Learn Japanese!

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Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Thu May 08, 2008 2:19 pm


Given the nature of shuushuu and the fact that many of us are already pursuing our own studies of Japanese, I figured a "learn Japanese" thread might be of some use. Although mastering the language will be far out of the scope of this thread, I hope to convey the basics such that one could take them and progress to the level they desire.

Learning Japanese, of course, means learning the written form as well. Yes, I intend to go over hiragana (46 characters), katakana (46), and some kanji (over 9000!). Honestly, from what I have heard, the normal college course will tell the students to master kana (hiragana and katakana) within one week or drop from the class. Hiragana and katakana are that essential. I can tell you from my own experience that most of my knowledge comes from after mastering kana, and they remain one of the most important tools I've obtained.

So, how will this work? I intend to write lessons in themes; the first being aisatsu (挨拶 - あいさつ), or greetings. Simultaneously, I will introduce the kana sets. Kana start being incorporated into the lessons one week after they are introduced, and romaji will be completely phased out after two weeks. Every few days (to a maximum of one week), I will (try to) post a new lesson. On occasion, advanced lessons on specific subjects might be done. If another person would like to submit a lesson of their own, I would greatly appreciate it. ^^

If there is an image with Japanese in it on the board, and it seems like it could serve as an interesting lesson, I will translate it here (or someone else can) and explain why it was translated how it was. Discussions on these translations will be open. ^^

If you need to, questions can be PMed (though I hardly check them), sent by MSN (iono.mito.arushurain@gmail.com), or preferably, via the e-shuushuu chat (see http://e-shuushuu.net/chat.php). I tend to be out most of the time, though. Otherwise, questions and comments should ideally be handled on a seperate thread to avoid too much clutter.

Finally, who am I to make this kind of thread? Well... just a normal person who was interested in learning Japanese, like many of you. I've never taken a class of Japanese, pretty much all of my knowledge is self-taught, and it's not perfect. I'm making this thread to strengthen my own understanding, learn more Japanese, and possibly teach a few people. :wink:

Well, that's enough explanation. On to the actual lesson!

挨拶等 - あいさつなど
Greetings, etc.

Some aisatsu and the like:
ohayou (gozaimasu) - good morning (gozaimasu is used here to be more polite)
konnichiwa - good afternoon
konbanwa - good evening
oyasumi (nasai) - good night (nasai is also used to be more polite) - used when going to sleep
sayo(u)nara - farewell - this has a deeper meaning than what a lot of people use it for (goodbye). Sayonara means that you and the person you're using it on will not see each other for a long period of time (or so you assume). The difference between sayonara and sayounara is slight, but I've heard sayounara is more polite.
yoroshiku (onegai shimasu) - (yoroshiku) this is a common word with multiple meanings. "Let's get along", "I will be in your care", even "Nice to meet you", etc. are common translations. A word you'll just 'get' as you study more. Onegai shimasu (please - in the meaning of asking a favor - more on this later) makes it more like, "Please take care of / look after me", etc.
omedetou - congratulations
arigatou (gozaimasu) - thank you (more polite)
dou itashimashite - you're welcome
gomen (nasai) - I'm sorry (more polite)
sumimasen - a catch-all phrase, can mean I'm sorry, thank you, excuse me, etc.
o-genki desu ka - how are you?/are you well? (more literal). The 'o' is honorific (for politeness), genki is well (health)/in 'good spirits', desu is desu (see below), ka is a particle used to indicate the sentence is a question.
Additionally, one can say genki desu (literally 'I am well') to indicate that they are well, or o-genki de to say stay/get well (when parting).
dou shimashita ka - what happened?
o-daiji ni - take care

Practical usage
Ohayou gozaimasu, watashi wa Fuwari to moushimasu. Nijuunisai desu.

Ohayou gozaimasu - good morning
watashi - I - most polite, neutral way of saying I; others will be introduced later
wa - topic marker, particle; let us translate this as 'am' for now
Fuwari - Fuwari
to moushimasu - ...I should have used 'desu'. orz
- Let us merely say this is 'called' (as in named)
Ni-juu-ni-sai - two - ten - two - years old
- when counting (under 100), only the ten main digits are used
- to express twenty, you would use two - ten (seen here)
- so, nijuuni = twenty-two.
- -sai is used here are 'years old'
desu - Ah, the copula just about everyone knows. Suiseiseki fans, rejoice.
- Essentially means 'to be'.

