Dec 29, 2010

Telling the Time in Japanese - Hour Counters in Japanese

To say, "What time is it?" in Japanese say
Nanji desu ka?

If it is eight o'clock you can then answer with the word now or ima 今

Ima hachiji desu (今 八時 です) - It is now eight o'clock.

The hour counter in Japanese is ji or

ichiji - one o'clock
niji - two o'clock
sanji - three o'clock
yoji - four o'clock
goji - five o'clock
rokuji - six o'clock
shichiji - seven o'clock
hachiji - eight o'clock
kuji - nine o'clock
juuji - ten o'clock
juuichiji - eleven o'clock
juuniji - twelve o'clock

nanji? - what hour?
何時 - what hour?

一 時 - one o'clock
二 時 - two o'clock
三 時 - three o'clock
四 時 - four o'clock
五 時 - five o'clock
六 時 - six o'clock
七 時 - seven o'clock
八 時 - eight o'clock
九 時 - nine o'clock
十 時 - ten o'clock
十一 時 - eleven o'clock
十二 時 - twelve o'clock

Towards Better Japanese Ganbatte ne! Do Your Best! Makurasuki

Dec 12, 2010

A Japanese Kotowaza - Saru mo ki kara ochiru - Even monkeys fall from trees

Kotowaza are words of wisdom or ancient sayings that have many practical uses for the gaijin (foreigners) living in Japan. Most kotowaza are of ancient Chinese origin, but some have been derived from Japan's own history, other foreign countries or have been made from more modern expressions.
Kotowaza take the place of long explanations, or circumlocution because they get the desired meaning across in a more direct, understandable way. Skillful use of the Kotowaza by a non-native speaker can help present oneself to the Japanse people as a wise and well studied scholar.

When used correctly, Kotowaza can express ideas that you want to convey, in an impressive, and meaningful manner. Japanese Kotowaza can be a powerful Japanese language ally. We'll take a look at the meaning behind these proverbs, then add them to our Japanese language arsenal. After understanding their literal and metaphorical meaning, we can, of course, plug and play the kotowaza into our own Japanese conversations to really impress the Japanese with our language skills. Use these ancient Japanese expressions - the Kotowaza - to our speaking advantage.

Say the following kotowaza the next time you want to impress the Japanese and watch their reactions, you will be surprised at how well it works.

Saru Mo Ki Kara Ochiru

This kotowaza is a useful Japanese proverb. Like other kotowaza it talks about animals. Saru is the word for monkey in Japanese and it has us re-evaluate our take on these skillful tree climbers of the jungle - monkeys. Have you ever seen monkeys, monkey'ing around? They are coordinated physically and are well suited to a life of trees proving that they are skillful animals when it comes to climbing and swinging around on the branches of trees.

This proverb - SARU MO KI KARA OCHIRU - helps me understand that there is not much we can do about our imperfectness. Everybody makes mistakes, nobody is perfect. Even the monkeys themselves, on occassion, have been spotted to fall from trees.

Even the greatest of mortals, and demi-gods like Hercules, Achilles and Samson, all possessed a particular vulnerability, weakness, or tragic flaw. But as this proverb points out even these great semi-mortal men had flaws and were not perfect in every way - "Even Monkeys Fall From Trees."

Nobody is perfect - Even monkeys fall from trees.

Next time you want to impress your Japanese friends with your smooth newly learned kotowaza, just say "saru mo ki kara ochiru" - nobody is perfect, even monkeys fall from trees. Slap this kotowaza on at just the right time in a conversation and watch the unmistakeable reactions you'll receive. Don't forget good pronunciation.


3 Japanese phrases we just don't have in English

Many words in Japanese don’t have exact, equivalent translations in English. Japan has a very old national history dating back to at least 600 A.D. The Japanese language has been evolving since even before that time. Customs and traditions are different and unique to each country’s environment and history. Words, phrases, and expressions also are unique to each country's environment and history. Here are 3 Japanese phrases that have evolved in Japan that we just don't have in English. I have included a rough estimation of their meanings.

(御) お- 世話 様 でした – O SEWA SAMA DESHITA – You did a terribly awfully nice favor for me and I am completely grateful and you really helped a lot.

御 苦労 様 でした - GO KURO^ SAMA DESHITA – You worked very hard today and we pay thee much respect and thanks for your hard efforts, it must have been a lot of hard work but good going and thanks.

御 疲れ 様 でした - O TSUKARE SAMA DESHITA - You tired yourself out and did a great job. Thanks for the great work you have done.

Question words and the Japanese particle ka

The Japanese particle ka () is also a useful little syllable. You can think of ka as being the English question mark, or ?. Adding the syllable ka ()changes the meaning of the question words,  "Who", "What", "Where" ,"When", and "How many".

