What I’m Learning: Terminology
There are many terms that I had to learn when I first jumped into Japanese. Here’s a short summary of that termonology including the meanings, and how it is helpful or relevant to learning Japanese.
- Pronounced: Hee-ra-ga-na
- “Hiragana” spelled in hiragana is: ひ ら が な
- “A I U E O” in hiragana looks like this: あ い う え お
- There are a total of 46 Hiragana characters.
- Pronounced: Ka-ta-ga-na
- “Katakana” spelled in katakana is: カ タ カ ナ
- “A I U E O” in katakana looks like this: ア イ ウ エ オ
- There are a total of 46 Katakana characters.
- Pronounced: Ka-n-gee
- “Kanji” in Kanji appears as: 漢字
- Kanji are characters that make up a huge portion of the Japanese language.
- Kanji symbols can be very simple, such as people (人) or dog (犬).
- Kanji symbols can also be highly complicated like the word protection (護).
- Kanji, Katakana, and Hiragana all make up the Japanese language together.
- Pronounced: Fu-re-ga-na
- “Furigana” in Japanese appears as: 振り仮名
- Furigana is ‘kana’ displayed directly above or next to kanji to show how a kanji is pronounced.
- For example, if you saw the Kanji for mother (母) then you may also see the kana (はは) above the kanji.
- This would show you that the pronunciation is はは or “ha-ha” for the word “mother”.
- Pronounced: Oh-n-yo-me
- “On’yomi” in Japanese appears as: 音読み
- Some Japanese kanji have two pronunciations, one of those two is called On’yomi.
- On’yomi is the reading of a kanji that originated from the chinese lanuage.
- For example, the word “cow” in Japanese is 牛.
- The on’yomi pronunciation is ぎゅう or Gyuu.
- Pronounced: Koo-n-yo-me
- “Kunyomi” in Japanese appears as: 訓読み
- Like On’yomi, Kunyomi is another way that Japanese kanji can be pronounced.
- Kunyomi is the reading of a kanji that came from the Japanese pronunciation.
- Again, using the example of the word “cow” (牛) in Japanese.
- The Kunyomi pronunciation is うし or Uoo-she.
- Pronounced: Ren-da-ku
- “Rendaku” in Japanese appears as: 連濁
- Rendaku relates to the pronunciation of a second word, when the first and second word are the same.
The best and easiest example is the word people.
- To make the word “people”, we would take the word person, and repeat it.
- Person is pronounced hito and sounds like ‘hee-toe’ but to say person twice and make it “people” we would not say hito-hito but, because of the natural flow of sound from a persons mouth, rendaku happens and it is instead pronounced hito-bito. Still confusing, but if you say it out loud, hito-hito is hard to say but hito-bito flows off the tongue easier.
- Pronounced: Dak-ten
- “Dakuten” in Japanese appears as: 濁点
- Dakuten is a small mark that is added to a kana character for a new pronunciation.
- The mark is usually a small dot or a quotation mark that is added to the upper corner.
- Let’s see the hiragana character for “ha” and us Dakuten marks on it.
- は is pronounced ha and does not have anything added to it.
- ば is pronounced ba because it has a ” added to it.
- ぱ is pronounced pa because it has a dot added to it.
- These changes in pronunciation can be helpful with words like ‘pen’.
- Pen is spelled ペン in Japanese and ペン is pronounced pe-n.
DISCLAIMER: While writing these posts, I might not have been able to fully understand or speak Japanese yet. Feel free to learn from my experience in learning Japanese, but be aware that I may still have errors. If you speak Japanese, please let me know if you see any issues in my posts!