Newbie question about differences in Hiragana...

hi guys, i'm quite new at studying 日本語. can somebody shed some light on my doubts?

1. what's the difference in handwriting for hiragana of "RI" i saw 2 different version. one is like this り the other is somewhat a lot like い but closer and the left side is longer.

2. i've read a hiragana of "KI" which looks like this き but i've read another one that doesn't curve at the bottom. instead only a small curve line. is there any difference?

3. How would you distinguish a good japanese handwriting from a bad one?

4. i've read some books about the particle "わ" topic marker. sometimes, when i do practice reading some japanese websites, it uses を and not わ. Is there any difference?

lastly, how do you decide if you're going to use kanji or hiragana? since i'm quite fond of hiragana, (not yet studying katakana) is it possible not to use kanji? would it be a nuisance to read it? (i'm trying to memorize kanji but it seems that i'm quite slow on this one... i remember only these kanji... 一 二、日 森 木  and those sort of stuff... )

ありがとお。
posted by Raigoki

Comments 8

  • zapsap
    zapsap
    I'm assuming that differences in the kana are similar to the differences in hiragana, katakana, and kanji. (Think lowercase/capitalized or cursive/print.) For #3, I'm sure that as long as the kana/kanji is written in its exact form, it should be legible. It is probably quite similar to to the quality of penmanship in English. To answer your last question, since hiragana is simple, it would likely be acceptable. Using hiragana, katakana, and kanji together just simplifies whatever is being read/written. It is not required, but commonly preferred by matured, native Japanese speakers.
    がんばって!
  • Mica
    Mica
    1 & 2) The difference may be that 'Ri' り is in Hiragana while リ is in Katakana, Same with 'Ki' : き (Hiragana) & キ [Katakana]

    4) I have heard about わ being used as the topic marker, however, I have yet to see it written as such. I generally see は being used and pronounced as 'wa' instead of them using わ. Not sure why, or if it is a rule or not.
    About を, this may be how 'O' is written down when it is said prior to an object/verb I think? I'm not really sure, I have only heard it being used but have never seen it written down and have never actually seen を being used in a sentence either.

    5) In theory, yep, You could read things in Hiragana as long as there is enough context. You can find Translators that turn Kanji into Hiragana in order to then read them. The main problem is that this will ultimately slow you down and at times will be rather tricky.
    There are many words that are written/said the same (in Hiragana) Like the word 'Koi' 'こい' It could mean 'carp' (the fish) or 'Love'. Kanji is there to differentiate the meaning when read. Had you seen the kanji 恋 instead, then you would have known it is 'こい' as in 'Love' not the fish.
  • zapsap
    zapsap
    I guess I should have been a bit more specific. Mica was correct about #1, but for #2 No, there isn't a difference. Where you read it, it was probably written in a different format/font.
  • Raigoki
    Raigoki
    thank you guys for your answers. that clear some things on my mind.
  • Peacherine
    Peacherine
    Hi! I'll add to the answers with what I can! The answers so far seem okay, but I'll confirm/add to them a bit!

    1. り and リ are both "ri." The first is hiragana, the second is katakana. However, a lot of handwritten text/fonts seem to use the more katakana-looking one all the time. Personally, I think that one is easier to write, so that's how I write it for both too. I don't think it really matters, as long as it's different from い!

    2. Again, this is just a stylistic thing. Both of those "ki"s are acceptable. I find that this き is often used in non-cursive looking fonts (like the plain font used on this site) but the one with the small disconnected curve at the bottom is more of a handwritten look.

    3. I'm not really sure! I guess mainly, can you read it or not? XD However, a lot of fancy calligraphy Japanese is very hard to read too, even though it's supposed to be that way. For learning, just try to make it as neat as possible. If you really want to practice solidly, then get some square kanji/kana writing practice paper to use (like this: http://learn-japanese.info/hiragana_practice.gif and http://learn-japanese.info/katakana_practice.gif ) When I was learning, I liked to look at different handwritten style fonts to see how they looked, then I imitated them! (some free downloadable fonts are here: http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Japanese.html ) ※ ※ ※ Also, I love using this site for kana practice: http://www.realkana.com/ It's different from any others because you can go into "options" and select several handwritten fonts for it to use while it quizzes you! It really helped me learn how different styles looked.

