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    Japanese lessons

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    Yoko-chan
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    Japanese lessons

    Post by Yoko-chan on Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:05 am

    Ok since my little brother is so eager to learn Japanese (just like myself), i thought it would be a good idea to learn together. So i'm going to post up here some lessons in order to finally be able to (maybe) have a little conversation in Japanese. Just for the record, i do not know Japanese; i'm also trying to learn at the same time. So let's get started!

    I. BASICS
    1. Vowel sounds


    The vowel sounds in Japanese are as follows:

    A as in "father"
    E as in "seven eleven"
    I as in "Easter treat"
    O as in "open, Pope"
    U as in "fruity moogle"

    You'll notice that the vowels are pronounced the similarly to Spanish, Italian, and Latin (and several other European languages)

    Pronunciation of these vowels is very consistant. There are no silent vowels (although sometimes the Japanese choose not to voice a vowel). Each vowel sound is pronounced distinctly.

    For example, the word

    kaeru

    would be pronounced "KAH eh roo". In English, you might want to pronounce it "KAY roo" or "KAY ruh".

    The vowels 'i' and 'u' are weak vowels. That means that many times they are not pronounced. The most important example is:

    desu (the u is silent - pronounced DESS)

    However, don't just go around dropping u's and i's. People will have no idea what you're saying.

    Consonant sounds are generally pronounced the same way as in English, but there are a few differences:

    R - Prounounced like a combination of 'L' and 'D', with a bit of 'R' mixed in. It's pretty close to how the R is pronounced in Spanish. (It isn't "trilled", however) In Spanish, an R sounds a lot like a 'D'. Consider this: Say "lu." Notice how you drag the tip of your tongue along the roof of your mouth. To say a Japanese R, just briefly touch the tip to that spot at the moment you say the consonant, and use a little more "punch" in your voice.

    F - You can pronounce it like an F, but often it sounds more like an 'H'.

    There is no accent in Japanese, meaning there is no emphasis on a particular part of a word. English and Spanish have accents, Japanese does not.

    Japanese does have pitch inflections, and this is their substitute for accents. For example, in English, we put stress on a certain part of a word to make it sound right and this is marked by an apostrophe-like symbol in the dictionary. In Japanese, they do not put stress on their words but raise the pitch of their voices instead. In Chinese, there are patterns to move between five different pitches to distinguish a word's meaning. In Japanese, there are only two pitches, but the only real way to grasp where to raise the pitch of your voice is from listening to Japanese speech and repeating it.


    See ya next time with the next lesson! Learn this one in the mean time!
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    Iru
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Iru on Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:46 pm

    How nice of you to have posted this, Yoko-chan.
    I fortunately don't have many difficulties with the pronounciation of words because it's exactly the same in portuguese, but it's hard to adapt if english.

    I would say that the R is the most difficult one. Taking Kaeru example, for example if you would like to say the Kah and not the kay, it's just like saying blah but with k. More a less like gah but with, you know, the k sound similar to hiss. Anyway, the e there's no mistake and the ru sound, the only thing I come up with his saying roo like you were to spit it or sneezing it. As Yoko-chan said, you don't roll it all but use the tip of your tongue to give a little tap on the top and naturally do the movement as you expel the air like you were spitting it. You would after moderate if ofc. It would be a good idea to listen to it first.

    But Yoko-chan, I'm afraid English doesn't have accents... I believe you mean Tonic syllables, as the stress you put in important is in the por and not, for example, the tant (sounds like french if so).

    Looking forward to next lesson~
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    TGM
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by TGM on Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:28 pm

    Thanks for posting . . but - is confused -
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    Iru
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Iru on Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:33 pm

    @ TGM Why so?
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    TGM
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by TGM on Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:07 pm

    @Iru I also want to learn Japanese like really badly , but I guess I just don't have the patience . .
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    Yoko-chan
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Yoko-chan on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:04 am

    @Iru-chan I also have no problems with the pronounciation as it's the same in Romanian also. Speaking of that, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian all kinda go around the same thing. Well they are all latin languages after all. It would be veeeery easy for you to learn Romanian for example, just as it was easy for me to learn Spanish just by watching TV. Very Happy
    Anywayz, yes, the R sound would be difficult for an English speaker, but if you listen to how it is pronounced, there shouldn't be major problems. And since everyone here is an anime lover, i'm pretty sure you know what me and Iru-chan mean with that sound.
    The lessons i'm posting here, i copyed them in my computer at some point when i was really trying to learn Japanese having more free time. The lessons were made by a British woman if i remember correctly. The accents part was reffering to putting stress on a certain syllable while in the dictionary being represented by an apostrophe-like symbol. Yeah, i think it would be a bit confusing. She wasn't reffering to accents as in French accents.
    I think this time, with your help, i'll actually get to learn as well! And that's because it's a lot more fun learning while interacting with other people sharing this interest. Very Happy So, thank you!!!

