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Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Is anybody on this board interested in learning a little Japanese? Teaching is one of the best ways of learning, so not only would it be beneficial to you but, as I'm studying Japanese at uni, it'd be beneficial to me as well. I'm not expecting anyone to consider this but it's worth a try haha

It'd pretty much work like this: I post a lesson (with various things to practice, links to flashcards I've made etc.) and if you have any questions you can just reply and I'll answer them. This'd pretty much be moving at a leisurely pace, you can stop if you get busy irl and start later or whatever and I'll still answer your questions.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I'd be interested.

Your Erudite joke was funny, should have kept it lol.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
"leisurely" haha

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I would like to learn Japanese

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Wow, two people already! Awesome, I'll get started soon.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Just so there aren't complications later on, are you guys able to see the following symbols (or do you just see squares)?

ぼくはオクトーバーです。日本。

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
I'd be interested. And no, I don't understand that sentence.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I asked if you were able to see the symbols, not whether you understood them. Some computers can't see foreign symbols and instead see every symbol as a square, so I was just checking whether the symbols showed up on your computer or not :) Of course I wouldn't expect you to understand those symbols already haha

If you were interested, it reads "I am October. Japan." which, of course, doesn't make sense. I only put those particular words there because it included characters from all three sets of Japanese symbols. I was worried one set might show up and another might not.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Yes I can see the symbols

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
Yes I can SEE the symbolas, which is what you asked. lol

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
haha symbolas...symbols* I will consider doing it.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Sure, as long as I don't start speaking Japanese in French class I don't see anything wrong with it. And yes, I can see the symbols.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
Yes, I can see them, lol.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I can see them.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so!

 

(sorry, I couldn't resist  )

 

BZ

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I took a few Japanese courses at a community college a few years back... but it turns out I only got high school credit for them, so if I want it to count towards my general education, I need to retake one of them next semester.  I don't remember much, and I'm kinda trippin' out on the timing of this thread, since I just found out I'm retaking it a few hours ago.

Anyway, I'm totally down.  And I can see the characters :)

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Really surprised at the number of people interested! Anyway, I'll get started now. Also, don't be overwhelmed! A lot of this is just background information to help you understand the key stuff (which I'll recap at the end).

Japanese Introduction

So this is going to be a basic introduction into Japanese - a quick overview of their "alphabet" and some common phrases. Originally I was going to include the common phrases in this post as well, but this post turned out to be longer than expected and I didn't want to scare everyone off haha, so common phrases (like "konnichiwa" and "sayoonara") come next!

1. The Japanese Writing System

The Japanese have three kinds of characters: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.

Hiragana and katakana symbols represents sounds, just like our alphabet. These sounds are called "kana". The difference between these characters and English characters, is that kana can only be made up of just a vowel sound (a, i, u, e, o) or of a consonant sound followed by a vowel sound (eg. ka, chi, su, ne, to). You can't get consonant sounds like g and s by themselves. You may have noticed Japanese companies like Mitsubishi and Toyota all end in vowels - this is why. There is one exception to this - the "n" kana - but we don't have to worry about that until later.

Kanji are Chinese characters which were introduced to Japan over 1500 years ago, when the Japanese language didn't have a writing system. Kanji represent both meanings and sounds, and possess multiple meanings. Unlike hiragana and katakana, they're confusing as hell, but we'll be learning them at a very slow pace. By the time a Japanese student graduates high school they are expected to know 2,136 kanji (though you only need about 500 to read 75% of what you see in a Japanese newspaper). Don't be alarmed, I only know 45 of them myself so far so it's not like you need to know them all.

There is also romaji, which is pretty much Japanese, but written in English characters. So October in katakana would be オクトーバー, and in romaji it would be "okutoobaa". Basically it's Japanese but without all the symbols.

So why do the Japanese have three separate sets of characters? Hirigana and katakana are exactly the same, only with different symbols (many of which look similar anyway). Now that may sound stupid, but remember in English we have capital letters and lower-case letters which both represent the same sounds, so it's not too far-fetched. Later on, you'll learn where each set of symbols is appropriately used in a sentence but that's still ages away - for now, we'll write everything in romaji and hiragana.

Also worth mentioning is pronunciation. Here's a look at how screwed up the English language is:

Now, what's awesome about Japanese is that it's easy to know how to pronounce things - none of what you saw in the above picture happens with this language. There are five main sounds - a, i, u, e and o. All kana are based off this (eg. "ka, ki, ku, ke, ko"; "ma, mi, mu, me, mo").

A is always pronounced like the word "ah".

I is always pronounced like "ee".

U is always pronounced like "oo".

E is always pronounced like the e in egg.

O is always pronounced like the o in orange.

