First Lesson in Japanese

February 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm 6 comments

Logo Touring JapanYesterday I had my first lesson in Japanese.  A classmate from the Music Business Program is a major in Japanese Studies.  We talked about basic sentence structure in the Japanese language, present tense and different particles.  I am not going to get into details but the sentence structure in Japanese is different.  The verb is at the end of the sentence.  So it is subject, object and verb.

He gave me a list of words focussing on the important vocabulary for organizing a Japan-tour.  We started with simple sentences in present tense that start with “I” or “we”.

“Watashi ha Christoph Hoffmann desu.”

Well, to be honest I knew that sentence already before mars mushrooms went to Japan.  I don’t have my notes here right now, but he taught me a lot more sentences similar to that.  You see, I am excited!  I’ll pretty soon start bothering my Japanese friends with pathetic Japanese sentences.  I hope they’ll appreciate it.

If you have any experience with the studying of Japanese, feel free to share!

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. t-pin  |  February 4, 2009 at 7:39 am

    hey christoph, that sounds nice. learning the japanese language surely is a challenge. well, what i recommend is learning the two syllable-alphabets “hiragana” and “katakana” as quickly as possible. with steady practise you should be capable of them within 2 weeks or so. thus, you can already write everything, but at this point it makes more than sense to expand your knowledge by adding kanji step by step as well. this way japanese children learn writing, too. fully grown-up texts are a mix of the syllable-letters and kanji. to read a newspaper you should be aware of about 2000 characters they say. i don’t assume that reading newspapers is your aim, but learning japanese without any knowledge of the local script and only based on latin characters will limit yourself sooner or later. spoken language and script in japan is deeply connected, so you WANT to learn how to write, too ;) no how-to-dos here, just a little advice for more effective learning from my side. if you need help or literature drop me a line. good luck! ganbatte ne!

    Reply
  • 2. choffmann  |  February 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I did not learn “ganbatte ne!” yet, but I do appreciate that piece of advice. I’ve thought about that, too. In the books I have there should be something about “hiragana” and “katakana”, too. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. If you know about any online document that is specifically aimed at learning those two alphabets, please post the link here!!!

    Reply
  • 3. t-pin  |  February 6, 2009 at 5:12 am

    christoph, i am pleased to do so. a quick google search provided me some links which might be useful to you. it’s rather what google showed up first than a deeply evaluated collection. so, as there is a vast amount of sources to be found on the internet, i strongly recommend to do some research by yourself, too.

    http://www.mizukan.org/images/kana_table.jpg
    (a nice looking table of hiragana and katakana. note: both alphabets have 46 basic characters each, everything else you see are only slight alterations of those. the alterations though enhance one’s ability of expression. for instance, adding something looking similar to quotation marks (“: dakuten) makes an unvoiced a voiced consonant, k->g, t->d, s->z, h->b, adding a little circle (°: handakuten) will turn an h into a p. there are more expressions possible, like kya, kyu kyo (think of tôkyô) and so on. have a look at the hepburn romanization charts at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepburn_romanization#Hepburn_romanization_charts which i find most useful regarding the transcription from japanese into latin characters. the old syllabaries (before world war II) include characters for wi and we, too)

    http://www.ramou.net/ja/TableKana.htm
    (a very simple table)

    http://www.embjapan.de/hiragana.html
    (along with explanation in german)

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana , resp.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana
    (the entries at german wikipedia. the reason i refer to those rather than the english entries is that they feature nice graphics displaying the correct stroke order (“strichreihenfolge”). if you intend to learn the characters, please pay attention to the correct stroke oder, too)

    http://www.kanji-sudoku.com/
    (kanji-sudoku has some nice free pdfs, printable sheets which help you learning to write hiragana, katakana and kanji. they
    are similar to “painting books”, providing you the outline of a character which helps you to follow the strokes in the
    appropriate manner. later, bare squares can help you to work on a size-wise balanced handwriting. they are common for
    foreigners and (young) japanese learners as well and should be available somewhere on the net. the 333-kanji-in-a-day file is nice as well, but be aware that those kanji, as the site states itself, are not arranged in a common manner (i.e. not by sense but by looks))

    web-resources for japanese grammar and characters:
    ————————————————–

    http://jgram.org/index.php
    (japanese grammar resource. includes quizzes, JLPT material (japanese language proficiency test, equivalent to TOEFL in
    english or TestDaF in german) etc.)

    http://www.guidetojapanese.org/
    (grammar guide. available also in german: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/german/index.html . check out the hiragana and katakana practise exercises here http://www.guidetojapanese.org/hiragana_ex.html resp. here
    http://www.guidetojapanese.org/german/hiragana_ex.html )

    http://wakan.manga.cz/ (wakan is a versatile tool for students of japanese or chinese. it features a character dictionary, a
    word dictionary, a text editor, a vocabulary management utility, many printing options (character flashcards, vocabulary lists, text including furigana), and a text translation tool)

    http://lernmaterialien.mkengel.de/
    (you might want to check the kanji writing exercises for JLPT)

    http://www.jlptstudy.com/

    http://www.grandgent.com/tom/j/ (various links)

    http://nihongo-dekimasu.blogspot.com/2008/05/intensivkurs-japanisch-uni-duisburg.html

    dictionaries, translation tools and alike:
    ——————————————

    http://www.alc.co.jp/ (english japanese)
    http://www.wadoku.de/ (german japanese)
    http://www.popjisyo.com/WebHint/Portal_e.aspx (website translation with pop-up hints, full text translation..)
    http://honyaku.yahoo.co.jp/ (full text translation)
    http://zokugo-dict.com/ (spoken language dictionary)
    http://www.hiragana.jp/ (adds hiragana (the reading) above the kanji of a chosen website (also known as furigana))
    http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1C

    setting up your computer to be able to handle japanese lettering:
    —————————————————————–

    if you use xp go to the control panel and add japanese in the country and language settings. you might need a cd. vista is a
    bit easier i think.

    http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/acrrasianfontpack.html
    (adobe’s free asian font packs for adobe acrobat reader)

    other useful pc stuff:
    ———————-

    http://www.polarcloud.com/rikaichan/
    (rikaichan is a firefox and thunderbird extension which helps you read japanese texts (more exactly, single words) by just pointing with the mouse at it)

    http://jgloss.sourceforge.net/
    (application for adding reading and translation annotations to words in a japanese text document)

    Reply
  • 4. choffmann  |  February 7, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks t-pin,

    yes, I decided I will start learning the alphabet now. It just seems to make more sense in order to be able to use all this stuff! Let’s see how far I can get! Thank you so much for all these helpful links!!!

    Bye, Christoph

    Reply
  • 5. thedamian  |  February 8, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Hajemimashite–I keep forgetting to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Also, Japanese is an amazing (and amazingly difficult) language. I took a year of it in undergrad and it kicked my butt, but i would totally do it again. If you happen to meet regularly with a language partner, that is the best thing. In fact, if you do let me know, I might be interested in joining you sometime. -Damian

    Reply
  • 6. choffmann  |  February 8, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hey Damian, thank you very much! I don’t really have a language partner, but somebody who helps me a little with the basics. He is a Japanese major. He is very helpful! I’ll talk to you about it.

    Reply

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