Learn Japanese About Japanese: A Short Description The Japanese language is a unique and fascinating language. It's written form consists of various picture image characters called kanji (ex. the character to the left stands for learning). The kanji were imported from Chinese written language to create the base of the Japanese written language. Japanese also contains picture characters called kana, which are two syllabaries derived from kanji. Hiragana is akin to cursive kana, and katakana (Square- looking characters) is akin to italics. Kanji is used more to convey meaning, whereas hiragana are used to indicate functions of words, and katakana is used to emphasize words. Japanese is a language with strong foundation in and connections to the social organization, way of thinking, customs, and habits of Japanese culture. This is evidenced in their preference for polite, and non rude or boasting speech. A popular form of 'Americanized' Japanese called Romanized Japanese has been used in the U.S. in order to make it easier and faster to learn the spoken language. Romanized Japanese enables one to learn the spoken language without knowing the written format ( i.e. memorizing all of the written characters). This is the method that is utilized by this page, since a lot of people don't have the Asian fonts installed and active. OK, now that you have some background, it's on to lesson 2..... Japanese Syllables 1. Short and Long syllables Short syllables are the Japanese basic unit of pronunciation. But, letters with a bar over them are long syllables. They need to be pronounced for twice as long. For example: Tokyo should be pronounced like To-o-kyo-o. 2. Table of Basic Japanese Syllable Structure These are the basic sounds that are used to form Japanese words. The left hand column consists of vowels. Each corresponding row consists of sounds utilizing that vowel. These sounds are used to form the words that make up the Japanese language. The consonants below are pronounced pretty much the same as in English, but refer to the next lesson for vowel pronunciation technique. Notice how there is no sound in Japanese equivalent to the English sounds 'l', 'v', or 'r'. Also note that the only consonant that can be written alone is n. a ka ga sa za ta da na ha pa ba ma ya ra wa n i ki gi shi ji chi ni hi pi bi mi ri u ku gu su zu tsu nu fu pu bu mu yu ru e ke ge se ze te de ne he pe be me re o ko go so zo to do no ho po bo mo yo ro kya gya sha ja cha nya hya pya bya mya rya kyu gyu shu ju chu nyu hyu pyu byu myu ryu kyo gyo sho jo cho nyo hyo pyo byo myo ryo A Japanese Syllable consists of a vowel alone, a combination consonant + vowel, or a consonant + glide + vowel. There are also two types of syllabic consonants, one which is used to double consonants other than n and m in a non-initial syllable, and another (-n), which is used to double the consonants n and m, or can be at the end of another syllable. Japanese Vowels and How They Are Pronounced Vowel Pronounced as in the Word: a father i macaroni u zulu e edge o oasis Note: The vowels i and u are often devoiced or whispered when spoken. Japanese Currency Japanese English One thousand yen sen yen (roughly $9.35) Two thousand yen nisen yen (roughly $18.70) sanzen yen Three thousand yen yoncen yen four thousand yen gosen yen five thousand yen Rokusen yen six thousand yen (pronounced loksen) nanasen yen seven thousand yen hachisen yen eight thousand yen kusen yen nine thousand yen juusen yen ten thousand yen Ikura des ka? How much is it? Japanese Colors Japanese English aka red orenji orange ki (iro) yellow midori green aoi blue murasaki purple momoiro pink Useful Japanese Phrases Japanese Phrase English Translation 1. o hayou gozaimasu 1. good morning 2. kon-nichiwa 2. good afternoon 3. konban wa 3. good evening 4. oyasuminasai 4. good night 5. wakarimasen 5. I do not understand 6. Anata no namae wa nan to 6. What is your name iimasu ka? 7. o-ai dekite ureshii desu 7. nice to meet you 8. o-genki desu ka 8. how are you? 9. ja mata 9. so long (lit. then again) 10. Toire wa doko desu ka? 10. Where is the bathroom? 