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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lesson 3.5: Bigger & Better Things(with iPhone app!)

The world is an expensive place to live in nowadays, and Japan is known wordwide for being especially pricey. As you spend, spend, spend on all the wonderful things it has to offer, you may see your bill climb into the 10's of 1000's of 円, so be prepared with the knowledge of these high scale numbers; then you'll be able to recite them perfectly to the Japanese speaking friend who yanks  ¥20,000 from your travel budget to buy some ripped jeans from a Japanese Abercrombie & Fitch store

一万いちまん二万にまん三万さんまん四万よんまん五万ごまん六万ろくまん七万ななまん八万はちまん九万きゅうまん(Can't read it?)
[10000, 20000, 30000, 40000, 50000, 60000, 70000, 80000, 90000]

For those of you with money to burn or those intending a longer stay in Japan than most, these are the kinds of numbers you'll see in, say, jewelry places or the TV departments of electronic stores. You'll also come across them when you come across reports counting a larger town's populace, magazines showcasing higher end clothing or accessories, or happen to have accounts stuffed with cash. (note: to express 100,000, 十万 are used together.  It's also expressed like this [10万]on occasion, for space purposes and visual distinction, so keep sharp.)

[100000, 200000, 300000, 400000, 500000, 600000, 700000, 800000, 900000]

Before I go on to the sky high number ranges, allow me a brief detour in the lesson to say this:  the Japanese language has a multitude of different counters, some which count months, days, others that count animals, and even some specialty ones, like the ones they use to count wins and losses in sports. Some of these even have special words for certain numbers, such as the Japanese word for 20 year olds, 二十歳はたち, which is important enough to be given it's own holiday and celebration. Again, take your interests to heart and learn them all well so you can communicate what you want to express, whether it's how many pets, cars or anything else you happen to own more than one of(This will be revisited in a future post, for more thorough analysis and usage notes). For a brief view at some of them, please look here(It's pretty good stuff from Koichi).

Now then, getting back on track, these kinds of numbers, unless you happen to be connected to someone with sizable accounts, are the kinds you'll only see in reports involving larges amounts of people, money and any combination thereof(including how much someone has spent on taxes that year, which is how they measure someone's wealth in Japan). If you happen to be rich and reading this, maybe you could throw some of it my way?(note: like with 100,000,it's expressed in a combination, this time of 百万, and can also expressed like this[100万])

[1000000, 2000000, 3000000, 4000000, 5000000, 6000000, 7000000, 8000000, 9000000]

These are similar, but on a much larger scale, and often appear in business reports and other things expressing extravagant cost, such as reading about how much money companies lost during the tail end of Japan's bubble economy, where everyone lived in absolute excess, and who's ideals were, and perhaps still are often embodied by this woman. Like the others it's expressed in a combination of kanji, this time 千万

[10000000, 20000000, 30000000, 40000000, 50000000, 60000000, 70000000, 80000000, 90000000]

When these numbers appear  together(such as in 18,970,000), 万 appears at the smallest point of the numbers presented here . If I wished to express a figure like 7964001, for example, it would be presented like this:


I'm sure you can figure out how to say the more intricate numbers by this point(if you haven't, go back and study more). While there are higher numbers to learn, do you honestly think you'll even see the numbers 10000000, 100000000, and 1000000000 in English in your lifetime, much less Japanese? If you think you will-and with the way the world economy is turning, it might come in useful down the line- seek the appropriate study materials and learn them well.

As a last bit of information around numbers, the basic sentence formula used to say you'll *verb* x amount of something is this:


EX: 切符きっぷ2枚にまいいたよ
(I bought us 2 tickets)

Small side note, を is read as お when used as a particle; more on this later. Also, if you're ever stuck on which counter to use, go with the -つ counter; it covers everything the others don't. Please note that that particular counter only goes up to ten, after that you'd use 十一じゅういち and the other combination of numbers you've previously learned to express quantities of 11 or higher.

For a full review of the vocab you've picked up, point your browser here.

If you happen to have an iPhone, you can even practice the numbers on the go, thanks to this app.(by a language teaching friend of mine, JapanNewbie.)