Japanese study 2015 recap

Wow, is the year almost over already AGAIN?! I’m just getting older and older and seeming to accomplish less and less. I guess I’m playing games too much as usual.

Some words I learned from my twitter account.
Firework trivia
Game publishers that annoy me
Finally finished watching K-ON!
A free webcomic of a canceled PSP game when Level-5 used to be cool

The list is way shorter this year mostly because I stopped adding to it. Still, some good stuff.

すべからく
ほくそ笑む
不実
忘れ形見
来歴
包容力
叙情
石膏像
のたまう
点在
腕白
言葉のあや
万事休す
好機到来
カンテラ
どよめき
一意専心
近衛
野卑
乳母
意趣返し
粛清
駆け引き
追いはぎ

Japanese study 2014 recap

WHAT???? It’s already well into 2015??? Where does the time go?? Obviously, I haven’t been studying as much this year or OMG maybe the number of words I need to learn is going down? NAH! That can’t be it. But anyways, in 2014, I ran into 152 new words that I was too newb at Japanese to know already or just can’t quite seem to memorize completely. That’s not even half a word a day! Tsk Tsk.

Some words I learned last year from my Twitter account.

Crazy commercials (of course)
Anime songs (of course)
Common sayings in anime
Some sort of 声優 event?
More anime songs (of course)
And it wouldn’t be the internet without cute animals

平皿
意地汚い
胸を撫で下ろす
雌雄
碑文
強情
判じ物
哨戒
狂言
克明
眉唾
貼付
錦鯉
与太話
鉄格子
懐柔
架ける
乾布摩擦
衆生
便覧
上唇
上辺
単元
狼狽
否めない
濃霧
残滓
羽毛
惨たらしい
金切り声
生娘
果報者
談判
慎ましやか
濾過
我先
遠心力
底意
沈着冷静
猜疑心
徒党
後手に回る
星辰
胸の痞が下りる
お手玉
下手人
尾ひれ
寒村
廃村
しわくちゃ
暴利
責任転嫁
風上にも置けない
けたたましい
隠居
はにかむ
胸のつかえがおりる
装填
履帯
昂揚
ひょんな
へちま
乙な味
目ざとい
くさや
干物
玉に瑕
瘴気
愚直
つぶさに
感無量
筋金入り
節操
インポ
楕円形
おしめ
殴打
めっきり
目分量
大らか
おそまつさまでした
着崩れ
退っ引きならない
含蓄
啖呵を切る
狭量
桃源郷
触診
すね毛
としゃぶつ
ひじき
がちんこ
勘当
金的
パチモン
露見
そん色
凡庸
解せない
毛嫌い
蒸発
なで肩
もくず
落ち度
保身
かいらい
涙ぐましい
大見得
倣う
年増
高窓
気位
羽衣(はごろも)
登用
男所帯
すたる
出土
擬態
興亡
心底
雪崩
苦肉
身びいき
拙劣
垂涎
てかてか
恩着せがましい
キンモクセイ
払拭
聡明
いたわる
不精
量刑
たらい回し
賄う
女給
黄ばむ
子煩悩
折檻
虚勢
冥王星
ぞんざい
気障っぽい
感銘
消去法
ねずみ講
後ろめたい
本懐
情状酌量
形振り構わず
瓜二つ
盛る(さかる)

Japanese study 2013 recap

So another year has gone by which means I’ve been studying Japanese for around 13 years now. In 2013, I encountered a little over 400 words I didn’t know while playing games, reading books, and watching TV shows. That’s more than 1 word a day! The highlight in my study materials this year for me would definitely be 逆転検事2, one of the best games I’ve played in a while. There’s still a few weeks to go before the year ends so I’m sure the list will grow a bit more before 2014 arrives but here are some highlights from my #JWOTD (Japanese word of the day) tweets.

Some funny gifs with Japanese captions
Song by popular Korean Pop group
A really good Anime series
Really racy girl’s talk
Cool song about losing touch with cellphones
Cats (of course, it’s the internet after all)
The truth behind “Heros” stealing your stuff in RPGs
Tense relations between China and Japan as usual

And here’s the full list which is pretty much useless to anybody else since you’re not seeing it in context but whatever. If you already know these words, congratulations, you knew more Japanese than me! But don’t slack off, I’m catching up!

