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Where do I start


15 Oct 2003
I want to learn! but haven't got a clue where to start would someone help me. I'e got a little phrase book but whats kanji, hirogama and romaji? think ive figured it out but could still do with some helpful explaining simpleton style!
Hello Moulee-san, I've been learning on my own also, and I suggest you just do a little searching on your own. What I mean: first it will keep you motivated and second, you'll be genuinely excited when you learn from what you've discovered on your own!
(A couple of my suggestions:)
Spend some time in the language section at the bookstore. Choosing a guide or beginners workbook that fits you is a good place to begin. Check out this site for hiragana and katakana. It's a great place to start.

The Kanji SITE - A guide for students of Japanese Kanji

A final piece of advice is don't forget to practice WRITING them! Everything I've read stresses this. Think about how you learned to read and write english. You already know that method, so use it!

More importantly, don't overwhelm yourself. Have fun!

Everyday surprises

well a suggestion from a native Japanese, if you want to learn Japanese and don't know where to start, I recommend you to start from learning Hiraganas and Katakanas. Hiragana and Katakana are syllabic writing, so they are like "alphabets". Especially Hiraganas are very important. Katakanas are used for foreign things such as TV, Radio..etc not origined to Japan. So, first it might be needed to memorize all Hiraganas and Katakanas and be able to write and read them.

After that, you can learn grammatical things or words.
And, if you learn a little Japanese and if you can compose easy sentenses, then you may well start to learn Kanji from very easy ones.

I'm writing about Japanese for beginners.

Good luck!
Originally posted by Mr_Moulee
I want to learn! but haven't got a clue where to start would someone help me. I've got a little phrasebook but what's kanji, hiragana and romaji? think ive figured it out but could still do with some helpful explaining simpleton style!

I have been studying for about 15 years now.

Some of the best places to look:
The Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese
This is Trumble's "Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese"
Tumbleweed's Resources for Learning Japanese
This is Trumble's "Resources for Learning Japanese"
Learn Japanese Online for Free at The Japanese Page! | TheJapanesePage.com
This is an excellent place for learning great vocabulary and styles.
Learning and Teaching Japanese
This site has a plethora of information, but you have to deal with the occasional pop-up ad.

If you have any other needs, feel free to let me know.
Thank you all. So much useful info. this has really helped just to give me something to start from and work towards cheers!
NEW Freeware Released!

Maktos Kanji Collection v1.0

This is a FREEWARE release - you get 30 pieces of Kanji wallpaper!
Of course, they are yours to keep - the bitmaps don't "expire"
after a length of time. *grin*

Maktos FREE Kanji Wallpaper Collection - Download

Download directly from this link: (239 Kb download)
Wayback Machine

You will notice that these Kanji are not the most BASIC ones.
It was decided not to give out the SAME simple Kanji which you
probably already know. (Yama, Taberu, Tsuki, Nen, Ichi, Ni, San,
etc.) for those would be useless to you. On the contrary, the
Kanji in this set are mostly JLPT 2-level Kanji, with some JLPT-3
mixed in.

In fact, the extremely basic ones (e.g. JLPT 4 level) will be
left out of this set entirely. There are so many places to learn
the Kanji for "Day", "Moon", etc. but VERY few books or flashcards
to deal with the intermediate/advanced Kanji! All you can get is a
book with all 2000 Kanji - each Kanji gets 2 X 4 inches of paper.
All you get is a few compounds using each one, and you're on to
the next one. Where are the flashcards? The 1/2 page for each
Kanji? The advanced Kanji, so extremely complex, are the HARDEST
to learn. They need more attention than "Tsuki/Getsu", not less!
Why is it that so many students of Japanese hit a ceiling when
they have learned around 700 Kanji? Lack of good study materials?

To FILL THIS VOID is the aim of this Maktos Kanji Collection!
Heh, if you really want to learn some serious kanji, study Chinese. Nothing gives better practise than a kanji or two or three for every single word!
Kanji (lit. Chinese characters) were imported from China along with the language. The only Japanese who could learn Chinese were those who could afford to: that is, rich and male. As Japanese did not have a writing system at the time, the natives tried to assign Japanese readings to the Chinese characters, hence the kun-yomi, or Japanese reading. The on-yomi, or Chinese reading, traces its origins to the Chinese reading of the character.

However, kanji has adapted itself to Japanese in that Japanese kanji compounds for a particular word do not necessarily mean the same when put into Chinese context.

Anyway, a writing system gradually emerged from simplified kanji. This was called hiragana, and this is what Lady Shikibu Murasaki wrote The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) in.

Later, another writing system was developed, this time specifically from simplified kanji radicals: katakana. Sometimes, hiragana and katakana may look similar because they are derived from the same kanji or radical, but this is not always the case. For example, the kanji 加 (read ka) gave rise to both か (ka, hiragana) and カ (ka, hiragana).

Because it was made of simplified kanji radicals, katakana was used primarily by people who knew kanji already - men. Hiragana was considered a woman's pursuit.

In fact, in documents right up through the Meiji era, legal documents are written in kanji and katakana only.

Nowadays, though, hiragana is used for Japanese native words and for conjugations of verbs and adjectives. Kanji is used to form the bases of these verbs and adjectives. Katakana is used for emphasis, or for loan words.

Katakana is also frequently used in manga, in the English equivalent of giving a robot character a weird font to make him sound metallic, etc.

Hope that helped! =) Ganbatte kudasai (Good luck).

[p.s. I posted this on the Kanjistep.com forums, too. <3 copy & paste ]
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