Full translation: "Good morning, I am called Fuwari. I am twenty-two years old."

A bit of jiko shoukai (自己紹介 - じこしょうかい), or self introduction there; what the next lesson will be about.

With the level of Japanese introduced thus far, we can't really have practice sentences. Expect them in the future, though. ^^

Also, I imagine most of you know the vocabulary introduced here. However, I think it would probably be best to start from the beginning. Things will eventually get more interesting for you guys, too. ^^

Now for the good part: kana!

Q: How does one study kana?
A: Rote memorization! I found it useful to write out some of the basic phrases I knew at the time. Writing out lyrics to songs you know, etc. would also be a good way to memorize them.

http://www.kanjisite.com/ has an excellent chart for the kana - both hiragana and katakana.
Wikipedia has excellent pages for reading their history as well as some basic charts: hiragana, katakana
(For those of you who have studied kana recently and have a site they'd like to recommend, please PM/IM/chat me the link(s) and I will update accordingly. ^^ )

Also, you only really need to study the 92 characters. I will slowly introduce and explain special cases as we progress through the lessons.

The other half of memorizing the written language: learning how to pronounce it!
Most of you should actually have this down due to frequent exposure to the language. For the rest of you, here are some links:
http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~best ... iation.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/geek/tetrisnom ... ation.html
Or just Google it.

So, how was the lesson? Suggestions, ideas, etc? Post away (in the comment thread, of course)!

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Gardenia » Fri May 09, 2008 1:21 am

This is awesome. Thanks, Fuwari, and good job!

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Fri May 09, 2008 9:02 pm

Sassoku daga, supesharu jugyou daiichi kaishi!
Kind of soon, but let's start special lesson number 1!

(Special lessons are meant for the more advanced amongst you; if you're following the normal lessons, don't worry about understanding everything here. Just take a look over it, because you will be able to do these naturally pretty soon as well. ^^ )

Required knowledge: Basic kana (this is meant as practice for those who are currently memorizing kana or have recently memorized them)

First, let's take a look at what Quenlin wrote:
Quenlin wrote: konnichiwa こんいちわ - good afternoon
Quenlin typed in konnichiwa directly. But, this is bad! Where are his mistakes? Try to find them before I give the answer! XD

Answer start
Well, what Quenlin has here is ko - n - i - chi - wa. First off, he's missing an 'n'. Why? Well, when you type in an 'n', the IME (input method editor; what you're using to type in Japanese) awaits a vowel, since almost every single consonant has a vowel partner. To close this open 'n', you either type in another consonant or 'n' again. By copying down konnichiwa, you type in the second 'n' and close it off and continue on with the rest of the word without realizing that you lost something there. Though it seems completely against common sense, you need to input three 'n's here. This is simply how the IME works, and unless you have a Japanese keyboard (or an Optimus Primus keyboard XD ), you'll have to simply remember this rule.
(There are more input rules that one must remember; for example, to get a づ or a ぢ, one cannot put in the Hepburn romanizations, that is, zu or ji. One has to use the Kunrei-shiki romanization for these, or du and di. Same goes for ぢゃ, ぢゅ, and ぢょ - dya, dyu, dyo. There might be more rules that I'm forgetting at the moment, but these are the major ones that come to mind.)
The second error Quenlin makes is even more common; in fact, many Japanese apparently make it (as revealed with a search on Google XD ). Konnichiwa is broken down as kon (now, this moment) - nichi (day; also sun, but irrelevant here) - wa (topic marker particle). Written as kanji, it is 今日は (also read as kyou wa, though irrelevant to this lesson). Konnichi(with the added wa) / kyou is a compound kanji phrase meaning 'today', and konnichiwa is used as 'good afternoon'. Notice how 'wa' is written as は, or 'ha'. Whenever 'wa' is used as a particle, it is written 'ha', including when writing down other words like konbanwa. This is not unique; 'e' is written へ 'he' and 'o'/'wo' is kind of ambiguous but is written as を 'wo'. Simply remember that when you're using the particle, use these alternate kana. You'll get used to it in no time. ^^

In conclusion: when typing in konnichiwa, type in ko - nn - ni - chi - ha.

