日本語の秘密 4/33


日本語の秘密/ The Key to NIHON-GO

by 岸本建夫 [Kishimoto Tatsuo] 1999
OCR/Corr by most.cyak@gmail.com, Oct 2014


Section 1 The Extremely Simple Rules of Japanese

→ You Can Communicate in Kana on the Internet Too

  There are a limited number of kanji which can be expressed on the Internet, but you can use all of the kana on the Net, so you can communicate with people in foreign countries using kana. Naturally, since the characters most often used on the Internet are from the Latin alphabet and it’s more convenient to use the same characters that are used in other countries, some people think that Japanese should be written solely in Roman letters (the Latin alphabet).

  Japanese can be written in Roman letters. If it were written in the Latin alphabet, it would be easy for everyone to understand since not only the people of the U.S. and Europe, but also people from other Asian countries like Vietnam write their native languages in the Latin alphabet. This would be even more convenient, because you wouldn’t even have to learn kana, much less kanji. The signs of most of Japanese train stations and buses are also written in Roman letters, so as long as you can understand Roman letters, you won’t find it difficult to get around town.

  I would like to add, however, that it is far more convenient to have a knowledge of kana characters too. As I said before, there are only 46 characters for each syllabary and they consist of all the syllables you need to know. If you know kana, you will be able to read more things.

  One problem is that when you write Japanese in Roman letters, you end up using the same five vowels many times over and it can become a little difficult to read. For example, when you write やま yama ‘mountain’, it is written with two characters in kana, but it becomes the four letter yama in Roman letters, so you end up writing twice as many characters. Even though ya and ma are different characters, they both use the same a sound. When you get the same letters mixed in all the time with different characters like this, it lowers the quality of the writing, so it’s not really appropriate to write all Japanese in Roman letters.

  Therefore, it’s important for those who have a desire to learn Japanese to learn at least the kana characters, if not the kanji as well. Everyone already knows this, however, so perhaps I don’t need to mention it here.

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