You can listen to little audio clips of the kana here if you want. Basically, all you have to do is make the consonant sound, followed by the vowel sound and wa-la, you can pronounce things all Japanese-like.

The Important Stuff:

  • There are three kinds of Japanese characters.
  • Hirigana and katakana represent sounds, while kanji represents both meanings and sounds.
  • Romaji is Japanese written in English characters.
  • The pronunciation of kana (ie. you take the consonant and add the vowel sound to the end).


Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Although given the time zone differences this is unlikely, but will we be doing any sort verbal conversations in japanese? Or will this all mainly be learning to read and write.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Conversing in Japanese definitely helps the learning process. I'd be happy to get Skype or something for anyone who wants to try conversation in Japanese. Similarly, you could try conversation with each other if you wanted.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

As for the stuff on the forums though, yeah it's pretty tricky to include pronunciation and all that. Like, there's some things that you'll only pick up on if you hear the language, like "desu" is sometimes said kind of like dess (like if you said desu everyone would still understand you, but most Japanese speak quickly and that's just the way it comes out), same with words ending in "masu" being pronounced like ~mass (that'd mah-ss, Japanese 'a').

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Oh actually - what I just found was this: the textbook that we've been using at university has a CD at the back of it with lots of audio clips, and this blog (as far as I can tell) has 4 download links containing all the audio files on the CD. So if you're interested in pronunciation and verbal Japanese, click here. Whenever I post something, I'll say which audio file is relevant to what I'm writing.

Also, if you want, you can try to find the actual textbook that the CD comes from (the one I've been learning from, it's called GENKI 1 - An Integrated Course In Elementary Japanese) and download that. When I was/am learning at uni, there's a lecture that covers the areas in the book that we're up to, then tutorials and seminars etc, so if you wanted to treat these posts as lectures and then learn using the book that would work. Alternatively, you could teach yourself from the book and then just ask me questions, ignoring the posts. Entirely up to you.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
I think this should be a sticky post, (im not sure if everyone knows what i mean by that... its basically a locked post that is nothing but information) and i would like your skype idea to work out, im fully ready to learn japanese and the easiest way i learn is to be verbally told, please add me on skype when you get the chance my email is [email protected] and username would be niniasukami as well, my name is Kelly (Meriko) on skype, ill save the reason why Meriko is in parentheses. I hope to talk to you more on my skype <3

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Yeah, I would definatley like to learn Japanese. Currently, I only know a few words, all learned from reading manga and watching anime.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Awesome! I wasn't sure if anyone was still reading this thread haha. I'll put up some vocabulary tomorrow but if you're interested there's a lesson on how their writing system works a few posts above this (in case you didn't see it).

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Is it tommorow yet?

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Hahaha, completely forgot.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

2: Vocabulary (audio: K00-G)

The following expressions are commonly used in Japan. Don't worry about the hiragana on the left just yet, it's just there so when you learn the symbols you can go back and see them in action.

 

おはよう。 ohayoo. Good morning.
おはようございます。 ohayoo gozaimasu. Good morning (polite/formal).
こんにちは。 konnichiwa. Good afternoon.
こんばんは。 konbanwa. Good evening.
さようなら。 sayoonara. Goodbye.
おやすみ(なさい)。 oyasumi (nasai). Goodnight.
ありがとう。 arigatoo. Thank you.
ありがとうございます。 arigatoo gozaimasu. Thank you (polite/formal).
すみません。 sumimasen. Excuse me. / I'm sorry.
いいえ。 iie. No. / Not at all.
いってきます。 ittekimasu. I'll go and come back.
いってらっしゃい。 itterasshai. Please go and come back.
ただいま。 tadaima. I'm home.
おかえり(なさい)。 okaeri (nasai). Welcome home.
いただきます。 itadakimasu. Thank you for the meal (before eating).
ごちそうさま(でした)。 gochisoosama (deshita). Thank you for the meal (after eating).
はじめまして。 hajimemashite. How do you do?
よろしくおねがいします。 yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Nice to meet you.

 

As you can see, the greeting you will typically use in Japan is dependent on the time of day. Ohayoo is used before midday, konnichiwa is used during the day and afternoon, and konbanwa is used during the evening and night.

You may have noticed that gozaimasu has been attached to the end of a couple of words. This is a more polite way of saying the said word. Generally, if you're talking to people you don't know very well, figures of authority (like policemen, teachers) or strangers you'll include gozaimasu. If you're good friends with someone and you're speaking casually, it's usually not required.

Sumimasen can mean either "excuse me" or "sorry" in Japanese (like if you step on someone's foot on the train by mistake you would say "sumimasen!").

