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Where to begin with writing system?

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It seems like there's so many different things to take in: kanji, hiragana, katakana, and am I correct in thinking romaji is mainly for helping with pronunciation? Sorry if any questions are dumb, I am very much a noob.

I started doing kanji flash cards, but I just wanted advice on whether or not that's a good place to start. Even the few I know I don't know how they're used in a sentence. I read that putting different kanji together gives a whole new meaning than they do individually. It's all a little overwhelming at this point!
 
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Start with hiragana and katakana. Get an app, a book, a small monkey which bites you if you don't write them out, whatever suits your learning style. Just take the couple weeks and do it.

I personally hate romaji. I'm sure someone somewhere has found a use for it, but I think of it as a lying little imposter which encouraged me to mispronounce words and lazily not learn hiragana and katakana until I started ignoring it entirely.

I'll leave kanji advice giving to those who have a large corpus of learned kanji.
 

Lothor

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Romanji textbooks are useful if you are planning to learn a bit of Japanese as a one-off, for example, if you are going to spend a few months in Japan never to return.
If you want to learn the language, I agree with Wonko, but I'd concentrate on katakana first since there's a good reward to effort ratio - a lot of imported words are written in katakana but relatively few are written in only hiragana.
For kanji, I found this book useful as an absolute beginner, which gives you a feel for the thinking behind kanji and helps you to recognise some of the most common ones.
Teach Yourself Beginner's Japanese Script New Edition (TYBS): Amazon.co.uk: Helen Gilhooly: 9780340860243: Books
 
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Sorry for posting in the wrong section again. At first when I saw the two sub-forums on this one I thought I had to choose one of them lol
 
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It is inevitable that you will come across Japanese words written in Romaji, either during your studies, or here in Japan on advertisements, magazine covers, etc... Romaji is simply how to render Japanese words into roman/alphabetical letters. If you study Japanese using the crutch of Romaji, you delay the inevitable work you have in front of you to learn and become familiar with hiragana and katakana. The sooner you lose the crutch, or the training wheels of Romaji, the better off you will be.

(Crutches and training wheels serve their purpose, and are useful things. But the sooner you are able to move without these things, the faster and farther you can progress.)
 
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So should I avoid romaji altogether?
I wouldn't worry about avoiding it completely, but I would move on to kana as quickly as possible. It only takes a couple weeks to learn both syllabaries in their entirety - it does take a little longer to get smooth at reading it.

I would certainly avoid using a textbook in romaji, an entire course is too much time to be working with a written form that is almost unused. (It does get used obviously in some beginner texts, and also for place-names on signs in places where a lot of tourists might need to read the signs. That's about it.)
 
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It seems like there's so many different things to take in: kanji, hiragana, katakana, and am I correct in thinking romaji is mainly for helping with pronunciation? Sorry if any questions are dumb, I am very much a noob.

I started doing kanji flash cards, but I just wanted advice on whether or not that's a good place to start. Even the few I know I don't know how they're used in a sentence. I read that putting different kanji together gives a whole new meaning than they do individually. It's all a little overwhelming at this point!
As everyone else has mentioned, start with the kanas, seeing as how that gets you off of roumaji sooner and allows you to quit crippling yourself. For example, most people when they see "hora" will pronounce it as "hor-uh" instead of "hoh-rah". And that has more to do with how we were all taught to speak and sound out written words in English than anything else.
Now, contrary to popular opinion, I think you should learn katakana first. And half the people I mention this to think I'm crazy, but I think there's some benefit to it. Most beginners tend to struggle with katakana because they don't encounter it as often as its counterpart at first, which is why I see many friends have near breakdowns over trying to read something that really shouldn't be that hard. (Sadly, only mild exaggeration there). I personally learned katakana first and although it was done entirely on accident, my reading skills were already a lot stronger because of it when I finally did get around to hiragana. This also allowed for me to learn how to write foreign names and learn loanwords and onomatopoeia that I still use to this day. From there, I picked up hiragana, and then I was able to read anything that had furigana above it.
While mastering the kanas, DO NOT NEGLECT THE OTHER ASPECTS OF THIS LANGUAGE. And by that I mean, learn new words, grammatical functions, conjugations and speak and listen to as much Japanese as possible. Pretty soon you'll be adding reading and writing to that regimen, so make sure you're working on your other skills to keep everything at around the same level.
As for kanji, wait. I mean just wait. Master the kanas, pick up about 500-1000 words, be able to spit out a few sentences on command, and THEN start learning kanji. There's this idea I read about where when you know the meaning of and how to say a word, adding the kanji becomes a lot easier. I have literally seen this in action too. For example, I knew what the word "setsuna" meant and how to say it, so when it came time for me to learn the kanji, 'it was like greeting an old friend.'
I could go on all day about ways to learn kanji and Japanese in general, but I think this is a good start for now. When you think you're ready to move on, maybe revive this thread or make a new one. Either way, hit up Tofugu somewhere along the way and just dive straight into all the articles on that blog. There is a TON of information on that site, but so much of it is necessary and useful that you forget you just spent 5 hours of your life reading probably over 100 articles. (Don't judge me; this is what happens when I have too much free time.)
Anyway, happy learning, and I hope I didn't just overwhelm you even more. f>~<')
 
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