Answer end

Now to get to the other part of this lesson, writing the vocabulary mentioned in the aisatsu lesson in kana. I'll mix them up, so try reading them; answers will be at the end. がんばれ! (ganbare!, go for it!) ^^

01. よろしくおねがいします
02. どうしましたか
03. すみません
04. こんばんは
05. おはようございます
06. おめでとうございます
07. さようなら
08. ありがとうございます
09. こんにちは
10. ごめんなさい
11. おだいじに
12. おやすみなさい
13. おげんきですか
14. どういたしまして

Answers start
01. yoroshiku onegaishimasu
02. dou shimashita ka
03. sumimasen
04. konbanwa
05. ohayou gozaimasu
06. omedetou gozaimasu
07. sayounara
08. arigatou gozaimasu
09. konnichiwa
10. gomen nasai
11. o-daiji ni
12. oyasumi nasai
13. o-genki desu ka
14. dou itashimashite

Answers end

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Mon May 26, 2008 7:03 pm

Uh... I do believe I said at most, a week. >_>;; However, I've been rather busy with work lately, so please forgive me. ごめんなさい、みんなさん。

With the amount of time that's passed... I'll assume the more studious of you should have the kana sets memorized. For the rest of you, there will be some gifts from Eva-san at the end of this lesson. ^^

自己紹介 - じこしょかい
Self introductions


As this is still the second lesson, I'll continue on with the romaji for now.

Ohayou gozaimasu, watashi wa Kinomoto Sakura desu. Jyuusai desu. Shigatsu tsuitachi umare, A-gata desu. Shumi wa dokusho desu. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

New vocabulary:
十歳/jyuusai - combination of ten and years; briefly went over in lesson one, will be further explained in a further lesson. Following from the previous lesson, means 10 years old.
四月/shigatsu - can be written as 4月, which should help you remember it. Shi is four, gatsu is the counter for months; simply, the fourth month of the year (April).
一日/tsuitachi - means "the first (of the month)". Normally, days follow the standard number - nichi; for example, nijuuni-nichi (nijuuni is twenty-two, from the previous lesson). However, the first ten days and the twentieth are pronounced specially. More on this later.
生まれ/umare - to be born.
四月一日生まれ/shigatsu tsuitachi umare - altogether, means 'born on April 1st'.
A型/A-gata - A is self-explanatory, gata is 'type'/'form', etc. Refers to A-type blood. It is common for the Japanese to give their blood-type as part of their self-introduction; best explained in a special lesson, methinks.
趣味/shumi - hobbies/etc.
読書/dokusho - reading; really, you can put whatever you'd like here. I chose a common hobby for the purposes of this lesson.

Altogether, this would read:
Good morning, I am Kinomoto Sakura. I am 10 years old. I was born on April 1st, and have A-type blood. My hobbies are reading. I look forward to working with you!

Other words and phrases of note:
自己 - one's self
(ご)紹介(しょうかい)/(go)shoukai - the 'shoukai' part of jiko shoukai. Introducing (oneself or others).
(お)名前(なまえ)/(o)namae - name. Simple enough, ne?
お名前(なまえ)は何(なん)ですか?/onamae wa nan desu ka? - The only word not gone over yet is 'nan' (alternate reading of 'nani'), which means 'what'. This phrase means, 'what is your name?'.
初(はじ)めまして/hajimemashite - This is typically translated as 'pleased to meet you' or similar, but it is important to know what it fully insinuates. The verb here, hajime, means 'beginning/first time'. This phrase literally means, "This is the first time we are meeting". So, do not use it on someone you already know.
(誰(だれ)か)をご紹介(しょうかい)します。/(dareka) wo goshoukai shimasu. - Literally, I will introduce [someone]. 'Let me introduce [someone]' would be a more natural translation. 'dare'/'dareka' is 'someone/somebody' (can also be 'who' when used properly). Shimasu is part of the verb 'shoukai' and will be detailed later.
こちらは(にぱ~)です。/kochira wa (nipa~) desu. - 'kochira' is 'this'. Nipa~ is me trying to think of something interesting to put in these blanks. ^^;; Translates to 'this is ...'. Example: こちらは桜(さくら)です。/kochira wa Sakura desu - this is Sakura.

