Humor and Horror in Beginning Japanese

(see pronunciation guide in blue box below)

Japanese Proper Confused
with similar
Example / Note
kawaiii cute kowaii horrible “Your baby is so “kawaii””
ningen People ninjin carrot Look at all the people [carrots?!] riding bicycles home from work.
written:  ai 合い written:  meet ai愛 love Texting can be more delicate than speaking: when in doubt use kana.
7(Nana)-Ji Shigoto mae, Otaku ni aimasyoo ka?  Do not use the kanji for “love” instead of “meet”. They’ll probably know what you mean, but why not save your friends’ patience for your more complex blunders?
Answering “No” to “Didn’t you arrive at 7 AM” In Japanese:

“Yes, I didn’t”

Answering “Yes” to “Didn’t you arrive at 7
AM”
In Japanese: “No, I did.” Japanese logically answers the statement implied by your question.
Yes “unh” Sounds
like guttural dismay, a negative
“Proper”,
but both sides need to exercise care
No “II desu” (yoii desu), [mo] ii desu
Answering “No” to “Didn’t you arrive at 7 AM” In English:
“No, I didn’t”
Japanese logically answers the statement implied by your question.

It’s wise to avoid the common English “negative question”when speaking. But be ready to explain it by example if you are teaching English.

Answering “Yes” to “Didn’t you arrive at 7
AM?”
In
English:“Yes, I did.”
I prefer the Japanese now:
instead of a too-short Yes/No answer, it is clearer rephrase the whole statement, “I arrived at 0700.”
anko Bean
Confection
unko feces “Do your pastries contain ”anko” ?”

 


 

First Meeting: Hajime-msashita” If you hear “hajimete-o-me-ni-kakarimasu”, they said the archaic “it’s the beginning and my eyes are hanging out…” Caveat emptor!
Before you eat clasp hands in Thai-sai style and say “Itadaki-mas'” (Itadakimasu) A thankful gesture to the host: it literally means ‘I will partake’
Declining more food “Mo kekko desu” with a smile and a slight bow of the head perhaps a gentle left-right-left movement of your right vertical hand in front of your chin/upper torso perhaps copy another guest’s gentle left-right-left movement of the right vertical hand in front of your chin/upper torso
After you eat, or getting ready to leave the table: “Go-chisou-sama-deshita” (somewhat literally: you provided a most excellent feast) (see O- and Go) (with or without the more casual, “Oishii-kata!” (delicious)
Opening the door: O-saki-ni-dozo
(proving you’re a Westerner, and not from around here)
You first, please

 


 

  • Pronunciation:
    • is 99.9% EXACTLY LIKE SPANISH: no long vowels, each syllable pronounced with same meter/length, except:
    • at each of most sentences or any “masu” form verb (desu, ikimasu, tabemasu, wakarimasu) will USUALLY drop the final “u”
    • these sound like “so des’ka?”, or “tabemas’ ka” or “wakarimas’ “.
  • Go and O:
    • Onegai-shimasu, O-mizu, O-sake, Okaa-san, Odaiji-ni are “honorifics”.
    • They do not technically mean “you”, but act just the same, referring never to oneself
    • Gochiso, Gomen-nasai, Go-yukkuri, Go-enryonaku, are used like “O” above, but have a Chinese derivation
  • Invisible pronoun:
    • Unlike English, once a pronoun (I: watashi, you: anata) is understood, Japanese don’t repeat except if needed for clarity. This takes some getting used to, because “subject” is a key part of English grammar, but not needed as much in Japanese. Not too different than Spanish where subject is often omitted when the verb indicates it.