Friday, 30 April 2010

Goodbye, see you later, laters!

Ok so last post we saw a short film on some basic greetings and also on some parting gestures, I said I would expand on them a little. The reason for this is for example in the previous video
 じゃあまたね - jyamatane was listed as bye, when it translates more as see you later. You could also get variations of this similar to bye, see you, and so on. These are in the like of
でわまた - see you again
じゃあね - Jyane see you or
またね - matane later
さようなら - sayounara was listed as goodbye and this is used more when you are not likely to see someone soonish and is quite formal so usually for someone you don't know that well.

So we have now covered some simple hellos and goodbyes, pronunciation, how to read and write the basic kanas. So now its all about building vocabulary, grammar and practice!

Next I will work on things like colours, days of the week and a few other things before moving onto some verbs and then some basic conversations. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see then post me a comment and I will see if I can include it, likewise any words or phrases you want.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Beginning vocabulary, greetings

Ok so time to introduce some vocab, with any luck with a bit of practice you can now read some hiragana at least. I will post a few words that you can learn in both Hiragana and Romaji, the romaji is attempted to be for pronounciation so might not reflect exactly whats written in hiragana. I suggest avoiding the romaji as soon as you can though, so learn those kana!

すごい - Sugoi this means something like cool or similar. So when someone does something cool you say すごい !

くわいい - kuwaii - this means cute, although in Japan apparently lots of things are cute, not just bunny rabbits ;) So an example would be my daughter is very くわいい

So a couple of useful words to start off with, you can use these as both questions in a relaxed informal way with friends and likewise answers. Such as a friend comes around and loads up a preview video of a new game and turns to you and asks
"すごい?" You just answer

Ok next up a few greetings and killing a quick common misconception about hello.
Firstly Japanese has a couple of greetings based on time of the day, the common phrase most people know is
こんいちは - konnichiwa this is not just hello, it is more like good day.
So used typically from 9/10am until evening, for some reason everyone thinks this is just a general hello and you would get some interesting looks if you used this at 11pm for example!

For good morning (used until 9/10amish where it swaps to the above) it is
おはよございます - which is ohayogozaimasu This is quite formal, for a relaxed greeting between friends of relatives you can drop the
ございます - gozaimasu and just have
おはよ - ohayo.
An exmaple of this in english would be rather than "Good Morning" you say to a friend "Morning"

Onto evening time (from 4/5pmish) and we come to
こんばんは - Kombanwa

Finally we have Good Night and this is typically just before bed rather than a goodbye like it can get used in Britain. Therefore usually used only between family etc. This is
おやすみなさい oyasuminasai

So to recap we have morning, day, evening, night.

This shows a few parting gestures too, I will expand on these in my next blog so don't panic on them right now because they are perhaps not just the bye stated on this video.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Learning the Kana

ok so the first step realistically is to learn the two Kana, both the Hiragana and the Katakana. Along side this its good to practice with the pronunciation at the same time. So here is a link of a place where you can download a pdf with practice writing squares that you can print. Alternatively I just bought a squared exercise book from WHSmiths, was a couple of quid and cheaper than printing a load.Just practice writing the kana over and over whilst pronouncing them as you write to learn them.

This is a little program that tests and trains a bit like flash cards. It's a small program so you can stick it on a usb flash drive and take it anywhere to practice which is handy. Unlike some other flash card type programs, which although are great to practice which are usually a lot bigger. A good example would be Byki - Japanese Before You Know It Deluxe 4.0 Language Tutor which you can download a free trial and then download pre-made flash cards others have made such as hiragana to practice with.

Again all of this is just to learn the kana, once you have these down you can read a good chunk of Japanese! Yes there are then thousands of Kanji you will need to learn, but you will be amazed how much is written in the kana, especially menus and the like!

A great book to look out for is Remembering the Kana: A Guide to Reading and Writing the Japanese Syllabaries in 3 Hours Each (Manoa) (Japanese Edition) (part 1) which has a interesting way to learning and memorising the Kana and well worth a look. You can view a few pages free from the publishers website to get a feel for how the method works.

Finally for stroke order etc to practice writing look at the first post

Monday, 26 April 2010

Pronounciation, the first 46 sounds.

Ok so the good thing about Japanese is that there is very few actual sounds that you have to pronounce. So below is a little song to help with the these and follow the Hiragana and Katakana lists that I posted yesterday. The tune is very j-pop but is also annoyingly catchy, it does however help you to learn the correct pronunciation!

Below is the lyrics, written in Hiragana with my bracketed comments. This originally comes from which is a useful site I stumbled on, its free and well worth a look with some useful tools too!
ごじゅうおん を おぼえよう
gojuuon o oboeyou
Let's learn 50 sounds (although there is only 46 now?!)
mazu wa
First of all
あ ぎょう
a gyou
The a-row (Onto the syllabary same as yesterday)
a i u e o
か ぎょう
ka gyou
The ka-row
ka ki ku ke ko
さ ぎょう
sa gyou
The sa-row
sa shi su se so
た ぎょう
ta gyou
The ta-row
ta chi tsu te to
な ぎょう
na gyou
The na-row
na ni nu ne no
は ぎょう
ha gyou
The ha-row
ha hi hu he ho
ま ぎょう
ma gyou
The ma-row
ma mi mu me mo
や ぎょう
ya gyou
The ya-row
ya yu yo
ら ぎょう
ra gyou
The ra-row
ra ri ru re ro
さいごに みっつ
saigo ni mittsu
As for the last, three...
wa wo n

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. The first steps.

So I have started to learn Japanese, I figured if I blog my efforts it might make me do it a bit more regularly and help me revise also!

So anyway I found two funky shockwave snippets (from for writing in Hiragana and katakana and I thought I would share them up here for starters.
Not that I have done much with them yet but hey its the thought that counts right?!

So here is the first Japanese syllabary Hiragana, first part of learning the language is to learn these 46 characters and pronunciation. I will come to that next post.

This is Katakana the second Japanese Syllabary, this is used for non Japanese words but used in everyday language. Again I will explain more on this to come.

Finally there is a third set of characters that need to be learnt called Kanji, these are based of original Chinese characters and rather than an alphabet these are words. No way around these other than to memorise them. I wont start these just yet but will come onto them once the first two sets are comfortable.