Well, that's about it for the lesson. Study hard, be evil and whatnot. ^^;;

Oh, and gifts from Eva-san!

Remembering Kana, a book that guides the reader into learning hiragana and katakana in a structured manner; if you've been having problems learning the kana sets or simply need something to pace yourself, try it out. ^^ - http://www.mediafire.com/?kmymkmi3jjs

A kana test program, so that you can see if you really have learned the kana. - http://www.mediafire.com/?a4jlgt5ddzb

For the more advanced, adjectives; expand your vocabulary! - http://www.mediafire.com/?jw9rqlm9jsn

Special one time only bonus! With your gifts from Eva-san, you get some gifts from Quenlin!
Learn hiragana and katakana using mnemonics!
Hiragana here, katakana here!

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Mon Jun 23, 2008 8:39 pm

These posts keep getting further and further apart... I need to set some guidelines for myself or something. >_<

But, as everyone who has been following along should know the kana sets by now, let's go on to the first kanji you'll learn... the numbers!

数字 - すうじ

This is the easiest kanji you will ever learn:
一(いち) - one

Revel in its simplicity, for there are few like it. ^^

二(に) - two
三(さん) - three
四(よん、し) - four
五(ご) - five
六(ろく) - six
七(なな、しち) - seven
八(はち) - eight
九(きゅう、く) - nine
十(じゅう) - ten
百(ひゃく) - (one) hundred
千(せん) - (one) thousand
万(まん) - ten thousand
億(おく) - (one) hundred million

You'll notice a couple of odd things. There is no counter for one million. This is because Japanese bases its larger number counting on units of 10,000 rather than 1,000 - the norm for most English users (or at least American English). Also, a few numbers have multiple pronunciations. Usually, the first is used, but the second is also relatively common; mostly when used in compounds. Furthermore, there is the special Japanese way of pronouncing them that is rarely used, but still must be known for such things as some counters.

For example, person is 人(ひと). When you say there is one person, you use the kanjis 一 and 人 together to make 一人 - pronounced not as いちひと, but ひとり.

So, here are the special Japanese readings (with a basic counter on them, so you can also get a feel for how they're used):
一つ - ひと
二つ - ふた
三つ - っつ
四つ - っつ
五つ - いつ
六つ - っつ
七つ - なな
八つ - っつ
九つ - ここの
十 - とお

That counter does not go up to ten as far as I'm aware, but I think you should have a good enough idea of how they're used by now.

Also of note is 二十 - はた、 はつ.

As I've mentioned before, it's easy to make larger numbers in Japanese using the basic numbers. The number 22 is (2) units of 10 + 2, so it is 二十二(にじゅうに). 四十二(よんじゅうに) is (4) units of 10 + 2, or 42. 13 is ten + 3 or 十三(じゅうさん).

億千万(おくせんまん) (heard of this before? XD) is 100,000,000 + (1,000) units of 10,000, or 100,000,000 + 10,000,000 or 110,000,000. As you can see, smaller numbers are easier, but once you get into the really large numbers, it will take some getting used to.

Have fun, see how far you can count in Japanese, try translating random numbers; it's all good for practice.

On another note, what would be more interesting for the next lesson? I'm probably going to go over days of the week or other simple vocabulary before hitting grammar, but would it be better to do it the other way? Suggestions are very welcome. ^^

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:18 am

Small lesson today, hopefully I'll be able to motivate myself to write about more on days/weeks/years soon. ^^;;

七曜 - しちよう
The seven days of the week.

