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Articles and resources related to Japanese language

  1. Dialogue 2

    9.2. Dialogue 2 In this dialogue, Shô meets two students from overseas. One is a boy from the U.S., and the other is a girl from China. しょう : はじめまして。 Romanization: Ha zi me ma si te . Structure: (nice to meet you, interjection) (continued) ぼくはすぎやましょうです。 Romanization: Bo ku wa Su gi ya ma Shô de su . Structure: (I, noun) (topic marker) (Sugiyama, a surname) (Shô, a given name) (is + polite, copula) His surname is one of the hundreds of thousands of surnames in Japan. The most popular ones are すずき "Suzuki", たかはし "Takahasi", さとう "Satô", and たなか "Tanaka". ビル : はじめまして。 Romanization: Ha zi...
  2. Dialogue 1

    9.1. Dialogue 1 I will explain Japanese grammar using dialogues from now on. In the first dialogue, a kid named しょう "Syô" comes home and he has a tea break with his mother ひろこ "Hiroko". しょう : ただいま。 Romanization: Ta da i ma . Structure: (I'm back, interjection) It's good manners to say this greeting when you are back. Its literal meaning is "just now", which came from "I came back just now", but its original meaning is not important. ひろこ : おかえり。 おやつがあるよ。 Romanization: O ka e ri . O ya tu ga a ru yo . Structure: (welcome back, interjection) (tea time snack, noun) (nominative marker)...
  3. Plants

    8.9. Plants 8.9.1. Flowers I have already explained chrysanthemum and cherry blossom. つつじ tu tu zi Japanese azalea ひまわり hi ma wa ri sunflower ゆり yu ri lily らん ra n orchid たんぽぽ ta n po po dandelion ばら ba ra rose あじさい a zi sa i hydrangea はす ha su lotus 8.9.2. Trees まつ ma tu pine すぎ su gi cedar いちょう i chô ginkgo もみじ mo mi zi a kind of maple かえで ka e de maple ひのき hi no ki Japanese cypress 8.9.3. Foods I have already introduced apples, oranges, peaches, plums, and tomatos. ぶどう bu dô grape かき ka ki persimmon Note: This word has different tones from oyster. なし na si...
  4. Invertebrates

    8.8. Invertebrates 8.8.1. Molluscs All of the molluscs listed here except snails are edible. (Escargots are not so popular in Japan.) たこ ta ko octopus いか i ka squid はまぐり ha ma gu ri clam あさり a sa ri short-necked clam For your interest: This is the most popular shellfish in Japan. しじみ si zi mi corbicula For your interest: Corbicula are small shellfish often used for miso soup. ほたて ho ta te scallop かき ka ki oyster Note: This word has a different accent from persimmon. The five words above are all かい /ka' i/ "kai" (shellfish). かたつむり ka ta tu mu ri snail 8.8.2. Crustaceans かに...
  5. Vertebrates

    8.7. Vertebrates 8.7.1. The Chinese zodiac You might have heard of the Chinese zodiac. Each year is associated to one of the twelve animals in Chinese custom, and it is used mainly for fortune-telling. Japanese people also know the twelve animals, whether they believe fortune-telling or not. You can calculate the animal of the year when you were born. The year 1996 is associated to the first animal rat, 1997 is to the ox, 1998 is to the tiger, and so on. I was born in 1970, the year of the dog. This order doesn't mean order of importance at all. OrderAnimal/speciesDescription 1ねずみ ne...
  6. Space-time

    8.6. Space-time 8.6.1. Directions All of the direction words in Japanese are nouns, while the English words up and down are not nouns. -うえ u e up, upper-ひだり hi da ri left-みぎ mi gi right-した si ta down, lower- まえうしる ma e forwardu si ro backward -きた ki ta north-にし ni si west-ひがし hi ga si east-みなみ mi na mi south- 8.6.2. Temporal nouns I have written that every noun in a Japanese sentence is marked by a postposition, but temporal nouns, which stand for time relative to now, are the exceptions. You don't have to add a postposition when you use them as an adverb. It is the same as in...
  7. Colors

    8.5. Colors First of all, please note that the colors you see on your computer screen are highly dependent on your particular system. Different systems often display different colors. The color files used here are adjusted for my system. 8.5.1. Basic color names All Japanese color names are nouns, but the six basic color names shown below have corresponding adjectives. The Japanese basic colors are a system based on color warmth/coolness and lightness/darkness. The adjective of a basic color is a combination of the color noun and the adjective suffix い "i". In this chart, the upper...
  8. Kinship

