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I am a Japanese beginner and I see many instruction books containing rōmaji. As I understand, rōmaji helps English speakers to pronounce the words. But is rōmaji really used in Japan or by Japanese people? Or is it used only for an English speaker learning Japanese?

I heard (not sure if true) that on the computer, when Japanese people type, rōmaji is often used. But I did not see any rōmaji on popular Japanese websites like Yahoo Japan. Could someone comment on this as well?

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Yes, rōmaji is used by Japanese people, but mainly as design elements. Elementary school children learn to read and write rōmaji in the 3rd grade, and virtually all adults can understand Japanese words written in rōmaji. Latin alphabet often strikes Japanese speakers as cool or modern. You can find Japanese words represented in rōmaji on T-shirts, mugs, doorplates, signboards, anime logos, etc.

examples of romaji

Rōmaji is never used for day-to-day communication between native Japanese speakers. They can generally understand Japanese sentences written entirely in rōmaji, but the reading speed would drop to 1/10 or less. (Imagine you have to read an English sentence written entirely in katakana...)

  • +1 for making me laugh -- "Imagine you have to read an English sentence written entirely in katakana..." :D – Eiríkr Útlendi Oct 29 '18 at 21:26
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Romanji is not used in Japan. The only exception is with typing and probably not in the way you expect.

With modern Japanese keyboards you can have two input methods, one is romanji based and the other is kana based. In the romanji input method, you "spell" the word out with latin characters and the computer is able to make suggestions about the kana / kanji you mean to use. In the kana input method, the keys correspond to different kana and you spell out words that way.

However, regardless of the input, the output on the screen is in Japanese characters. You might type out "watashi" using the romanji input method but on screen you'll see 私.

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    First off welcome to Japanese.SE. Two thoughts. (1) It's roma ji or if you will ro-ma ji ... there's no n. (ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%AD%E3%83%BC%E3%83%9E%E5%AD%97). (2) There's a lot of ways romaji is used n Japan even though it's not normally used for writing Japanese. – virmaior Oct 28 '18 at 2:49
  • @virmaior Could you comment on some of these ways romaji is used in Japan? Thanks! – flow2k Oct 28 '18 at 7:29
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    @flow2k depending on how we define use, it's used as a transcription system for writing words so foreigners can read them, on signs (for location names), in linguistics papers for transcription, for transcription of ainu and other languages, or more obscurely when an input system won't take Japanese input ? (all of this is off the cuff ...) – virmaior Oct 28 '18 at 7:52

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