The following constructions use a Japanese question word + ka ():

dare + ka, dareka -
who + ?, someone

nani + ka, nanika -
what + ?, something

doko + ka, dokoka -
where + ?, somewhere

itsu + ka, itsuka -
when + ?, sometime

nannin + ka, nanninka -
how many people + ?, some amount of people

Again, the particle ka (), can be thought of as the English equivalent of the question mark or, ?, and it turns question words into some other things.

Useful Japanese Adjectives

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  はやい - 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 (opposite of heavy)

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*

*Oshii is a neat little word - We can say oshii in situations where we might say darnit in English. For example, I would hear oshii a lot at the bowling alley when my bowling friends would miss a pin. They would say,"oshii", or "Darn I missed".

Dec 11, 2010

5 different ways to say "delicious" in Japanese

In English when we eat good food we say, "That was so good". In Japanese when we eat good food we would say, "That was so delicious". The word for delicious, or good in Japanese is oishii. To signify your gratitude for the hearty and delicious portions of o-konomiyaki, tako yaki, yakiniku, oden no tamago, sashimi, natto or especially the jewel like, mouth-watering, toro sushi you might eat in Japan, instead of saying the usual word for delicious, or oishii, try the following 5 Japanese words:

1. umai - very tasty, sweeeet.

2. bariuma - nice, tasty delicious, very good, superb, tastes awesome! - bari being the intensifier and umai meaning very tasty or sweeeet.

3. barioishii - same as in 1 above. - bari being the intensifier and oishii meaning delicious.

4. mechauma - an abbreviation of mechakucha and umai or the intensifier mechakucha meaning absurd, unreasonably sweet (or good, delicious) so mechauma would literally mean, absurdly delicious.

5. bakauma - baka umai - foolishly delicious.

Japanese loan words - gairaigo

In Japanese, foreign words are heavily borrowed. I would almost venture to say that if you want to speak to a Japanese person, all you would have to do is say what you want in English but with a Japanese accent or pronunciation, and your communication would likely be understood. New words, or words that are borrowed from other countries have a special name in Japanese, they are called gairaigo. Gairaigo are words on loan from languages other than Japanese. Gairaigo are numerous and grow as new words pop up in the world. The word for computer and Ipod are included in this list of gairaigo. Let me give you a few examples:

Spoon - supun
Fork - fouku
Ball - bouru
Door - doa
Curtain - kaaten
Card - kaado
Toaster - tosuta
Juice - juusu
Computer - konpyuuta
Ipod - aipoddo

...the list goes on and on.

Dec 8, 2010

Negative uses of the Japanese particle mo

Nai is a word used often in Japan. It is equivalent to the English word "not". Using our question words + mo construction, let us now add nai to them to see what kind of new words we can create.

We'll use the question words,"Who", "What",and "Where",

daremo + nai = daremo nai
who + also + not = nobody

nanimo + nai = nanimo nai
what + also + not = nothing

dokomo + nai = dokomo nai
where + also + not = nowhere

Dec 5, 2010


Ganbaru means to do your best!

ganbare is ganbaru in base IV - command form

Towards Better Japanese
Ganbatte ne!
Do Your Best!

Another word for stomach and its uses

There is another word for belly. It is not honorific. It is the word hara.

Hara is a plain form of the honorific o-naka 中
hara 腹 はら- the belly, the stomach

Here are some uses of hara -

hara ga itamu 腹が痛む - to have stomach pains 腹 はら

hara o tateru 腹を立てる- to get or become upset; angry

hara ga tatsu - when speaking of one's self - That upsets me, or that really ticks me off or that really "p***es me off" etc.

An easy way to remember the other Japanese word for stomach, o-naka, would be to think

You onaka'd up!" (お-中ed up) You are knocked up!

Towards Better Japanese Ganbatte ne! Do Your Best! Makurasuki

Dec 4, 2010

Positive uses of the Japanese particle mo

The Japanese particle mo is a useful little syllable. You can think of mo as being the English word too, or also. Adding the syllable mo (the inclusive particle) changes the meaning of question words either positively, or negatively. Today we will look at the positive. By adding mo to words we already know we can make new words. First, memorize the question words, "Who", "What", "Where" ,"When", and "How many", then we will add mo to make new words we can add to our Japanese vocabulary arsenal.

The following constructions use a Japanese question word + mo:

dare + modaremo - 
who + also,  anyone

nani + mo, nanimo -
what + also, anything

doko + mo, dokomo -
where + also, anywhere

itsu + mo, itsumo -
when + also, all the time

nannin + mo, nanninmo -
how many people + also, many people

Again, the particle mo, represents inclusiveness or the English equivalent of the words also, or too.

Review of question words in Japanese

Let's learn how to say, " Who?, What?, Where?, When? and How many?" in Japanese
Learn these basic Japanese question words -

dare? - Who?
nani? - What?
doko? - Where?
itsu? - When?
ikutsu? How many?

bonus word -
naze? - Why?