    8.4. Kinship 8.4.1. Kinship reference terms Japanese kinship terms have two categories: reference terms and address terms. The latter is used to call your family without using their name, like the English words dad and mom. Kinship reference terms are never used to call them directly. Kana:おや Romanization:o ya Meaning:parent Note: Another word ふぼ "hubo", which means father and mother, is also commonly used in formal situations. Kana:ちち Romanization:ti ti Meaning:father Note: The word ちちおや "titioya" is also commonly used. Kana:はは Romanization:ha ha Meaning:mother Note: The word ははおや...
  9. Body parts

    8.3. Body parts 8.3.1. Head Kana:あたま Romanization:a ta ma Meaning:head Kana:かお Romanization:ka o Meaning:face Kana:かお Romanization:ka o Meaning:face Kana:め Romanization:me Meaning:eye For your interest: In Japanese culture, the eyes are the most important part of the face. Japanese has many proverbs about eyes, and one of them says "the eye talks as much as the mouth does", which means you can express and read emotions through eyes. This is one reason why eyes of Japanese manga and animation characters are exaggerated. Kana:はな Romanization:ha na Meaning:nose For your interest: The...
  10. Demonstratives

    8.2. Demonstratives 8.2.1. Three locations Demonstratives are words to point something based on its location. "This" and "that" are English demonstratives. They can also be used to point something talked about in a conversation, such as "That's a nice idea." English demonstratives and similar words form pairs, one for things near to the speaker and the other for things far from the speaker, such as "this" and "that", "these" and "those", and "here" and "there". But this system is different from Japanese. If you know Spanish, it will help you learn the Japanese demonstratives. Spanish...
  11. Pronouns

    8.1. Pronouns You might think learning pronouns after learning verbs and adjectives is strange, because many language courses begin with the pronouns. But as far as Japanese is concerned, you don't have to learn pronouns first, because there is no grammatical difference between pronouns and common nouns in Japanese. There is more than one word to mean yourself, like you often have more than one word to mean other things. Here is a list of pronouns commonly used in Japanese textbooks. Remember cases are shown by postpositions, so there is no inflection of nouns and pronouns in Japanese....
  12. Questions

    7.9. Questions 7.9.1. Colloquial questions It is quite easy to ask a question in colloquial Japanese. Simply say a sentence with a raising pitch at the end. Kana:きょうはさむい。 Romanization:Kyô wa sa mu i . Structure:(noun, today) (topic marker) (adjective, is cold) Meaning:It is cold today. Kana:きょうはさむい? Romanization:Kyô wa sa mu I *1 ? Structure:(noun, today) (topic marker) (adjective, is cold) Meaning:Is it cold today? *1 It begins with a low pitch and ends with a high pitch, because of raising. You can say "It is cold today?" in English by simply raising tone at the end of the...
  13. Emotion markers

    7.8. Emotion markers 7.8.1. Sentence-final particles Japanese has several communication-oriented particles to clarify a speaker's intention. Let's call them emotion markers here. You have learned two other kinds of particles: case markers (postpositions), such as the nominative marker が "ga", and information markers, such as the topic marker は "wa". There are several other categories, but we focus on these three categories now. Their priority of combining nouns is clearly different. If a noun is followed by each one of the three categories of particles, a case marker is placed...
  14. Negative forms

    7.7. Negative forms 7.7.1. Negative forms of verbs First of all, I would like to explain the difference between verbs and adjectives in Japanese. You have learned that Japanese adjectives have inflection like verbs, but their ways of inflection are quite different; nonpast-form verbs end with "-u", while nonpast-form adjectives end with "-i". The reason why their inflections are different is that their purposes are different. Verbs basically represent action, and adjectives represent condition. When you say "he runs," you mean his action, and when you say "he is ill," you mean his...
  15. Relative clauses

    7.6.1. Relative clauses and verbs A relative clause has a main noun and an explanatory phrase that are combined in a grammatical way, and it has a base structure. For instance, "a picture that the artist drew" is a relative clause, where "picture" is a main noun and "the artist drew" is an explanation. Its base structure is the sentence "The artist drew a picture." In English, relative pronouns such as that and who are used. The way to make relative clauses in Japanese is quite easy. Kana:がかがえをかいた。 Romanization:Ga ka ga e o ka i ta . Structure:(noun, artist) (nominative marker) (noun,...
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