Japanese rules for writing your ABCs are surprisingly strict.

In Japanese writing, the order in which you write your characters is very important. Whether you’re learning the basic hiragana or the more complex kanji, correct stroke order is crucial; free styling is not an option.

I, however, only started learning Japanese when I was well out of elementary school, and so I write my Japanese with reckless abandon. As a result I have often been told, no matter how beautiful my finished product may be, “Hey, your stroke order is all wrong.”

So Japanese characters have a definitive stroke order, but what about the English alphabet? Is there a certain way that the letters have to be written? You might be inclined to say “of course not!” Take the letter “X” for example, and the viral post from last year about how many different and valid ways there are to write it.

Where are my fellow 7s at?

You might conclude that, as long as the letter is able to be read, it doesn’t really matter how to write it or what it looks like. However, this way of thinking might not get you very far in a Japanese classroom.

English teacher Hitomi Igarashi shared what she has learned to be the “correct Japanese way to write the alphabet” on her blog back in 2018, and it might surprise you.

Despite the roman alphabet not being native to Japan, there is a specific order and way to write every single letter. For students learning English at schools in Japan, should they choose to write the alphabet in a different way, they would likely be marked as incorrect, depending on the teacher.

So how well would you fare in a Japanese English class? See how far you can go with the following questions:

First up is capital A. Which one of these most resembles your A?

If you answered 2, sorry! You’ve fallen at the first hurdle! The answer is 1. Keep your middle line nice and low.

Next, how do you write your O? Where do you start writing it from?

The answer is 2! Hitomi added that you should write your O counter-clockwise.

Here’s the next question: G.

The correct answer here is 3. According to Hitomi, a student lost a point on an otherwise perfect test due to their G not being up to standard.

Are you still in the race? How about this one: lowercase a.

While I myself am definitely a 1 in this case, according to Hitomi-sensei and English teachers throughout Japan, the correct way is 2. The line in the a should be nice and straight.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s your last challenge! How do you write a lowercase k?

Are you ready for the answer?

The answer is 2.

While Hitomi’s blog post was originally made back in 2018, it has only recently been making the rounds online. Japanese netizens were frustrated at the seemingly strict system that Japanese schools have when teaching ABCs, and a lot of them were Japanese people who had experience studying abroad. 

“I graduated from an American high school and nobody cares about how to write. We are learning English for communication. Surely the focus should be on how to communicate with others and convey our feelings, especially for elementary school students.”
“I’d practiced the Japanese way of writing a lot, but I ended up being teased in my American school for the way I wrote my ABCs.”
“I went to university in the U.S., wrote my ABCs in my own way, and passed all my tests, lol!”
“The native English speaker at my school told me ‘There’s no stroke order! Write it how you want!'”
“Is it April 1st already? This is a joke, right?”
“I studied in the U.S. and I was told the ‘Japanese’ way of writing ‘k’ is wrong!”

Hitomi did conclude her blog post with this: “Honestly, any way you choose to write your alphabet is fine, as long as other people can read it. The only time that it’ll be a real issue is on the junior high school tests. Especially for younger students, it’s better to get it ‘right’ while they are still young, so they don’t lose any marks on their tests in the future.”

What do you think, readers? Should there be a uniform way for us to write the alphabet? And would you be able to get 100 points on a Japanese English test? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Twitter@JoJoJishoBruce, えいごハウス aplus via Kinisoku
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