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Japanese letters
writing japanese using a,b,c....
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How many I's do you have?
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  Japanese culture  WatanabeSato: the Pavement人気サイト

(The way of scripting japanese pronunciation-wise using alphabet)

    Recently, I received a mail indicating the errors in the spelling of japanese words from Nora, a Berliner who translated the How many I's do you have? and How many You's are you? for her Japanisch-Netz site. Here is her indication.

You wrote "kikoh", but I don't know any transcription of Japanese wherean "h" can stand alone. In Hepburn-shiki, the word is written like "kikou",I think.

Here is my answer.

> The reason is the "u" sound of "kikou" is not pronounced as "u" but
> the continuaton of "o". Japanese has many long vowels. So far, long
> vowels were expressed by "vowel"+"u", the same as in Japanese language.
> My practice is "vowel"+"h" instead.

Now her answer was as follow.

I understand the reasons for this way to write. But for not Japanese
speaking people, especially learners, I think it's not the best
variant. Of course it is good because you learn how to speak a word.
But it is impossible to see how the word would be written for example
in hiragana. Most people who learn Japanese know the differences from
Hepburn-shiki to real speaking, so I think this is maybe the best way
to write it. But surely your way is good for people who don't learn
Japanese and just want to know how something is spoken.

    The other day before, a visitor indicated other errors. It is explained in the page of Japanese letters.

Regarding the way of scripting japanese using alphabets, there is a hundred years of debate in Japan. The most broadly used system is Hepburn-system (ex. ta chi tsu te to) created in 1867 by an american physician and clergy, James C. Hepburn. Before that, Portuguese-system (ex. ta chi tcu te to) in 1500's, in 1720's Holland system (ex. ta ti toe te to) , in 1800's, German system (ex. ta tsi tsu te to) and French sysem (ex. ta tsi tsou te to) existed. * from History of ROMA JI (in japanese)
    Anyway, alphabets are pronounced differently in different nations. To make this confusing, a japanese created japanese system (ex. ta ti tu te to). It is simple and easy to learn. As a result, government decided this system as Japanese-system. In fact, in elementary schools, this system is taught. There is a foundation named as "Nippon-no-Rômazi-Sya (NRS)" (very difficult to read for me and probably strange for foreigners who learn japanese language) who promote the use of "ROMA JI" in japanese-system in stead of japanese letters. But what the pupils see in public place are Hepburn-system (Japanese pronounce it as "HEBON-SHIKI"*1.) And nowadays another irregularity appeared or used for the expression of frequently appearing long vowels in japanese language. Both in Hepburn-system and Japanese-system, long vowels are expressed adding something on top of vowel letter for example "oo" is expressed as ô (Netscape ). In japanese long vowels are created by adding "u" to vowel letter. But it has some exceptions, there are cases vowels+"u" should be pronounced as written.
    The another irregularity is that long vowels are to be expressed as "vowel"+"h". This irregular system is mostly seen in name tags of sports athletes. They like to be called as they are called usually, and they found "vowel"+"h" is more likely to be pronounced as they want. As a result, this irregular system is frequently seen in TV and now this irregular system is going to prevail. Recently I found the ministry of foreign affairs permit using OH for writing names. They take Hepburn-system as the official.

    I am for Hepburn-system + new irregular system and using as my mixed-up system.

    After the US occupation after the war, they tried to establish Hepburn-system as ISO standard. The discussions for the establishment is probably still on-going for more than 40 years. If it is established, it will be far apart from actually used system because NRS is leading japanese side.

    By the way, do you know how a japanese key in japanese letters and chinese characters on a keyboard?.
    There are two system. One is key in directly "Hiragana" or "Katakana" by keybord. There are 48 or more keys in standard keybords. One "Hiragana" letter is assigned to an alphabet or other special letters. The other system keying in alphabets by the "ROMA JI" system. Computer program permit either Hepburn system or Japanese system. Computer software permit even other irregular system. "la,li,lu,le,lo" are treated as same as "ra,ri,ru,re""ro". In fact, the pronunciation of "r" by japanese is more likely to that of "l". Usually, japanese can not distinguish the pronunciation of "R" from the one of "L" can not pronounce "R".
Why Hepburn adopted "R"? I searched in the web and found there are people who think they can not pronounce "L" sound and more people think the reverse. According to a native speaker, there are really people of pronouncing "R" and "L" and the intermediate. Anyway japanese people can not discern them. Thus probably more than half of japanese would write the name "Roosevelt" as "Loosebelt". It is the combination of what japanese know as english words. I know F.D.Roosevelt was never loosebelt. Probably Hepburn lived in a isolated area in Tokyo where people really pronounce "R" like sound with tongue rolling up and in.
  Here, I show how japanese letters are input by the latter system.
The first key touch on "s" makes .The next key touch on "a", then computer automatically change it .
Doing like this, written are .Then key touch on "space" then it change into .In this case, the change action was as I wanted. I attached direct translation below but it is hard to read. It is written "cherry blossom bloomed". 20 letters were necessary to express japanese 7 letters. It is usually the case.
  In case of unwanted change, one more touch on "space" key give a dialog shown right. Then I select one from the candidates. Finally, touching on "return" key, the sentence is determined.

*1 The first man who heard the name of Hepburn heard it as "Hebon". Often foreign word is expressed this way in japanese. When a japanese found a tinplate that was used as cover of stack of bricks and asked "what is it" to an american. He replied "it is brick". The japanese recognized tinplate as "BURIKI" as he heard. "BURIKI" still means tinplate in Japan. There are several other words created this way.

Here is the table of ROMA JI (only basic ones)
kikichitihihi  wi*2wi*2
keketetehehe  we*2we*2

*2 These pronunciation was lost except in very local area and the letters are used only in classic literatures.
*3 This pronunciation is completely lost and nowadays pronounced as "o". But this letter has a special role in japanese grammar and still used.