I’d now like to briefly explain how I got to a point where the girl I went to karaoke with forgot that I wasn’t Japanese until I started singing Ed Sheeran. (don’t worry my ego gets a fair beating) To be fair she comes from Okinawa, people mistake her as a foreigner sometimes.
“Had I known that restaurant was so expensive, I wouldn’t have gone.” Before you read this, @ Japanese learners, have a think or even write down how you’d say that in Japanese.
Sometimes you’ll start saying a sentence and realise that you don’t know how to say the thing. WRITE THIS SHIT DOWN and go ask a native speaker. Trust me this is exhilarating stuff. As a language learner, there’s no better feeling than smashing down those barriers to having fluent conversation. Scratch that, there’s no better feeling as a human being. Maybe I just like language learning too much. So I’d like to give you a right and proper case study for how to study how to speak like a native. Trust me, they don’t teach you this is school and you for sure cannot learn this by yourself.
In Japanese there is no future tense, allow me to draw out the chart.
Did した | Am Doing している | To Do する | Will do する
Yesterday I studied = 昨日勉強した
I’m (currently) studying = 今勉強している
I study Japanese = 日本語を勉強する
I’m studying Japanese tomorrow = 明日日本語を勉強する
Bonus tip for Japanese learners. I’m going to study Japanese is still 日本語を勉強する。I see a lot of people use するつもりだ and する予定 which native speakers tend not to use unless they actually mean. I intend to study, like you have to really intend to do the thing to say つもり、if you’re just gonna study, stick to する。Also for 予定, your textbook will probably say this means “plan to” or “have plans to” and while this might make it seem like you can just create the future tense, this creates the sense that you’ve made a schedule and you’re studying tomorrow. In fact, while I’m at it べき gets used a lot more than it should. It textbooks it means “should” but it’s not just a “what should I do now”, it’s more of a “what should I have a sense of responsibility to do at this point in time”. It’s a little heavy so maybe refrain from using it too much. Here are a couple of alternatives. どうしたらいい？どうすればいい？
So now that we’ve established that verb conjugation in Japanese doesn’t allow us to make the future tense, how do I say the following sentence in Japanese?
“Had I known that restaurant was so expensive, I wouldn’t have gone.”
Let’s break this down. We’ve got two phrases separated by a comma. The first phrase can be translated as: あのレストランはそんな高いと知ってたら which isn’t that complicated but in the second phrase we run into this problem where the present me is lamenting and action that, in the past is in the future. You might need to read that last sentence a few times. Chronological order:
past me | paying money at the expense restaurant | present me, complaining
So to make it clear: Relative to past me, paying money me is in the future and that’s where we’re gonna run into a problem. If Japanese can’t conjugate verbs, how am I supposed to express something that I would or would not have done.
あのレストランはそんな高いと知ってたら、行かんかったのに。Is what my Japanese friend said they would say in that situation. Let’s clean it up a bit.
あのレストランはそんなに高いと知っていたら、行かなかったのに。My first reaction is that the second phrase wouldn’t work because by itself it means something like “aw man, I didn’t get to go” But with the context of the first phrase and our knowledge that in Japanese, future and dictionary form are the same, so it kinda makes sense that this could be “I wouldn’t have gone” and I guess that’s just a thing that we’ve gotta accept mean what they mean.
So now that I’ve had my ego put in check by not being able to say something seemingly everyday and simple, I’ve decided that the only thing I know is that I know nothing. Also another pro-tip, if you have phrases that you couldn’t work out how to say during the day, have a real go at solving this in the shower.
Also if the answer was blindingly obvious to any of you let me know so I can question where I spent all those years of studying Japanese over a conbini pudding.
I’d be lying if I said all is well. My teacher for classical Japanese at uni is a real hard-ass. I’ve been told he’s a real softie so I’m waiting for that to come around.
Ever got 1/12 on a test you didn’t know about? Still wish Japan would hurry up and put things on the internet like the rest of us. Come on, new emperor, do you thing, digitise the nation already!
