Tag Archives: japanese language

Animals Quiz

25 Sep

Here are the names of some common animals in Japanese. Do you know what animals they are?

Take this easy, multiple-choice quiz.

After you take the quiz, leave a comment on this post to tell me how you did. Also, tell me what you thought of the quiz (Too easy? Too difficult?), and how you knew the answers that you got right (Lucky guess? You study Japanese?).

Thanks.
Here’s the quiz:

(Also, if you liked this quiz, I have another similar one, here.)

Review & Giveaway 20: More Making Out In Japanese

13 Aug

Here’s another review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As always, they have agreed to give (gave) one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations – A Japanese Phrase Book” by Todd Geers and Erika Hoburg; revised by Elisha Geers.

More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations - A Japanese Phrase Book

More Making Out in Japanese:  A Japanese Phrase Book

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

This is a Japanese language phrase book mainly aimed at people looking to hook up romantically with a Japanese person, either short-term or even possibly long-term.

Most of the language and phrases in it are extremely casual…and some are even vulgar. So, it’s not particularly useful as a standard phrase book / study guide.

Though it’s best to stick to speaking polite Japanese in almost all cases…especially if you’re not really strong with the Japanese language – but there are some situations where this type of language is more appropriate…but, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and use “standard” polite language.

More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations – A Japanese Phrase Book” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give (gave) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:

***** Updated August 31st, 2015 *****

This special promo ended on 2015 August 31st. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

Review & Giveaway 19: Mastering Japanese Kanji

11 Aug

Yet another review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As always, they have agreed to give (gave) one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)” by Glen Nolan Grant.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

The written Japanese language has three scripts: hiragana and katakana (collectively known as “kana“) and thousands of kanji.

The script that is taught in this book is kanji. These are the characters that make up most of the Japanese written language. They were introduced to Japan from China. The Chinese written language uses these characters (albeit often a bit different from Japanese ones), but because Japanese grammar is quite different from Chinese, kana characters are needed in addition to kanji to write Japanese.

These characters are the most difficult to learn because there are so many of them, they are often complicated to write, and almost all have more than one possible pronunciation.

But, if you can read kanji, it helps a lot if you live in, or even visit, Japan!

If you’re serious about learning Japanese, you should begin studying kanji after you learn hiragana and katakana.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters” is an excellent tool for studying Japanese kanji.
It tells the most common pronunciation for 200 common kanji characters, the English meaning, gives examples of compound words with that character, and example sentences.
It also tells how to write each character properly and has spaces to practice. There are quizzes throughout the book to test you comprehension (with the answers at the back of the book).
In addition, there is a free CD-ROM included that demonstrates how to write the characters and how to pronounce words using the characters.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give (gave) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:

***** Updated August 31st, 2015 *****

This special promo ended on 2015 August 31st. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

Review & Giveaway 18: Writing Japanese Katakana

9 Aug

Here’s another review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As usual, they have agreed to give (gave) one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Writing Japanese Katakana (An Introductory Japanese Language Workbook)” by Jim Gleeson.

Writing Japanese Katakana (An Introductory Japanese Language Workbook)

Writing Japanese Katakana (An Introductory Japanese Language Workbook)

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

The written Japanese language has three scripts: hiragana and katakana (collectively known as “kana“) and thousands of kanji.

The script that is taught in this book is katakana. This script is mainly used for writing foreign words (such as English), onomatopoeic words and also it’s used for emphasis (in a similar way that italics are used in English).

I’d recommend learning hiragana before katakana, just as Japanese children do…so, if you don’t already know hiragana, there’s still time to enter the drawing for the free copy of the (a) hiragana study book in this series. (Click here)

Writing Japanese Katakana (An Introductory Japanese Language Workbook)” is a good book for those who wish to learn Japanese. When studying Japanese, you should start by learning to read and write hiragana…and then, you should study katakana next.
Not only will it help you to be able to read signs, menus, etc in Japan…but knowing and using katakana will help you to pronounce foreign words and onomatopoeia in the way that Japanese people understand them.

This book has plenty of spaces for you to practice writing the katakana characters as you learn them…which is the best way to remember them.
It also has you write some example sentences using the characters you’ve learned up to that point.