手ずから
甲羅干し
順列
苗床
誓約
招集
陣容
たわわ
常春
餞別
簒奪
与する
素行
不埒
おためごかし
ひたむき
神々しい
潮干
へっぽこ
うわばみ
ひもじい
てんやわんや
くすねる
木箱
お払い箱
厚かましい
画期
人海戦術
要領がいい
曰く付き
ちゃんばら
方舟
見栄を張る
遠征
たわみ
灯台下暗し
錠前
希少種
えり好み
太っ腹
紆余曲折
上の空
優男
王太子
大目玉
縮図
果報
泣きじゃくる
空母
虐げる
早とちり
みそっかす
血眼
たらし込む
あだ討ち
晩酌
通せん坊
あぶれる
手向ける
運気
気弱
やっかむ
甘露
蹂躙
あか抜ける
慣わし
温床
矢先
不毛
硝煙
下戸
あしからず
くすぶる
口下手
力説
目まぐるしい
手酌
訝しい
熱りが冷める
直談判
鼻をあかす
かくかくしかじか
片手間
真っ只中
ねちねち
十把一絡
俄然
モルモット
受胎
見すぼらしい
味気ない
血縁
没個性
けばい
無理強い
空調
ゆめゆめ
灯火
謁見
尻ごみ
ほっぺたが落ちる
貞淑
臥薪嘗胆
おつむ
ほぞを噛む
端折る
尻に敷く
氾濫
雪崩を打つ
徐に
疎開
身ぐるみ
毛皮
黒点
中洲
童顔
潤ける
強か
一揆
謀反
処断
かたどる
内通
処世術
一心不乱
品評会
おあつらえ向き
報復
勝手口
お裾分け
焚火
落ち葉
どんより
洋梨
側近
いかだ
勇ましい
不躾
めげる
腰ぎんちゃく
宣う
勅命
据え置き
側近
山間部
物欲
速記
大詰め
布施
一房
ミーハー
ひがむ
住職
難聴
所作
気品
歪曲
さいなむ
品行方正
動悸
虚弱
仮初
茶々を入れる
切磋琢磨
切望
断裁
ひっぺがす
男女兼用
際限
耳年増
弾圧
倹約
相容れない
為政者
侮蔑
不仲
無節操
ないがしろにする
座右
淫蕩

嫡子
奸計
がさつ
卑猥
慟哭
お熱
誑かす
言い負かす
大儀
所以
法度
時化
結納
こき下ろす
ひしゃげる
空前
復元力
ずらかる
試供品
デッサン
釘を刺す
あらまし
ほのめかす
袋小路
耳打ち
うなじ
風見鶏
知能犯
根絶やし
メリハリ
玉の輿
舞踏会
異な
そこかしこ
おめおめ
悪食
眷属
馬子にも衣装
筆舌に尽くし難い
発破をかける
殊勝
きな臭い
唐変木
逆上
破魔矢
蟷螂の斧
古今東西
しきたり
生き字引
首っ丈
見掛け倒し
とんぼ返り
ひづめ
抵触
背に腹はかえられない
朴念仁
猫を被る
憂さ晴らし
不本意
放心状態
しからば
シュプール
好敵手
あやかる
不適合
万遍なく
ピアニカ
背徳
一家言
清々しい
猿ぐつわ
鎌をかける
阿鼻叫喚
藁にもすがる
癒着
ほのめかす
諸説
玉砕
おもむろに
たぶらかす
ジト目
これみよがし
聞こえよがし
蛇足
虫の息
どぎまぎ
満身創痍
ほの字
ひとりよがり
無知蒙昧
いまわ
とび蹴り
荒くれ者
鼻息が荒い
手負い
かんざし
ふてぶてしい
あっぱれ
かいつまむ
うらぶれる
むざむざ
大甘
極めつけ
腹をくくる
ほざく
素知らぬ顔
不承不承
居直る
絵空事
のらりくらり
オウム
紙ふぶき
恩恵
堂に入る
闇夜
顔負け
上げ底

