This guide was written for Japanese Beginners that don’t know where to start learning the Japanese language.
Japanese has spoken by over 140 million in Japan alone and is also a natural second language for people in Chinese and Korean speaking countries. Despite Japan’s growth being outshined by neighbour countries like China and India.
Japan still has the second largest economy in the world following China.
Within any language or language group, there may be significant changes in speech, vocabulary, and pronunciation. The term used to describe these changes is called a dialect. Some words or phrases that exist in one dialect may exist or be absent from different dialect. The most common dialect is the Kansai dialect that includes the Osaka dialect. Osaka is the dialect of the Tokyo area and is considered the standard dialect for Japanese. Unlike other languages, Japanese dialects can be very different from each other, almost to the point where they could be considered different languages and need subtitles.
Kansai Japanese – Second biggest region of Japan and host of many dialects. This group contains the Osaka dialect, which can be considered the “standard dialect” of Japanese. Kansai dialects are characterizes by their Kyoto-Osaka-type accent, strong vowel, copula ya, negative form -hen, etc.
Hichiku Japanese – A group of dialects in the southern Fukuoka region of Japan. Also includes the Tsushima Islands.
Honichi Japanese – Dialects of eastern Fukuoka, North and South Oita, and Hyuga.
Chugoku Japanese –
Shikoku Japanese – Similar to the Chugoku dialect in many ways but differet in accent.
Gifu-Aichi Japanese – Group of dialects in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan.
Hokuriku Japanese – Refers to the dialects spoken in the Hokuriku region of Japan.
Nagano Yamanashi Shizuoka Japanese – Named after the Prefectures in which they reside. This dialect is characterizes by a presumptive suffix -zura or -ra.
Echigo Japanese – Dialects of the Niigaga Prefecture.
West and East Kanto –
North and South Tohoku Japanese – The Tohoku dialect is spoken in North and south Tohoku Region in the Northwestern part of Japan. The Tohoku dialects differs a lot from standard Japanese.
Hokkaido – Dialects spoken in the Hokkaido region. This is dialect is separated into different groups. First, spoken along the coastal areas of Hokkaido, closely related to the Tohoku dialect. Second, is more in line with standard Japanese dialects.
Unpaku Japanese – Group of dialects that include the Shimane and Tottori Prefectures. This dialect differs from the others by the use of high “i” and “u” vowels.
Different Japanese Dialects of the Japanese language are spoken in many different nations and regions around the world, most commonly throughout northern Asia. However, the differences in regional dialects may not make one Japanese speaker nearly incomprehensible to another. In most cases, the different Japanese dialects don’t have a specific written form of the language, but there’s usually a certain amount of literature that accompanies each Japanese dialects.
Learning to read the Japanese Alphabet should be the first stop for Japanese beginners.
Japanese has probably the most confusing alphabet system for beginners.
Learn Japanese Alphabet consists of 3 different Alphabets that are used in different circumstances or sometimes used together to form words and phrases.
The Japanese alphabet is overall known as Kana, consisting of three alphabets:
The Japanese alphabet overall is phonetic alphabet where each symbol is a spoken syllable that represents a single sound .
Essentially every Japanese word is written exactly how they are pronounced.
When to Use Hiragana Alphabet
• Hiragana expresses the grammatical relationship between them (endings of adjectives and verbs)
• Hiragana is used to represent native Japanese words.
Japanese Alphabet Hiragana is a phonetic alphabet that contains 48 syllables that be sounded out to pronounce the word. Hiragana has characteristic cursive characters.
When to Use Katakana Alphabet
• Foreign names and words of foreign origin.
• Foreign places
• Words of Foreign origins.
Japanese Alphabet Katakana is also a syllabic alphabet. There are 48 Katakana symbols that have similar sounds to Hiragana.
It is no coincidence that there is the same number of characters in both the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets as they both represent exactly the same sounds (some of them even look quite similar).
When to Use Kanji Alphabet
There is a third form of Japanese Alphabet that borrows or modifies Chinese Characters called Kanji. Kanji was borrowed from Chinese writing at a time when there was no written Japanese language and it is still around. Japanese Kanji has different meanings than Chinese characters today.
There are over 8000 Kanji. Kanji are not syllabic and are used to represent abstract concepts as well as names and everyday words. An average adult Japanese speaker must know at least 2000 off by heart. Although you don’t need to memorizes all of the Kanji. Each Kanji has several different meanings and pronunciations.
Japanese words are pronounced exactly as the symbols show but one thing to pay attention to is if the character has a diacritic mark above it or not.
Make sure to practice pronouncing and writing the Japanese Alphabet whenever you can. As many times as you can.
Because Japanese has three different alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are pretty similar with roughly 48 symbols each( some used, some not. Hiragana is for general use while Katakana is used for foreign names, the names of foreign places and words of foreign origin. Kanji are characters that are burrowed or modified from Chinese. Japanese number system is a lot easier to learn.
Understanding how to write Japanese numbers should take very little time and effort to learn.
Understanding how to write Japanese numbers is really that simple to learn. Only takes an hour or two to fully memorizes the Japanese number system.
Japanese Numbers are written from Left to Right.
Japanese Numbers from 1 – 100
You basically write the Japanese Characters in order. If the number is a double or triple digit number you write the Number times Position, Number times Position.
It’s actually pretty straightforward when it comes to learning how to use the Japanese number system. Pronouncing Japanese numbers is just as easy to learn.
You really just need to memorizes how to pronounce the base Japanese Numbers then you can easily pronounce any Japanese number. I personally choose to remember that Japanese numbers follow a “number-position” type pattern. Example of what I mean..
The logical next step for Japanese beginners after learning the Japanese Alphabet would be to start developing your Japanese vocabulary with Japanese words and phrases.
The Japanese grammar rules you must follow and understand to properly speak the Japanese language.
The fun part of learning any language.. Grammar!
The “rules” you must follow to properly speak a language. But don’t worry about how hard learning Japanese Grammar might feel at first. Learning Japanese grammar rules is one of the most effective ways to speed up your ability to speak a language.
Keep in mind this is just a basic introduction to understanding how Japanese grammar works
Japanese Grammar Rules: Sentence Structure
• Japanese Sentence Structure is usually put the Object of the Sentence ahead of the Verb/Adjective.
Japanese Grammar Rules: Nouns and Pronouns
• Japanese Nouns don’t have a masculine or feminine form to remember.
• The Use of Pronouns in Japanese is very limited or almost non-exist
• Japanese uses more particles and verbs to deal with the loss of pronouns.
Japanese Grammar Rules: Verbs
• The Japanese have two tenses: The simple present and the simple past.
• Verbs in Japanese grammar also do not change with number, gender or person
• Verbs are the essence of Japanese Sentences. Using more verbs then any other language.
Japanese Grammar Rules: Adjectives
• There are two types of Japanese Adjectives. They are “-i adjectives” and “-na adjectives”
• “-i adjectives” are original Japanese words while -na adjectives are burrowed from other languages.
• “-i adjectives” tend to blur the line between adjectives and verbs
• “-na adjectives” modifies nouns but not predicates
If you are really serious about learning Japanese and want to maximize your time then you should consider using a Japanese language course to further aid you in your quest to learn Japanese.
There are several great programs out there that deliver a great language learning experience. The advantages of a language learning program in the organization and having a next step already lined up.
Most break down the lessons into 30-minute intervals that can fit into any type of schedule. Flexible to retry a lesson to make sure you understand what you are learning and give you confidence in succeeding.
Examples of great Japanese language programs can be found below.