    @ TGM I have the same problem as you do. I just don't have patience to do anything! That is exactly why i think this kind of learning would work. First of all, because the lessons i'm posting are very easy to understand. The woman who wrote these things is a real genius if she even got me to read them. Then, because we'll learn together and like... brainstorm whenever there's something one of us doesn't understand. I'm not saying at the end of this we'll be able to speak Japanese like a native Japanese, but at least we'll have a basis to go on with. So what do you say? Give it a try? Very Happy
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    zero
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by zero on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:58 am

    wow you guys started this with out me??? ok well i learned alot from some of my friends and thanks so much for doing this yoko-chan!! its awesome

    ive learnt

    Awesome = Sogui

    yea = hai

    Ok or good = yoi

    and much more but im taking it slow


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    Yoko-chan
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Yoko-chan on Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:18 am

    Well i've started this because of you, little brother! Very Happy

    You have a little spelling mistake there. It is "sugoi". Very Happy
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    Iru
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Iru on Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:05 pm

    @ TGM You're not alone. I'm still starting for the alphabet first, I was actually trying to do a guide but on hiatus because I haven't been a good student, but anyway I can read japanese ok, the thing is I need to understand what they mean (lol). But it's actually not hard to learn the japanese alphabet (putting the kanji aside). I can actually post about it...

    @Yoko-chan Hehe, watching really does help a lot in learning. (chuckle) Yeah, it was hard to find a way to explain which kind of r sound you want, I only remembered of spitting the r. Yeah, I thought accents?, but then I saw what you mean, just mentioned it to make sure so one doesn't misunderstand.
    Oh (smile) that would be very nice. I'll do my best to help you, do you think I should post about the alphabet?

    @ Zero Ah, I have a thingy to mention because hai doesn't equal totally yes. I like to see it this way: paying attention + understand (passive speaker), and you can add an active factor, showing you are: paying attention + understand + confirm/agree (active speaker, functioning as confirmation, aka yes). There can be various translations, yes is indeed the one that fits the most though.
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Yoko-chan on Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:17 am

    Of course! It would be great! I only tryed once to learn to write, but couldn't keep that up. I need some free time daily in order to practice. Otherwise, there's no use... Maybe it will work this time.

    Ready for the next lesson? It's going to be a bit bigger than the first one, but it's very interesting, i can tell you that. I have to say this again: these lessons were made by a British woman and this is how she wrote everything and made me understand a few things. Smile


    2. Japanese word order


    The sentence order is very different from English. In English we use
    Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) but in Japanese it is usually
    Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) - observe:

      S V O
    ENGLISH I eat bread.
      S O V
    JAPANESE watashi pan tabemasu
    wa o

    Don't worry! It isn't as bad as it seems. You will get used to it.


    3. About the Japanese language

    Japanese is literally a unique language. Linguistics scholars have classified all modern languages into huge "families" that are related through their grammars and vocabularies. For instance, English and other familiar European languages such as French and Spanish are in the Indo-European family (English is in the Germanic branch, while French and Spanish are in the Italic branch). However, despite the breadth of modern linguistics categories, there are several holdout languages that simply do not have cognates in any other currently spoken language. These include Basque, Ainu, and Japanese.
    Thus, it is important to approach the learning of Japanese with this concept in mind: all the grammar you learned in school does not quite "map onto" Japanese. You probably learned that there are various main parts of speech-- nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs-- and that they can be
    arranged in certain combinations to impart certain meanings. You learned about subjects/predicates, gerunds, participles, and dependent clauses. Japanese has some of these grammatical structures, but not all. And it has some that do not exist in English.
    So it's not quite accurate to approach the learning of Japanese with the idea that you will learn how to deal with nouns, verbs, and adjectives first, then figure out how to construct phrases and clauses, etc. There just aren't exact analogs to all those grammatical concepts! So from the beginning, you have to toss out your idea of what an adjective is, and you have to toss out your preconceived notion of how phrases and clauses are connected to the subject of the sentence. This is no simple task-- these grammatical "rules" have been etched into our brains from the time we first picked up our native tongue as tiny children.
    [BTW, through studying Japanese, I have come to appreciate what a difficult job my Japanese
    teachers have. They have had to recategorize their own language so that it can be taught to Western students. Now that I know how grammatically different English and Japanese are, I see that it would be very hard to teach English to Japanese people. I wouldn't know how to break the language down into simple lessons that they could learn logically. The way I would break it down (ie, the way I learned English grammar as an English speaker) would be enormously confusing for them.]
    One thing you may have heard about "Asian languages" is that tonality of speech is crucially important. Westerners are routinely warned that mispronouncing a word could lead to a completely different (and possibly insulting!) meaning. This is indeed true, but perhaps not quite as dramatically as you've been warned.
    Like most Asian languages (and unlike most Western languages), Japanese does not use emphasis (stress) to mark accent. This gives the language its distinctive, rather "flat" sound-- even
    long words do not have a stressed syllable. However, Japanese does use pitch-- high and low-- to distinguish words. The pitch is applied to each syllable, not within a given syllable as it is in Chinese. For example, "ima" can mean "now" or "living room", the difference being the pitch between the two syllables, not the stress. In a few cases, you could get in trouble using the wrong pitch (and in any case you'd sound funny), but usually the context of the conversation will indicate what you mean. Overall, pitch isn't as big a deal in Japanese as it is made out to be.
    (Be glad you're not learning Mandarin-- in that case, two words that differ only by pitch are "buy" and "sell". Now that's an important difference! It could lead to serious stock market confusion).
    What other top-level differences are there? In a preview of coming chapters, here are a few.
    • Although Japanese verb placement is often different from that of English, I believe that far too much is made of this difference. Shifting the position of the verb really does not
    require much rearrangement of your fundamental thought processes. So don't sweat this part of Japanese-- trust me, you will have far greater problems than this in learning the language .

