皆さん、こんにちにゃあぁ！「Kiki+Koko:Let’s NihonGO!! Online」へ ようこそ！ Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online, guiding you through all of the twists and turns of every stroke of Japanese language. We’re your hosts, your literal and figurative guides to Japanese language, and hopefully helpful Japanese teachers, Kiki and Koko! However, it would be impossible to leave out an important member of the crew: QUIZBO™! You’ll find him later in the main portion of the lesson. Without him, we wouldn’t have such a fun and ‘hi-tech’ way of showing you the important diagrams and words. You can’t beat such state of the art graphics straight out of the Heisei era. But, hopefully, that won’t be the only blast from the past you’ll experience this lesson, especially if you’ve learnt how to read and write「さしすせそ」with us~! This set of characters is just a remix of what you already know, and may even grow to love.
Maybe you’re wondering why we didn’t present 「ざじずぜぞ」 characters at the same time we presented「さしすせそ」. We touched on this topic in our lesson on how to write 「がぎぐげご」, but we figured it important to mention again. There’s a method to the madness when it comes to the order in which characters are presented. Just like long, long ago, we presented 「あいうえお」as the first lesson. This was due to a few reasons, of course, the first being that this is the beginning of the ‘alphabet’ in Japanese. Well, one of them, as we explained briefly in an answer in our Your Questions Answered segment about the topic. But, that’s not the whole of it. In this case, it also solidifies the five vowels, and the only five vowels, you’ll need to know in Japanese. From there, the reason why it’s so important to learn the main gojuuon first is, again, just to solidify these as a concept. It’s important to be sure you know the basis for the modified character before you can build on it. It’s sort of the foundation, and if you start to build on a dodgy foundation, you’ll find the rest of the blocks tumbling, and then when you’re trying to rebuild, you’ll have a hard time differentiating to put the pieces back together. And, overall, it is really about differentiation.
As we explained in a previous segment about dakuten, they’re there to modify the sound of the original character, making a new sound. These actually make differentiating sounds easier! But, with such tiny dots, you may wonder how that could be? Well, a much longer time ago, in ancient Japan, there was no such thing as dakuten. Even more sounds existed than there are today, but they weren’t expressed, they were implied. You simply had to know, like ‘oh yeah, that’s just how it’s read. When む is at the end of a word, it just makes an N sound. Of course!‘ This is an actual phenomenon that occurred in ancient Japanese which oddly made ん a much more ambiguous character, today. But, we still stand by the importance of romanising it properly, not as an ‘m’ alone doesn’t actually exist in Japanese in the ‘M’ row of gojuuon.
But, obviously, as time went on, it didn’t make sense in a global world, even in the times of smaller trade and exchanges between a few counties, to have characters that were so ambiguous. We remember learning in school, though we would need to find the citation, that there was something to do with Portuguese sailors and the impossibility of knowing the difference from context when first learning Japanese, but in other sources that were more grounded than just hearing it in class was the fact that there was an influx of Chinese literature and Buddhist texts which required transliteration from Chinese to Japanese which required more concrete notation. Again, it seems they both are grounded in a need for clarification in translation, so there has to be some grounds for both of the ideas. Anyway, now, these not only assist in helping you read, but they allow for fewer completely new characters to be memorised.
Perhaps you’re also wondering, if these are so similar to the previous ones, why should you practise the stroke order again? Well, it’s all to do with kinaesthetic learning. Overall, the more senses you engage, the more likely something will stick in your mind. Usually, you’ll want to listen to the character, say it aloud, and write it. Handwriting is a tool that has stayed essential throughout the ages. When children learn the alphabet in their respective country, it’s still encouraged to write them out. In their case, to keep them interested, they may draw or colour a picture related to it. They’ll say, ‘A is for apple’ to have something to connect it to mentally. And, you may have heard very young children excitedly point out, ‘Look, mummy! It’s a letter A!!’ And, if you, even as a teen or an adult, don’t get excited every time you recognise characters out in the wild, then what are you even doing with your life? Jokes aside, it’s all just part of engaging your senses and tying them to experiences.
When it comes to this, the biggest focus is in differentiating characters. Sokuon and chouon can seem like almost insignificant changes to a words spelling, but these differentiations in pronunciation can change a word completely. We were sure to present you with some useful differences in the previous writing lesson, but we reckoned it just as important to present it again in relation to these characters. When there are characters that are similar, it’s important to bring them out into the open and face them head on. That way, when you’re out there in the wild, fending for yourself, you won’t be caught off guard. These aren’t necessarily many to choose from, but it should bring these to the forefront of your mind and it should also assist you in remembering your romaji input when you’re typing these characters.
どっちが「shishi」と読みますか？ Which is read as ‘shishi’?
どっちが「suzu」と読みますか？Which is read as ‘suzu’?
どっちが「sanbai」と読みますか？ Which is read as ‘sanbai’?
どっちが「zouto」と読みますか？ Which is read as ‘zouto’?
