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Is Romaji Evil?

I am the deveoper of RomajiDesu Japanese Dictionary, it is a integrated dictionary that includes Japanese-English dictionary, Kanji dictionary, morphological analysers,...of course look at the website name, I always try to include Romaji reading beside Kana and Kanji. The aims to help beginners feel Japanese less scared.

But one of the common advice from Japanese senpai: "stay away from Romaji". The reason is that you cannot avoid learning Hiragana, Katakana, and eventually Kanji in order to practise on various Japanese resources. Is it true?

Well, to my experience, it's only partly true. I agree with the fact that you cannot avoid learning "true" Japanese writing systems. But there's no need to be scared of Romaji. Think of it like pronuciation in any dictionary! Like myself, first I look at romaji, but when I am used the Hiragana, I no longer look at it. It help me feel less scared of Japanese and the psychological effect was remarkable.

What do you think?


Anyone seeking to limit other people's options has his head stuck up his own backside is what I think.

You don't need to beat your brains out learning kana and kanji to be fluent in spoken Japanese. And if spoken Japanese is all you want, that is what you should focus on. I have things I want to do in life and one of them is not spend oddles of my time learning an archaic writing system akin to ancient Egyptian. I speak Japanese fluently and I have access to IMHO, MUCH better written sources of damned near anything in English.

Plus, if you need to be fluent in spoken Japanese ASAP, romaji is the way to go. The kana and kanji WILL slow you down even if the end result is more complete. Different people, different wants and needs. More is better.

So good on you for putting romaji in your dictionary, for the reasons you mentioned (and you are spot on!) and now the reasons I mention.

Just make sure you do it Hepburn style and not kunrei. When I first learned Japanese I messed up a lot of pronunciations because of that crazy kunrei idea. I say if you are going to romanize Japanese, then ROMANIZE it! Don't go with a hybrid. Of course the trouble remains of how to express long vowels, whether by double vowels, putting a bar over top, or adding an "h".

Good luck to you!

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