Writing Japanese Katakana (An Introductory Japanese Language Workbook)” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give (gave) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:

***** Updated August 31st, 2015 *****

This special promo ended on 2015 August 31st. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

Study Japanese with Japan Times

18 Mar

The Japan Times newspaper has a regular feature that teaches grammar and/or phrases of the Japanese language.

This is from their site (here) the day before yesterday:

Learn ‘nantoka’ any way you can

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Chikatetsu-de ikeba, nantoka maniai-sō-desu. (If I take the subway, I’ll only just make it in time.)
Situation 1: Ms. Shiba is speaking on the phone with her colleague, Mr. Tian, who is on his way to a client’s office.

芝: 今、JRがかなり遅れているみたいですから、他のルートで行ったほうがいいですよ。時間、大丈夫ですか。

ティエン: かなり大回りになるけど、地下鉄で行けば、何とか間に合いそうです。

Shiba: Ima, JR-ga kanari okurete-iru-mitai-desu-kara, hoka-no rūto-de itta hō-ga ii-desu-yo. Jikan, daijōbu-deshō-ka.

Tian: Kanari ōmawari-ni naru-kedo, chikatetsu-de ikeba, nantoka maniai-sō-desu.

Shiba: The JR-line train seems to be late. So, it’s better for you to use another line. Is there enough time?

Tian: If I take the subway, I’ll only just make it in time — even though it takes a long way around.

Today, we will introduce the adverb 何(なん)とか (in any way) and some related expressions. The adverb 何とか is used with a verb (X) and expresses that X has happened or is going to happen, barely, as in Mr. Tian’s sentence in Situation 1 or as in: 少(すく)ない年金(ねんきん)で、何とか暮(く)らしています( I only just get by on a small public pension).

Situation 2: Mr. Mita talks to his colleague Mr. Sere.

三田: セレくん、今夜、帰りにちょっと飲まない?新しい居酒屋ができたんだ。

セレ: いいけど、三田くんは明日までに報告書を書かなくちゃいけないんじゃない?

三田: まあ、何とかなるよ。ちょっとだけ、飲んでいこうよ。

Mita: Sere-kun, kon’ya, kaeri-ni chotto nomanai? Atarashii izakaya-ga dekita-n-da.

Sere: Ii-kedo, Mita-kun-wa ashita-made-ni hōkokusho-o kakanakucha-ikenai-n-ja-nai?

Mita: Mā, nantoka naru-yo. Chotto-dake nonde-ikō-yo.

Mita: Hi Sere, why don’t we go and have a drink on the way home? A new Japanese pub has opened.

Sere: OK, but don’t you have to write a report by tomorrow?

Mita: Well, I can manage it somehow — let’s go for a quick drink.

何とかする is a suru-verb that means to solve a problem by any means necessary, as in: お客(きゃく)さんが来(く)るんだから何とかしてよ (Tidy up in any way you can, because a guest is coming soon). The te-form of this verb 何とかして, when used with a verb, functions as adverb and can replace 何とか, as in 何とかして彼(かれ)を助(たす)けたい (I want to help him in any way I can). 何とかなる is an intransitive verb used to indicate that something is happening, or is expected to happen, naturally and without effort, as Mr. Mita uses it in Situation 2.

Bonus Dialogue: Mrs. Okubo and her son Mitsuo are talking at home.

母: あしたは三者(さんしゃ)面談(めんだん)ね。憂鬱(ゆううつ)だな。

光男: 心配(しんぱい)することないよ。ぼくは、ちゃんと単位(たんい)が取(と)れて、3年生(さんねんせい)になれるから。

母: 3年生になれても、来年(らいねん)、大学(だいがく)に入(はい)れるかどうか、心配。

光男: そんなことより、ぼくが3年生になれることを喜(よろこ)んでよ。悠太(ゆうた)は、音楽(おんがく)を一科目(いちかもく)落(お)として、進級(しんきゅう)できないかもしれないんだから。

母: 音楽1科目だけなら、何(なん)とかならないの?

