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 Post subject: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Tue July 21st, 8:30 am 
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Lesson 1: Pronunciation and Greetings

Pronunciation


If you have studied Spanish, you ought to take to Japanese pronunciation easily.

A: Ah, as in "water"
E: Eh, as in "connect"
I: Ee, as in "free"
O: Oh, as in "throw"
U: Ooh, as in "tulip"

Double vowels are pronounced separately. For example, one word can be romanized "soo" or "sou". The double "o" does not make the "ooh" sound of English, but two "o" sounds. (Often, a double "o" is written as "ou" because that is how it is written in kana.)

R: Is a cross between the English "l" and "r". To make the sound, shape your lips to form the "r", but position your tongue to form the "l" and blow.

F: Is a softer sound than in English. Position your lips to form a "p" sound, but blow through them instead of pressing them together.

Emphasis always goes on the first syllable of the word unless otherwise indicated.

Often, the vowels at the end of a word (especially "desu") are whispered rather than spoken clearly. However, no letters in Japanese are silent. If you speak a letter clearly rather than whisper it, the worst that can happen is that you may speak with a dialect. (The women of Kyoto, for example, pronounce the full "u" of "desu".)

If we get a chance, we will practice pronunciation in voice chat.


Greetings

Ohayou gozaimasu. - Good morning.
This greeting is used before 10:00 AM.

Konnichi wa. - Good day/hello.
This greeting is generally used between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM, but to use it at a different time would not constitute a great breach of etiquette.

Konban wa. - Good afternoon/good evening.
This greeting is used after 10:00 AM.

Oyasumi nasai. - Good night.
This farewell is only used before going to bed. Literally, "konya wa" would also translate to "good night", but this is not a greeting.

Moshi moshi. - Hello when answering the telephone.
Literally, "hello with intent to start a conversation," so you can also use "moshi moshi" when attempting to catch a maiden's attention.

Ogenki desu ka? - How are you?
Literally, "are you healthy/energetic"?

Hai, genki desu. - Yes, I am well.
Literally "yes, I am healthy/energetic".

Iie, genki dewa arimasen. - No, I am not well.
Literally "no, I am not energetic".

Hajimemashite. - It is a pleasure to meet you for the first time.

Vocabulary: That you'll rarely use
At the end of each lesson, I will give three or so obscure vocabulary words. They will rarely come up in regular conversation, but they are such fun to know! You will not be expected to memorize these.

Fuafua – Onomatopoeia for the sound of something fluffy.
Garagara – Onomatopoeia for the sound of something rusty scraping.
Zuruzuru – Onomatopoeia for the sound of something being dragged.

Kansai Ben
Of all of Japanese dialects, the dialect of the Kansai region (which includes Osaka and Kyoto) is the most well-known. Often equated with a Culverian southern drawl, it is softer and less explosive than standard Japanese. It is the standard language of the Kyoto geisha, and fun to learn! I would like to include a word or two of Kansai Ben with each lesson as well, just for fun. You will not be expected to memorize these either.

Kansai ben: Okini.
Standard Japanese: Arigatou.
English: Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Tue July 21st, 8:33 am 
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Lesson 2: Forms of Address

Prefixes and suffixes


-san: Equivalent of Miss.

-sama: Much more formal than Miss.

-chan: Despite its similarity to the Estrenne –chen and –chei, -chan is a casual suffix. It expresses affection. One might use it for a relative or a very good friend--someone with whom you are on a first-name basis.

-chin/-tan/-pi/-pin: These are actually made-up suffixes adopted by schoolgirls to sound even cuter than –chan. –chin and –tan are the most commonly used. They are only appropriate for casual conversation.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Hello Kitty’s friend Keroppi? Her name, properly romanized Kero-pi, would literally translate to something like “Little Miss Ribbety”.

O- : A prefix used to indicate that something is important. It is not used for people.

Take a look at these O- words:
Onamae - Name
Obento - Lunchbox
Ocha – Tea

Even “Otoiretto” (toilet) gets the honourific O-, because it is an important household appliance.


