Japanese is Easy to Learn
Sometimes, Japanese is considered as one of the most complicated languages to write because it has three writing systems : Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. You should distinguish which systems you use depending on the words. In Japanese books or articles, Kanji is used most frequently, and Hiragana is used second most frequently. However, you should study Hiragana at the first if you want to learn Japanese. There are three reasons. First, the shapes of Hiragana is a lot more simple than Kanji. Second, there are just 48 letters. Third, each Hiragana has only one way to read basically.
Development of Hiragana
Hiragana developed from Kanji. In around 100 A.D., Kanji was imported to Japan via the Korean peninsula. In the Heian period (794–1185), these Kanji underwent a series of simplification. As a result of the simplification, Hiragana was produced (Gleeson, 2013).
This graphic shows how Kanji was simplified. The first letter in each cell is Kanji, and the third one is Hiragana. The middle, red one indicates the process. The letter in column 10 and row 2 “ゐ” and the letter in column 10 and row 4 “ゑ” are old letters. They are regarded as the same as “い” which is in column 1 and row 2 and “え” which is in column 1 and row 4, so you rarely see “ゐ” and ”ゑ”. You can see Hiragana is a lot easier than Kanji.
Writing and Reading
This one shows how to write and read Hiragana. If you write a letter in correct order, the letter will be forming balanced. Most Japanese people care about if it is well-shaped because clear writing makes it easy for others to read it. The pronunciation of Japanese is very simple. It is always combination of one vowel and one or two consonants or just a vowel (Stout, 2011).
Special Forms of Hiragana
As I mentioned before, there are 46 Hiragana and 2 old Hiragana basically. However, some of them can have special forms with symbols: ゛and ゜. Some letters can have “゛” which is called Dakuten. Letters in columns of K, S, T, and H can have it. If the Dakuten is attached, reading way is changed because the consonants are changed. K becomes G, S becomes Z, T becomes D, and H becomes B. Letters in H column can also have “゜” which is called Han-Dakuten. It changes H to P. Another special form of Hiragana is made up of two different Hiragana; one of them is a large letter, and another one is a small letter. For example, “きょ” (kyo) takes this form. The large letter can be き (ki), ぎ (gi), し(shi), じ(zi), ち(chi), に (ni), ひ(hi), び(bi), ぴ(pi), み(mi), or り (ri). The small letter can be や (ya), ゆ(yu), or よ(yo). If Hiragana takes this form, it contains two consonants. Exceptionally, this form for “じ”, like じゃ, contains just one consonant, “j”. You can see all Hiragana including these special forms in the graphic above.
If you practice to write them just few times, you will remember all Hiragana. If the sentences are written in lines, you should read them from right to left. If the sentences are written in rows, you should read them from left to right. When you finished reading this article is the time to start learning Hiragana. If you have any questions or opinions, please let me know by comments. I hope you enjoyed this article, and it is helpful to start learning Japanese.
Agar, S. (2017). Omuniglot. Japanese Hiragana. Retrieved from http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese_hiragana.htm
Alison. (2016, August 18). Accredited Language Services: Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji: 3 Alphabets, 1 Language. Retrieved from https://www.accreditedlanguage.com/2016/08/18/hiragana-katakana-kanji-3-alphabets-1-language/
Gleeson, J., & ebrary., I. (2004;2013;). Japanese hiragana: An introductory japanese language workbook (Revis ed.). Tokyo;Rutland, Vermont;: Tuttle Publishing.
File:Hiragana origin.svg. (2015, October 31). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Hiragana_origin.svg&oldid=177462887.
File:Table hiragana.jpg. (2015, October 31). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Table_hiragana.jpg&oldid=177465948.
Stout, T. G., Cowan, A., & ebrary., I. (2011). Japanese hiragana & katakana for beginners: The method that’s helped thousands in the U.S. and japan learn japanese successfully. Rutland, Vermont;Tokyo, Japan;: Tuttle Publishing.