Linguisticsy introduction to the Japanese language

I started teaching one of my linguistics major friends how to speak japanese on AIM tonight, so I figure I would post the conversation here.

(01:54:58 AM) evilestmark: learn japanese Lesson 1. A. I. i. Saying your Name!
(01:55:19 AM) evilestmark:
Kurisu des
chris to-be

(01:55:32 AM) Chris: ahhh’
(01:55:46 AM) Chris: watishi-wa kurisu des
(01:55:53 AM) Chris: step 1
(01:56:00 AM) evilestmark: grade: A+
(01:56:32 AM) evilestmark: next: Asking someone else what their name is
O-namae-wa nan-des-ka

(01:56:54 AM) evilestmark: honorable-name-topic what-to.be-question maerk
(01:57:08 AM) Chris: with rising intonation at end?
(01:57:13 AM) evilestmark: hai
(01:57:21 AM) Chris: kawaii!
(01:57:32 AM) evilestmark: inappropriate usage of kawaii
(01:57:42 AM) Chris: i can use kawaii whenever the hell i want
(01:57:46 AM) evilestmark: lol
(01:57:57 AM) Chris: ^__^
(01:58:17 AM) evilestmark: next step: copular sentence
(01:58:29 AM) evilestmark:
hon des
book to.be

(01:58:36 AM) evilestmark: It’s a book
(01:58:46 AM) Chris: neko des
(01:58:49 AM) Chris: it’s a cat
(01:58:55 AM) evilestmark: idea on how you can ask, “Is it a book?
(02:00:22 AM) Chris: o-hon-wa nan des ka?
(02:00:59 AM) evilestmark: that would literally mean “What is your exalted book?”
(02:01:06 AM) evilestmark: just “hon deska?”
(02:01:11 AM) Chris: i mean, that’s what i meant
(02:01:26 AM) evilestmark: 🙂
(02:01:45 AM) evilestmark: also, theoretically “des” is really “desu”
(02:01:54 AM) evilestmark: but the final syllable get’s shortened to nothing most of the time
(02:02:39 AM) evilestmark: here’s a short word list of concrete objects in japanese
(02:04:42 AM) evilestmark:
hon – book,
isu – desk,
kyokasho – textbook
impitsu – pencil
pen – pen
neko – cat
inu – dog
sakana – fish

(02:06:34 AM) evilestmark: oh other good words
(02:07:02 AM) evilestmark:
denwa – phone
keitai – cellphone
teburu – table
kuruma – car
densha – train

(02:08:17 AM) evilestmark: second major grammatical lesson after copular sentences
(02:08:23 AM) evilestmark: existential remarks
(02:08:53 AM) evilestmark: whereas with the previous sentences it’s taken that you’re talking about an object you and your listener are both aware of and just specifying what it is
(02:09:00 AM) evilestmark: the following are actually statements of existance
(02:09:16 AM) evilestmark: for example
(02:09:49 AM) evilestmark:
hon-ga arimas(u)
book-sub exists
“There’s a book/There are books”

(02:10:11 AM) evilestmark:
impitsu-ga arimasu
pencil-sub exists

(02:10:16 AM) Chris: so there are no determiners in japanese?
(02:10:32 AM) evilestmark: kind of like korean, they’re not necessary most of the time
(02:10:36 AM) Chris: okay
(02:10:58 AM) Chris: but only necessary when saying “those” or “these” ?
(02:11:30 AM) evilestmark: so there’s a way of using demonstratives or deictic determiners in japanese as pre-nominals
(02:11:33 AM) evilestmark: it works like this
(02:12:03 AM) evilestmark:
kono-hon This book (by me)
sono-hon That book (by you)
ano-hon That book over there (not by either of us)

(02:12:17 AM) evilestmark: that works for any noun
(02:12:27 AM) evilestmark: you can describe any physical noun with those determiners as a noun-phrase
(02:12:38 AM) evilestmark: it will then act grammatically just like the noun itself
(02:13:11 AM) evilestmark: talking about abstracts is a bit trickier… because relative place isn’t implicit
(02:13:54 AM) evilestmark: so usually with abstracts it comes down to like… how close you feel to the noun you’re describing, whether you want to place it with yourself or the person you’re talking to
(02:14:16 AM) evilestmark: so
(02:14:24 AM) evilestmark: how would I say: “Are there any books?”
(02:16:37 AM) Chris: hmm
(02:16:39 AM) Chris: okay
(02:16:40 AM) Chris: so
(02:17:52 AM) Chris: hon-ga arimasu?
(02:18:05 AM) evilestmark: you can say that
(02:18:12 AM) evilestmark: but it’s better to say hon-ga arimasuka?
(02:18:25 AM) evilestmark: the ka can attach to any verb that ends in -masu
(02:18:31 AM) evilestmark: or -desu
(02:18:41 AM) Chris: hmm
(02:18:50 AM) Chris: and that means question mark?
(02:18:54 AM) evilestmark: yeppers
(02:19:07 AM) evilestmark: it’s not necessary in informal conversation, but those use different verbs
(02:19:37 AM) evilestmark: and typically you use a different post-positional verb marker to indicate that it’s a question
(02:19:46 AM) evilestmark: but i don’t like it.. because it sounds really demanding
(02:19:51 AM) Chris: hmm
(02:19:52 AM) evilestmark: ka is less demanding
(02:20:06 AM) Chris: what’s the more demanding one?
(02:20:26 AM) evilestmark: so… if i were going to ask you politely do you drink alcohol
(02:20:39 AM) evilestmark: i would say, “osake-wo nomimasuka?”
(02:21:00 AM) evilestmark: that’s “honorable-sake-object drink-?”
(02:21:06 AM) evilestmark: if i were asking my friend i would say
(02:21:17 AM) evilestmark: osake-wo nomuno?
(02:21:24 AM) evilestmark: and when i type wo it sounds like “o”

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About evilestmark

Writer, Yogi, English, and Japanese teacher living in rural Japan.
This entry was posted in Descriptive Analysis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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