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Nihongo - Japanese Language Lesson - 102


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Okay Boys and Girls! It's time for another SaruDama Japanese Language Lesson. (SJLL!!) Today we'll completely delineate the hiragana system and explore some usage.

If you need, here is Lesson 101

First, a note on vowel pronunciation. These pronunciations (througout any/all Japanese language) ALWAYS remain the same, so please keep them in mind. (Ie. memorize them)

A (pronounced "ah")
I (pronounced "ee" - as in "seed")
U (pronounced "oo" as in "moor" or "mooring")
E (pronounced "ay" as in "daylight" or "say")
O (pronounced "oh" as "go" or "sow")

Here's the HIRAGANA matrix: Alas, you WILL indeed need to memorize this matrix if you hope to even hiccup in Japanese. Consider it your aggressive puzzle skill. WHAT YOU MEMORIZE HERE IS CONSTANT.

    K S T N H M Y R W  
A a  あ ka  か sa  さ ta  た na  な ha  は ma  ま ya  や ra  ら wa  わ  
I i  い ki  き shi  し chi  ち ni  に hi  ひ mi  み - ri  り -
U u  う ku  く su  す tsu  つ nu  ぬ fu  ふ mu  む yu  ゆ ru  る -
E e  え ke  け se  せ te  て ne  ね he  へ me  め - re  れ -
O o  お ko  こ so  そ to  と no  の ho  ほ mo  も yo  よ ro  ろ wo  を n   ん

The table above represents the core Hiragana writing system. The following are derivative characters to account for a broader range of pronunciations. The variation is created through the addition of either small marks or a circle at the upper right hand of the core hiragana.

は ば ぱ

ha  ba  pa

Here's the entire set of derivatives.

G D B P
ga  が da  だ ba  ば pa  ぱ
gi ぎ ji  ぢ bi  び pi  ぴ
gu  ぐ dzu づ bu  ぶ pu  ぷ
ge  げ de  で be  べ pe  ぺ
go  ご do  ど bo  ぼ po  ぽ

Yes, I realize this may seem like far too little info to MASTER the Hiragana system, but I swear, this is all you need. Of course, there is a certain amount of memorization required on your part, but I hope the layout above helps you understand that this (memorization) is certainly NOT an insurmountable task, especially if you are motivated. I urge you to try it out and attempt the following MISSIVE.

Your Mission: Okay butterfly, based on the hiragana matrix above, figure out (ie "READ") the following words: (Remember, hiragana is a purely pronunciation-based system, so listen to your own voice CAREFULLY as you read each word out). These should all be words you are familiar with. (I'll add some hints. heh.) Good luck Nihongo Meister!!

  1. さるだま
  2. すし
  3. さむらい
  4. くのいち (common nipple film-name reviewed here)
  5. おさか (Japanese city name - historically a yakuza hotbed)
  6. さけ (the reason I am currently slurring my speech)
  7. つなみ (surfs up dude!)
  8. よまま (extra credit for interpreting this one. ha!)

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