光男: 担任(たんにん)の先生が、音楽の先生に追試(ついし)をたのんでいるんだけど、音楽の先生は、なかなかオーケーしてくれないんだって。

母: 芸術家(げいじゅつか)は、気難(きむずか)しいからね…。でも、きっと担任の先生が何とかして下さるわよ。ああ、光男が何とか進級できてよかった。

光男: 母さん、ぼくは、「何とか」じゃなくて、ちゃんと進級できたの。まちがえないで。

Mother: Tomorrow we’ll have a school meeting with the teacher — I don’t like it.

Mitsuo: You don’t have to worry, Mom. I got the credits and will be able to be in the third grade.

Mother: Even if you are allowed in the third grade, I wonder if you can enter a university next year.

Mitsuo: Don’t worry about that, just be pleased that I’m allowed into the third grade. Yuta failed one subject, music, and may not progress.

Mother: If it’s only music, can’t he manage?

Mitsuo: The class teacher asked the music teacher to give a make-up exam to Yuta, but she seems unwilling.

Mother: Artists are difficult people . . . Perhaps the class teacher will do something for Yuta. Well, I’m relieved that you just made it to the third grade.

Mitsuo: Not “just” — I was allowed into the third grade with no problem. Get it right, Mom.

Japanese palindromes and semordnilaps

4 Dec

Do you know what a “palindrome” is?  In Japanese, it’s called 「回文」 (“kai-bun“).
It’s a word or phrase that is the same word or phrase when it’s written backwards.

English examples are:
-“Race car“. Written backwards, it still spells “race car”.
and
-“Never odd or even“. That phrase is the same when it’s read back-to-front, too.

A Japanese palindrome is:
– “トマト” (tomato). In English, “tomato” is “otamot” when it’s written backwards, so it isn’t a palindrome in English. But written in Japanese, 「トマト」 is the same word back-to-front.

Then there are semordnilaps. These are words that spell a new, different word when written in reverse.

Examples in English are:
– “Star“. It spells “rats” when written backwards.
– “Live” → “Evil“.
– “Desserts” → “Stressed“.
And – “Semordnilap” is a semordnilap of “palindromes“.

In Japanese, a couple examples:
– “すずき” (“Su-zu-ki”) → “傷す” (“Ki-zu-su”) (“scratch”)
– “砂糖” (“Sa-to-u”) (English: “sugar”) → “疎さ” (“U-to-sa”) (Eng.: “sparse”)

But, because of the way that Japanese is written (with 漢字 characters), the Japanese language has a unique kind of “semordnilap“.
There are Japanese words that, when written in reverse, not only have a different meaning, but the words also have a totally different pronunciation. I mean, they aren’t pronounced as a backwards reading (like “star” and “rats”, etc).
They do, though, have the same 漢字 characters…just in the reverse order.

Let me show you an example:
– “花火” (“hanabi”) (Eng.: “fireworks”) → “火花” (“hibana”) (Eng.: “spark”).

Both of those words have the same two 漢字 characters, but in reverse order.

Here are some others:
– “神風” (“kamikaze”) (Eng.: “kamikaze” (lit. “Wind of God”) → “風神” (“fu-u-jin”) (Eng.: “God of the Wind”).
– “会社” (“kaisha”) (Eng.: “The office”) → “社会” (“shakai”) (Eng.: “society”).
– “日本” (“Nippon”) (Eng.: “Japan”) → “本日” (“honjitsu”) (Eng.: “today”).

There are also words in Japanese which have more than one pronunciation…and sometimes even different meanings.
For example:
風車 … it can be pronounced “fuu-sha” and mean “wind mill” and it can also be pronounced “kaza-guruma” and mean “pinwheel“.

風車 (fuu-sha)

風車 (kaza-guruma)

What are other “semordnilaps” and “palindromes” that you can think of (in any language)?

Study Japanese with the Japan Times

27 Aug

Occasionally the Japan Times newspaper has a Japanese language lesson.

Here is one of their recent lessons:

—————————————————————

ii-yo! (Okay!)

Situation 1: Mitsuo is stopped by his mother as he is about to leave the house.

母: 光男、出かけるなら、この手紙、ポストに出して行ってくれる?

光男: いいよ!

Haha: Mitsuo, dekakeru-nara, kono tegami, posuto-ni dashite-itte-kureru?