    • Moving up the scale of "things that are hard for the Western brain," Japanese uses postpositions instead of prepositions. That is, the things we call prepositions (like "in," "on," and "behind") actually come after the nouns they are linked to in Japanese. We would say "in the station" and the Japanese would say, "station in" (eki ni). This type of construction will make your brain go backwards to a far greater degree than the SOV word order, trust me.

    • More broadly, there is a difference in the "focus" of verbs between Japanese and Western languages. We are very concerned with temporal relations and have multiple verb forms to convey exactly what happened when. One of my favorite English verb forms is "will have been going." If you are a native English speaker, this is perfectly clear. Our minds effortlessly navigate all the relative temporal relations in that stack of four verbs.
    But in Japanese, such time-related details are harder to express. Verbs really aren't set up to convey that depth of meaning. However, Japanese verbs are set up to convey fine shades of emotion to a far greater degree than English verbs. We have to include a lot of adjectives and adverbs to get across details of people's feelings, while Japanese verbs often contain these subtleties already. One result of this is that Westerners make strange blunders in Japanese because they are unaware of which emotion the verb they have chosen conveys.
    • Probably the most subtle and challenging difference between our languages is that Japanese uses very few pronouns, preferring instead to simply eliminate references to people or other nouns that are already established. A related property is the tendency to treat actions indirectly-- it is far more common to say "it was decided that..." than to say "I decided to..." This at first seems vague-- how can you tell what anyone is talking about? But as you get into the language, you will see that Japanese is perfectly clear; it's just more subtle than English, and you have to work harder mentally to keep track of who is doing what to whom. (That's not because Japanese is intrinsically more complicated than English; it's because your mind is not properly trained to appreciate a language that doesn't use many pronouns). This issue is even more complex than word order, postpositions, or emotional overtones, and will probably take years to master.
    The result of these (and many other) differences is that, to a far greater degree than in European languages, errors are fatal. That is, if you use an incorrect form, you will not simply say
    something humorous, you will say something incomprehensible.
    Learning a foreign language can reconceptualize your view of your own native language. This is a specific example of the general principle that true understanding of anything requires viewing it from an outside perspective. You don't understand America until you have traveled in other parts of the world. You don't understand science until you have studied art, religion, and literature (and vice versa). Once you begin studying Japanese, you will see quirks of English (or whatever your native language is) that were hidden from you before. That in itself is an end, whether you end up mastering Japanese or not.

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    Iru
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Iru on Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:01 pm

    Ah, thank you for continuing posting, Yoko-chan, learn new things.

    So, if I may, I'll get started with the Japanese alphabet. The first thing you should be mindful is that japanese is a phonemic orthography and has 3 alphabets: kanji, hiragana and katakana. Now, you ask, why 3 alphabets? Let's first take a look at the origins.

