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Japanese Writing System

japanese writing system

The Japanese language is slightly tougher, but at the same time, it is worth the effort. This is because it is not similar to any other language and has no commonality. It is not only a beautiful language to speak but even beautiful to write as the script is very artistic and looks mesmerizing to see. It is not simple to learn Japanese language and writing is the most confusing part of it. With consistent effort and practice, one can master the Japanese writing system.

Japanese Writing

The Japanese language grammar is easier than other languages, it does not have many complicated rules and there are no cases, genders and articles. Japanese writing style can be seen in two ways i) Horizontally from left to right and ii) Vertically from top to bottom and right to left. In Japanese schools, it is usually taught in horizontal format, but in novels or any other reading material, it is usually vertically from right to left. The way Japanese is written makes it easy to read in any of these styles.

Modern Japanese is written in a mixture of three basic characters:

i)   Kanji (Kahn-jee) - Chinese ideographic symbols

ii)  Hiragana (Hee-rah-gah-nah)

iii) Katakana (ka-ta-ka-na)

While Kanji has thousands of characters, Hiragana and Katakana have 46 each. There are rules as to when which characters are to be used with certain exceptions. Also, the Kanji characters have multiple pronunciations for a single word.

Kanji is mainly used for nouns, verb stems, adjective stems and so on. Hiragana has round-shaped letters, used for grammatical elements such as particles, auxiliary verbs and suffixes of nouns. Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script (known as rōmaji).  It has an angular letter shape, which is most often used for words of foreign origin and also for the purpose of emphasis. For instance, ‘sumimasen’ which means ‘sorry’ would be written in Hiragana, as it is of Japanese origin. ‘Nekutai’ which means ‘necktie’ would be written in Katakana because it is of foreign origin.

Kanji are Chinese characters that the Japanese adopted a long time ago to write their language. They mainly represent the meaning and then the sound of a word. First preference should be given to the meaning of Kanji characters and then think about the way it is pronounced.

Japanese students are expected to learn around 2,000 Kanji characters by the time they complete their Junior High School. While some are simple with 1-3 strokes, others are relatively complicated, pictographic and symbolic.

Japanese Writing Style

Whenever the learners start practising a language to write, the first thing that strikes is the side from where to start. In Japanese writing style, the two orientations are followed- horizontal and vertical. The usage depends on the kind of piece it is, like vertical for traditional Japanese writing, novels, and other humanistic writings; horizontal for business documents, contemporary writing, scientific documents and so on.

In areas of typography where space needs to be managed, both the orientations are mixed and used judiciously; such as in newspapers, magazines, journals etc. Print media has been employing both the styles of writing Japanese depending on the space provided. It has to be used effectively and in a way that both orientations complement each other.

When practising Japanese writing, the important thing to focus on is the stroke order and direction of the strokes. It is very important to learn these strokes with full accuracy as they form the basis for Japanese writing. The strokes represent the way a word is pronounced and understood. The Japanese pronunciation is between high and low pitch. Homophones have different pitches of low and high resulting in a different sound despite the same pronunciation.

Japanese words are easy to pronounce and the meanings are very similar to what those words sound like. They help one to learn more about the language as the learning process goes deeper. The Japanese words can be learnt once you are done with character learning as they are very simple and have few characters involved. They form the basis of Japanese writing and once you understand the characters to be used in different situations, you can easily write Japanese words.

The Japanese writing style is unique from other languages because of its multiple characters and orientations. The style can also be customised depending on the spatial requirement or the type of document to be written. The horizontal and vertical orientations are widely used in online typed material as it is visually appealing and gives a unique stint to the language. The writing may seem perplexing but it is beautiful in its own way.

Learn Japanese Words

For those who want to learn how to write Japanese, it is very important to learn Japanese words and focus on the characters, meaning and pronunciation of the words. There are many ways of getting it right; one can practice by writing the words starting from basic greetings, salutations, names, places, days and so on. The basics have to be learnt first to get a hold on the writing system and once it is thorough, the next set of complicated words can be taken up for learning.

Try to collect magazines, books of Japanese literature and start copying the words to learn the way it is written. You can also observe Japanese signboards and see how the characters are used for different styles of writing by browsing online for basic Japanese signboards. Learn to write Japanese by enrolling yourself in any coaching classes, which are easily found on online portals like UrbanPro. It is an online portal which helps the students reach out to trainers based on their learning requirements. You can visit https://www.urbanpro.com/japanese-language-classes/11117056 website and enter your basic details to filter out the most appropriate trainers based on the details entered. You’ll then get a list of many trainers in your nearby locality and you can choose who best suits your learning requirement. It is completely free for the students and is user-friendly. The steps are very simple and it takes just a few minutes to help you find the right tutor for you.

Foreign languages are becoming more and more popular among the millennials entering the job market. This is because young students, aiming at getting a well-paid job at a known company, are open to exploring explore new places, new cultures, new languages. Indeed, these days companies look for individuals with multilingual skills as it makes the international business connections an easy process and the employees can handle positions in different countries, better.

Learn to write Japanese

The Japanese language can be a good option to choose out of foreign languages as it is different and unique. The learners can grab this opportunity of learning a new language and choose Japanese to equip themselves with additional skills and have an edge over others in the competitive job market. Knowing how to write in Japanese can be an additional advantage for candidates and with this skill, they can prove themselves to be deserving before the employer.

One can also take up Japanese writing jobs. There are many requirements for Japanese writers to frame documents, business deals, literary works, translation as the businesses have expanded internationally, and hence the need for foreign language proficient candidates has increased. One who is skilled in a foreign language such as Japanese can apply to companies that have high business transactions with Japanese countries. Such a candidate has chances of getting placed at strategic positions. Japanese writing could be helpful for framing multilingual contracts and to understand their interactions better.

Knowing Japanese writing is a skill, which one can thank lifelong, for the quantum of benefits provided by acquiring this skill. It increases your worth as an employee and can be considered for high profile jobs, which have global connections.

For mastering Japanese writing, one needs to have a disciplined approach towards practising the language and using the right techniques. It initially seems tough because of the no similarity with other scriptures but it can definitely be learnt through consistent practice. One needs to be determined on learning this language, without giving up midway.


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