Japanese Alphabet with English Translation
Japanese Alphabet with English Translation PDF: Japanese language contains almost no new sounds for English speakers, whereas English has many sounds not found in Japanese. The main sound that English speakers struggle with is the Japanese “r.”
It’s pronounced between an “l” and an “r”, almost like the soft “r” sound from Spanish. Say “la, la, la” and notice where your tongue flicks off from behind your teeth. Now say “da, da, da.” This spot where your tongue touches the roof of your mouth is actually where you flick off from to create the “r” sound in Japanese!
Japanese uses four types of scripts: hiragana, katakana, kanji and romaji.
- Hiragana is a cursive set of 46 phonetic characters that express all of the sounds of Japanese. Hiragana is used mainly for writing the grammatical parts of sentences and native Japanese words for which there are no kanji.
- Katakana is an angular set of 46 phonetic characters, generally used for writing foreign words and for showing emphasis.
- Kanji are characters of ancient Chinese origin that represent ideas and sounds, and they are used for most nouns, verbs and other “content” words. There are 2,131 “common use” kanji that school children must learn by ninth grade.
- Romaji are roman (Latin) letters used to write Japanese; you must already know romaji since you are reading this. Romaji is used in textbooks and dictionaries for foreigners learning Japanese (and for Japanese people learning western languages) but its use in day-to-day writing is somewhat limited to things like company names and acronyms.
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Basic Japanese Words with English Translation
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