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Just started learning japanese again.
My college offers no class on this so I am learning on my own.
I have been using Rosetta Stone on and off again for awhile now.
One this I have noticed is that Rosetta Stone uses, はand を in basic sentences such as:

おんなのひとは、おちゃをのんでいます
this sentence gives the Romaji:
onna no hito wa ocha o nonde imasu

Now I know
は = ha
を = wo

Why would they use those in place of わ and お?

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3  
Also it should be おんな not おんあ. I'm hoping that's your error, not Rosetta Stone's! –  Ash Mar 22 at 6:22
    
100% my error, still trying to get used to the windows language pack. –  Nick C. Mar 23 at 1:47
2  
@NickC. You can type ん with nn or n'. So if you try to type onna you'll get おんあ, but if you type onnna or on'na you'll get おんな. (On Windows, you also have the option of typing xn, so oxnna would also work.) –  snailboat Mar 23 at 1:52
    
おんあ = wrong = onna おんな = right = onnna おんな = right = on'na おんな = right = oxnna. I guess the X in oxnna is a placeholder for a repetition of the "nn" sound? Thanks a lot man! –  Nick C. Mar 23 at 1:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

When being used as a grammatical particle ([助詞]{じょし}), は is pronounced わ (wa), を is pronounced お (o), and へ (which you may not have come across yet) is pronounced え (e).

I've never used Rosetta Stone but it seems quite strange that it would not mention this...

Information as to the historical reason for this difference between spelling and pronunciation can be found in the answer to this question.

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1  
Rosetta Stone's format involves presenting a phrase in audio and text and the image/video it's a description of, and leaving you as the student to figure out what's going on. I haven't used it much, but what I've seen of it is that it has no explanations at all - it might have a few, I don't know. It's a very strange system. –  Sjiveru Mar 23 at 0:05
    
One this I noticed it that it gives you phrases that that are commonly used and expects you to pick up on grammar laws as it goes. It is a weird system. But paired with this, my dictionary, grammar book, and other resources I should be fine. It takes a lot of research on your own part though. –  Nick C. Mar 23 at 1:46
    
Also, thanks for listing others. Now certain words are making more sense! –  Nick C. Mar 23 at 1:50

Often the particle は is written "wa" in Latin letters, because は, when used as a particle, is in fact pronounced the same as わ. Of course, は, when it is not a particle, is usually pronounced "ha".

を is pronounced お, and therefore sometimes transcribed "wo" and sometimes "o".

Similarly, the particle へ is pronounced the same as え, whence "he" or "e".

For text input, you have to write "ha wo he" for は を へ, but for best pronunciation approximation, "wa o e" are often used.

So, as it should, Rosetta stone is writing correct Japanese and chooses rōmaji (not Romanji, see this question) for approximating pronunciation (presumably Hepburn romanization).

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