Jul 20, 2008

Alphabets are Important - Tidbits of Japanese Grammar Sprinkled with Hakata Ben and Adjectives

A Secret So Easy, it will turn the tedious and sometimes daunting task of learning another language into a fun and exciting adventure.

I know what is good for me!
JPPGG© #91
How to say, “I know what to verb so that it would be good.”
Verb (Base TA) + RA + YOI

YOI is the word for good and for all intents and purposes is equivalent to ii so that
*YOI = ii in any case (pronounced ee)

YOKA – can be heard often in the Fukuoka region. It is a part of the hakata-ben dialect. It means essentially– “Nah...”, or “I’m good!”

TASHIKA is not an adjective like AKAI, UTSUKUSHII, AKARUI, OR SURUDOI. It is irregular like TOMEI therefore it uses the connective particle NA

As is true in the pursuit of any language mastery, you must have an understanding of what is meant by the phrase, “milk before meat”. You cannot expect to learn something hard or complicated, or expect to eat meat with fully-grown canines and flesh piercing teeth before you are able to ingest the milk from a tender mother breast. Therefore, it is wise for any language learner to begin at the beginning, and spend some time there… and hang out…even they should try singing songs about the alphabet. Alphabets being the small parts of a language that when strung together form words, and make languages, living organisms. Learning the alphabet or syllabary for the language you are learning right now will make your progress and improvement in that language easier later by doing so.

Herein lies a key to language mastery. If an alphabet is available for the language, start studying it! The best way for you to get close to a language is by studying, and saying in your mouth the little parts of the language, saying them repeatedly as we all do at one point or another in civilized society. Only through a careful study of the smallest and simplest parts of a language can you get to know it as intimately as you would get to know your native language.

As a child, who does not remember singing an alphabet song, reading a book for the first time, looking up a word in the dictionary for the first time, or simply reciting the alphabet? Language is something that must be learned, and it is true in English and Japanese. Get yourself some Hiragana and katakana flash cards and memorize the look, feel and shape of each one being able to correctly identify each one, just as you do with the English letters. Learning the alphabet in another language is the first step towards understanding. Please take a moment to reflect on the first times you sang ‘The Alphabet Song', or recited your A,B,C’s. Now reflect upon how you came to know that 5 X 5 is = 25.

I know that if you gain a solid grasp of the Japanese Syllabary, the 46 syllables that make up all the sounds of Japanese then learning Japanese will be as a piece of cake for you. It will be easy to learn the Japanese language. That’s it! The trick to learning a foreign language is starts with learning the alphabet. In the case of the Japanese language, their alphabet, is not an alphabet because it is not made up of just letters, it is made up of syllables. There are 46 syllables in Japanese, and even though it is more than the number of letters in the English language (English letters in the alphabet = 26) it really is not that many once you see how it is set up.

The Japanese syllabary consists of 46 syllables and represents all sounds necessary for the formation of any Japanese word. It is just like the English’s Alphabet but it is called the GOJUON, or chart of the 50 sounds. The GOJUON is grouped in a way that facilitates learning of Japanese, especially the adjectives. Endings of adjectives follow the first 5 syllables or the Japanese vowels; a, i, u, e , o. I admonish any aspiring Japanese language learner to earnestly study the 46 syllables of the GOJUON or Japanese alphabet.

By the time we are 12 years of age, we usually forget how we came to be able to speak and utilize the English language and are so familiar with the Alphabet that we have forgotten that it was due to its recitation that we would know what we know. Reading and Writing are two sides of a coin that are wholly influenced by its contributing language’s Alphabet as are Speaking and Listening to a lesser extent. The alphabet itself is so ingrained into our language, it is often hard to remember that in order to be a successful learner of any language, that we must study first the primary components and basic building that we forget to take it for what it was when we try to apply these learning techniques to the way we would learn Japanese.

 For the purposes of learning how to read, write, speak and listen in English, it was necessary to study the core of the language at first, and that was the Alphabet. A good way to get at the core, or the heart of a language is by studying its Alphabet. We can do that in a similar or even the same way you would learn your times tables. How much did you get for memorizing your times tables? Offer yourself a cookie and say to yourself, “If I start my Japanese study (or any language study) by learning the syllables that make up their words then I will be ahead of the learning game later on when it really gets complicated.