For the past few months I’ve had this thing where I don’t feel attracted to anyone and I don’t know what’s going on cause usually I am one datey boi, but I don’t know if I miss the romance. When people tell me about their crushes and that I kinda miss it though, I feel boring and a little left out. The ratios at my uni are like 7 girls for 3 boys so I also feel like I’m missing out on some good datey action but also when I see heartbreak happen in front of my eyes I’m also glad I don’t care. I’m confused, surely I’m not the only one who’s had a phase like this. Any advice???
The closest thing I’ve had to a crush lately is this girl who vaguely looks like someone I used to think was cute. She invites me to hang out sometimes which puts me in a tough place cause my friend’s into her. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a love triangle, how exciting.
Being healthy isn’t as hard when you have people telling you what to do. Just do what they say and you’ll live longer. How easy is that? Also the price of chicken, broccoli and rice is just nothing compared to Maccas and conbini bento boxes so being healthy is cheap and easy? I’m still doubtful but I’ll roll with it.
2019/04/20 Life hasn’t calmed down yet
- Got all the electric appliances for my new apartment (finally)
- Revised my schedule for the 8105th time, thanks education department
- Joined a music club, excited to play in a band again
- Got a job in helping students learn English at uni
- Reflected on my attitude towards stress, maybe I should get some of it
- Learned how to read Hangul and learned some words
- Learned how to read Pinyin and still can’t read Pinyin half the time
- Korean is so much easier to learn compared to Chinese, at least in the very beginning stages
- Must remember to study Japanese, worried that I might get complacent
- Waiting for money to appear
Allow me to subtly brag about my Japanese skills one more time.
In my faculty, I am the only native English speaker who is proficient in university level Japanese. I can’t take Japanese classes and I can’t take English classes so I have to take other foreign language classes. A lot of them at that.
I’ve always wanted to learn Chinese so I’m taking it. There’s been so many Koreans around me since moving to Japan last year so there’s my other one.
Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine learning a language is like holding a tube up to your brain - when I tell you a thing in English, you take it as it is and put it in your brain, there’s no filtering, no barriers. I said a thing, you hear a thing. Learning Japanese was like holding a funnel up to my head, people could pour information in but I simply couldn’t process it until I learned more, and now that I’ve learned more it’s less like a funnel and more like the tube that I have in English, although probably a bit more narrow.
Now with Chinese and Korean it’s like whacking a stick of information on my brain and wondering why it hurts so much.
I’m really glad I focused so much on Japanese instead of spreading myself too thin. Not just because I live in Japan, but now I know how to learn a foreign language. I may be doing my undergraduate in Japanese but imagine if I did grad school in Chinese.
- I had an entrance ceremony with cherry blossoms in the background and everything
- There’s so many clubs to choose from and I’m realising how important music is to me now that I haven’t done anything for over half a year
- After living in a different Japanese uni for a year doing language school I feel like I’m a 先輩 to other people in my program even though we’re in the same year level
- I don’t own any furniture except this futon that I’m sitting on but I’m barely even in my apartment. I get up and leave and when I get back in the evening I crash.
- University classes are waay more interesting than high school. I mean this is pretty obvious but I’m glad I’m not in high school anymore, fun as it was.
- @language learners, please keep learning your target language I want you to know how it feels to have the years of study pay off.
- @japanese language learners, you gotta put in at least twice the time that anyone else has to. With the time I’ve put into Japanese I could’ve learned like two European languages or something I dunno, keep it up.
- I’m still learning better and more efficient ways to learn Japanese, it keeps getting better
- I have to learn Chinese now oops
- Went to Tokyo to look for apartments
- Only ate a third of my 駅弁 before we got to Kyoto from Osaka
- Bullet Train is the big zoom
- Went through three different real estate agents
- First one was very professional, nice tie, nice watch
- Second couldn’t have cared less about me
- Third one was the big daddy of apartments in the area
- Maid cafe. Somehow I’m a regular now
- How did my life come to being a maid cafe regular?