日曜日(にちようび) - Sunday
月曜日(げつようび) - Monday
火曜日(かようび) - Tuesday
水曜日(すいようび) - Wednesday
木曜日(もくようび) - Thursday
金曜日(きんようび) - Friday
土曜日(どようび) - Saturday

New kanji
曜(よう,てる) - literally, weekday. You can technically abbreviate the days of the week to 月曜(げつよう), 火曜(かよう), etc., but remember their full names.
月(つき,げつ,がつ) - moon
火(ひ,か) - fire
水(みず,すい) - water
木(き,もく,ぼく) - tree
金(きん,こん,かね) - gold
土(つち,ど) - earth

The seven days of the week are pretty easy, all you have to do is memorize them. A fun thing to note here is that every day ends in 曜日(ようび), only the first kanji is distinctive. The seven kanji are comprised of the five elements in Chinese philosophy, as well as sun (remember, 日 can mean sun or day) and moon.
You'll also notice that there are multiple readings provided in the "new kanji" list. I've mentioned a couple of times that there are multiple ways to read kanji; these are some of the more common ones.

There are usually 音読み(おんよみ) and 訓読み(くんよみ) readings. 音読み readings are typically those that are Chinese in origin, and are typically used in compounds. On the opposite end, 訓読み are typically those that are Japanese, and are typically used by themselves. For example, 火星(かせい - Mars): the individual kanji are 火(ひ - fire) and 星(ほし - star). ひ and ほし are the 訓読み, while かせい is the 音読み.

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Fuwari » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:40 pm

Let's, uh, ignore the 2 month gap since I last posted here.

月 - がつ
The months.

Most of the time, this is how you will see the twelve months.


Yes. They do correlate with our twelve months. Easy, right?
For the most part, that's all you need to know. However, you should be aware that there is a more traditional way of referring to the months.

睦月(むつき) - January
如月(きさらぎ) - February
弥生(やよい) - March
卯月(うづき) - April
皐月(さつき) - May
水無月(みなづき) - June
文月(ふみづき、ふづき) - July
葉月(はづき) - August
長月(ながつき) - September
神無月(かんなづき) - October
霜月(しもつき) - November
師走(しわす) - December

年 - とし

Traditionally, years are given relevant to the reign of the current emperor (there's actually another traditional method, but it is hardly used these days). They can also be done in the Western Christian era method we're more familiar with. The latter is easy, so let me introduce it first.


Yes, it's really that easy.

As for the other method, it involves writing the name of the current emperor (his name is Akihito, but the era he reigns over is called Heisei. When he dies, he will be posthumously renamed Emperor Heisei), followed by the year of their reign, then the kanji for year.

2008 = 平成20年(へいせい20ねん)

年月日 - ねんがっぴ

Writing the date is also simple. Just follow the kanji in 年月日 - year first, month second, day last.

今日は2008年10月2日 - Today is October 2nd, 2008.
Alternatively, you can write it completely in kanji if you want.

Lastly, I've been meaning to point this out ever since Quenlin posted it...
Quenlin wrote:ありがとう ございまそう ふわりーせんせい.
Putting aside the typo (ございます, not ございまそう), what I want to point out is ふわりーせんせい. (せんせい written in kanji is 先生, by the way). I can imagine a lot of people doing this, as they're used to seeing romaji of Fuwari-sensei, for example. But, this is wrong. The ー is only used for the elongation of a vowel. Romanizing ふわりーせんせい gives you Fuwariisensei. The correct way to say this would be ふわり先生.

This stems from the fact that -san, -chan, -shi, -sensei, etc. are well known, common words in Japanese, but not in English. An English person seeing them may not be able to distinguish them from the name that precedes them. For example, かなさん - Kanasan - Kana-san. If there was no - between Kana and san, many people might think the person's name is Kanasan rather than Kana.

So, just beware. =P

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by NyuChu77 » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:56 pm

Thanks Fuwari Sama~
One student from my school learned kanji. He wrote the word Bishoujo in kanji letters. :D
Pray to the stars~
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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by LokiXIII » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:05 pm

Wow, thanks for the post Fuwari -- been teaching myself some Japanese through the net. This is a huge help. Thanks for takin the time to post this :lol:

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by tyciol » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:52 pm

I love how over time when you just focus a bit on watching fansubs, phrases begin to seem more and more familiar. I think that may help when one finally attempts to study directly.

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Re: Learn Japanese!

Post by Gicchan » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:37 am

Ah! Sugoii nee! 0__o
Anata wa subarashii desu~!
Hontou ni arigato, Fuwari-san! :3

This is very useful for me! Arigato! :D

(x) sometimes the night is dark and stormy,
sometimes the ghosts of what you had run their fingers down a spine.

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