11. So desu ka 11. Is that so? 12. Do itashimashite 12. You are welcome 13. O-negai shimasu 13. I beg of you (please give me) 14. Sumimasen 14. I'm sorry; also used for excuse me 15. Kekko desu 15. That's fine or I'm fine 16. Meri Kurisumasu 16. Merry Christmas 17. Toshi wa o-ikutsu desu ka 17. How old are you? 18. Iku na 18. Don't go 19. Naku na 19. Don't cry 20. Hanasu na 20. Don't speak 21. O-namae wa? 21. What is your name? 22. Mata aimasho 22. Let's meet again 23. Do ka shimashita ka 23. Is something wrong? 24. O-ki ni irimashita ka 24. Do you like it? 25. ano 25. pardon me..., well..., 'er', 'uh' 26. O-kinodoku desu 26. I'm sorry to hear that 27. Do shimashita ka 27. What's the matter? 28. O-matase shimashita 28. I'm sorry to keep you waiting 29. O-daiji ni 29. Take care 30. Mata, dozo 30. Please come again 31. Suteki desu, ne 31. It's just great or that's fine 32. ja matashta 32. see you tomorrow 33. Nihongo ga hanashimasu ka? 33. Do you speak Japanese? 34. Watashi no tokolo de 34. at my place 35. Nanio shimasu ka? 35. What are you doing? 36. watashimo 36. me too 37. ii otenki desu ne? 37. Nice weather isn’t it? 38. yana otenki desu ne? 38. Bad weather isn’t it? Periods of Time Japanese Word or Phrase Meaning in English kino no asa yesterday morning kesa this morning ashita no asa tomorrow morning maiasa every morning kino no ban last evening komban this evening ashita no ban tomorrow evening maiban every evening kino no yoru last night konya tonight ashita no yoru myoban tomorrow night maiyo every night kino yesterday kyo, konnichi today ashita, myonichi tomorrow mainichi, ichinichi goto ni every day senshu last week konshu this week raishu next week maishu, isshukan goto ni every week sengetsu last month kongetsu this month raigetsu next month maitsuki every month kyonen last year kotoshi this year rainen next year maitoshi every year maijikan every hour ototoi day before yesterday ototoshi year before last asatte day after tomorrow goto ni at intervals of ima now kore kara from now on sore kara after that Japanese Word Meaning in English ichiji one o'clock niji two o'clock sanji three o'clock yoji four o'clock goji five o'clock rokuji (pronounced lokugi) six o'clock shichiji seven o'clock hachiji eight o'clock kuji nine o'clock juji ten o'clock juichiji eleven o'clock juniji twelve o'clock gozen a.m. gogo p.m. byo second fun minute ji hour Add after the time to say ‘at’ ni that time ex. Ichiji ni means at 1:00 Nanji desu ka? What time is it? Nanji ni? At what time? Calendar Months Japanese Word or Phrase Meaning in English ichi-gatsu January ni-gatsu February san-gatsu March shi-gatsu April go-gatsu May roku-gatsu June shichi-gatsu July hachi-gatsu August kugatsu September jugatsu October juichi-gatsu November juni-gatsu December Days of the Week Japanese Word or Phrase Meaning in English getsuyo-bi Monday kayo-bi Tuesday suiyo-bi Wednesday mokuyo-bi Thursday kinyo-bi Friday doyo-bi Saturday nichiyo-bi Sunday Seasons Japanese Word or Phrase Meaning in English haru spring natsu summer aki autumn fuyu winter How to Form Sentences The Japanese form their sentences differently than we do in English. The usual word order in Japanese is as follows: Subject -- Object -- Verb or Subject --Adjective or Topic (Notional Subject) -- Immediate subject -- Verb Many times, sentences are begun with an introductory 'topic' word that sets the stage for the later content of the sentence. Singular VS Plural Japanese nouns have no plural forms. i.e. the word neko can be used to mean cat or cats. This means one must infer whether it is singular or plural from the context of the sentence. Suffixes: Usage and Meaning Japanese Name Suffix Suffix Usage and Meaning Term of respect that is used when referring to -san a person older than yourself, or with whom you are not very familiar Term used to indicate affection or endearment -chan among friends Term used to indicate formal respect. Often -sama used when addressing ones teachers. Term used towards male friends or -kun acquaintances who are younger or the same age as you Used as a permanent suffix on a female -ko name. For more Japanese terms, see the encyclopedia on this site.