Using Korean for Japanese writing

Today was the first time in a long time that I felt that my Japanese just worked out the way it should in class. Not that I used to be really bad or I overnight transformed into a Japanese chatterbox, but today things just lined up really nicely. We’re a small class of just 5 people, our teacher is a native speaker of Japanese, and we are finally reaching the point where our vocabulary allows us to make more interesting sentences. Our class dynamics are great so it’s a lot of fun, but super efficient at the same time. However, I have to say that Korean helps me a lot in Japanese.

For some of the words I’m supposed to write in kanji and I know the Korean equivalent, I tend to think first in Japanese, translate to Korean, and then write in Kanji. I know it sounds odd, but thinking about it, I think it’s because there is no direct correlation between the number of syllables you say in Japanese and the number of kanji you write while there is such a correlation between 한글 and hanja. An example:
The word birthday: The Japanese word written out in hiragana is たんじようび which looks awfully long, but in Korean the word would be 생일 and I know those two characters: 生日. It’s a bit of a roundabout way of thinking, but for some words it just makes so much more sense this way. At least for the words I have come across at this point in my learning process.

For others I don’t do it – such as 行きます (polite present tense of the verb to go) since I never used 行 in Korean. The same goes for あした / 明日 (내일) where I rely on what is basically children’s logic (first we have to finish the day of today then the moon has to shine while we wait for tomorrow, and then tomorrow is the big day).

The brain is a funny, funny thing… Happy studies everyone! 🙂

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