Some people might think that writing in Japanese is very difficult. It is not true after a Japanese word processor was invented. We use kanji, hiragana, and katakana instead of the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Now, if you have an ordinary computer with a Japanese OS, you just write as you speak using the alphabet, and push the space bar, when you think you have finished a part of a sentence, to change the letters into the ordinary Japanese notation. You use a tool called “かな漢字変換システム,” which means the kana-to-kanji transformation system. MS IME is pre-installed to a Japanese OS, but you can buy ATOK by Just Systems, which I use. You don’t need to memorize how to write difficult kanji, such as 鬱 in “憂鬱(depression).” If the system responds with wrong words, you just select the appropriate kanji from a list. It is easy to write in Japanese, if you can speak correctly.
What makes Japanese so difficult is that it has three represenation systems, and a writer has a choice as to which representation system to use. For example, it’s OK for a writer to write a word that is normally written in kanji or hirigana in katakana (perhaps to make it look more chic). Such flexibility may be natural to the Japanes but can be baffling for the language learners.
There’s a free Japanese IME on Microsoft.com
It’s the one I currently use and it’s pretty good.
It is true that some people use too many kanji characters, and other people use too many kana letters.
If I am using a computer, I usually choose 憂鬱 among 憂鬱, ゆううつ, and ユウウツ. But if I have no dictionary at hand, I cannot write 鬱 by hand, so I may choose between ウツ and うつ.
No, Susanne, it is really very interesting! Yesterday I restarted my kanji larning and have already wrote 3 pages of kanji. It takes a lot og time, but I like it! Hmmm, but my hand is very tired now…
SanneT, Many, many regular people from countries that use the Roman alphabet have learned thousands of Chinese character.
憂鬱 means melancholy. So maybe it’s just word play on Suzanne’s part!
Quite. I had put the kanji separately through Google translate - so it wasn’t genius, unfortunately. And, yes, I begin to see how interesting it could be to be able to read Japanese: I like foreign scripts, I still learnt the German script at school, taught myself to read shorthand (I am an extremely slow writer of it, though), love practising Cyrillic and Arabic handwriting and might well one day open my Japanese textbooks which I bought years ago in a charity shop.