日の丸
ふさぎこむ
したたか
活路
殴り書き
謝辞
反古
弘法にも筆の誤り
息急き切る
変質者
見境ない
肺活量
こそすれ
狩猟
ひた走る
よじ登る
踏みしめる
四肢
鋭角
非対称
ちぐはぐ
光沢
目測
優に
然とした
夜目
件(くだん)
まやかし
初夜
波及
せしめる
爆散
親和性
重き
触手
顛末
湿る
宮仕え
醸成
帳消し
亘る
触腕
無量大数
挿絵
円錐
えげつない
反骨
わりかし
通信簿
食傷気味
醸す
魂胆
海千山千
老獪
わきあいあい
痴れ言
好事家
爛々
眼福
目の正月
かぶりつき
じゅるり
去来
面構え
詮無い
淡白
咀嚼
まがりなりにも
僥倖
鉄アレイ
美味
一縷
比肩
鑑別所
辛気臭い
もこもこ
勘ぐる
のろし
ならず者
裁量
咽び泣く
すぼめる
河岸を変える
悦に入る
胸中
患う
見境
にわかじこみ
あべこべ
間隙
野方図
捻れる
長大
木霊
声帯
起死回生
謄本
坪数
覿面
炸裂
のたうち回る
根性焼き
陰湿
墨汁
賭する
琴線
年端も行かない
みぞれ
たゆたう
移ろう
輝度
凄む
無窮

A year and 300+ words later…

Wow, it’s been over a year already since I started tweeting a new word a day (almost daily minus weekends). So 300+ words later, let’s take a moment to reflect.

Looking back, it’s kind of shocking how many words I didn’t know. But then again, I’ll probably feel the same way looking back at the next 300 words I learn. For example, I tweeted 「処方」 back in 2011/11/2 and I had a Skype conversation (via mixxer) recently with a 「薬剤師」. I can’t believe I didn’t know those words till last year.

I also recently remembered 「男尊女卑」 and I see that I tweeted this way back in 2011/11/11 so I’m pretty happy about that.

I always learn new words in context and so I got to catch up to quite a bit of culture by searching for additional usages online. These words originally come from books I’m reading (huh? you mean on dead trees?), chatting locally and online (wha? like with… people?), games, shows online (Hulu/Youtube), and various podcasts.

For example, I learned the expression 「二進も三進も」 while playing FF13 (I used my phone to save the word). Much later (in this case several months), I look for other stuff online from my list that uses the same vocab like this.

Catching up on culture

Here are some highlights from my Twitter feed.

そばかす – Song from the 90s
(Lots of) Vocaloid and 東方 music
SKE48, AKB48
ニコニコ
Minecraft
Anime
Manga
TV
Weird commercial
Politics
2012 was a leap year

Looking back, 300+ words is actually a pretty small list. I still have over 600 stocked up that I have learned to various degrees in the last year. Us language learners have to do a lot of memorizing. 🙂

I feel sorry for those learning from just flash cards, classes, and textbooks. Real life is so much more interesting.

Sound more Japanese with interjections

When I tutor Japanese, I try to correct non-Japanese interjections whenever possible, the most common one being “umm”. Even the most skilled speakers including native speakers sometimes need to fill the air with fillers to buy a little time to collect their thoughts. But it doesn’t sound very Japanese to say, 「私の趣味は umm サッカーです」. I also suspect it taps your English part of the brain and makes it difficult to stop thinking in English. That’s why I gently remind my student to say 「ええと」 instead of “umm”. It’s a simple change that can instantly make your Japanese sound more natural. Have you been saying “umm” while speaking Japanese? If so, a quick tip from me, replace it with 「ええと」.

Here are some other interjections to practice:

  1. ええと – Err, umm
  2. あのう – Umm (usually to get somebody’s attention)
  3. あれ? – huh?
  4. えっ – eh?
  5. あっ! – Oh!, Ah!
  6. こら! – hey!
  7. うーん – hmm (wondering/pondering)
  8. へえ – really? (surprised/impressed)
  9. いたっ – ouch
  10. よいしょ – when exerting effort such as picking up something heavy

Learning new vocab for new situations

When I’m in a new situation, it really reminds of of how convenient immersion is as you can learn all sorts of words without even realizing it. It’s even more noticeable when you’re NOT in a immersion environment.

