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Monday, September 27, 2010

Lesson 3.2: Being Specific

If you've ever asked someone for directions when you have no clue what the place looks like, you'd probably get super pissed when they just point to something in the distance and say "Over there". Since I'm assuming you'll want a better understanding of your path, the knowledge of what it is in Japanese will be needed. To start, let's work on your general sense of presence:

まえ(Can't read it?)






If it helps, look around and point out each place in Japanese so it better sticks(or if you have a box, write the different directions on it). On the off chance, someone ever asks you for some directions, one helpful phrase may be:

[(direction) of the (place)]

So if you want to tell a friend you're in front of the McDonald's, you can say "マクドナルドの前"At times, however, there may be other words that may help you find the right distance between you and your desired destination:


[across the street]




[nearby(meaning you can see it, but not quite touch it yet)]

[right near(as in close enough to touch, or taze)]

[next to something different(like a piece of pizza near a small tub of ranch)]

[neighboring something similar(1 house near another, 1 seat near another, etc )]

間 is used when describing when a location is between two others. Take for example this sentence:

[(place)is between the museum and the station]

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lesson 3.1: Finding Your Way 'Round

Although everyone knows what happens when you assume, I'm sure many of you reading this many want to visit the island nation at some point in your lives so you can apply your knowledge of the language and culture, regardless of how much or how little you know. If you've ever traveled some place unfamiliar, like, say, a restaurant your friend said you gotta try that's tucked away among a mass of grey brick boxes and neon, you'll soon realize that a key piece of knowledge is how to ask for directions; for a place with as many grey brick boxes and neon as the cities of Japan, this is especially important to have with you.

Travel guides and phrase books do help, but I wouldn't rely too heavily on them, as they can and will get lost in the shuffle of going place to place to try and fit in as much as one trip allows. So if wanna you know which way leads to what you wanna see, set your pride aside, humble up and get ready to ask some directions. When the time comes, find someone friendly looking(gut instincts should be trusted on this part), approach and say the following:

失礼しつれいしますが 。。。(Can't read it?)
(Excuse me, but...)

To indicate you're looking for help, follow it up with this phrase:

(Could you lend me a hand with something?)
[Note: you can also use けて by itself to request assistance, such as when you see someone suddenly having a seizure/choking/going through other tough stuff, and need immediate help]

If you're not lucky, they won't know enough English/have the time to help you out and will either wave their hand in front of their face (like this) or say something among the lines of むずかしいけど。(It's a bit tough for me) or いそがしいけど。(I'm busy right now), or anything else, really, before they move on, implying that you gotta keep it moving and find someone else.

However, if they don't turn you down, ask one of the following:

 "(place) はどこですか。[note: since はis used as a particle in this instance, it's pronounced like 'わ'. More on this later]"
(where is [place]?)


[where is (place) at?]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lesson 2.5:促音(そくおん)Sokuon

In learning about Japan you've undoubtedly come across things and places with a double vowel in their name(One famous example being Hokkaido). How is that rendered in 仮名(Can't read it?), you may ask? With the help of a small つ 仮名, the term for it being 促音. It signifies a brief pause in speech while saying the word(Much like in the English words Poppa or Rabbit)-the technical term being a Germinate Consonant;the more proficient you are at speaking Japanese, the briefer it'll be  Let's take the name for an archetype in most anime-type stories as an example of how it's written:


*what a female is named, when they have a tough outer shell, but a tender inner being, closer to when we call a tough looking person a big softie*

It'll sound different depending on what 仮名 follows it(such as in the words 出席しゅっせき-the word for attendance-& ばっちり- used to express when something is done right or is right on the money), but the general principle is the same

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lesson 2.4: 拗音(ようおん) & 長音符 (ちょうおんぶ) Youon & Extended Vowels

Up to now I've been teaching that each 仮名かな(Can't read it?)is given it's own distinct voicing and intonation. In addition to that, a small や, ゆ, or よ-this usage being called a 拗音-proceeding a 仮名 signifies a whole new kind of sound. To show what I mean let's take the reading of two 仮名, き and よ and say them at regular speed. Now remove the pause and read this: きょ. Now you can say the other 拗音 仮名 without a hitch(if you feel it's not right, say it faster until it does). 

The 仮名 that utilize 拗音 would be き, ひ(including when either or  are applied to it),み,り,し(including when is applied to it)&ち. し. じ &ち are quite distinctive in that when paired with either 拗音 or a small え 仮名 they produce a whole new sound-those being しゃ(sha)しゅ(shu)しぇ(she)しょ(sho), じゃ(ja)じゅ(ju)じぇ(je)じょ(jo) & ちゃ(cha)ちゅ(chu)ちぇ(che)ちょ(cho). 

For futher assistance, here's a handy chart to the initial sounds and the brand new sounds