Adapting To Reading Without Spaces?

I could easily read all of that except for the upside down one. That one took effort. Spaces are definitely not required though I suspect they would help with recognizing words one is less familiar with.



I`ll keep practicing and work on my grammar particles to help me ‘see’ the spaces - the analogy to English writing helps a lot. Seriously, thank you!


Fun thread. Some really great points here.

As always, I think if you just keep doing your reviews it will become second nature. The hiragana almost becomes the spaces in a way. I’m amazed with people that can read Chinese without any hiragana. Japanese has many ways to pronounce the same character, but in addition to providing clues to pronunciation hiragana also helps with “tokenizing” (to use the technical/computer-science term).

The real fun comes with vocabulary that breaks the “rules” like this one I happened to come across today: WaniKani / Vocabulary / 締切 — just dropping the hiragana like that seems almost unfair!


I remember when I first started reading, I was pretty annoyed by the lack of spaces. I was like man, this makes it so much harder. But the thing is, it really actually doesn’t. There’s a reason high level users of the language don’t ever mention it as a problem/hard part of japanese.

The main reason the spaces feel hard is because they are just making any lack of grammar understanding very very obvious. As a result, learning grammar and how sentences go together is really your best bet. Thanks to particles and kanji, things flow pretty well and its rare you would get stuff mixed up.

The other reason is vocab knowledge and this is kinda what you brought up in your post. It’s kinda hard to explain, but at the start you process things one character at a time. When you get better though, you’ll kinda scan chunks of the text rather than character by character. Like if I wrote “HORSE” you probably didn’t consciously read each character one after another and then be like oh that means horse. It probably just felt like you looked at the middle of the word and got it. With practice the same thing will happen with japanese. Really, the only thing you can do to speed up the rate that you get used to this stuff is to read more and obviously learn more vocab if the words are ones you haven’t learned yet. Like some kana only words can definitely trip you up if they’re in the right spot and you’ve never seen them before.


I hit the ‘what is this insane katakana English loan word’ wall so much faster than I expected. I thought that would be the easy part, but I can often fully sound out a word in katakana and still have NO idea what is being conveyed XD


That’s funny.

He’s right. Katakana-go is nearly impossible to pronounce “correctly”.

Fun fact: katakana can’t be distinguished from hiragana when spoken aloud, which creates occasional hilarity in my life.

Often I think it’s just another Japanese word I don’t know. When it becomes clear I’ve no idea what the word means, the Japanese speaker usually looks at me puzzled and keeps repeating the word slowly and loudly, confident I’ll understand eventually:

”パ ト カー”、

”パ ト カー”、


”パ ト ロ ル カー?!!”

Finally, as they become more exasperated, I’ll realize they think it’s English. The word means “patrol car.” :man_facepalming:

Even better than abbreviated words are when it’s a bit of 外来語 that doesn’t come from English. アルバイト, ビー玉、or パン, anyone?


On that note, don’t try to learn English words from katakana. Whenever I invite someone to visit my ajito, they stare at me like they don’t understand plain English.

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LOL. I just now had to look up アジト (hideout)! I’m fairly certain I’ve never seen nor used the words “agitating point” together. Despite what the dictionary is telling me, I’m gonna guess this more likely comes from the Russion “agitpunkt” than from “agitating point.”

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I’ve actually never seen the “agitating point” possibility. I agree that the Russian source sounds more likely (but that’s only because that’s what I’ve read before). Although, I don’t know how many Russian words have been imported into Japanese.

What’s worse is when you learn パン, you get used to パン, and then they hit you with フライパン. “Fried… bread?”

No, it’s just “frypan”.


フライ? パン? Enter Earthbound’s baker:

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