- Shopping in Harajuku
- You always find what you want in Harajuku
- Maccas for dinner
- Back in the land of funny accents
- Endured feedback on my report draft
- Cried in the library
- Met up with an old mate from England
- Started compiling notes from my interview with the professor/Buddhist Monk
- Sometimes you realise how far you’ve come in language learning
- One day you can’t remember which version of “hello” and the next you’re debating whether or not AI can have religion with a monk-professor
- Monk-professor said if my research continues, he’ll be interviewing me in ten years
- Got bread from the bakery on their last day
- Finally got a Japanese phone number
- Somehow I survived about a year without one
- Finished classical Japanese homework
- If you want funny anecdotes about a sassy Japanese noblewoman, 清少納言’s (Seisho Nagon) 枕草子 (The Pillow Book) is the read for you
- Finished 漢文 (Kanbun) homework
- Confucius does indeed say
- Finished reading homework (pic related)
- Planned out a trip to the capital
- Ya boi’s gettin that Bullet Train magic
I’d like to briefly (turns out I lied, it’s fairly detailed) explain how I got to the point where Japanese grammar patterns are just part of life and I don’t really think about them. The most straightforward guides are Kanzen Master and Tae Kim.
That being said most Japanese textbooks will probably cover most of the grammar from N4&5. Everyone seems to like Genki, I’ve never touched it but it’s probably good.
Kanzen Master 新完全マスター
That’s it, really. My Japanese teacher at my language school in Japan literally photocopies pages out of these books.
Make your flashcards as you read the book and do practice questions. Go to Google, type the grammar pattern + grammar and japanesetest4you will come up. Read those sentences, make your own and get them checked by someone (post them somewhere like HelloTalk) and then realise how pointless every grammar pattern past N3 really is when they tell you a more natural way of not using that grammar pattern.
Also, get some Anki decks.
Pay close attention to how things connect.
What verb conjugation has to come before? Can nouns connect? How to change words? Does nominalisation occur? What does 普通形 mean?
The first question in each multiple choice section in Kanzen Master tests your 繋がり so it’s probably important. Sentences often give away what grammar patterns they will use.
For example, if I gave you the question「お前しか____だろう」
You know it’s gotta be ⑵ because ない always comes after しか。In pretty much every grammar guide these will be written down so get those highlighter engines running!
So that’s basically how you pass N1.
Pay attention to what kind of nuance the grammar has
Some grammar points can only be used when something happens due to the speaker’s intent（意志的行為）, some can only be used when things happen of their own accord（自発）. Some can’t be used when the speaker and the agent are the same and so on. Kanzen Master has these nuances written down below so again, get those highlighters going!
Make it easy for yourself
Kanzen master is written in Japanese so learning the words that are used to explain other words is a good move. For example, “verb, negative form” would look like 「ない形」or 「否定形」and then instead of “ない but without ない,” you could just say 「未然形」now learning is slightly more convenient and your notes will be cleaner.
There are a lot of grammar patterns that use the same words, 「わけ」「限り」「こと」「もの」「よう」など are the common enemies. Make sure you can easilytell the difference. Take your time and really learn these. As a test, try to explain them to someone else. Try to pick up on the commonly used phrases within each of those widely used words. That helps heaps.
UseSRS! Programs like Anki and WaniKani will do this for you. Now you take way less time to learn a lot more!
書き・硬い言葉 vs 話し言葉
Some grammar patterns are really useful in real life but sound odd if you were to write them in an essay
In witness whereof the parties hereunto have set their hands to these presents as a deed on the day month and year hereinbefore mentioned.
If anyone said this to you, you’d probably think it’s a joke.
The grammar patterns that are onlyused in either context will be marked as 硬い or 話し言葉. Similarly, there are some patterns that you would only use in certain contexts. Political speeches, advertisements, Japanese customer relations. This will be written as a warning but in fine texts at the bottom of each grammar pattern. You know the drill, highlighters! Maybe a different colour this time.
Be aware of what is not used in real life
When you try out your cool new grammar patterns in real life and people don’t react, that’s when you know you’ve got it right. That, or people won’t tell you when you’re wrong. Both are equally likely.
If you’re not sure, ask your friendly resident Japanese person if it’s 言うed. This’ll be edging more into speaking territory but be aware of how Japanese people use (or not use) the grammar that you’ve learned.
People love studying grammar - my thoughts
I get it, there’s formulas and you’re either right or you’re wrong. It’s easy to measure progress cause last week you were on ２課 and now you’re on ４課. And fair enough, the bulk of what you need for JLPT is grammar patterns.
However, if your goal is to pass the JLPT then maybe consider adding another goal but if not, then sure, stick to grammar.
