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Should You Learn And Use Romaji? — 14 Comments

  1. Interesting post. I never really learned romaji as there is essentially nothing to learn if we already speak English, which I assume everybody here does.
    Also, in case some of you guys didn’t know, (like me) you don’t have to type tsu for つ or chi for ち、or shi for し。 You can do tu, ti, and ci respectively. Didn’t realize it for an entire year almost. Don’t know if it works on all IMEs, but it does on Microsoft and Baidu.

    On another note aboute Baidu Japanese IME, I highly recommend it, it is over 8000 times better than Microsoft IME in my opinion. When you install it you can convert your Microsoft IME dictionary over, and also in the Baidu dictionary, there is almost every proverb, almost every 四字熟語, a lot of 2ch phrases, IT terms, and etc. Though my favorite feature is the emoji. For almost every emotion there is a face. I don’t know all of them, you just gotta experiment with different emotion words or words like hello or bye, etc
    泣く→(´;ω;`) ゚(゚´Д`゚)゚
    怒る→(`・ω・´) ヽ(`Д´)ノ
    オッス→( ̄Д ̄)ノ
    さようなら→(´・ω・`)/~~
    こんにちは→ヽ(^0^)ノ (^。^)/
    etc etc

    • Ah, interesting. I’ll be sure to try out the Baidu IME.
      I’ve been using the Google IME for awhile, and I think it is quite a bit better than Microsoft’s as well (though microsoft does allow you to write the kanji while google doesn’t). For emoji on google IME you just type 顔 and it has hundreds in there.

  2. I’ll be honest: I sort of feel that this whole post is based on a misconception of what I think most people mean when they say you should avoid the romanji versus the kana.

    What is meant is not, I think, that you shouldn’t LEARN the romanji, and, truth be told, I have trouble seeing how an english speaker could not do so almost automatically… Rather, what I think is meant is that one should not USE romanji WHEN kana are viable, essentially because that deprives you of useful practice time in using the kana: in the beginning it just takes time for your brain to start making the immediate association between symbol and sound, and every opportunity to do so counts.

    • The real point of this post is to show that even though kana is the obvious choice from the beginning, romaji still has its time and place for use, and should not be completely disregarded as worthless.

      • Is Kana another name for Hiragana, because on my game it is teaching me Hiragana first. Do you have a chart for Kanji or the other one for me to study or do you know where to get one?

        • Kana refers to both the Hiragana and the Katakana together. In order to understand the best way to learn them I’d try reading this post http://japaneselevelup.com/2011/12/26/is-there-a-best-way-to-attack-the-hiragana-and-katakana/
          Personally I used Heisig’s book (Remembering the Kana) which is great and very fast (complemented by Anki, of course), but I hear there are other great ones.

          As for Kanji, those are going to take you a LOT more time. Certainly not something you want to learn by looking at tables. But don’t worry about those right yet… their time will come.

      • I know what your point is. I just feel your characterization of the “romaji is bad” people is a bit off. Nor do I see “trashing” the romaji as an intrinsically bad thing, as you seem to, as it does much more good than bad, in my view.

        But, frankly, I don’t really think this topic is actually worth more of our time, so you are free to view my comments as the typical pedantism of the professional mathematician… Back to my reviews…

  3. Do you realize this page is actually the fifth listing in that simple online search? Apparently, you’ve made an impression =)

    Personally, I rather hate romaji. I feel my early use of it set me up with a fundamental flaw in my internal representations of the kana. For this very reason, I happen to own one of those funky keyboards you speak of – whether it will help me sort out the problem or not has yet to be seen.

    That’s just my personal experience, of course. The point is, I don’t dislike it because someone told me to. I dislike it because exclusive use of romaji was an easy trap to sink into way back when I first started learning (so many websites and resources were teaching with it exclusively), and I’m paying for it now.

    Any suggestions on fixing my representations? Studying the hell out of my kana until they somehow overtake the latin alphabet seems rather futile…

  4. For the most part, romaji really isn’t helpful to me. I only intend on learning reading and writing in Japanese, perhaps learning speaking and listening later (however unlikely it is, considering I don’t have any future plans to move to Japan or have any future conversations in Japanese). Also, when I’m reading, I have a tendency to translate the character to romaji text first, then read it, which makes my reading slower. There’s also the fact that when I look at romaji, I forget the Japanese pronunciation and pronounce it as it would be pronounced in English. Though, since I’m not focusing on speaking or listening, that doesn’t bother me too much (for now, at least). However, there is one good thing about romaji. When I was first trying to learn Japanese (a week or two ago), romaji simplified the Hiragana I was learning, so that I wasn’t overwhelmed by it and have a 10% more likely chance of giving up learning Japanese. But other than that, romaji has only been a hindrance to me.

  5. I agree. All articles on romaji are negative. Why ?
    If it’s up to me, I’ll abandon kana and kanji altogether.
    Kanji are impossible to learn. And kana is basically the same to romaji, both phonetic.
    But romaji is simpler, thus better.
    And I don’t see why I would get mixed up with meaning.
    If I would get mixed up reading, I would also get mixed up speaking.
    And that doesn’t happen !
    The great benefit of romaji is that it is simple, usable, and readable for anyone.
    But oh no, lets do it the hard way, everybody wants to write in kana and kanji, truly Japanese.

    • ” If it’s up to me, I’ll abandon kana and kanji altogether.”

      That’s probably a bad idea.

      “Kanji are impossible to learn.”

      No they’re not.

      “And kana is basically the same to romaji, both phonetic.”

      No it isn’t.

      ” But romaji is simpler, thus better.”

      It definitely isn’t, and that’s incredibly subjective.

      ” The great benefit of romaji is that it is simple, usable, and readable for anyone.”

      Not necessarily for Japanese people.

      “All articles on romaji are negative. Why ?”

      Because then people get the idea that they only need romaji.

    • If you literally only care about being able to converse, then I could see your argument for doing away with kana and kanji.

      But what happens when you want to read? Books. Games. News. Discussions. Wikipedia. Being able to comfortably read kana and kanji opens up a whole world that would otherwise be locked away.

      It’s stated many times on this site that your journey is your own. If you have no use for literacy, then it’s not my place to judge. I guess I just can’t bring myself to imagine how anyone could live without it.

  6. I’ll have to be honest and say that I think that you are missing a big “but” in this article. Yes, romaji probably has its time and place, but a beginner learning Japanese should stay miles away from it. It’s a crutch which will significantly slow learning down. Learn your kana – it can be done in an afternoon!

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