Pronouns

Watashi: I
Watakushi: I, more formal.
Anata: You
Kanojo: She/her
Ano hito: That person

You may sometimes hear the words "kimi", "boku", "ore", and "kare" used. "Kimi" is a less formal, more masculine form of "anata". "Boku" and "ore" are pronouns used exclusively by masculi. "Kare" is "he". We will not need these words, but you will run across them in Japanese television shows, music, and literature.

It is more polite to address someone by her name instead of a pronoun, if possible.


What's your name?

Onamae wa? - What is your name?

Watakushi no namae wa ____. - My name is ____.

Vocabulary: That you'll rarely use
Fumibako: A traditional box for storing stationery.
Kamakurabori: A traditional chest for storing Buddhist altar fittings.
Suzuribako: A traditional box for storing an ink stick.

Kansai Ben
Kansai ben: -han
Standard Japanese: -san
English: Miss-


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Tue July 21st, 8:35 am 
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Lesson 3: More Conversation

Ohisashiburi desu ne!: I haven't seen you for ages!

Moshi moshi: Hello (When answering the telephone.)
* Moshi moshi is "hello with the intent to start a conversation". Therefore, you can also use it when trying to get the attention of someone you want to talk to.


Gomen: Sorry
Gomen nasai: I'm sorry
Hontou ni gomen nasai: I'm truly sorry
Sumimasen: I'm sorry
Sumimasen ga...: Excuse me, but...


Ano hito wa dare desu ka?: Who is that person?
Ano: That
Hito: Person
Dare: Who

Arigatou!: Thanks!
Arigatou gozaimasu!: Thank you!
Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!: Thank you very much!


Vocabulary: That you'll rarely use
Rinzu – Damask silk with patterns woven in.
Ro – Open-weave silk.
Sha – Gauze silk that appears to have lines in it.

Kansai Ben
Kansai ben: Honma
Standard Japanese: Hontou
English: True, truly, real


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Tue July 21st, 8:50 am 
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Lesson 4: What is it?

Nan desu ka?: What is it?
Kore wa nan desu ka?: What is this?
Sore wa nan desu ka?: What is that?
___ desu.: It's a ___.
Nan/nani: What
Kore: This
Sore: That

Neko: Cat
Inu: Dog
Uma: Horse
Kuma: Bear
Uchi: House
Hana: Flower
Enpitsu: Pencil
Kuruma: Car
Denwa: Telephone
Kase: Umbrella
Kaban: Bag or briefcase
Ki: Tree
Ringo: Apple
Yama: Mountain
Hon: Book

Vocabulary: That you'll rarely use
Hanao – The thongs on a pair of zori or geta.
Maruguke – A padded obijime.
Miyatsukuchi – The opening in the back of the sleeve of a woman’s kimono.

Kansai Ben
Kansai ben - Dekka
Standard Japanese - Desu ka
English - Is it?


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Wed July 22nd, 2:48 pm 
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At the moment I can't add anything except...Doumo arigato gozaimasu, Yu-chei!


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Wed July 22nd, 4:40 pm 
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It's wonderful of you to be pushing ahead so strongly with Japanese, Miss Yu. I know there are quite a few girls who are interested in picking up a bit more and I'm sure they'll benefit no end from this thread.

May I please tack on a few addenda?

Lesson 1:

Ordinary people say "ohayou gozaimasu" any time before ten or eleven in the morning, but theatrical people and other entertainers say it at whatever time of day they happen to meet for the first time, in acknowledgment of the fact that their profession requires them to keep different hours.

When you say "konnichiwa", try to pronounce both the "n" sounds. This actually seems to be one of the most common words that people who study Japanese mispronounce by accident, because they learned the slightly incorrect pronunciation before they studied Japanese. (Another is "Tokyo". Both the "o" sounds should be long, i.e. "Toukyou".)

