Romaji - The bane of japanese?

I had this aswell, I really like the books, it doesnt go to fast. But the switching between kana and romanji within a single word is really trowing me off. It takes way longer to read a word because my brain is just confused how to read it. Even though I have no real problems reading kana.


Which IMHO is totally okay. That’s just the way the /s/ resp. /t/ sound changes when it comes before /i/ resp. /u/.

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I’m okay with romaji notations which somehow preserve vowel length, but I often see that not being the case and it ends up being confusing :frowning: .

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I’m definitely feeling the pain of romaji right now.
I’m currently reading a book on the history of pop culture in Japan going back to the 17th century, and it’s interesting but the romaji is killing me.

Everytime he introduces a new word he just uses romaji. This is especially problematic when the reading for the word is something like し. Okay… there’s a million words with that reading, and sometimes once he has introduced the romaji reading, he will stop using the English term completely. So like, instead of saying “intellectual scholar-officials” he will just say, “the shi”. It makes me want to pull my hair out. (And to make it worse, in this example he’s actually referencing a Chinese-imported concept so it muddies the water even more.)

Sometimes it’s just as taxing on my brain to deal with romaji in cases like this. I just want the kanji to go along with it, even if it’s not anything I’ll use in the real world. My partner said maybe he does it that way because it’s a college textbook (I didn’t realize this when I bought it) and his students may not know any of the language since it might be an elective class, but I still don’t see the harm in throwing in the kanji?

So yeah, that’s my own little rant on romaji. It can be helpful in the very beginning to learn kana, but after that I feel it just adds an unnecessary extra step in the translation process.


There was one year in an elementary school I transferred into where the English curriculum was trying to teach children English phonetically - so instead of the material being written in normal English, it was written in this weird script with a bunch of made-up letters that represented unambiguous sounds (I don’t think it was the IPA, but it was something like that). No doubt invented by some pencilneck with more education than sense.

(I feel the same way about the way they’re teaching arithmetic in schools today. Not because the basic idea isn’t sound; I’m pretty good at doing math in my head and it’s all factoring, unresolved fractions, refining approximations, etc. But the alien way they have to formalize the process and invent new jargon to teach it, and then your answer is “wrong” if you didn’t do it the same way they expected you to even though you get the correct result… ah, but I digress.)

I was already a pretty good reader at that point and didn’t need to be taught phonics, and what’s more, the “teaching” material was harder to understand than the actual script I’d already learned. So the whole thing was frustrating and incredibly stupid to me. I honestly don’t remember how that whole thing worked out… I think I was also having trouble with bullies and incompetent teachers and other things and my parents pulled me out and sent me to a different school that year.

Anyway, that’s what I think of when I see half-kana, half-romaji. It’s actually harder to read. At least they’re not using made-up letters so that you’re not even learning the actual script you’ll eventually use, but still, super-awkward.

Ah, I don’t hate romaji though. Yes, if you’re studying Japanese you should learn kana. If you’re not studying Japanese then no reasonable person can expert you to learn kana - and it’s perfectly reasonable to use romaji so that people can at least recognize and pronounce words. If you’re just beginning Japanese study, romaji isn’t going to hurt anything - it’s literally going to take you years to learn the language, so if you spend the first couple days/weeks/months on training wheels while you pick up some starter grammar and vocab I don’t think it matters. I can’t imagine being a fully literate native English speaker and having a harder time understanding romaji subtitles than kana, unless (a) you are also very literate in Japanese, and (b) they’re using one of the weirder romaji systems.


If romaji is the bane of Japanese, is Bane the bane of Batman?


No. Bane is the Japanese of Batman.