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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bringing Japanese Culture to Bellingham: Language

The majority of people in Japan speak Japanese like people in the U.S. speak English.

Photo from: http://zapzapjp.com/34945368.html

Some characteristics of Japanese language are similar to those of English, but there are certainly major differences on pronunciation, grammars and the most obviously, letters.

Here’s what I think is the most different and difficult as a native Japanese speaker who lived there for 19 years.

The very first step in learning Japanese is memorizing the list of unique letters called “Hiragana,” which makes up the basis of Japanese language.

Like Roman alphabets people use in English, the combination of 50 “Hiragana” letters compose words that create sentences. Once you remember all the letters, you are ready to proceed to the next step.

Other than expanding vocabulary, improving the pronunciation of Japanese is quite challenging for foreign Japanese learners.

English has five vowel letters, and each letter represents more than one vowel sound.

In Japanese language, one vowel letter only represents one vowel sound.

In that point, it is easier to pronounce Japanese words rather than English.

Even though you don’t take any effort on practicing pronunciation, you can naturally read the most sentences composed by “Hiragana” as long as you remember all the letters and how to read them properly.

However, the problem is how an intonation of each word shifts and where to put an accent, since there are some words which have the same spelling, but different intonations and accents.

I can’t say Japanese language is easy to learn because it is already challenging to simply learn many unfamiliar symbols.

Besides, there is no other country other than Japan where people speak Japanese.

I think it might be interesting, particularly for people who have never studied a language, which uses completely different letters, to learn Japanese.

As you learn more of the Japanese language, you will have a better understanding of a part of its culture.



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