Like I said...milk before meat. A house is built on a solid foundation. In other words, boiling it down to what I am trying to relate to those desirous of the ability to speak in another language and communicate, down the line Don’t want to cheat myself out of learning Japanese and retaining it, but good! Your parents, masters, or mentors may have promised you $5 if you memorized the times tables up to 12, but you can also do it for free…on your own… and you can reward yourself with a big surprise.

Be consistently insistent on diligent Japanese study and you will be able to communicate. And the ability to communicate with others of another country can open up whole truck loads of cool stuff. Catch the fever… learn Japanese. Tell everyone at the PTA meetings that Japanese is not a hard language to learn. In my opinion it is much easier than English to learn.

Japanese Adjectives The adjectives follow the syllabic structure found in the vowel row of the Gojuon, or indeci showing the 46 symbols of the Japanese syllabary in this order: A, I, U, E , and O. that represent of all sounds necessary for Japanese word formation.
The first five syllables in the GOJU ON -

あ A
い  I
う  U
え  E*
お O

The first five adjectivial endings + the irregular EI

あい AI
いい II
うい UI
えい EI
おい OI

Example adjectives showing the various endings:

あらい ARAI
きれい KIREI*
おそい OSOI

* EI endings are for the most
TASHIKA itself is the adjective for our English term, “certain”. It is highly likely that the ka of TASHIKA has been artificially transplanted into adjectives in the Fukuoka region. TASHIKA means for certain in English and TASHIKA NI means certainly. As is the case with the irregular Japanese class of adjectives ending in EI, TASHIKA can be followed by the particle NI so that the NI can be roughly translated in sentences involving adjectives as –ly.

Below are some common Japanese adjectives that I have found most useful.

可愛 kawai かわい - cute
恐い kowai こわい - scary
近い chikai ちかい - close
鋭い surudoi するどい sharp
賢い kashikoi かしこい - smart

堅い katai かたい - hard
短い mijikai みじかい - short
細い hosoi ほそい - narrow
長い nagai ながい - long
明るい akarui あかるい - bright

太い futoi ふとい - fat
厚い atsui あつい - thick
熱い atsui あつい - hot
寒い samui さむい – cold
涼しい suzushii すずしい – cool

激しい hageshii はげしい - violent
難し muzukashii むつ"かしい - difficult
簡単 kantan かんたん – easy
眠い nemui ねむい - sleepy
眠たい nemutai ねむたい - sleepy

低い hikui ひくい - low
高い takai たかい - tall
珍しい mezurashii めずらしい - rare
大きい ookii おおきいい - big
小さい chiisai ちいさい – small

古い furui ふるい - old
若い wakai わかい - young
広い hiroi ひろい - wide
安い yasui やすい - cheap, easy
目覚しい mezamashii めざましい - alert

凄い tsumetai つめたい - chilly
強い tsuyoi つよい - strong
弱い yowai よわい - weak
柔らかい yawarakai やわらかい- soft
早い hayai - fast

遅いosoi - slow
重い omoi - heavy
暗い kurai くらい - dark
重たい omotai おもたい - heavy
軽い karui かるい - light

恥ずかしい hazukashii はずかしい - embarassing
喧しいyakamashii やかましい – loud, obnoxious
静か shizuka しずか - quiet
素晴らしい subarashii すばらしい - wonderful
美味しい oishii おいしい – delicious

酸っぱいsuppai すっぱい - sour
甘い  amai あまい - sweet
狭い semai せまい – narrow
悔しい kuyashii くやしい - vexing, mortifying
怪しいayashii あやしい - doubtful, suspicious

辛い tsurai つらい – hard, difficult
美しい utsukushi うつくし - beautiful
面白い omoshiroi おもしろい - interesting
力強い chikarazuyoi ちからずよい - powerful
かっこいい kakkoii – stylish, handsome
惜しい oshii おしい – regretful

Japanetics is Language learning to the max