I don’t mean the obvious answer “because they are.”
I’m on Level 5 of WK right now and it is really starting to seem like Japanese is FULL of completely different kanji (‘words’) that have the exact same phonetic reading. While I realize that English also has homophones (to/too, be/bee, pair/pear) it seems like they are MUCH more prevalent in Japanese. But maybe this is just because of what WK is introducing in early levels? Is it front-loading the language with all of these homophones for a reason?
Part of me is starting to think, how the heck does anyone understand Japanese if it uses the same phonemes over and over again (especially when there are so many others that seem to be hardly used). Japanese isn’t the first language I’ve learned — I’m moderately proficient in conversational Spanish, and I can read enough French and German to get by fairly well when traveling… and I never felt like homophones were tripping me up in those languages at all.
I also kind of feel like in those languages, I could start by listening to people speak the languages and “pick out” the words that I do know, and get a rough idea of what the person was talking about. But with Japanese, it seems like context is KEY (and not just for grammar reasons). Like if I miss hearing a word(s) that I don’t yet know, I won’t know if the following/preceding だい that I hear is meaning A, B, C, X, Y, or Z (are they counting machines, talking about a platform, something big, an era, or a topic?)
And this doesn’t even consider pitch accent!
Thoughts? Does it get easier / start to make more sense later?
(edit: and yes, I know the point of WK isn’t to teach me all aspects of the language, I just think we are a great community of Japanese language learners, so I just want your opinion/advice about learning Japanese in general and not just the WK part of it.)