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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mutawa99

Why is it a practice not to use SPACES in Japanese?

I have been asking my self this question for a long time. Why are there no spaces in Japanese text? Wouldn't spaces make the sentence more clear?

Take this as an example:

わたしははしりのがすきです。

Now I know an can correctly interpret it as わたし は はしりの が すき です。

but some people (like me) might see it as

わたし はは しり のが すき です。

I literally spent minutes trying to fit the word (はは → 母 → mother) into the sentence.

Is there a reason for the deliberate lack of spaces?

February 26, 2019

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/E.T.Gregor

If you write Japanese as it "should" be written, i.e. kanji and kana, spaces aren't really necessary as words follow predictable patterns making it fairly easy to distinguish where one word ends and the next one starts. It's just not traditionally done and there's no real need to introduce it. Texts written purely in kana (like in books for very small children) may use spaces, but it's generally an issue native/proficient speakers won't have as much as learners. Take your example: The interpretation of "watashi haha" makes about as much sense as "I mother" in English. You can't not have a particle after "watashi", so the following "ha" must be that particle. It takes some practice, but you'll eventually get used to it.

February 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestinyCall

The lack of spaces is due, in part, to the origin of written Japanese. The written language was derived from written Chinese, which is written vertically and does not use spaces. In Chinese, each character or set of characters is a unique word so spaces are unnecessary. With Japanese, additional information is needed to fully describe the grammatical relationships between words - particles and verb endings. These are written in hiragana and the kanji breaks up the sentence so it is relatively easy to tell if you are looking at a noun, verb, or auxillary word.

私は走るのが好きです。

With kanji, you can't mistake 私は走り for 渡し母尻 even though they could both be written わたしははしり

February 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/doublechan

kanji is the answer

February 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IvanCorsoi

The sentence should be written like this: 私は走りのが好きです。 Not like this: わたしははしりのがすきです。 I've found in my month or so of using Duolingo that they are very inconsistent. After you get a word that is NOT normally written in Kana it should automatically switch to the Kanji in the next lesson it is used in. If that were to happen, your issue would be solved entirely. Duolingo at the moment seems highly random with when and where they use kanji. I've had it happen through many different lessons. Once I had きのう and 昨日 show up in the same test. Duolingo needs to ween users off of kana as soon as they can. It is NOT an efficient way to learn Japanese.

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bokura

if you use sentences separated "SPACE" "、" and "。", you express rude-atitude for reader. Especiary, "SPACE"-sentences are for children or foolish person.

Almost all japanese(parson) "、" and "。" are used in ordinary sentences. but "、" and "。" are not used in formal sentences.

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Samus03

It's more clear when there are kanji, and particles help. When I first started using Duolingo I was a little surprised to see whole sentances in hiragana again. In spoken Japanese, I find it more difficult: (it's a bad example but) are you talking about chopsticks, or a bridge? If I miss the context, I'm screwed.

February 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elizadeux

I find that the particles help too even when everything is written in kana. At this point, I go through each sentence and circle all the particles to help me parse out the words and understand the structure.

March 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul.II

It's unlikely that you will be going across the chopsticks or eat with a bridge so even if kanji are not there you should have enough context to figure out the meaning. That is if you dare to employ this gray matter that you have between your ears, of course...

February 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Samus03

Aw, how sweet of you to encourage open communication and free discussion with your kind words. I really feel supported in going on to contribute more in discussions on Duolingo and even feel better about myself as a person since reading your words. Thank you for helping create a more positive world where everyone can feel good about themselves!

February 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul.II

Edit: what was here was unnecessary but it would be cowardly to pretend that there was nothing...

February 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hubinou

In the early Middle Ages, texts in latin were also written without spaces or punctuation. Spaces between words only appear in the VIIs after JC.

(full story... in french) http://www.la-ponctuation.com/histoire-ponctuation.html

Here is an example https://imgur.com/a/GKEC3OZ

February 26, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatrinaTheLamia

I've tried reading those Middle Age texts.

I've since decided to praising the glory that is whitespace. Even before I knew about the Python programming language.

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatrinaTheLamia

A sub-comment deep into a comment tree mentioned that sentence particles can be used as a replacement for spaces.

It is one of those statements I do not see often... and now that it has been mentioned, I am realising it should have been bleedingly obviously.

Now... to make a version of Python that replaces all whitespace with particles... you can curse fourteen generations of my family later.

February 27, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Paul.II

わたし は はしる の が すき です。

What a waste of space! You would have to have Japan twice big its current size to accommodate these forests where trees needed for paper where such a ridicule could be written are grown.

February 28, 2019
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