About a certain sentence

I was studying some grammar, until I encountered this sentence.
私は今日本語を勉強しています。(I am studying Japanese now)
The way I see it, it could be read 2 different ways.

  1. Watashi wa ima nihongo wo benkyou shiteimasu
  2. Watashi wa kyou hongo wo benkyou shiteimasu
    Should I write “ima” in hiragana so that it isn’t read wrong, or is it just common sense that it would be read the first way. Or is the second one just completely wrong. I’m not sure, I put “hongo” into google translate and it said “Some word”. Anyways, any answers or discussion would be appreciated. I apologize for what might be apparent stupidity to someone. Thanks

First of all, never use google translate.
I’m pretty sure 本語 isn’t a word, so I doubt anyone would misread your first sentence. Also the use of 今 ties in nicely with ~ています. (But I would go with いま anyway.)

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I misread the sentence as 今日 日本語を勉強してます
Reminds me of schema from Psychology study

It is easier to read if you put 今 at the beginning of the sentence.

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Yeah, no Japanese person would say きょうほんご looking that sentence.

In hindsight, it seems like a pretty stupid question now. I think I understand now, thanks for the replies, they are all helpful and insightful. You guys are sure quick to respond to posts.

It’s not that it’s a stupid question, it just doesn’t really apply in this case. There are certainly times where you can create ambiguity if you’re not careful. Japanese speakers make strategic use of hiragana and word order to avoid making things confusing most of the time.




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“I heard an interesting thing on TV tonight, and it reminded me of the people who ask why Japanese can’t just be written in hiragana. The following sentence can have 92 different meanings, each grammatically correct and making sense. にわにはにわにわとりがいる”

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Wow, I was doubtful about the 90+ thing but according to this page (linked from the above) there’s a whole lot more than that

@Leebo is right, this sort of thing does happen occasionally in japanese sentneces, often solved through changing word order or inserting hiragana. Another way japanese people frequently get around it is by inserting commas into the sentence specifically to break apart clusters of 5 or more kanji into the pieces you should read together, so keep that in mind too– unlike english, not all commas are for pauses or syntax.

OK then, good to keep in mind.

In this case, I’ve often seen it written with a comma

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