Thursday, December 4, 2008

I really think so

Learning Japanese, I think I'm learning Japanese...

It's taking a long time, and it's not easy, but I am working on learning written Japanese. This is an incredibly complicated process - there are three alphabets, two with 46 phonetic characters apiece and one with over a thousand. That last one, kanji, comes from Chinese and can take a lifetime to learn, so I'm not planning on becoming fluent. But the other two are really necessary for basic communication, grocery shopping, etc, so I'm committed.

But oh, it's not easy.

You see, there are two (plus one!) alphabets. Did I mention that? One of them, hiragana, is used only for words of Japanese origin. The other, katakana, is only for words of foreign origin. (Check out if you want to see how I'm practicing). So imagine you want to say "I'm going to wear my kimono to the party," that would use all three! The word for party is paa-ti, from the English, so it would be written in katakana. I'm learning katakana first, since it will be more useful for me to identify ketchup and pizza than miso and kimonos, but even the foreign words are different. For example, I've learned about a dozen characters so far (WOOT!) and I was actually able to read a sign at the grocery store yesterday! Here's what I could make out:











Internet, I was so excited! I had looked up at the aisle sign and determined that if I want to buy instant, I look here. Instant ____________, that is - I couldn't read the kanji for the last part of the phrase. But it was instant, and I knew it.

This is going to be a long road.

No comments: