Jun 21, 2007

There is spoken language and the written language. Kanji has deep meanings contained within each one. Much different than what us who are stifled by the alphabet. We can see the meaning of things inside the kanji. Therefore from the get go, we should try to ween ouselves from the temptation to look up words in romaji to decipher meaning. We should use a dictionary like sanseidos daily concise. Week 1 verbs - Drink, Sleep,Eat, go hataraku. Put verbs in all bases. Nouns: coffee, tea , milk m water,m coca cola , sake , aqquarius, beer, juice. Adjectives - oishii, sutekina, benri na, okiim nagaim samui, atsui, chisaii, mijikai. Grammer masu, masen, masen deshita etc, BII +tai desu = I want to. polite form, lets = BII+masho long o etc Adjectives- are fun to play with Practive putting the adjectives in fron of a noun etfc

My secret to learning Japanese fast

I think that there are 4 categories or areas which must be developed when attempting to master a language: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I know there are other terms for listening, like comprehension etc. but for our sakes I shall call it listening.

There are two outflows of language, they are writing and speaking. Outflow of writing uses the medium of pen and paper to write symbols which will convey meaning, and the Japanese language is so very much full of meaning.

Start memorizing the radicals of Kanji, this will help you immensely in your understanding of the language, but it may not help your amount of vocabulary. I would suggest this at first because if you try to attack the kanji too soon you might get discouraged, so I say its ok in order to learn how to speak in Japanese a lot of your words will simply be written in romaji.

In order to improve your Japanese, you must make lists and set goals. Lists of vocabulary words to memorize and then goals related to how many words you will memorize.

I set a goal at first after deciding adamantly that I was going to be able to speak Japanese. At the time I couldn't speak Japanese but really wanted to. And since I was already living in Japan, I was immersed. My determination was so high and my motivation for wanting to speak Japanese was so hi, that I set goals, made vocabulary lists, and began my journey towards fluency in Japanese. After lots of hard work, I feel that I finally did it.

I can say it took me 9 months at least maybe 10 before my ears were open enough to hear the small intracacies of the language. But I'll never say that I have become fluent like a native, although when people talk to me over the phone they can't tell if I'm a native or a gaijin. Even the police when they pulled me over twice for speeding when I was doing 45kph in a 30kph, it wasn't until I took off my helmet that they noticed I wasn't Japaneese. Because they couldn't see my face, that I was an American, and because of my perfect pronunciation, it fooled them. They didn't know that I was a gaijin and I almost scared the silly puddy right out of them once they saw my blonde hair.

It freaked them out, that this blonde headed gaijin could speak as a native. But those are the rewards of all my diligence, determination, and steadfastness to my goals.
My very first goal that I made was to memorize 15 words in 2 day.

I did that at first but I did anywhere from 15 -30 words every 2 days, and I would constantly pester someone to quiz me on my new words. The way I memorized words was I made a list of all the useful words I could think of and the list grew very big and then I would do a review over and over, I repeated the words over and over in both directions into and out of English and Japanese, frontways and backwards.

Every chance I got, I would try to use my new words in sentences as the chance permitted. I woke up at 5 in the morning and studied my bootie off, becase I was so determined to master it and be the best I could be as a speaker of Japanese. Next I had two grammar books and learned how to put verbs into bases, then I could just plug and play with my Japanese grammar and my vocabulary list.

I think it also would be helpful to be able to simlutaneously learn and memorize the kanji of a word on your vocabulary list as well as knowing the word just from the romaji. Most often times I didn't have the luxury or time to study the Kanji, so I didn't start a Kanji study until about a year after exposing myself to the Japanese language. I was more concerned with my desire to speak Japanese quickly.

But let me tell you. If you study the radicals of the kanji and just start learning your first year kanji then you will be able to see how words are made and how they may have originated. I mean kanji is a fascinating pictographical way of communicating. To me there is always more meaning in the Kanji of some word as opposed to the shallow no descript meaning of just the phoenician alphabet equivalent.

Before taking on any kanji though, master the kana, both hiragana and katakana. And practice writing the kana, the basic strokes of the kana are related to how and what forms the Kanji.

My secret for learning Japanese fast
Ok I am going to tell you my secret for getting good really fast. It worked wonders for me because I would sit and study, practice my Japanese in an odd way but it was so fun. This is what I did, it may not be like scholarly or a recommended way to do it but it sure worked wonders for me. I would laugh all over town practicing saying the word fart in every type of grammar I could find that accepted verbs. Because verbs are put into the bases I II III IV and V and verbs put into the various bases have various grammars, I would just put the verb, 'to fart' in any bunpo(grammar) I could get my hands on.

For example -
How does one say, "I like to fart"?

You say - Onara suru koto ga suki desu.

I even put it in polite form which to me is really funny. Or you could ask someone,
"Please fart!"
onara shite kudasai.
"I must fart now!"
Ima Onara shinakereba narimasen.

Or you could have fun saying, "I just farted", Onara shita bakari desu. etc. I think you get my drift on how using the word "to fart" in sentences is funny and useful.

