日本語の秘密 29/33


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 6 You Can Communicate with Japanese People Using Only Kana

→ You Don’t Need to Overdo it Learning a Lot of Kanji Characters

  At present, Japanese uses kanji, Chinese characters, and kana, which were created in Japan. There are probably quite a few people among those who are not of Chinese origin, who thought they would like to study Japanese because they were interested in the kanji characters. When they actually start learning Japanese, however, they may find that there is nothing more bothersome and unmanageable than kanji. It is fun to learn ten or twenty kanji. But what if you only have a short time to master at least 3,000 kanji, each of which may have up to three or four readings? It’d be hell, and only 1 in 100 people would end up being able to read and write them sufficiently well. This is no joke. After all, it takes the Japanese themselves nearly twenty years before they can finally use them somehow. Then again, you forget them right away if you don’t use them continuously.

  Foreign students studying Japanese after they reach the age of fifteen shouldn’t get themselves all tangled up in learning kanji. They should try to express Japanese in hiragana, katakana, and Roman letters. Apart from the difficult kanji characters, Japanese is rational and systematic, so it is easy to learn. As long as you know kana, you are 99% assured of being able to communicate with the Japanese. You can get across whatever you want to say. Scholars and teachers are people who want to teach easy things in ways which make it difficult to understand. It’s ridiculous to feel discouraged because you think you can’t learn kanji. It may make it difficult to get hold of written information, but you can get along very well in your business and daily life with a knowledge of only kana and the Latin alphabet. If you have the time to spend learning how to read and write (especially write) kanji, then you would be better off using that time learning more Japanese vocabulary and expressions.

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