Thursday, September 3, 2009

毎週一日本語クラス! 第一:Greetings, Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji

Hi all~
notice that some of you have got interest in picking up Japanese in the future so I have decided to do a mini every week Japanese class~
I don't how long I can maintain this class but I hope to update as often as weekly and but it also depends on my classes and assignments as well as the responds.. wahaha

I will be using romaji (ロマジ), meaning English alphabets to help you in pronouncing words together with Japanese characters but I hope that one day you might get used to it enough that I would not have to use them.

Firstly lets begin with the interesting everyday stuff!

Good morning おはよう ohayoo

Good morning (formal) おはよう ございます ohayoo gozaimasu

Good afternoon こんにちは konnichiwa

Good evening こんばんは konbanwa

Goodnight おやすみなさい oyasuminasai

Thank you ありがとう arigatoo

Thank you (formal) ありがとう ございます arigatoo gozaimasu

Excuse me/ I'm sorry すみません sumimasen

No/ not at all いいえ iie

Yes はい hai

Thank you for the meal (before eating) いただきます itadakimasu

Thank you for the meal (after meal) ごちそうさま gochisoosama

How do you do? はじめまして hajimemashite

Nice to meet you どうぞ よろしく doozo yoroshiku

Most of the terms are self-explanatory. I'll just make a quick explanation on the usage of iie (いいえ). I sure most people know that iie has the same usage as "no" in English. On top of that, iie can be used as a "don't mention it" kind of situation. Eg. if someone who steps on you says sumimasen (すみません), you can also reply with いいえ.

These are some handy terms that might be useful for some everyday instances. As much as I wish it was, Japanese language is not about learning funny and interesting terms. However boring things like grammar and some other stuff are usually the important things that make up the important parts of the Japanese language. So minnasan, gambatte kudasai.

Besides these terms, I would like to introduce everyone to the different writing styles that Japanese uses. I'm sure some of you are familiar with these, particularly those who did Japanese language in poly. but for the benefit of those who do not know, I'll explain them. For those who know, this might be a good time to re-memorise them again~ hohoho.

The hiragana writing style is the writing style that is most commonly used. It shares the same system as the English alphabets system. When reading however, Japanese language is much easier. One example is "mi". In English, "mi" can be read as me or ma (as in mine) and many others. However me (め) in the Japanese system will always be read as め**.

There are a total of 46 characters and each of them mean a specific sound. You can see the whole chart
here. I do not expect you guys to memorize them all since there is not a practical use of them for you guys as of yet. However, when reading through words that I used hiragana, please try to identify them instead of completely ignoring them. It really helps and one day I'm sure you will be able to read paragraphs of hiragana with no problem.

**The pronunciation of the "e" column is not similar to English. e sounds like eh, ke sounds like keh, me sounds like meh. For the actual sound, please follow the link to the hiragana chart that I have provided. There is an option that allows you to hear the sound of the character so please make use of it when in doubt.

The katakana writing system is entirely similar to the hiragana but it is generally reserved for loan words and foreign names such as television (terebi テレビ) and Singapore (shingapooru シンガポール). Katakana characters appears to be straighter and sharper when compared to hiragana, which appears to be rounder. Therefore, if you ever encounter katakana characters, you can be sure it is likely an imported word.
Here is the link to the katakana chart.

Kanji or 漢字, as the characters suggest, are words that are borrowed from Chinese characters. They are used together with hiragana for the ease of reading. For example "to eat" can be written as たべます or 食べます. The latter would give the reader that it has something to do with food in a glance.

They usually share similar meanings but often differ in reading. Also, unlike Chinese characters, each kanji often has several different ways to read. How it is to be read depends on how it is used in a sentence. However, I don't think there is a need to understand that far yet.

And I'm done! This concludes the lesson one of my mini Japanese class! See you next week! じゃあ また らいしゅう!

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