I have never heard "moshi moshi" used to start a conversation in person rather than on the telephone. But I have quite commonly heard "sumimasen" (excuse me) or "ano", which is sort of a Japanese equivalent of "ah" or "er"!

Lesson 2:

The suffix "-sensei" is used to address not only professional teachers, but doctors and lawyers and any other older person whose knowledge you respect.

The "O-" prefix used often to be added to the names of servant girls and so on, as a less formal alternative to the suffix -san. For instance, a maid whose given name was Akiko would be called O-aki by her employers. You will encounter it if you read up-to-date Japanese novels; however, in the present day it is considered rustic and old-fashioned.

The best rule to remember about the "O-" or "Go-" prefix is that it is honorific language, so you must never use it to refer to yourself. You ask if someone else is "ogenki"; but you yourself are "genki". Someone else's family is their "gokazoku"; yours is your "kazoku". (No, there isn't an easy rule to tell whether something should have an "o-" before it or a "go-". I wish there were!)

"Toire" is a more common word for W.C. than "toiretto", but the traditional word, which is nicer, is "otearai".

"Atashi" is a less formal, exclusively feminine version of "watashi".

"Kimi" is indeed a less formal version of "anata", but I wouldn't call it specifically masculine. It is often used by men addressing girls, but that is because it can be used in a fond, informal way for anyone smaller or weaker than or junior to the person speaking. It would be quite in order, for instance, for a grown-up of either sex to call a blonde teenie "kimi".

A wife calls her husband or her brunette "anata". In Kansai-ben, they say "anta". It's a tremendously attractive word when pronounced a certain way.

"Kamakurabori" is a style of carving from Kamakura. Altar fittings might well be stored in chests adorned with such carvings, but it's not specific to them.

Lesson 3:

The three basic levels of apology, in ascending order, are "gomen nasai", "sumimasen" ("sumimahen" in Kansai-ben), and "moushiwake gozaimasen" ("gozaimahen"). The third one is important to know as well, just in case you do something frightful by mistake, or you want to apologise very deeply to someone for whom you have a great respect. Literally it means "there isn't an excuse" or "it's inexcusable".

"Ro" and "sha" are both words for silk gauze. The summer kimono made from that fabric and worn only during the months of June, July, and August, do indeed appear lined because of the open weave.

Lesson 4:

A mention of "kore" and "sore" isn't complete without "are". "Sore" and "are" both mean "that"; the difference is that "sore" is a nearby sort of "that", and "are" is a far-off "that". If "kore" is something you can reach out and touch, "sore" is across the room and "are" is outside.

With a slightly different kanji, "kuruma" can also mean "rickshaw".

The word for umbrella is spelled "kasa" rather than "kase".

The arm opening in a kimono is the "miyatsuguchi".


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Thu July 23rd, 2:10 pm 
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This is all extremely interesting. Thank you both. I've started to take notes! (Well- I've started copy-pasting.)

I'm particularly interested in the Kansai Ben dialect. It sounds like a very lovely way of talking. Do you think it would be very put-on and false to teach yourself a dialect, rather than the standard pronunciations?


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Thu July 23rd, 5:28 pm 
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Yes, Miss Leland, I do believe it would be very put-on and false. Tokyo people in particular would look down upon one. It would also be very difficult -- I understand that Japanese girls who become geisha in Kyoto (even girls who have grown up in Kyoto, but outside hanamachi) find it enormously challenging to learn the elegant Kyoto-ben that is expected of them.

I don't say I'm not madly tempted.


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Thu July 23rd, 5:38 pm 
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You are right, of course, Miss Elytis. I'll just have to enjoy listening to it.

(Every time I see the word hanamachi I think the word hamachi, and am for a moment very confused.)


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 Post subject: Re: Japanese lessons
PostPosted: Thu July 23rd, 6:12 pm 
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For your listening pleasure, I recommend the film Sasameyuki -- made after the Eclipse but set before it; about four sisters who speak Kansai-ben and live in the most gorgeous houses and wear the most gorgeous kimono -- and Japanese costume plays performed by the Takarazuka Revue.


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