The word Japan can be expressed in hiragana as にほん (nihon), or in kanji as 日本. It’s a combination of two kanji 日 and 本 which make up the word 日本. Each kanji has various meanings by itself or combined with other words.
日 + 本 = 日本
に + ほん = にほん
Most kanji also have various pronunciations as well. On yomi (音読み / おんよみ）is the adopted Chinese way of reading for the kanji, and Kun yomi (訓読み / くんよみ）is the native Japanese reading. Many kanji have the variation on pronunciations when kanji are combined. It’s easier to learn kanji and its pronunciations in specific word example, instead of individual kanji.
|Kanji||On yomi||Kun yomi||English|
Here are some samples of kanji with two readings. Some kanji have multiple meanings. The shaded columns are example words using kanji.
|Kanji||On yomi||Kun yomi||English|
|-||いすの上||いすのうえ||on the chair|
|中||ちゅう||なか||in, middle, center|
|-||はこの中||はこのなか||in the box|
|下||げ、か||した||under, down, below|
|-||木の下/||きのした||under the tree|
|生||せい||い||to live, birth|
・Not all readings are listed for On yomi and Kun yomi.
Post finder: Language guides to help with learning Japanese
haha... also couldn't help but notice your profile pic! I'm also curious on how you are doing in your Korean studies. I tried a while ago and since I didn't know any Korean prior to that, it was difficult to learn hangul. I don't Doulingo covers hangul enough. I'm trying to learn it again but, instead of learning through Duolingo I'm using online websites. Sorry for writing a novel haha.
Significant error here: " 午前 ごぜん afternoon " You wrote 'afternoon,' when the opposite is true; it should say, "before noon," as you're using the kanji 午 (noon) and 前 (before, in front).
It owes to the fact that Kanji are not essential to the Japanese language per se. Yes, in common notions, one who uses more Kanji would be identified as being more educated, but technically, you could write anything in Japanese using only the Kana. Duo apparently introduces a subset of the Joyo (daily use) Kanji possibly based on the frequency of their use.
You can't learn japanese just using hiragana, it looks like a mess. Even children learn kanjis, but duolingo only use like 20 kanjis, there are 2100 kanjis in normal every day use, even in a normal day you would see 1300, but still, the fact that they don't use kanji makes learning the language more difficult.
I do agree with you but I'm just addressing a technical point. Theoretically, the Kanji are not essential to Japanese as they are to Chinese for instance, and for many words, it's even the case that both the Kanji and the Kana forms are used (classic example from Duo's lessons: わたし - 私 ) I'm not deep into Duo's skill tree yet so I don't know about the number of Kanji used.
Kanji, both in theory and practice, is as essential to Japanese as it is to Chinese, not only because you will barely be able to read anything when in Japan without it, but also because expressions that need to be written in Kanji to convey a certain impression, won't be able to when written in kana, hence the intended impression/nuance (hence literary value) will be lost to the reader.
For instance, and this is information you can easily find by googling in English or Japanese, the first person singular pronoun in your example isn't just written in kanji or kana arbitrarily, but to convey a certain impression:
- When written 私 (read わたし or わたくし), it is used in a more formal setting than when written with kana. It's also more commonly used by men than women.
- When written in hiragana (わたし), it softens the atmosphere (and sometimes makes it less official). This usage is most common by women.
- When written in katakana (ワタシ), it is still less formal than kanji, and used mostly by women, but it conveys the image of a stronger more assertive character/speech style than the pronoun written in hiragana.
When you have several kanjis together in a row, you are likely to read all onyomi or all kunyomi. So if you read all onyomi and it didn't make sense, try reading it in all kunyomi.
There are exceptions called "juubako yomi" and "yutou yomi".
juubako = 重箱 重＝juu (onyomi) + 箱 = hako (kunyomi)→"hako" will be "bako"
ex 軍手 = gunte 軍 = gun (onyomi) + 手 = te (kunyomi)
yutou = 湯桶 湯 = yu (kunyomi) + 桶 = tou (onyomi)
ex） 見本 = mihon 見 = mi (kunyomi) + 本 = hon (onyomi)
But in most words, it's either all onyomi or all kunyomi.
Duolingo should use more Kanji, I've already finished all the courses here.
For every foreign or japanese person it is extremely difficult to read and understand japanese without kanjis, I've realized that in this course I didn't learn to much because of this, you find long and very complex sentences with all hiragana or just the kanji of water, I mean, come on, there's a huge lack of kanji in the Duolingo's Japanese course.
I really love learning languages with duolingo, like, chinese, korean, german and italian. And I feel very sad that Japanese course is the worst of all of them in average teaching experience.
You can't go everywhere writing like this: こんにちは、わたしはフェリといいます、なかよくしましょうね。 わたしはかいしゃにつとめたいですよ、にほんにもりょこうしたいんです、ほっかいどうとかきょうととか、にほんはひろいですよね、ですからぜんこくりょこうしたらいいとおもいます。 Not just writing, the average process of reading and understanding japanese gets difficult for every learner.
The learning method of grammar and particles in Duolingo is pretty well done, it gives you good basis in the language, but you can't advance in the learning process if you don't have any kanjis in there, because kanjis are everywhere in the language, whether you live in japan or not.
Sometimes there is a relation between shape and sound, but in a rather convoluted way... For example, some kanji consist of a radical and a phonetic element. This phonetic element usually gives the given kanji one of its ON readings. Knowing this can be useful, as you can sometimes approximate the reading if you know that the given phonetic element tends to do that.
持 to hold, to have
時 time, occasion
峙 to tower, to soar
But it's not a golden rule, those kanji 詩等特待 all have 寺 Buddhist temple in them but aren't read ジ.
You can find more details on relations between kanji and their readings here
Most of the lessons are written in hiragana but I read somewhere that if you make your default language as Japanese and learn English, you will see a lot kanji in the lessons. I haven't tried it yet but the guy who posted did it and finished the course in 9th level! かっこいいですよね。
Thanks for putting this out there! I think we should have a lesson on this because this is something I did not know and I assume many others too! Since there aren't many Japanese lessons as there are with Spanish, German, French, or English I think we should have some more lessons on kanji. But I definitely learned something new!