Taking the world less travelled

Katakana – サ to ソ

Posted by on Apr 27, 2008 in Language | 3 comments

It’s カタカナ time! 

I think in learning katakana, it helps to know hiragana. Just like in capital letters and small letters in the roman based alphabet, there are some similarities. For instance, C and c both look similar. An example in Japanese would be か in hiragana and カ in katakana.

However, you have to be careful in Japanese, as there are some characters that look similar to others but at not the same at all. A good example here is せ – “se” in hiragana, and サ – “sa” in katakana. For me these two look very similar. I find for me the trick is to think “this is “sa”, which looks like hiragana “se” but the second verticle stroke is longer”. Maybe this method is confusing for others, but it works for me. Perhaps if you have any special method of remembering these differences, feel free to share them in the comments.

Let’s move on to “サ to ソ”

Lesson 3 – サ to ソ。

サ – SA
Sardines in a dish. This is one which is a bit odd to picture for some – the three strokes are the sardines, overlapping because they are in a dish. Perhaps some will prefer my method on remembering this character, which I outlined above.

シ - SHI
A ship with two sails. You can see it getting blown in the wind.

ス - SU
Soup is dribbling down his chin. Picture the first stroke as a mouth, with the second as a bit of soup.

Personally, I have always remembered this by remembering it looked like the letter “S”, but it is only this second I’ve realised it looks nothing like an “S”. More proof that my brain is crazy.

セ – SE
Someone setting the table. Perhaps this method works a lot by telling a story rather than by simply visualising images. This is an image of an edge of a table, with a hand reaching across, placing a plate on the table.

ソ – SO
You need to sew on a button. Actually, I think this one is clever. You can see the button hole plus the little hole where the button used to be sewn on to.

To be continued in our next exciting episode of Writing Katakana – タ to ト »


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  1. ChrisG

    I agree learning Hiragana first helps, but can also confuse things!

    せ (se) and サ (sa) still keep catching me out. The story I’m using to remember is that “the longer line in せ (se) bends and heads east.. and east starts with e… so it’s se…” Maybe that’s a bit long-winded but the story is starting to fade away and I’m getting the answer without thinking about it.

  2. GoddessCarlie

    I would say that method wouldn’t work for me as I’m often not good a spatial things. For instance, to remember which way east is, I have to say “Never Eat Soggy Weetbix”, which is probably a very Australian thing there! But that way I remember which way is east and west (going around clockwise).

    However, I can see how this is a good method. I love it when you get to the stage when you don’t have to think about a story, you just know it.

  3. ChrisG

    I previously used “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” which is a bit harsh because Shredded Wheat is pretty tasty, but it rhymes so that helped a great deal.

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