    ORIGIN - Japan imported Kanji from China and the Kanamoji/Kana character (Hiragana and Katakana) eventually derived. If you have been curious and searched about this topic previously, you probably are scared of kanji. Even though being completely understandable (because it is true), kanji is not needed when speaking (in fact, all kanji are not mastered even if it’s a japanese) and can be written in Kana characters and kanji characters are generally accompanied by kana characters (always saw just hiragana) in small format for the correspondent pronunciation, as the kanamoji character (hiragana and katakana) is a syllabic alphabet.
    I'm not going into kanji (atleast for now), but basically, each kanji has a meaning and is equivalent to a word. By combining kanji, you create new words and indicate various meanings. On the other hand, each character from both hiragana and katakana alphabet does not have a meaning. The use of the 3 alphabets is only to make things easier to read. For example, direct copy from Wiki:«kanji is used for nouns, verb and adjective stems; hiragana to write inflected verb and adjective endings (okurigana), particles, native Japanese words, words where the kanji is considered too difficult to read or remember, and words in which the kanji is not on the government-sanctioned list of characters. Katakana are used for representing onomatopoeia, non-Japanese loanwords, the names of plants and animals (with exceptions), and for emphasis on certain words.» Example: Love (which turns into rabu) it's written in katakana as タブ.

    I'll write «baka» which means idiot/fool in japanese as I know it can be written in all 3. 馬鹿(kanji), ばか(hiragana), バカ(katakana). So, you ask me now how to distinguish them. Well, kanji is obvious, much more ellaborated. Then the difference between hiragana and katana. They are exactly the same in their content (kanamoji as I've said before), with both containing the same correspondent syllable to each character, but changing their shape. And that's where you distinguish hiragana from katakana: while hiragana is always curvy, katakana is a lot more sharp and a bit more simpler, as you can see in baka. There are, however, some exceptions where the kana character doesn't correspond to its sound.
    Here is the kanamoji table I made for the upcoming post (now bit down) about it. I organised it as I thought it would be easier, though I think it's not the conventional way, but I think there's no mistakes and I hope it's still helpful:
    k → g, s → z, t → d and h→ b or p (voiceless consonants to voiced consonants). It's even simpler, as you just have to remember the character for the voiceless consonant and then if you want the character for the correspondent voiced you just had the (han)dakuten (the little dots or the circle).

    There's actually another alphabet, Romaji, that's nothing more than using latin characters for the japanese, and I've been doing it on the thread.

    Now, how to learn. I'll be honest, I stopped doing it for a good deal of time but it works, I didn't dedicate a lot of time though but I fairly know hiragana: write the characters. Choose either hiragana or katakana, I went for the hiragana first, and write it. In Wiki shows how to write them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana. I think it would be better just one and not both Kana at the same time. Use hiragana/katakana and romaji. Start with the vowels, a with me (I didn't bother with the n because it was easy to remember). Always remember to write the romaji (do it, write an A) and write the hiragana character, あ, as many times until you are satisfied. Then switch to e. Do the same thing but before switching to i, repeat the process with both a and e. Example: ae あえ, ea えあ, until you are satisfied. Repeat the same chain process until u, and have fun creating things as writing oueiaa and writing the hiragana and also writing あおういいお and writing the romaji (aouiio). Have fun with it. Then, switch to the first consonant, that's the k, and do the exact same process, but this time feel free to add the vowels into it too. Something like kakuou or okaaiu. When you finish it, switch to the correspondent dakuon of that seion (btw I'm not really sure if it's fine adressing it this way, that is, just dakuon/seion, but anyway), in this case k → g. And then repeat the same process with both g's and k's and vowels, something like gaeokiku. Then switch to the next Seion consonant, the s and do the same thing, and play with all previous characters. Do it until you finish the table, were you can write something like warugakuesokoedeta. Concerning the yoon, not sure if you would want to include it while you are doing the seion and (han)dakuon, I would do it after, not really hard, just 3 main and then it's combining with the seion and (han)dakuon's i combination (the ki, mi, pi, etc). Repeat the process with the other remaining kana, that would be katakana for me.

    Another advise I would give is look and decipher raw manga, it helps you learning and memorizing the characters and identifying the different alphabets. Of course, it would be nice if we knew more vocabullary, but atleast you'll be able to learn the alphabet.

    Okay, that's it for now. I do need to practise the katakana. I hope that was helpful, I'll try to learn more things and pass it. (frown) I'm a bit bothered because I knew of a good site but I can't remember it... Anyway, feedback welcome.
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    Yoko-chan
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Yoko-chan on Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:08 am

    Oh i have to print the table and start reading everything all over again. My cold doesn't let me focus at the moment. I feel terrible!!! I'll get back on this one once i feel better. I must learn!!! Thanks a lot Iru-chan!!!
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    Re: Japanese lessons

    Post by Iru on Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:06 am

    (frown) Hope you get better soon, Yoko-chan! My pleasure (smile).

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