Hiragana: The T Line
Friday, January 8th, 2010
Welcome to the fourth instalment of our hiragana lessons on zonjineko.com – the hiragana T line.
I’ll be stepping you through the fourth line of the hiragana table which, if you’ve read through my first few hiragana line lessons, brings in a couple of changes outside the standard aiueo order of the earlier hiragana rows.
The T line consists of ta (た), chi (ち), tsu (つ), te (て), to (と) and the changes to the aiueo rule happen in two places. The first difference comes with chi (ち), which replaces the expected “ti” and is visually a mirror image of さ (sa) so don’t get confused there.
The other change is tsu (つ), which comes in place of what you may have assumed would be “tu”.
Not to confuse things but the “tsu” also comes in two varieties – small and normal (the one we’re learning today). I won’t double up on the explanation of them both as I have already written a detailed explanation here for your viewing pleasure.
Also just to clarify, there is no such hiragana as ti or tu – they simply do not exist. Like any language there are rules to the exceptions and the hiragana has a few of its own such as these.
|ち||chi||ちち (chi-chi)||father (humble)|
As you move past the kana (hiragana and katakana) and on to kanji, your use of Hiragana will be less and less, however there are certain words that do not have a kanji equivalent and always appear as hiragana. Hiragana is also used to add on to the end of kanji for other reasons, which we’ll get to much later. Suffice to say you need to know hiragana ^_^
Hiragana In The Wild
To see real world usage of hiragana, try visiting a site such as Yomiuri Online, a popular Japanese news site, and read through as many stories as possible, pick out the hiragana you know and make a note of your progress. It’s exciting as a beginner to realise that you are improving your Japanese skills and can identify some actual real-life Japanese.
Please don’t ever be discouraged by how much you don’t know in terms of kana or kanji – just get excited about the ones you do know.
Learn Not Burn
As I mentioned in previous articles, I see a lot of students that think they can learn the hiragana in a day. While this may be true, the retention of this quick learning may be fairly short. We have all crammed for exams before and a week later remember none of it.
There’s no doubt some people can learn things very quickly but I prefer to take it slowly and make sure I am actually learning what I am reading rather than just cramming and forgetting.
I find the best practice is to read as much hiragana text as you can even if you don’t understand what the words mean. You want to get to the point where you can read it as quickly as your own alphabet and while this seems a mile away at the moment – it will become reality as long as you put in the hours to make it happen.
I have included below a ta-chi-tsu-te-to (た-ち-つ-て-と) worksheet for you to practice writing and memorising the characters plus a full hiragana worksheet.
Also check out:
- Wikipedia’s Hiragana page »
- Real Kana – Free online kana quiz game »
- Tangorin – Free Online Dictionary with Example Sentences »