The Japanese dictionary order is a, ka, sa, ta, na, ha, ma, ya, ra, wa, n.
I’ve been studying Japanese for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned the above dictionary order for the Japanese syllabary. The main reason for this is that I mostly use an electronic dictionary to look up words. With an electronic dictionary I can just mindlessly type the word in and it will show me the results instantly. There’s no need to learn the dictionary order for this.
A couple months ago I bought a paper dictionary because I found that my electronic dictionary gave insufficient or no definitions for certain advanced terms I was looking up. My electronic dictionary was good for most things, but I needed something to supplement it for those times when I came across a tricky word.
I quickly found out that looking things up in a Japanese dictionary can be slow work if you don’t know the dictionary order (an issue that is starting to come up in my Pali study too). I knew generally that “ka”, “sa” and “ta” were near the beginning and “ra” was near the end, but I didn’t have the exact order memorized. I had to guess each time I opened the paper dictionary up.
I wanted to speed up my lookups so I invented a little mnemonic device to help me memorize the Japanese dictionary order (and keep me cognizant of the plight of teachers everywhere). Here it is:
Here is the order in chart form:
Once more the mnemonic device is:
After a couple of days repeating this mantra every time I did a lookup, it became second nature. Now I’m a Japanese dictionary pro!
Do you have any mnemonic devices that you use to remember the dictionary order of the language you’re studying? Tell me about it in the comments!