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Romaji - A plague?

SacredBlue

先輩
13 Oct 2003
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Ohhh the frusteration...Why does Romaji exist? Why can't people spend a month learning the kana?! Pronouncation isn't a good enough reason to use Romaji in my opinion. It confuses new students, and even messes up pronouncation!

I help lil kids and older kids in my general area with Japanese..A new student came to me, And I saw how badly Romaji can alter a student. For the particle を he pronounced 'whoa(wo)'. One of the biggest gripes I have about Romaji for new students is learning the difference in pronouncation in things like さようなら(correct) and さよなら(incorrect). If a student has self taught himself some Japanese and has never added an extra mora to these syllables, it's very hard to make it a habit. Therefore whenever I teach things like the above I make my students exaggerate the mora, even if it's not how the Japanese speak, it teaches pronouncation.

Another big gripe with Romaji, ら・り・る・れ・ろ is neither pronounced ra ri ru re ro OR la li lu le lo. and ふ is neither an english 'fu' or an english 'hu'. へ when used as a particle is not pronounced 'he'.

Today, most Japanese are being encouraged to used Shin-kunrei-shiki "New Official System". Other common romanizations are Hepburn (hebon-shiki, also called hyoujun-shiki "Standard System") and Nippon-shiki "Japanese System". The differences among those are thus:

JSL roomazi
Shin-kunrei-shiki: rômazi
Hepburn: rõmaji
Nippon-shiki: rõmadi

Hepburn romanization is the system most familiar to Westerns; but I rarely if ever seen it used by native Japanese. When I see Japanese write Romaji I usually see them use Shin-kunrei-shiki.

Anyways.. Romaji is fine for spelling out simple words for examples like how I just used it, but it's really not ok at all to substitute it 100% for Kana. If your concern is not having enough time to learn Kana..well..がんばってね
 
GOOD POINT !!

My Japanese teacher used Romaji in the begining so I ignored the Hiragana figuring why learn it. Big surprise in our first class of part 2, no more romaji and now I have to play catch-up on learning the Kana. I now appreciate why I see people saying learn the Kana first thing. I have to admit learning Kanji seems impossible !! So many strokes in such a tiny area. Newsprint sized Kanji might as well be braille, I'm to blind to read it !!

Frank

🙂
 
I think Romaji is very misleading. It is so frustrating, that I changed my son, Ryukai's(龍魁) name, to Lyukai. Does it sound like an English R? No. Does it sound like an English L? Not really, but closer to L than R. I couldn't stand the thought of people around here pronouncing his name as if it began with the same sounding R as my name(Rachel). So now, they pronounce it like "Luke-ai", and I have finally just wound up telling people to call him "Luke" for short. Gosh, sometimes I wish I would've just used their "regular" European middle names instead of their Japanese names... :eek: Of course, judging some of the people around here, they wouldn't know how to pronounce those either.
 
This maybe a bit off-topic, but isn't both さようなら and さよなら have came to become valid ways to say goodbye?
 
This maybe a bit off-topic, but isn't both さようなら and さよなら have came to become valid ways to say goodbye?
Hmmm possibly so..

Well then take Tokyo as an example instead, in Japanese it's とうきょう not ときょ or ときょう
 
It's inevitable that for every non-roman language there is going to be a conversion system. Naturally they are highly imperfect. Just imagine if you were learning Chinese and had to learn all those kanji before being able to use them grammatically ;).
 
I know what you guys are talking about.

My teacher basically puts everything into hiragana, katakana and kanji. He never uses romaji EVER. I guess it's a rule thumb to get us to write only in the kana.

Anyway...I have a question. Is it correct in some instances when using です to pronounce the す like "desu" instead of "des"???

Sometimes I hear it, when Japanese are speaking fast, they'll say deSUH. Is that just colloquial? Also, sometimes my teacher will pronounce "を"like "oh" but it will have a little breath of a "w" sound at the beginning. Is that too, colloquial?

Thanks!
 
Sometimes I hear it, when Japanese are speaking fast, they'll say deSUH. Is that just colloquial? Also, sometimes my teacher will pronounce "を"like "oh" but it will have a little breath of a "w" sound at the beginning. Is that too, colloquial?

Desu should always be pronounced Des. It isn't completely incorrect to say deSUH in very specific situations, but stick to pronouncing it des while you're learning. Some Japanese speaking fast may stress the 'su' part so the listener knows it's a copula and not something else.

If you were speaking colloquial or informally, desu wouldn't be used anyways. It would be an informal contraction of desu such as だ(da).

As for why your teacher would pronounce it slightly like wo, I have really no idea. However in some sentences the pronouncation of を can change. Such as 何をしますか。(nani o shimasu ka)(What are you doing?). Native Japanese wouldn't say nani o, instead it would sound something like nanyo. But you'll learn these exceptions as you progress :)
 
If you were speaking colloquial or informally, desu wouldn't be used anyways. It would be an informal contraction of desu such as だ(da).

