Japlanning # 004 - Learning useful Japanese for your travels


Japlanning # 004 - Learning useful Japanese for your travels


As some one who has parents who wanted you to learn German so you could converse with their favourite neighbours (seriously, True story). I never took Japanese in school. And like many people I know, the Japanese that you may be able to read and speak literally comes from watching Anime or reading Manga (which is often not how the language is used in reality). In Japan from many experiences I have heard about is that not many people really speak English outside of major tourist areas, and even then you may struggle to communicate exactly what you want to convey. But Japanese people usually do go out of the way to try help, which was something reassuring to learn - and there are an ever increasing amount of English menu's to use. However, there is no harm in helping yourself a little by learning some basic phrases to get by. Although you can rely on apps, that can sometimes be time consuming and not always accurate. 

So where to start?  What is the most useful way to tackle Japanese as some one who does not speak it at all? Here a few tips before I list some resources, as these are the most important to keep in mind and will make your journey to learn to speak Japanese much more easier.

Before we get started..


 ✦ The first thing you need to know about the Japanese language is scentence structure. SOV - Subject, Object, Verb.  Where as in English we use SVO - Subject, Verb, Object. There are many great internet resources where you can learn about this. But the main thing to remember is the acronym SOV. Understanding this is going to make it much more easier for you to form a basic scentence from the various words you may already know. It may even sound like very terrible Japanese when speaking it, you may even feel a little bit like the character Yoda from Star Wars - but if you are trying to convey a basic meaning with hand gestures and English does not do the trick. Refer back to this basic principle of the language.

Here is some links for further learning on this specifically:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject%E2%80%93object%E2%80%93verb
http://www.japaneseprofessor.com/lessons/beginning/structure-japanese-sentence/
https://nihongoshark.com/word-order-in-japanese/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF4584aa9eg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9_Ijj-_hLM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePu05w5aIBE

✦ The second tip I can give you is that you probably already know more Japanese words than you originally realized. This will greatly help you get your head around pronounciation. Words like sushi, samurai, anime, karate, kimono,  karaoke, origami, judo, haiku etc. When thinking on how to pronounce vowel sounds, remember these words. But if you are completely stuck, there are hundreds of videos you can follow along in song etc. just like you did as a child to learn your own language pronounciation.  Learning vowel sounds first will help you to say the right word, it could be the difference between you saying something is Kawaii (cute) or Kowai (scary). And greatly decreases the chances of misunderstanding.

Here is some links for further learning on this specifically:
https://www.japanesepod101.com/japanese-pronunciation/
http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/users/furue/jp-pron.html
https://www.rocketlanguages.com/japanese/pronunciation/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w5_BWJmfYQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plvSpVSdJWU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPJIwff3w0I

✦ Third tip. Japanese use a lot of English words too. In English we often refer to these words as Japanglish.  In Japanese, loan words are known as gairaigo (外来語). If you want to learn Japanese words, you already have a massive head start as an English speaker. An easy way to recognise loan words in Japanese is that they are usually written in katakana. Here are some basic examples:

Kamera カメラ — camera
Maiku マイク — microphone
Suupaa スーパー – supermarket
Karendaa カレンダー — calendar
Depaato デパート — department store
Enjin エンジン — engine
Gamu ガム — chewing gum
Pantsu パンツ –- underpants
Terebi テレビ — television
Hoteru ホテル — hotel
Resutoran レストラン — restaurant
Juusu ジュース – juice

Here is some links for further learning on this specifically:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gairaigo
https://www.japanesepod101.com/japanese-dictionary/
https://www.livinglanguage.com/community/discussion/243/japanglish
http://www.japanglish.org/
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Japanglish
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A1KTCvUQPM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqApibxng10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1ioBtJdFGo

side note: wikipedia article for Engrish is an interesting read on the sub-culture of these blending of language -
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engrish

✦ Final tip, Romaji. Romaji greatly increases your ability to learn how to pronounce Japanese words, because it is literally Japanese written in latin script.
This is most commonly seen in subtitles for movies, music, anime and manga. A lot of youtube videos and other such resources you come across may use this technique and personally I find it the most easiest - However, it is hard to associate the Romaji sound to Hiragana or Katakana. And ultimately learning Kanji - It is always most beneficial to learn those characters for any long term use of the language as Romaji is not as often used in Japan as it is used outside of it.

Here is some links for further learning on this specifically:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Japanese
http://www.romajidesu.com/
https://www.thejapanguy.com/learning-japanese-why-learn-romaji/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5JprNPeE4M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZN2uStR6jQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kl6siX-0A


BONUS TIP: Japanese vowels are not stressed like they are in English. But not always, there are long vowels that need to be pronounced correctly otherwise you could say Aunt instead of Grandmother as used as an example in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU34Rw-hF64

Useful Japanese

A lot of the most useful Japanese you are probably already familar with. Like how to say hello, goodbye and thank you. Although I will still list those here, there are many more times than simple greetings that you will need to have learned to get by. The best way to learn any language to practice daily. Even if it is a small amount. Another way is to make post it notes with the English word and the Romaji word on the object itself so you see it everyday (You could include the Kanji if you are also practicing to write it but for begginers this is not needed for a simple exchange of conversation).

Hai. Yes.
はい。

Iie. No.
いいえ。

O-negai shimasu. Please.
おねがいします。

Arigatō. Thank you.
ありがとう。

Dōitashimashite.
You're welcome.
どういたしまして。

 Sumimasen.
Excuse me.
すみません。

 Gomennasai.
I am sorry.
ごめんなさい。

Ohayō gozaimasu. Good morning.
おはようございます。

Konbanwa. Good evening.
こんばんは。

O-yasumi nasai. Good night.
おやすみなさい。

Eigo o hanasemasu ka. Do you speak English?
えいごをはなせますか。

Koko ni eigo o hanaseru hito wa imasu ka. Does anyone here speak English?
ここに えいごおはなせるひとはいますか。

 Watashi wa nihongo ga sukoshi shika hanasemasen. I only speak a little Japanese.
わたしは にほんごがすこししか はなせません。

 O-namae wa nan desu ka. What is your name?
おなまえはなんですか。

Watashi no namae wa Jenn desu. My name is Jenn.
わたしのなまえは かおりです。
* This is a very formal way to say your name

 O-genki desu ka. How are you?
おげんきですか。

Genki desu. I'm fine. Thank you.
げんきです。

Oaidekite ureshī desu. I am very glad to meet you.
おあいできて うれしいです。

 Wakarimasen. I don't understand.
わかりません。

Nante iimashita ka. What did you say?
なんていいましたか。

Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasai. Can you speak more slowly?
もっと ゆっくりはなしてください。

 Yoku wakarimasu. I understand you perfectly.
よくわかります。

There is many more circumstances where you may need more than basic greetings and common courtesy. Like when purchasing food or product.
However this is not as simple as just communicating in language, there is protocol and culture around money exchange that is the typical way of Japanese life.
For more information try this link: http://jpninfo.com/56067

✦Dictionaries:
https://jisho.org/
http://tangorin.com/
https://www.japandict.com/

✦Follow along learning resources:
http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/
https://www.freejapaneselessons.com/
https://www.reddit.com/r/LearnJapanese/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3won-7W3Js
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAQ52doxWs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPppbuuVdPY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7JIl63EDfc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycVlxOzZbaY
Bonus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3cPq5vmXng

✦Language learning tips:
https://markmanson.net/foreign-language
http://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-learning-tips
https://www.iwillteachyoualanguage.com/japanese-learning-hacks/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX8zfeI7Vg4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhCBzgiIfRQ

Jennova Parker