learning japanese script

Michael McCaskey mccaskem
Tue Aug 14 11:45:16 EDT 2007

Dear Emma,

If you wish to learn the basics of written Japanese, an excellent book is:

An Introduction to Written Japanese (Paperback) 
by P.G. O'Neill (Author), S. Yanada (Author)

"This text was compiled with the hope of providing the student with a way through the difficult early stages of learning written Japanese. It is a self-contained course which takes the complete beginner to a stage where they can fend for themselves when dealing with modern written Japanese."

Paperback: 243 pages 
Publisher: Hodder Arnold H&S (1 Sep 1975) 
Language Japanese, English 
ISBN-10: 0340204710 
ISBN-13: 978-0340204719 

P.G. O'Neill, a professor at London Univ. I believe, seems to have devoted his life to creating good, practical, reliable books on various aspects of Japanese language that can be realistically used by an independent learner, as well as a good manual for reading Japanese personal and place names, a manual of handwritten Japanese to help both to learn how to read scribbly everyday Japanese writing and letters, and also a good dictionary of Buddhist terms.

His books are good enough to be used as side-references for students taking Japanese classes at all levels. I use his name-reading book very frequently.

He also created a good kana practice book, listed below. It's probably not needed if you have the book listed above, but it might be quite helpful to practice with.

3 used & new available from ?14.72

Japanese Kana Workbook (Paperback) 
by P.G. O'Neill (Author) 

ISBN-10: 0834803372 
ISBN-13: 978-0834803374 
6 used & new available from ?3.80

Both these books are available from Amazon UK--its prices are the ones listed.

It's unfortunate that apparently many of O'Neill's books are only available used now. I have every one of them, and I have gotten very good use out of them over several decades of research.

Michael McCaskey
Georgetown Univ.


At some point, it will be good to begin regular study of Japanese in a classroom framework. There's probably a Japan Society in London that may have after-hours classes available. If you're mostly concerned with basic reading, there may be various distance learning options as well--or there may be good classes at or near your own institution.

In my experience, Japanese is like German (which I'm not so good at). You can pick up a lot on your own, but at some point it's good to do extended systematic study in some kind of course. You can also learn systematically on your own, as long as there's someone qualified you can consult when problems arise.

I think it's great that you are learning Japanese, and I wish you every success.

With Best Wishes,

Michael McCaskey
Georgetown Univ.

----- Original Message -----
From: Emma Newbery <emmanewbery at hotmail.co.uk>
Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 9:53 am
Subject: learning japanese script

> Hello all.
> I have just embarked upon the long path of learning to read and 
> write 
> Japanese. I am using the 'Japanese for busy people' workbooks, and 
> have been 
> sailing through learning hiragana, but much to my dismay when i 
> went to try 
> out my new skill on www.amazon.jp i find all the sentences to be 
> combination 
> of hirigana, kanji and katakana. I realise to all you who know how 
> to read 
> japanese this is very obvious, but it there anyone out there to 
> whom 
> japanese is not their first language who can instill me with some 
> confidence 
> that it is possible to learn it all -  and why are there 3 forms 
> within one 
> sentence!
> Emma Newbery BA (hons), MA, PGCE
> Programme Leader
> BTEC National Diploma in Media Productions
> Blackpool and the Fylde College
> _________________________________________________________________
> The next generation of Hotmail is here!  http://www.newhotmail.co.uk

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