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Japanese Language Characters and Kanji Symbols, Japanese Alphabet Pronunciation

Learn Japanese Language? Want to recognize Japanese characters and Kanji symbols? How many Kanji characters are in the Japanese language? First class today, we’ll learn pronunciation for japanese characters. Japanese alphabet pronunciation is using romanized character. Also you may get the information on learning free Kanji lessons.

Japanese Language: Introduction

Are you new to Japanese? Familiarize yourself with Japanese and start learning basic vocabulary and phrases here.

Japanese language is written with a combination of three scripts: Chinese characters called kanji (漢字?), and two syllabic (or moraic) scripts made of modified Chinese characters, hiragana (ひらがな or 平仮名?) and katakana (カタカナ or 片仮名?). The Latin script is also often used in modern Japanese, especially for company names and logos, advertising, romanization of Japanese characters, and when entering Japanese text into a computer. Arabic numerals are generally used for numbers, but traditional Sino-Japanese numerals are also commonplace (see Japanese numerals).

The Japanese Language, like any other foreign language, is very easy to learn as far as speaking is concerned. The scripts (yes, its plural, japanese has three scripts, but lets come to that in a bit) are very different from most other languages, but extremently intriguing all the same.

How many Kanji characters are in the Japanese language?

According to the authoritative Daikanwa Jiten, about 50,000 kanji in total have been created most of them by the second century AD. Most of these however are highly obscure, many refer to specific place names or names of insects or plants, and most are go unused even in China.

It is believed that knowledge of about 3,300 characters is needed in order to be a literate Japanese adult. Only about 2000 are officially recognized by the government.

Japanese consists of three different character sets. Many persons say, “Japanese language is difficult”. One of the reason might be the kanji. However, the Kanji can be written in Kana characters. And, the Kanji is unnecessary when talking. “Japanese language education” of Japan starts from the study of Kana characters. All Kanji are not mastered even if it is a Japanese. In short, if you mastered the “Kana character” which is the alphabet of the Japanese language and know the words, you can do communication to some extent.

Japanese pronounciations are uncomplicated. Words are pronounced as they are written. Although kanji’s have several reading ways depending on context (we can get to that later), the basic spoken japanese can be unmistakenably straightforward.

Japanese Language 日本語 Script, Symbolics and Pronounciations

The Chinese word HanZi 漢字 means “Chinese Character”. When borrowed by the Japanese the pronunciation became KanJi. 漢字 The Japanese borrowed the Chinese writing system starting in the Tang dynasty about 1400 years ago. Japanese grammar is quite different from Chinese. Japanese is a Ural Altaic language more closely related to Turkish than to Chinese, The Chinese writing did not fit well with Japanese. As a result, several things happened. (1) They borrowed the Chinese characters and used them to represent Japanese words and gave them the Japanese pronunciations called Kunyomi 訓読, (2) In many cases they borrowed the Chinese pronunciation too in this case they used the Onyomi 音読 pronunciation which corresponds to the original Chinese pronunciation. (3) Some Chinese characters were used as phonetics for Japanese words. Originally these phonetics were used mainly by women and other semi literate Japanese. Ultimately the cursive form of these phonetics developed into two precise phonetic alphabets. One called Hiragana ひらがな which is used to write the Japanese words which have no Chinese or other foreign etymology. The Kai forms of these phonetics developed into a precise phonetic alphabet called Katakana カタカナ which was used to write the words in Japanese which are derived from languages other than Japanese or Chinese, mostly English. (4) Since the kanji was borrowed so long ago, in many cases the written form has changed somewhat, the meaning has changed, sometimes a lot. One example is the 読 in Onyomi which in Chinese is 讀 (5) In modern Japanese there has been a move to reduce the number of Chinese characters to around 2200 and some of those characters are rare or non existent in modern Chinese. As a rough eye ball estimate, I would say 80% of kanji is pronounced similar to and has a similar meaning to the Chinese.

You may also read the book titled A Guide to Japanese – 10 facts, 20 key phrases and the alphabet, written by Edward Chen. This book offers a systematic overview of the Japanese language from the perspective of the English-speaking learner. It deals with the essential points of pronunciation, the writing system, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse, and aims to complement Japanese language courses by bringing the various components of the language together in a general framework. Sample topics include English loanwords in Japanese, word- and phrase-accentuation, the role of the various Japanese scripts, vertical and horizontal writing, semantic contrasts between Japanese and English words, honorifics, numeral classifiers and grammatical “particles,” and male and female speech and social formulas. The book also discusses practical issues such as the role of romanization and the use of character dictionaries, and gives due attention to the informal style. Addressed primarily to undergraduate learners, the book will also be of interest to teachers and to other readers who wish to obtain a general picture of this increasingly important language. Learn Japanese in your own time and have fun with Japanese Mini Culture. Surprising and revealing facts about the Japanese language, key phrases to get started, details on the Japanese alphabet and useful Japanese links. You won’t miss it.

Why it’s Important to Learn Japanese Language? Why should we learn Japanese?

The Japanese people have a very strong sense of pride in their country. Honor is a touchstone of the Japanese culture, and language is a big part of retaining that honor. It is extremely important to the older generations to retain their Japanese language skills, and while some younger generations speak English as their first language, they are expected to learn Japanese. Learning Japanese is still an integral part of being Japanese, or being accepted into their culture if you were not born into it.
Nisei and Sensei (children and grandchildren of Japanese immigrants respectively) or those born to Japanese and American parents may like to journey to Japan to find and connect with extended family members. The ability to communicate with these relatives could only make such an experience richer and more fulfilling.
Whether traveling to Japan for family, business or just to explore the vibrant culture, learning to speak Japanese will make the trip all the more memorable and interesting.

Some people are after Japanese girls. Others are seeking well-paid job posts in big shot Japanese companies. I, however, think the main reason for learning Japanese is that Japan has a lot of good things but its people generally don’t speak English. This language barrier blocks a large percentage of those good things from entering the English speaking world. The Japanese are good novel writers, inventors, game makers and song writers. But very few of their works are translated into English, except for the most famous ones like Dragon Ball and Final Fantasy. We are missing out on this large resource of entertainment and useful information just because we don’t know their language. It’s really a waste of our short lives!

After mastering the Japanese language, you’ll feel like having a second life. A new world will be opened. And you’ll have access to a lot of information which is off-limits to non-Japanese speakers. And if you have a good product, you can sell it to the wealthiest market in the world. There are many possibilities. But the key point is that you need to speak their language.

Think of the Japanese language as a shovel. With that on your hand, you can dig deeper into one of the most valuable resources of information in the world.

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