Since I’m no longer living in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn baby-related words mostly on the internet. Since just looking up words in the dictionary almost never works if it’s from English to Japanese, I learn by reading sites like this one. It helps to be prepared in case I want to talk about my baby in Japanese.

Wow, Japanese sure is dependent on Katakana.
ベビーカー – stroller
ベビーベッド – crib
ベビー布団 – baby futon
ベビーチェア – baby chair (seems like mostly high chairs)

はいはい – crawl
伝い歩き – cruise
子守唄 – lullaby
つみき – building blocks

Somehow I don’t need to have a real baby to know all the English words. Just goes to show how great immersion is.

My recent dictionary history

I’ve written before about how I memorize vocabulary such as here and here. To start with the usual disclaimer, everybody has different learning styles so what works for me may not work for you and vice-versa.

To summarize, the way I learn vocab is by sheer volume and in context. Reading, in particular, is how I learned most of the vocabulary I know. And boy is there a lot of vocabulary to learn. I know enough Kanji at this point that I can pretty much guess the reading of words most of the time. So I look up a lot of words and very quickly. Now, can I say that I’ve completely memorized all those words? Not by any means, but they’re definitely in my brain somewhere, one step closer to memorization until the next time they come up.

Here’s what my recent dictionary history looks like. Yes, after 10 years since I started my website for learning Japanese, I’m still learning all these words. Now, should you memorize my words? Absolutely not, you should encounter your own words in context of whatever you’re reading or hearing.

先達
散会
セキセイインコ
実直
硬直
一抹
達観
投擲
剛勇
精進
打診
際どい
儚い
轟く
咀嚼
靡く
求心
やんわり
被る(こうむる)
反芻
追憶
匙を投げる
博愛
修辞
慈しむ
粗悪
慇懃
冬来たりなば春遠からじ
曲解
訓告
しっぺ返し
すっぱ抜く
武勲
ぷっちぎり
驀進
弛緩
嘲弄
暇乞い
闖入
牧歌
寸劇
出鼻
帳(とばり)
うなだれる
真摯
ふてくされる
親睦
戯れ
丁々発止
明晰
憐憫
なまじっか
迸る
山彦
稚拙
おべんちゃら
喧騒
剛健
自負
軋轢
どんぴしゃり
しらばくれる
刹那
うたた寝
etc, etc.

Boy, learning a language is a lot of work. Share some of your dictionary history in the comments!

When words collide

Minako has a great post about the difference between 「べき」 and 「はず」: http://nihongodaybyday.blogspot.com/2011/09/blog-post.html

I’ve been meaning to write about this in a post sitting in my draft folder since early 2008. Oops. But now you can read about it and get some reading practice at the same time. Like she says, the only reason English speakers have a reason to confuse the two is because they happen to translate to the same word in English: “should”. But that word itself has many different meanings so it’s yet another example of why you should avoid translating to English as much as possible.

Formal Suggestions

I would add that 「べき」 is a fairly formal phrase to use when making suggestions. So you normally wouldn’t use it to suggest eating more vegetables, for example. In a conversational setting, you should stick with 「~方がいい」. In English, it’s more formal to say “it’s better to…” as compared to “you should…” but it’s the exact opposite for Japanese.

Awkward: 野菜をもっと食べるべきだ。
Conversational: 野菜をもっと食べた方がいいよ。

A bit of uncertainty

I would also add that 「はず」 is not always used with absolute certainty. In English, people often say “supposed to” to try to avoid accountability and 「はず」 can be used the same way.

A:あれ?田中さんはまだ連絡がないの?
A:Huh? No word from Tanaka-san?

B:そう。昨日までに連絡をくれるはずだったのに…
B:That’s right. Even though (he/she) was supposed to contact (me) by yesterday.

Saying more than this and that

One of the first batch of words that students of Japanese usually learn is the 「こ」、「そ」、「あ」、「ど」 series of words for things and locations.