(cleaning up, sweeping up, mopping up)
So, there are just a few scenarios where you definitely would want to know the difference between the two of these words. But, of course, more differentiation comes with kanji, but whilst learning kanji, hiragana will still be very important in knowing the pronunciation. Writing these will certainly assist you in differentiation, but we also recommend, again, that you try to engage as many senses as possible, if even over time. You can visit the main lessons and have QUIZBO™ read these characters for you as many times as you fancy.
So, if you haven’t yet had the chance to initially familiarise yourself with the characters’ pronunciations, there’s still time. In fact, take all the time you need! There’s no rush. We’ll be right here for you, and you can return as many times as you wish and whenever you wish.
brought to you by 「ざじずぜぞ」
Now, once you have your reference ready, you can take a look if you should forget how to pronounce them, or if you’re just making sure your pronunciation is accurate. And, if you’re new, you might wonder who this blue computer gentleman is. This is QUIZBO™くん, our favourite quiz generating robot computer who also functions as a very useful display generator, will be using the latest technology to show you how to write 「ざじずぜぞ」– This will be with the age old device we know as… numbers and arrows.
Sure, these methods could seem simple, but after years upon years of methods this seems to be the one that helps people without going to fast or slow. That way it will show each character’s stroke order properly whilst also giving a good view of the actual character’s overall look. Whilst you’ll be able to see how the character will look through each step of the process, we’ll also be there with helpful hints!
How to use stroke order
Before we properly begin, we figured it would be best to give you a quick overview on how to read these diagrams. For each character, there’s mostly 3-4 strokes that are written in a specific order. Each number signifies which stroke should come first. Start where the circled number begins and write the stroke in the direction in which the arrow is pointing. If you want to see what each step looks like and what yours should look like at that stage, then take a look at the squares on the right. They squares are ordered up to down and right to left in Japanese order. And, that’s the whole of it!
It’s time to equip your pencils, grab a pen, take out a notepad, a digital device and a stylus, anything you need to write safely and comfortably. Let’s write hiragana!
Kiki+Koko’s Helpful Hints:
The main portion of this is identical to 「さしすせそ」with the exception of the dakuten. But, we’ll add some helpful hints along the way to assist you with them! The placement of the dakuten in this can sometimes be seen resting atop the first stroke. Usually, you’ll find them anywhere in the top right-hand corner, depending on how the character is shaped.
Kiki+Koko’s Helpful Hints:
The placement of these dakuten follow the same rules as the others with them residing in the top right-hand corner But, if you find it closer to the base of the stroke, it’ll usually be do to the hook being narrow or very thin. it really depends on handwriting at that point, whatever lets the reader know the dakuten belongs to this character. But, again, you’re usually safe with the top right-hand side.
Kiki+Koko’s Helpful Hints:
Again, in this, you’ll see it most likely atop the first stroke because of the way it’s balanced. When writing each character, it’s usually thought of as being with in its own little box, and putting the dakuten far to the right and lower rather than atop the first stroke may spread the composition out a bit much or make it more difficult to read. Oddly enough, it does make sense to have them in the top right corner, as traditionally, when Japanese is read up to down, it is also read right to left, giving the reader enough time to change their pronunciation to match the dakuten.
Kiki+Koko’s Helpful Hints:
This dakuten also has a snug spot atop the first stroke, like a little nook betwixt stroke two and one for a resting place of fun.
Kiki+Koko’s Helpful Hints:
Usually, you’ll find the dakuten about in this same spot, next to the top end of the stroke but above the wider end of the ‘Z’ pattern right before the ‘C’ pattern. Many people have a bit of trouble getting a nice composition with 「ぞ」and「そ」, but if you just think of drawing a Z connected to a C, it really helps. And, if you can read music, and you’ve already learnt 「そ」, you’ll never look at a crotchet rest the same way again. They are actually quite similar, especially in handwriting: 「𝄽」, a Z atop of a C. Coincidence? Probably. Hotel? Trivago.
And, that’s the whole of it! Now you know「ざじずぜぞ」– Well, maybe not quite. If you’re still working on learning the first set of gojuuon hiragana or you need to brush up on them, then you may not have them quite yet. And, even still, you should be sure to take your time and be sure you remember the difference. If you’re having trouble differentiating them when you’re reading or writing, try to practise writing them in words. But, if that only muddles things with other characters, you can try to retake the previous quiz which may assist you in differentiating without feeling overwhelmed by a large amount of characters or relying on context.
For this set, you may be able to work out a bit of a reminder in differentiating between 「さしすせそ」and 「ざじずぜぞ」such as thinking of the dakuten as movement marks, as if it’s mimicking the vibration of your teeth. The first set is a series of smooth sounds without vibration, and the second set has more of a rougher tone with more vibration. But, maybe you have some other ways you’ve found helpful in memorising things like this, by now. If you have a useful mnemonic device that has assisted you, feel free to leave a comment! Maybe it’ll help out the next Earthling who passes by~!
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