A few months ago I started seriously my Japanese learning project. My goal is not only being able to speak (fluently, hard goal haha) but also being able to read and write Japanese. Sounds tough, huh?
So the first thing to ask ourselves is: In what is Japanese written?
English is written using an alphabet, we all know that, you combine letters (26 to be precise...) to make words. Japanese language doesn't have an alphabet as such, instead it has 4 "alphabets". They're not actually alphabets, of course, but the general idea is that. Those 4 writting systems are: Romaji, hiragana, katakana and kanji.
Romaji is just the romanization of the Japanese proper writing systems. In other words, writing Japanese with the English alphabet. This is not accurate and should not be read with the English pronunciation (quite obvious...). So it's reasonable to think that this "alphabet" isn't very useful, 99% of the time you won't see romaji on real life Japanese, therefore it's a less waste of time to focus on the other 3 ;)
Hiragana is the base of Japanese. Technically it's a syllabary that contains 48 characters (but some of them combined and some of them with a "dakuten" makes them a few more). Learning it makes you achieve more and better :D By knowing it you can start right away reading Japanese (although you won't understand much as you lack grammar and vocabulary). Each character is made up of two English letters, presicely a vowel + consonant. Exceptions: single "n", those that are consonant + ya/yu/yo. For me hiragana is fun to learn, so cute and rounded :3
Katakana has the same characters as hiragana with the diference that katakana is sqared and edgy. Also Katakana is used to write foreign words and onomatopeya. That's the main diference: Hiragana, Japanese words, katakana, foreign words and sounds.
Kanji are the chinese characters. Those big and full of strokes unreadeable smudges on the paper. Hopefully I'll get round it too. I'll beat you kanji! Wahahaha! (Ok... I got too overly exited xD). Kanji was imported to Japan several times (that's why some kanji have more than one reading!). Kanji has on-yomi and kun-yomi. In other words, Chinese reading (on-yomi) and Japanese reading (kun-yomi). Some Kanji have multiple on readings and multiple kun readings, but I am following a kanji learning method that feels pretty good and focused on the 90% time readings used :). Therefore I don't waste my time and memory space in learning readings that are never used :D. All the vocabulary words can be (and mostly are...) written with kanji. There are +10000 kanji but luckily the Japanese Government has set up a list (Jōyō Kanji with 2,136 characters) with the most used kanji (not only most used but the only that are used). Rarely you will see kanji in real life (newspapers, etc) that aren't included on the list (rarely, not never ). Let's be optimistic about it!
These are the very basic ideas for today. I'll keep on going with my Japanese and telling you about it. Therefore I take in things better by writing here.
Today's song: Toe "Good Bye" So relaxing~