Iie can either be a simple "no", or it can be a way of accepting thanks or an apology. If somebody says thank you, you could say "iie" back, which would be like saying "you're welcome" or "it's no big deal". If somebody stepped on your toes by accident and said "sumimasen!", you could reply with "iie," which would mean "don't worry" or "that's okay" or anything along those lines.

Ittekimasu is said when you're leaving your home for the day. If you were leaving to go to work, for example, you would say this. Itterasshai is how family members respond.

The Japanese are very polite people. Generally, you thank the host/cook for the meal before eating and after eating.

3. Further Pronunciation

You know how to pronounce all the Japanese syllables now, but what happens when you have combinations? It's quite simple, really. If you have two o's next to each other in the romaji, it's basically holding the "o" sound for a bit longer than usual. Same goes with two "i" or "a" sounds. These extended sounds are written a little differently in hiragana, but you don't have to worry about that yet.

If you have an "ai" sound, like in yoroshiku onegaishimasu, it's pronounced like the "i" in ice cream. If you sound out the Japanese kana "a" and "i", it will roughly make this sound anyway.

If there's a double consonant sound, like in konnichiwa, you should emphasise this. It's not KO-NI-CHI-WA, it would be KON-NI-CHI-WA. In ittekimasu it would be IT-TE-KI-MA-SU, not I-TE-KI-MA-SU.

I would really recommend downloading the audio CD I mentioned a few posts up (you can find it on the internet for free) to listen for pronunciation, as there's some things that you'll only pick up on by listening to Japanese speech (like for the first month of speaking Japanese, I would pronounce "~masu" as mah-soo, as opposed to the shortened "mahss" sound that most Japanese speakers use (there's nothing wrong with the first pronunciation at all by the way, like it'd still be understanded by Japanese speakers, it'd just sound a little weird).

* * *

Practice:

What would you say in these scenarios?

1. You meet your host family for the first time. Greet them.

2. You greet your teacher when you arrive to your first class at school.

3. You greet your friends when you arrive to your first class at school.

4. You accidentally bump into somebody while walking down a busy street.

5. You ask a stranger how to get to a certain location and they give you directions.

6. You happen to see your teacher in a grocery store in the evening.

7. You are going to bed for the night. What do you say to your host family?

8. You've just finished your meal. What do you say to your host?

9. You return home after work.

10. Your host father leaves for work in the morning and says "ittekimasu". How do you respond?

Okay - I just found out you have to make an account on that flashcard website if you want to see any of the flashcards I've made. You can do that if you want, or alternatively you can make your own flashcards (or just not use them at all!). If you're interested, the link is http://www.flashcardmachine.com/quiz/?topic_id=1746833, and there should be an option called "Quiz Me", which gives you a multiple-choice quiz on the vocabulary. Do this as many times as you like. One way I liked to learn vocabulary was to do the quiz again and again until I got everything right - I memorised the expressions really quickly that way. You might want to do things differently, it's up to you.

So part 4 of this introduction will just be some expression/culture-related stuff (nothing too big). Then after that we'll head into Lesson 1 and start learning some hirigana and sentence construction!

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
You need to make the cards public, or share them with me. I get this error:
 

"We have encountered an error

Permission Denied: You are not the owner of this set and it is not shared."

 

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Try again now.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Hang on - there's a read only link that doesn't require registration (if there's anyone else who didn't want to have to register):

http://www.flashcardmachine.com/1746833/7a4n

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I'm havign too much trouble in French right now to focus on two seperate languages, sorry

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

I thought Americans had to learned Spanish rather than French? Or are you doing it by choice?

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

My mum learned French when she was in high school in St. Louis (she's not American but she was over there for a few years), yet friends of the family from Los Angeles have their kids learn Spanish. I'm guessing it's just proximity to Mexico or French Canada that determines what language is more readily available? (That, and I'm guessing many schools have options of languages too.)

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Hey, I'm from St. Louis and I took French there, too. Thanks for going to the trouble to do all this; was an interesting read. Is Japanese a tonal language like Mandarin and Thai, in that one word could mean 4 or 5 different things depending on how you accent it? I remember in Thai the same word that means beautiful also means shit if you say it a different way.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago

Didn't see this, sorry!

Unfortunately, I've only just switched over to linguistics from journalism (semester 1 starts in two weeks) so don't quote me on this answer haha. There are words that sound similar in Japanese - obaasan means grandmother and obasan means aunt, so if you don't hold the "a" sound you might be calling your aunt your grandmother by mistake. That example uses two separate (yet very similar) words though, not one word with different accents like in Thai, so yeah by that definition Japanese is not a tonal language.

Japanese Lessons

10 years ago
Anyone wanna learn chinese.

http://mangeorge.man.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/learn_chinese_in_5_minutes.png