Set your goals to be challenging yet not to the point of overload, neither are productive. If you need a list of words to start memorizing check the link below I have made a word list just for people like you. In essence the more vocabulary you know the more fluent you are (well thats the idea or that is what someone told me once that if you have at least a 4000 word vocabulary you can be considered fluent, but I don't consider anybody fluent unless their pronunciation is perfect). Your storehouse of vocabulary must increase a little everyday. Its important to have someone to check you on your vocabulary too.

On baka, aho and politeness levels in Japanese

It has been said that there are few cusswords in Japanese. There are some words like baka and aho, I must admit I only really heard baka said once to realize how much meaning can be contained in one word. I think the word baka is the most foulest word in the Japanese language.

It is also possible to sound foul mouthed simply by staying in the lowest level of politeness.

Their are basically 4 levels of politeness in Japanese. From least polite to talking with the emporer polite, there are 4 grades or levels that are distinctive in their use.

Lets take verbs for example. The verb
iku becomes ukagau,
iu becomes ossharu,
suru becomes nasaru.

I have heard aho - similiar to the English words a**hole or dickweed perhaps.

1st level - Honorific speech. The level of highest politeness. In this level you are in essence raising the status of the person with whom you are talking to. Your speech determines their high status and this elates them. The feeling you get when being spoken to in honorific Japanese is that you are a member of a royal family.

When I was being spoken to in this honorific speech called keigo, I felt powerful. It made me feel very wanted or in some sense loved. It also made me feel like I was needed. I felt like I belonged and that they wanted me there. I certainly had a place. The words spoken make you feel comfortable and you also have a feeling of responsibility that comes with this nobility. Thinking in terms of maslowes heirarchy of needs being spoken to in keigo would fit the bill and fulfill that level in the pyramid of Maslowes heirarchy of needs.

Now with the next level politeness you have verbs ending with masu and the use of desu makes them straight polite level verbs.

Steps toward better Japanese Pronunciation

When I hear badly pronounced Japanese its like the unbearable fingernails scraping against a chalkboard syndrome. I would turn red in embarassment for the person committing the language mal-practice. If you want to be well liked and a well respected speaker of Japanese, then put pronunciation on the priority list of things to study.

It would be a whole other article just telling you why bad pronunciation is uncooth. Let it suffice to say that I feel that it is un-cooth, un-civilized, un-educated, never natural and simply irresponsible of a learner of the Japanaese language to neglect this all important aspect of communicating in the Japanese language.

Don't worry yet if your pronunciation fails passing for a native. Pronounciation can be handled gradually and increasingly in proportion to the amount of vocabulary you pull into your Tip #4 the vowels will show you how to get started on perfecting your Japanese pronunciation.

You will improve in this aspect gradually and eventually become so good at pronounciation that when spoken to on a telephone will be Japanese mistook as a real native. Pronunciation is perhaps an easier aspect of Japanese to learn yet it is often neglected. Simply put, mimicking, or speaking in a manner of just anybody can have ill effects on how you will be percieved.

Language is associated with our personalities. Just simply picking a nearby native speaker and mimicking exactly their speech patterns may not always be the best way to go about learning pronunciation. You have to be selective of your words for they are more powerful than the sword. Carefully chosen words, timely spoken can make for expressive speech with clearly understood meanings exchanged between the locutors.

Your words can identify you as a feminine or a masculine. Men should never speak similar or should never copy in like manner the speech of a woman. There are at least 6 levels of common speech in Japanese. If you don't want to be considered an okama!, then your best bet is to stay Thats harsh and if you don't know what okama is, look it up in the Sanseido's wa-ei and if you don't have one, go to my site Japanese 1 there is a link to the sanseido publishing company. Their dictionaries are absolutely invaluable towards comprehension of the language. It will be of primary importance in you Japanese language acquisition. It is important to get a Japanese to English Dictionary, if you don't already have one.

If you are going to learn to speak Japanese please try to speak with correct pronunciation. It shows bad manners, and lack of commitment. It also sends a message of disgrace for your native country. It is important also while in Japan to show that you love your country. They are quite accepting of many gaijins in this respect. Especially since you'll usually be the only gaijin within a couple of hundred miles so make your pronunciation count.

One cool thing about Japanese pronunciation is that vowels do not vary as they do in English. They stay straight. English uses the 5 letters a e i o u to make around 20 vowel sounds. You have many elided or dipthongated vowel sounds that Japanese just doesn't have. it is for this reason I find it easier to find the pronunciation of any foreign difficult word like words in the Bible deuteronomy that you'll never figure out or philosophical names and the like, if you read those foreign difficult name type words in Japanese it comes out closer than attempts I have made in english. Actually using both your native tongue and Japanese together you can come up with the pronunciation of any difficult biblical term.

In Japanese there are 5 vowels and 5 vowel sounds. That makes learning Japanese vowels easier. The order is a little different, so that might be the first thing to look at. The first 5 syllables in the Japanese syllabary are a i u e and o It has to be said that if you were to gather a Japanese ensemble and make a choir out of them, oh how satisfied the director would be. Because they only use 5 vowels and they are pure. International phonetics could straightway use Japanese for these vowels written in Romaji as a i u e o.