Lesson 1: Homework


You have four things to do this week:

  1. Learn the first fifteen hiragana. These are, in one long string, あいうえおかきくけこさしすせそ!
  2. Memorize this list of phrases. You’re going to already know most of these. You don’t have to memorize the characters; just memorize the sounds and be able to say them. Also, I made a quiz here so you can review.
  3. Get Japanese support (both display and input) for your computer, then leave a comment to this post with some Japanese in it. It can be anything; just show that you can type Japanese.
  4. Look into getting the textbook. We can take a field trip to Kinokuniya next week if anyone’s interested. Make sure you get the textbook but not the workbook.

Now, here’s a little more information about the homework that I’ve set aside to help you:

Learning the first fifteen hiragana
You’re already familiar with あ、い、う、え and お; now it’s time to learn the next 10!

You can find a pretty sexy hiragana chart here. Click on each character to see the stroke order. You’ll notice that し is pronounced “shi” and not “si.” There’s no sound like “si” in Japanese.

You can find a review quiz for あいうえお here, one for かきくけこ here, and one for さしすせそ here.

Getting Japanese support on your computer

Can you see the characters in the first line of this post? If so, then your browser already supports Japanese! If not, try changing your browser’s encoding to UTF-8 and see if that fixes it. I suspect that’ll fix it, but if not, the instructions here should help, at least for Windows.

There are instructions for how to set up Japanese input in Windows or on Mac right here.

Okay, good luck and がんばって! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

8 Responses to this post.

  1. chewbear's Gravatar

    Posted by chewbear on 15.05.09 at 11:46 am


  2. chewbear's Gravatar

    Posted by chewbear on 15.05.09 at 11:52 am

    or should it be

  3. Nat's Gravatar

    Posted by Nat on 15.05.09 at 12:43 pm

    Good job Chewy! あいしてる is the correct form, or 愛してる if you wanna get fancy and use kanji.

  4. チェルシー's Gravatar

    Posted by チェルシー on 15.05.09 at 10:41 pm

    Oh man, a whole new way to google 山ぴ!!!


  5. Nat's Gravatar

    Posted by Nat on 15.05.09 at 10:51 pm

    Well, since the ピー part is just another way of writing the English letter P, I would say it’s a foreign word and so it should be 山ピー, with katakana. Accordingly, from some Google searching it looks like there are two ways that his name is most often written, and it’s entirely an aesthetic choice as to which you use: 山ピー or 山P.

    The reason it’s ピー and not just ピ is because the horizontal line (ー) produces a long vowel sound in katakana, turning “pi” into “pii.” And that’s how the English letter P is pronounced! We’ll talk about that more later as we trek deeper into the Canyon of Kana.

  6. チェルシー's Gravatar

    Posted by チェルシー on 17.05.09 at 5:41 pm

    Hey —

    So when I’m writing き should you write it like it’s printed, or more how it looks w/ brush strokes? In other words, should you join the third and fourth strokes? I’m assuming it should look more like the brush strokes (four separate lines) but thought I’d pop on by and ask …


  7. Nat's Gravatar

    Posted by Nat on 17.05.09 at 8:25 pm

    Very good question, Chelsea. き is one of a handful of characters in Japanese that is usually handwritten differently from the way it’s printed in fonts. I’m not sure at what point historically the two styles of writing the character diverged, but perhaps the handwritten version originally came from a sort of shortcut for the printed version.

    き should be handwritten like so:

    Another character that is notably written differently by hand than when it’s typed is さ (sa), which should be handwritten like so::

    Note that even though it sort of looks like a backwards さ, the same sort of stroke technique cannot be done with ち (chi). It should be written like so:

    Some of the other characters may have slight variations (sort of like how the lowercase letter ‘a’ can be written a few different ways in English, but even less significant than that). However, they’re not really significant enough for you to worry about them for now. Once we’ve learn all of the hiragana I’ll have you read some samples of handwritten text so that you can get more comfortable with all of the styles that you might encounter.

  8. chewbear's Gravatar

    Posted by chewbear on 18.05.09 at 12:10 pm

    interesting. thanks i was wondering why they were different

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