementioned book relies on manga cartoon images (whatever those are; I am not up on my cartoon images) to help teach the language. I don’t really get what manga is, but this is a very cute book with amusingly smart-alecky text, and I have been finding it quite helpful.
For one thing, the book explains a couple of issues that have been confusing to me. I read in it that “the l sound…is almost nonexistent in Japanese, with a Japanese approximation falling somewhere between a d and an r to English-trained ears, and usually romanized with an r.”
What a relief. I have found that so bewildering in my Pimsleur lessons. A word will sound one way in one lesson and then another way in the next. To my ear d and r and l are radically different, so hearing those sounds used almost interchangeably is kind of bizarre.
From My Rosetta Stone Lessons: Why No Spaces Between Japanese Words?
In addition, the manga book has informed me, “All Japanese words end either in a vowel, or a consonant that can sound like either an m or an n, depending on the word….There are no other consonant endings in Japanese.” This is totally unlike English, where words end in all kinds of crazy ways.
A question, so far unresolved: why are there no spaces between Japanese words? Everything runs together.
I thought I would get an answer to this from one of my sources, but so far, nothing. There was a time, many centuries ago, when Latin had no spaces between words either, but I didn’t realize—I guess I should have—that this was a feature of some modern languages, too.