If you wanna do uni in Japan then you’ll need N1
If your goal is to get better at Japanese, then put more time into something like learning 敬語 (respectful language) or making friends with Japanese people. I recommend, for starters, learning the N5 and N4 (I’m not sure but Genki probably covers most of these?) grammar patterns as fast as you can and then allot more of that energy into human connections while studying N3 grammar. Don’t rush into N2 grammar, they’re not used enough to warrant going in head on.
As for N1, being able to recognise the patterns is enough, don’t worry about being able to use them.
- Did a presentation on my report
- Did better than I expected but I expected to do horribly so I at least did slightly better than that
- Locked down an interview with my culture teacher, who also happens to be a Buddhist monk
- Paid those bills
- Made good headway on my report
- Realised I can’t be sarcastic and self deprecating if I actually did my work
- Invited that girl who’s way too good at languages to a party and she said yes
- Things are turning out great today
- Realise there’s a quiz tomorrow that I didn’t revise for
And she’s really good at languages. Mind you, I live in an international student dorm in a foreign languages university campus so I shouldn’t be so surprised, but here I am still wondering how she got this good.
I was hanging out with my Thai and Korean friends. We all speak Japanese cause that’s the common tongue even though everyone speaks English and in she walks, Japanese girl, speaking Japanese, nothing out of the ordinary until she speaks Thai to the Thai people and then Korean with the Koreans.
It’s not just your everyday self-introduction that anyone can get fluent in, in just about any language after about 2 and a half days of watching Youtube tutorials, we were talking aboutstuffin Japanese and then when the person she was talking to didn’t know the word for free-market capitalism (how many of us know these kind of words in our own language anyway) she would just switch to their bloody language.
Now I just have to let you know, since I am so humble about my Japanese ability that she had no reason to speak to me in English. But she did. I had asked what year of uni she was in, “yeah I’m a freshman”, what is a freshman?
Pictures of the Old-Spice guy and various other hygiene commercials flashed inside my head before I concluded that this probably meant first-year cause y’know, it’s got a freshin there but while I was working this out I must’ve had a weird look on my face because then she laughs, gives me a slap on the arm and says, “no, I’m actually a junior”. if freshman is first year, what the shit is a junior?
So now I’ve concluded, if I want to look like a well-learned Japanese learner I should just learn a different dialect or something. I guess it’s a good thing I live in Osaka. Also that maybe I’ve put all my eggs into the Japanese learning basket and not enough into literally any other language. Then again, I like Japan.
PS Meeting cute girls has a miraculous effect on your motivation.
PPS Maybe I just have a thing for girls that are good at languages, what does that say about me??
- Revised for weekly kanji quiz
- Revised for weekly vocab quiz
- Went outside
- Researched Buddhist history for my report
- Felt insecure about taking a picture in a cafe
- Felt stupid for feeling insecure when the high school girl sitting next to me didn’t think twice about snapping away at her berry frappuccino
- Craved shin ramyun
- Had to give up on shin ramyun when I only had three minutes to catch the bus and family’s in front of me were buying enough to last a blizzard or two
- Felt bad when I looked at my to do list and I did all of like two things
- Realise studyblr community would probably pat me on the back for doing literally anything
- Felt better about myself
- Realise this is turning into Tumblr greentext?
- Pic related¿¿¿
I’d now like to briefly explain how I got to the point where kanji is no longer and issue when I use Japanese. I don’t by any stretch of the imagination know anywhere near enough kanji to call myself a kanji expert, but you don’t need to be. Having a strong understanding of the 常用 kanji will get you a lot further than knowing obscure kanji that you might run across in a kanji game show or a novel from the Meiji Era.
How to read kanji
Once you’ve got the hang of how kanji radicalsandreadings work (on-yomi and kun-yomi) it’s best to start learning as many of the common kanji as you can. I used a website calledwanikani, it costs a bit but when you consider you will learn and remember over 2000 kanji it’s a real steal! Not to mention all the vocab you learn from it (10,000ish?). You won’t learn how to handwrite the kanji. If that’s an issue for you, write the kanji along as you go, or find a plugin that will make you handwrite. Or stop having it be an issue.
No one knows how to read names so don’t worry about that until you have to worry about it.
