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23 October 2010 @ 10:17 pm
Kanji challenge  

Originally published at Tumble Dailies. Please leave any comments there.

Been trying to self-study some kanji by writing down J-pop lyrics with corresponding romanji. I think it’s challenging, coz the kanji characters seem to have different pronunciation when used differently. Unlike Chinese, where the characters at most have two different pronunciations (I don’t remember having more than two that is) depending on context, with usually more of a difference in intonation than actually pronunciation, kanji in the Japanese language have totally different pronunciations depending on context.

One such character is 笑, which is pronounced as “xiao4″, meaning smile in Chinese. However in Japanese, when phrased like this 笑顔 the romanji is “egao”, meaning smiling face or smile. When phrased like this 笑う, the romanji is “warau”, yet the meaning is still to smile.

The other character that I’ve come across is 日, which is pronounced as “ri4″ in Chinese, which means day. In Japanese, I found that it has a variety of pronunciations. When used as days of the week 曜日 “youbi”, or birthday 誕生日 “tanjoubi”, the romanji is “bi”. When it is used in the phrase the next day, 明日, the corresponding romanji is “asu”. When it is used in a question like a future day, あの日, the corresponding romanji is “ano hi”. When used as the term everyday, 毎日, the romanji is “mainichi”.

To think I used to find Chinese a challenging language (it still is to me in many ways). I think the Japanese language is really in a class of its own.