I don't know if this is a 関東 - specific thing or if all regions of Japan do this, but っす can be used as a contraction for です as well.
 
Originally posted by SacredBlue
Desu should always be pronounced Des. It isn't completely incorrect to say deSUH in very specific situations, but stick to pronouncing it des while you're learning. Some Japanese speaking fast may stress the 'su' part so the listener knows it's a copula and not something else.
I've never heard the "su" part accented as "deSUH" in natural speech. The "u" comes out slightly more when there's something following like "desu yo" or "desu yo ne" in which case the su is more like a cross between "u" and "a" or "i" (to my ears) depending on what follows, but the vowel in the syllable "su" is almost never pronounced fully at the end of words and only very faintly before certain consonants (sukoshi).
 
Yes, Elizabeth, that's what I mean! すみません!

My prof. will say something like, "。。。ですよ!" but it will sound like "...deSUH yo!"


ありがとうございます!!!



:)
 
ive heard "des" pronounced "deSU" lots of times. im pretty sure its usually used when the speaker is trying to be more polite, and (i might be wrong, but) it may be used be women more than men. dont quote me on that!
 
What I hate the most is when I go out to find a new work book to aid in my studies, and all I find are books written ENTIRELY in romaji! :eek: Like that one Japanese for Dummies. So usually if I'm shoppin for a new book the one's with the least bit of kana are the more likely to be picked.

But Kanji.....man. I think there should be an international law that all Japanese should be written with furigana included. It's annoying just reading through some random Japanese text, having to search my dictionary or ask for help every other word. :p
 
Originally posted by Keeni84
Yes, Elizabeth, that's what I mean! すみません!

My prof. will say something like, "。。。ですよ!" but it will sound like "...deSUH yo!"


ありがとうございます!!!



:)
Yeah, that is what I meant as well. I guess it's just hard to get across how strong of an emphasis you're talking about through email.
 
I also hear です pronounced "de-su" often, in situations where the person is using polite speech. Perhaps it depends on the dialect though?
A beginner should probably only use "des" until he progresses more and understands when "de-su" can be used. You can live without pronouncing the "su". A lot of these aspects of the language can't be learnt from text books but from living in Japan I guess
;)
oh and I hate romaji too. One of my students is called Chiho, but she writes her name as Tiho..... Why is ち Ti ????
 
if I can add my own "me too" here...
I also hate romaji... though I must admit it was a life-saver back when kana all looked like weird indistinguishable scribbles...
On top of leading to mistakes with long vowels (eg: few people ever write "toukyou" rather than "tokyo"), romaji are *bad* because they are nigh impossible to read at a reasonable speed. I realized that when, for some strange reason, a friend of mine once sent me a message written in romaji instead of usual kanji/kana: I just could not figure it out for the life of me!
And the fact I am not particularly skilled in Japanese only made it *worse*: if you do not have a perfect grasp of grammar and conjugation, reading a text without the visual help of common kanjis is a complete drag...
So in a nutshell, I'd say that, despite what it might seem, reading romaji is *harder* than kana/kanji... even for inexperienced reader.

And btw, AFAIK: です (or any -す verb ending for that matter) can be pronounced "de-su" (at least in Tokyo) in polite situations... I also use it quite often as a "lighter" よ to slightly insist on a point without being rude...
[insert disclaimer: ぺらぺら全然じゃないよ! ;)]
 
I usually hear the 'su' more by women. I think it is often pronounced when the person says the sentence a bit slower than usual, such as when agreeing, so-u de-su yo ne.
 
A lot of times, with the romaji, they'll emphasize the long vowels like,

Tokyo with litte - over the two o's. (I can't figure out how to do that on my computer!!!). Or with Doozo they'll put Dozo like this and then put a little - over the first "o".

However, my book always writes out the "oo" instead of putting a - over the vowels.
 
Different romaji systems make a real mess of long 'o' conventions.
I hate it when double おお (e.g 'tooru') isn't distinguished from おう e.g. ('kouchou')
 
One of my students is called Chiho, but she writes her name as Tiho..... Why is ち Ti ????
This is exactly what I meant when I said that I see most Japanese using the shin-kunrei-shiki Romaji system, which writes ち as Ti :eek:
 
Originally posted by SacredBlue
[...]things like さようなら(correct) and さよなら(incorrect).
Actually the second is now pretty well accepted
(at 323,000 Google hits it actually has more page hits than
さようなら : 233,000). Time to update your dictionary. ;-)

Edict
左様なら 【さようなら(P); さよなら(P)】 (conj,int) (uk) good-bye
or (more official)
dictionary.goo.ne.jp
さよなら
〔「さようなら」の転〕
 
Originally posted by SacredBlue
Thus being why I changed the example to 'Toukyou' earlier.
Well there's an edit button there if you don't want the first post in this thread preserved that way for posterity.

[Edit]
There's a time limit?

I'd better check how much stupid stuff I've written recently while I still have a chance. ;-)
 
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