Mitsuo: Ii-yo.

Mother: Mitsuo, if you’re going out, will you post this letter for me on the way?

Mitsuo: Okay!

Today, we will introduce the meanings and usage of the adjective いい (good). Its pitch-accent is high-low, so the pitch of the first い descends to the second い sharply, whether the sentence-end intonation is rising or falling. It expresses that something is good and is used with 給料 (きゅうりょう, salary), 頭 (あたま, brain), 性格 (せいかく, character) and いい男 (おとこ, man)/女 (おんな, woman) is a casual way to say a man is handsome or a woman is pretty. The negative form is よくない, which is based around よい the old form of いい.

Mitsuo uses いい to mean OK in Situation 1; in this usage the sentence-end particle よ is added, spoken with a rising intonation. Note that いいよ with the falling intonation means “No.” Also, いい and the more polite いいです are used to decline someone’s offer, e.g., when someone suggests you have another cup of coffee.

Situation 2: Mr. and Mrs. Okubo see a man in his late-40s weeping bitterly on TV.

妻: この人、ほんとに県会議員なの? いい大人が、まるで子どもみたいに泣いている。

夫: まったく、いい恥さらしだなあ。経費を何に使ったか、ちゃんと説明すればいいのに。

Tsuma: Kono hito, honto-ni kenkai-giin-nano? Ii otona-ga marude kodomo-mitai-ni naite-iru.

Otto: Mattaku, ii hajisarashi-da-nā. Keihi-wo nani tsukatta-ka, chanto setsumei-sureba ii-noni.

Wife: Is this man really a member of the prefectural assembly? He is weeping bitterly, like a child.

Husband: He has really embarrassed himself! He should clearly explain what he spent the money on.

いい is often used for sarcastically reproaching someone, as in the wife’s いい大人 (おとな) (a man old enough) or as in the husband’s いい恥(はじ)さらし (literally, wonderfully disgraceful). Here is another example of reproaching: いい歳(とし)をして、そんなに激(はげ)しい運動(うんどう)をするなんて! (Despite the fact that you are already quite old, you’re doing a difficult physical exercise like that [I don’t think you should!]).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Mita asks why Mr. Sere looks a little down.

セレ: じつは、昨日(きのう)、ゆりとけんかしちゃったんだ。

三田: けんかの原因(げんいん)は?

セレ: ぼくたちの将来(しょうらい)のこと。ぼくが長男(ちょうなん)で、ゆりが一人(ひとり)っ子(こ)だから、いろいろむずかしい問題(もんだい)があって。

三田: ふうん、セレくんとゆりちゃんは、仲(なか)がいいから、けんかするんだな。

セレ: ぼくは、けんかなんかしたくないのに…。国(くに)の両親(りょうしん)のこととか、なにも考(かんが)えないで暮(く)らせたら、どんなにいいだろう!

三田: まあ、いい大人(おとな)が、そういうわけにもいかないだろう。結婚(けっこん)したら、問題があるのは当然(とうぜん)だ。ふたりで問題を乗り越(こ)えて、はじめて本当(ほんとう)のきずなができるんじゃないか。

セレ: ああ、ほんとだ! 三田(みた)くん、すごい。感動(かんどう)したよ。

三田: うん、ぼくも、自分(じぶん)のことばに感動している。でも、どうして、ぼくのことばに感動してくれる人(ひと)は、いつもセレくんだけなんだろう…?

Sere: Actually, I had a fight with Yuri last night.

Mita: What caused it?

Sere: It was about our future. I’m the eldest son in my family and Yuri is an only child. We seem to have a lot of problems.

Mita: I see; but you love each other, so that’s why you fight.

Sere: I don’t want to fight. I’d be so happy if we could live without thinking about things like our parents living in different countries.

Mita: Well, adults can’t live like that. After you marry her, like all marriages, naturally, there will be problems. After you get over them together, don’t you think you’ll be able to make a true connection?

Sere: Oh, you’re right! That’s great, Mita! It’s touching!

Mita: Yeah, I was impressed myself. But Sere, I wonder why you’re the only one who is ever impressed by what I have to say.

(This lesson is from the Japan Time online, here).