Author Topic: Is it 立直 or リーチ to mean riichi?  (Read 2059 times)

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Is it 立直 or リーチ to mean riichi?
« on: March 14, 2014, 02:06:34 pm »
Ever wondered why there are different ways to see the same word in Japanese? And how do you know which one to use when?

So did I... and I've been doing some rooting around, and bugging my friends in Japan like Emina Sato and Gemma Collinge (thanks guys, for your help!), and here's what I've learned so far...

To begin, Japanese, unlike English, has THREE different "alphabets" that they use in writing, divided into two systems.

The first system is kanji... an adopted system of ideograms from China, where each symbol represents an entire idea or word. There are thousands of such symbols, and from what I understand, if the symbol for a word is known, the writer uses that symbol to represent the word they wish to express.

The second system is kana, where each symbol represents a syllabary (or sound), and "words" are created by combining the symbols to sound out the word they are trying to express.

Kana is further divided into two sets of symbols.

Hirigana is the native syllabary system, used to sound out native Japanese words, and combined with kanji to express most of the sentences they wish to convey.

Katakana is the "sounds" syllabary, used to sound out foreign words, sound effects (onomatopoeias), or to express emphasis to Japanese declarations (in a manner similar to English using italics for emphasis).

Add to this collection of systems a fourth system: romanji... the use of the Roman alphabet for acronyms and computer input!

Imagine the poor Japanese children... instead of having to learn 24 letters of an alphabet in kindergarden, having to learn over one thousand kanji during six years of elementary school!

So, that brings us back to mahjong terms... and why you may see them written different ways.
上がりあがり or アガリagarīcomplete hand
麻將マージャンmājan   mahjong
立直リーチrīchī riichi

立直 and リーチ both mean riichi.

立直 is kanji, and conveys the written word "riichi", as in the name of the yaku or the game itself.
リーチ is katakana, and is used to emphasize that it refers to the oral declaration, as in when one announces "Riichi" aloud.

Agari, to complete the hand, can be written as kanji 上がり hirigana あがり or katakana アガリ. I've also seen agari as 和がり... but from what Emina tells me, that spells "wagari" not "agari" and so she's not sure how that compares to mean winning the hand.

Anyway... I could go on and on through all the mahjong terms, but this is enough for you to get the idea. It was curious to me, so I thought others may want to know as well.



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