    4. Yes, there is a difference. But first things first, the when "wa" is used as a particle, it's actually written as は. Yes, I know that should be "ha," but for some reason it's pronounced differently only when it's used as a particle. So anyway, that's one type of particle out of many. It's difficult to grasp when to use it because there isn't a direct English equivalent. を is an entirely different particle, used for different reasons. It's actually a direct object marker usually, to tell you that the noun before it is the direct object. In the sentence "I drink tea," tea is the direct object. In Japanese, that sentence would look like: おちゃ(tea) を のむ(drink). As you learn more about grammar, the particles will make more sense : )

    5. The short answer is probably yes, you can manage at a very beginner level without reading kanji. Childrens' books are usually written entirely in hiragana. If you mostly read/write Japanese on a computer and can use various dictionaries and things, you can probably scrape by for a while without needing to know much kanji. However, if you don't try to learn any, you're definitely not learning true/full Japanese. Realistically, most text is written with kanji, and a lot of it won't have the little hiragana readings next to it, especially if it's in print, not online where you can copy-paste it into a dictionary. If you plan on being able to read at a decent level/read things other than childrens' books, you should make an effort to learn at least basic kanji.

    Don't let it overwhelm you though! First of all, learn hiragana and katakana solidly. When you feel pretty good with it, start looking at kanji too. If you're having trouble with the kanji section on this site (I'll admit, it is a bit overwhelming with all the pronunciations they give), I'd recommend this site: http://www.yosida.com/en/kanji.php?level=5&page=1 Use the N5 category (which is the most basic level). It gives the stroke order diagram and only the few most common readings, as well as a few common words each is used in. It's much simpler! So work on it little by little and try to pick up a few at a time!

    Overall, best wishes! The most important part is to stick with and keep finding things that'll motivate you to learn (like maybe the newest Japanese volume of a favorite manga, or a Japanese cookbook, or anything!) Let me know if you have any other questions- I'm always willing to help!

    がんばって!★ (‐^▽^‐)/*・゜゚・*☆
  • Mica
    Mica
    The Fonts was something I was curious about~ I was planning to asking if the more exposure we were given to Kanji in general, would improve the chances/ability to read kanji in a more wide range of writing styles, or if it was something that needed to be learned style by style in a sense~ I'm assuming a bit of both now~ The better we know it's structure as well as the more we see it in a variety of fonts, the easier it may become to distinguish them.
  • Raigoki
    Raigoki
    thanks guys. the kanji practice/lesson here are quite hard for me. (i was expecting of a more basic like numbers first, parts of body, etc. ) but anyways, i still enjoy studying with it. thank you Peacherine for the links. a question though, what would be the most common font for the Japanese alphabet? so i can study with that at first.
  • Peacherine
    Peacherine
    Hi! As for common fonts... I'm not an expert by any means, but the ones that come preinstalled on your computer are probably fine. (It looks like you have Japanese input enabled since you typed in it in your first post, right? If not, let me know and I can link you to directions to do that.)

    Basically, Japanese fonts are in two main categories of Mincho (our serif fonts, like Times New Roman or Georgia, with the fancy little extra lines on the ends of all letters), or Gothic (our sans-serif fonts, like Verdana or Arial, or the fonts on this site, without those fancy lines). Both types are very common. Gothic fonts seem to be more common online since they're easier to read on a screen, and Mincho seems to be more common for printed text.

    If you're using a Windows computer, MS Mincho and MS Gothic should install automatically with enabling Japanese input. On a Mac... I can't remember offhand what's on my laptop, but see if Hiragino Mincho/Hiragino Gothic are installed. If you need other standard fonts to use, I'd recommend the Epson fonts on the font website I linked to before. (Here's a direct link: http://www.epson.jp/download2/printer/driver/win/page/ttf30.htm ...you can click either download link.) There are 8 different ones included in that download, some Mincho and some Gothic, some plain, and some fancier.

    Let me know if you have any other questions! : )
Raigoki

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