Ppoi - The Japanese 'ish

Todays Tip:
ppoi = ish

Add ppoi to nouns and adjectives to easily turn any them into other words. For example. In America when we want to say something has style we might say it is stylish, (all we do there is add the ish)
or technically that it bears strong resemblance of the noun style. Or that it pertains or bears an air of the noun.

In Japanese we use
noun+ ppoi, or
adjective + ppoi

You could think of it this way, pretend you are in Hawaii dipping your words in poi and your word will come out looking like the thing you dipped it in.
Its similiar to the -ly of adverbs.

 If we want to say the car is sluggish add ppoi to the end of the word osoi - or slow making it osoppoi. Just like in English where we can stick ish on the tail end of just about any word, we can do the same in Japanese by adding ppoi.

Towards Better Japanese Ganbatte ne! Do Your Best! Makurasuki

Dec 2, 2010

Tower of Babel _Babylon

Tower of Babel - Confounding of tongues

How many languages were the result of the scattering of the tongues at the tower of Babel?

Tongues - Define?
Speaking in tongues - Define?
Is speaking in tongues as referred to in the New Testament, only a partial explanation for what might have been meant when spoken of therein the ability to speak in other languages or tongues.

Dec 1, 2010

Past tense Hakata ben

You might hear the following past tense phrases at the Hakata eki:

Here is past tense of nan shiyo^ to? 何しようとう? or "What are you doing" in Hakata ben.

What were you doing (right now)? 何しようったとう? Nan shiyotta to?

Another example often heard in the Hakata region might be -
doko ni ikiyo^ to? どこに往きようとう?
or "Where are you going?" and again in past tense this sentence would be doko ni ikiyo^tta to?

Now for formal Japanese this is appalling grammar so it is to be used only in congenial situations as you would have amongst good friends or family members. This wouldn't be casually said to a stranger or someone you just met.

Japanese Grammar conclusion by looking at today's examples
to^ is the question marker and could be substituted for the participle ka か.

Adding Ten-Ten Marks to Japanese Syllables

What are "ten-ten" marks, and what do can we do with them? A "ten-ten" mark is basically a single quotation symbol and is added to certain Japanese syllables to make new syllables that sound different. It makes voiced syllables gutteral. We can add "ten-ten" marks to the k, s, t, and h lines of the Japanese syllabary changin the syllables into their gutteral equivalents. An example would be when we place a "ten ten" mark after a voiced k it becomes its' gutteralized g. In other words, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko becomes ga, gi, gu, ge, go.

か、き、く、け、こ becomes が、ぎ、ぐ、げ、ご

か + " =  or  ga
き + " =  or  gi
く + "  =  or  gu
け + " =  or  ge
こ + " =  or  go

In the same manner adding a "ten-ten" mark to
sa, shi, su, se or so will turn them into their gutteralized versions ie. za, zhi (ji), zu, ze, zo etc.

さ、し、す、せ、そ becomes ざ、 じ、 ず、ぜ、ぞ

さ + " = or za
し + " = or zhi (ji)
す + " = or zu

せ + " = or ze
そ + " = or zo

We can also add them to the ta line of syllables so that ta, chi, tsu, te, to becomes da, ji, zu, de, and do.
た、ち、つ、て、と becomes だ、ぢ、づ, で、ど

た + " = or da

ち + " = or ji (dzi)
つ + " = or zu (dzu)
て + " = or de

と + " = or do

Lastly, the ha, hi, fu, he, ho line of the syllabary has two ways into which they can change. 1. Adding a "ten-ten" mark to the ha line of the syllabary makes them ba, bi ,bu ,be ,bo. 2. Adding a small degree symbol to the ha line makes each one turn into yet new syllables, they turn into pa, pi, pu, pe, po.

は、ひ、ふ、へ、ほ becomes ば、び、ぶ、べ、ぼ, and ぱ、ぴ、ぷ、ぺ、ぽ

は + " = or  ba
ひ + " = or  bi
ふ + " = or  bu
へ + " = or  be
ほ + " = or  bo
は + °= or  pa
ひ + °= or  pi

ふ + °= or  pu
へ + °= or  pe
ほ + °= or  po

Some interesting Japanese words

Here are some interesting Japanese words for your enjoyment

Kashikomarimashita - I totally understand and will do as you command

Ton Demo Nai - no sweat, it aint nothing

o-Sewa ni natte kudasaimashite taihen arigatou gozaimasu - thanks for going out of your way for me, I am extremely thankful

oshii - darnit

yoshii - yay!

oi - hey

arya - oh man

o-negai moshiagemasu - I humbly ask it of you

O-kyaku-sama - guests, houseguests

Irrashaimase - welcome

Haizara - ashtray

O negai dekimasu ka? - you think you could do it for me?

Shitsurei shimasu - I am sorry

Rusu ni shite orimasu - I am not in right now, nobody is home

Go-chiso sama deshita - what a great meal

Itadakimasu - I humbly partake

Towards Better Japanese Ganbatte ne! Do Your Best! Makurasuki