Writing the kanji
In my experience learning how to read and type has been much more practical than taking the time to learn how to write. Unless you’re going to take tests where you have to handwrite kanji (which admittedly a lot of us do), don’t bother. We live in current year where you don’t really have to write and when you do you almost always have access to your phone.
If you do want to learn how to handwrite, pay attention to radicalsandstroke order. When Japanese people talk about kanji they will use the radicals, I’d take the time to learn their Japanese names so that when you say 「どっちやったっけ？」and the nice lady in front of the counter says 「人偏…」you will look like a person who knows what they’re doing, not to mention the convenience of not looking it up on your phone despite the lady telling you how to write it.
Learning and looking up new kanji
Google Translate has a handwriting and a picture taking tool, making it very easy to look up kanji that you see in the wild and don’t know the reading for. Then you can copy and paste that into your dictionary app and boom, you can read anything. My personal dictionary of choice on my phone isJsho, it shows pitch accent and you can look up other words with the same kanji.
Everyone hates Google Translate? Google Translate works, trust me. If you just look up individual words you rarely ever get a wrong answer. And if you’re gonna be putting it into your dictionary anyway, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Some thoughts on kanji
I hate kanji. A lot of people like kanji, I don’t know why. If we didn’t have kanji class, I could take another speaking class, or report writing class or literally anything else. I’ve met a lot of Japanese learners that think that get real up on their high horse cause they know kanji. Don’t be that guy, just learn your kanji and then realise that Japanese 9 year olds still know more than you. Say humble.
Kanji is kinda useful when you don’t know a word but you know the kanji and you can kinda guess what the word means but you still gotta learn your vocab anyway so it’s really not that useful.
History, it’s always history. History class keeps me hopeful for the future. One day kids will just learn about things we can’t even comprehend yet.
終章 - The final chapter
辿る - たどる to follow (road), to pursue (course), to follow up
めく - to show signs of
テーゼ - thesis; statement
啓蒙主義 - けいもうしゅぎ; illuminism, enlightenment
連携 - れんけい cooperation; coordination; link
文明 - civilisation; Bunmei era
万能 - ばんのう all-purpose, almighty, omnipotent
打撃 - だげき 1. blow, shock, strike, damage, 2. batting (baseball)
終焉 - しゅうえん demise
かげり - shadow or cloud over one’s happiness
思潮 - しちょう；trend of thought
皇国 - The Japanese empire
史観 - historical view
抵触 - ていしょく conflict (with the law)
丹念 - たんねん diligence, application
実証主義 - じっしょうしゅぎ positivism
排外主義 - はいがいしゅぎ; anti-foreign
対外 - たいがい external/foreign
侵略 - しんりゃく aggression; invasion; raid
依拠 - いきょ dependence
様相 - ようそう aspect
化身 - けしん incarnation; impersonation; personification; avatar
為政者 - いせいしゃ statesman
蔓延る - はびこる to spread; to run rampant; to grow thick; to become powerful
権化 - ごんげ incarnation; avatar
疑念 - ぎねん；doubt
脱構築 - だつこうちく deconstruction (Jacques Derrida)
助長 - じょちょう；promotion
蠢く - うごめく; to wriggle; to squirm; to crawl like a worm
ユダヤ - Judea
従軍慰安婦 - じゅうぐんいあんふ；comfort women
先述 - せんじゅつ The aforementioned / above-mentioned
実証 - じっしょう actual proof; demonstration
担保 - たんぽ security; collateral (mortgage)
君臨 - くんりん；reigning, controlling, to reign, to dictate, to control
趣向 - しゅこう a device; a plan, an idea
新機軸 - しんきじく；innovation; new departure; milestone; breakthrough
隠蔽 - いんぺい concealment; suppression; hiding
白日 - bright sunshine; broad daylight
嶋 - island [alternate]; territory of an organised crime gang
力作 - りきさく； literary or artistic masterpiece (on which much labour was spent) (labor)
自虐 - masochism
侵撃 - しんげき； invading and attacking
真摯 - しんし；Sincere/Earnest
紛争 - ふんそう dispute, trouble, strife
Whenever I’m in classical Japanese class I always wonder why I bothered taking it but when old Japanese men tell me how cool I am, that’s how I know it’s all worth it.
