Guide to Japanese
The following guide is designed to help you input Japanese in the iKnow! app.
Romaji, hiragana, and katakana
The Japanese written language uses two phonetic systems, hiragana and katakana, and one character-based system, kanji.
Hiragana is used primarily to write words native to Japanese, while katakana is used to represent words borrowed from Western languages. Romaji is the system that is used to represent both hiragana and katakana in the roman alphabet, but you usually will only see romaji in Japanese textbooks.
The first step to learn Japanese is to learn hiragana and katakana. Fortunately you can learn these easily with the iKnow! Hiragana and Katakana courses.
In iKnow!, we follow the same conventions that Japanese word processing systems use when it comes to typing Japanese. Inputting Japanese on a word processor has a few quirks. The reason for these is that some letters, such as "o", have two distinct symbols in hiragana (を and お) and certain sounds aren't represented by any one key on a standard English keyboard.
The following is a guide to the most troublesome aspects of inputting Japanese with a computer.
To lengthen an o or u sound, type ‘u’:
くう (kū ) → kuu
じゅう (jū) → juu
きょう (kyō) → kyou
To lengthen other vowels, just repeat the vowel:
きい (kii) → kii
おばあさん (obaasan) → obaasan
The exception is え which takes an ‘i’ to lengthen:
In katakana, always use a dash to lengthen any vowel:
Typing んType ‘nn' if the んis at the end of the word, or the next character is a vowel:
じかん → jikann
(Typing denatsu would convert to でなつ.)
TypingづType ‘du’ to produce the づ in つづく.
Typing をType ‘wo’ to produce the "o" which indicates an object of a verb:
ごはん を たべる (gohan o taberu) → gohan wo taberu
Double consonants and typing っType a consonant twice to produce the small っ:
Typing small vowelsType ‘x’ before a small vowel:
ウェールズ (Wales) → uxe-ruzu
ハロウィーン (Halloween) → halouxi-n
This is only usually used to write katakana (loan words from other languages).
For ティ, you can type ‘thi’ or ‘xi’:
ミーティング (meeting) → mi-thingu
パーティ (party) → pa-texi
Typing small characters
Typing an 'x' before ya, yu, yo will allow you type these small characters. This is especially useful if you make a mistake like:
User types: densho = で ん し ょ
System recognizes: で ん し ＿
User types: xya = ゃ
System recognizes: で ん し ゃ
[っ] → ‘xtu’
[ぁ] → ‘xa’
[ぃ] → ‘xi’
[ぅ] → ‘xu’
[ぇ] → ‘xe’
[ぉ] → ‘xo’
Please note that the conversion process is built into the application itself, so you only need to use English input. Japanese character input via IME is not accepted.