1 December 2018 by wolfganghofmeier

Level: A1

Japanese largely stands on its own as a language. It may be distantly related to Korean. For learners familiar with Spanish, Italian or German sounds, Japanese pronunciation will not be difficult although Japanese R/L and F/H have to be learned. To learn the pronunciation of Japanese words, you can use Google Translate or Forvo. See links below.

Japanese writing uses a combination of thousands of characters borrowed from Chinese called Kanji as well as two syllabic systems called Hiragana and Katakana. Noun and verb stems are generally written in Kanji, verb endings and various particles in Hiragana and foreign loan words in Katakana. To learn a reasonable number of Kanji would probably take several years, but a learner should try to learn the Hiragana as Google Translate and similar sites do not accept Japanese in romanized form. The romanized form is called Romaji and is used in these lessons along with normal Japanese writing to allow the use of Google Translate and Forvo.

Romaji is pronounce more or less as a Spanish speaker would read it, but sometimes "u" is silent and, as mentioned above, R/L and F/H have a special sound in Japanese. Unlike Spanish, Japanese has long and short vowels that are expressed in somewhat strange ways: long e (English eh) is written as ei, long o (similar to English oh) is written as ou.

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