I’m always a little taken aback when I see a very ugly kanji, looking at you, 編纂, sometimes I wish no one would ever have to learn kanji, imagine how far we’d be into the language if there wasn’t any kanji!
This week in reading class we got an article about the history of Christianity in Japan, always an exciting topic!
教母 - godmother; religious sponsor
端緒 - a clue; start; beginning
弥治郎 - やじろ
郷里 - きょうり birth-place, home town
手違い - mistakeてちがい
船中 - on board
改宗 - かいしゅう religious conversion
洗礼 - baptism
帰途 - on the way back
山々 - Mountains
やまやま説く - とく to explain
叶える - かなえる to grant (request wish)
旺盛 - full of vim and vigorおうせい
聖なる - holy
種々 - くさぐさ varietyしゅじゅ
洗者 - せんしゃ
待望 - たいぼう long-awaited
上陸 - じょうりく landing, disembarkation
被昇天 - Assumption of the body and soul of Mary into heaven
大祝日 - だいしゅくび
布教 - ふきょう missionary work; propagation
福音 - ふくいん gospel
宣教 - せんきょう religious mission; religious proclamation
後人 - こうじん future generations
習得 - しゅうとく learning; acquisition
精通 - acquaintance; having knowledge; being expert; being versed in; conversant
玄義 - キリスト教で，神によって啓示され，人の知識だけでは理解しがたい信仰の奥義をいう。
福者 - カトリック教会が生前の聖徳を認めて死者におくる敬称。
敬称 - title of honour
合致 - がっち agreement, concurrence, conforming to
専念 - せんねん dedication
来朝 - らいちょう arriving in Japan; visiting Japan
説教 - せっきょう preach; sermon
卑近 - ひきん；simple
初歩 - しょほ the basics
訂する - ていする; to correct
公教 - Roman Catholicism
要理 - かなめ vital point
文典 - grammar
編纂 - へんさん compilation; editing
各種 - かくしゅ every kind, all sorts
不滅 - ふめつ immortal; undying; indestructible
光芒 - こうぼう; beam of light
推定 - すいてい presumption, assumption, estimation
How I learned Japanese - Speaking
I’d like to briefly explain how I got to a point where I can take Japanese university classes in Japanese without too much of a language issue.
This post will be about speaking, probably the most fun and rewarding part of learning a language is when you don’t realise you’ve been speaking a language you weren’t raised into. Questions are always welcome! 愚問がない！
Actually speaking Japanese is the best way to learn how to speak Japanese. If you don’t live in Japan it might be more difficult but even back in my hometown I was able to find friends and people to talk with though language swap, tutoring and so forth. I had the most success with “HelloTalk” and even after not using it for over a year, I still talk with the friends I made there. Mimic what and how Japanese people say things and step out of your comfort zone
I can’t stress how important it is to learn proper pronunciation. You will feel so much better about speaking if you know how to say what you’re saying. Knowing proper pitch accent is made all the more important with Japanese since there are so many homonyms in Japanese. Pretty much every Japanese learner at some point said something the wrong way and the message got lost entirely. The best resource that I’ve found in terms of practicality is made by “Dogen”.
Just today I said the word 意外 but with the pronunciation of 以外 and had I not known that pitch accent exists, I would not have been able to quickly correct myself
I highly recommend recording yourself speaking and listening to it back, if you immediately cringe at hearing yourself, do it more. I’m know that people hating the sound of their own voice is a real thing but, getting used to hearing yourself talk and identifying things that sound very non-Japanese-like and improving on them will get you so far. Pleaserecordyourself.
A Few Thoughts on Speaking
Japanese learners are notorious for their ability to read and write but not being able to put a sentence together when speaking. And then when we do speak, it sounds like we’re reading off a script. Speaking isn’t tested in the JLPT which is probably a big reason that not many people learn it. Please learn how to converse in Japanese
Hi, today I decided to get back on Tumblr with a brand now blog. The main focus is gonna be studying in Japan as an international student. I don’t really feel comfortable giving out too much information about who and where I am so bear with me. I’ll be doing the entirety of my degree over here in Japan so hopefully, I’ll get a bit better at writing in Japanese from doing this blog. I’ll also write about lifestyle things like food, travel and personal reflections every now and then when anything interesting happens.