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ひらがな & カタカナ Flashcards

10:54 pm PHT

If you only see question marks or boxes in the title, then you need to install East Asian language support in your browser. You also need some Unicode fonts. After that, you should be able to see some Japanese characters.

The Japanese (Nihongo) words in the title stand for hiragana and katakana respectively. These are the two basic writing systems of the Japanese language and are collectively called kana.

Since I’m working for a Japanese-owned company, it’s an advantage to learn the language. Though I’m not yet enrolled in any course, I’m trying to learn bits and pieces on my own so that I’d have an easier time when I do enroll in a Japanese course.

Any beginning Nihongo student is expected to memorize all the kana. That is why I’ve developed a very simple DHTML applet that displays random characters and lets you guess what the character is. Pressing any key advances the flashcards: either showing a new random character or revealing what the current character is. The bottom select box lets you choose the test type.

It goes without saying that the applet will only be useful if you can see the Japanese in the title of this post in the first place. I assume that it will work in most browsers though I’ve only tried in in IE/Win 5.0 and 6.0, Mozilla, and Firefox. JavaScript must be enabled.

A different version of this applet that I made for the office is able to randomly select between two fonts: MS PMincho and MS PGothic. Using these two fonts or their substitutes is better since one has block versions of the characters while the other has thick-thin stroked versions more akin to calligraphy. This way, the same character should be recognized whatever the actual appearance.

Enjoy!  :D

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