  1. これ – this
  2. それ – that
  3. あれ – that (over there)
  4. どれ – which
  5. ここ – here
  6. そこ – there
  7. あそこ – over there
  8. どこ – where

Most will also probably learn the shortened version of 「これの」 etc. such as 「この」. And that’s usually about all that’s ever covered even though there’s a bunch more 「こ」、「そ」、「あ」 vocabulary that are really useful! So let’s look at a few.

Like this/that

You know how you’re not supposed to use the word “like” all the time. Well, we all do anyway because it’s so useful, right? The 「こう、そう、ああ」 series of words are arguably just as useful.

If somebody asks you how to do something, one common answer is “do it like this or that” and that’s exactly what 「こう、そう、ああ」 means. Now you see where 「そうです」 comes from.

A: この漢字はどう書くんですか?
A: How do you write this Kanji?

B: こう書きます。
B: You write it like this.

The real power from these words come when you combine them with 「いう」 to define what something is like. The English equivalent would be “this/that kind of thing”. It’s a great way to talk about abstract or complicated matters.

Examples

  1. そういう難しい話は、よくわかんないよ。
    I don’t understand that kind of difficult talk (topic).
  2. こういう時には、本当に何もする気がないんだよな。
    Really don’t feel like doing anything in times like these.

You can extend this further by attaching 「風」 (pronounced 「ふう」 in this case), to describe a certain way of doing things.

  1. この漢字はこういう風に書くのよ。
    You write this Kanji in this kind of style/manner.

This/that much?

Another incredibly useful series of words are: 「こんな、そんな、あんな」. Combined with the 「に」 particle, these words will allow you to say common things like “Are you that hungry?” or “Did you have to buy this much?”. You can also use them without the 「に」 particle but the meaning is a bit hard to explain and is not used as often (in my opinion).

Examples

  1. そんなにお腹が空いているの?
    Are you that hungry?
  2. こんなにたくさん買う必要があったの?
    Did you have to buy this much?

Comparison

If you’ve learned the grammar for comparisons, you are probably already familiar with the phrase 「どちらの方が」. This literally means “which way” which you can obviously answer with “this or that way”. It can also be used for plain directions as well, of course.

  1. こちら – this
  2. そちら – that
  3. あちら – that (over there)

Etc

There are others like 「こいつ、そいつ、あいつ」 that I’m not going to discuss here. I don’t want to be accused of corrupting the pure and proper Japanese that is taught in most classes. 🙂

Yo man! You gots to hang with 【掛ける】

You know you’ve struck gold when you look up a word and it has 23 definitions.

掛ける(P); 懸ける 【かける】 (v1,vt) (1) (See 壁にかける) to hang (e.g. picture); to hoist (e.g. sail); to raise (e.g. flag); (2) (See 腰を掛ける) to sit; (aux-v,v1) (3) to be partway (verb); to begin (but not complete); (4) (See 時間を掛ける) to take (time, money); to expend (money, time, etc.); (5) (See 電話を掛ける) to make (a call); (6) to multiply; (7) (See 鍵を掛ける) to secure (e.g. lock); (8) (See 眼鏡を掛ける) to put on (glasses, etc.); (9) to cover; (10) (See 迷惑を掛ける) to burden someone; (11) (See 保険を掛ける) to apply (insurance); (12) to turn on (an engine, etc.); to set (a dial, an alarm clock, etc.); (13) to put an effect (spell, anaesthetic, etc.) on; (14) to hold an emotion for (pity, hope, etc.); (15) (also 繋ける) to bind; (16) (See 塩をかける) to pour (or sprinkle, spray, etc.) onto; (17) (See 裁判に掛ける) to argue (in court); to deliberate (in a meeting); to present (e.g. idea to a conference, etc.); (18) to increase further; (19) to catch (in a trap, etc.); (20) to set atop; (21) to erect (a makeshift building); (22) to hold (a play, festival, etc.); (aux-v) (23) (See 話し掛ける) (after -masu stem of verb) indicates (verb) is being directed to (someone);

Yahoo!辞書 goes in more detail and has a whopping 32 definitions for 「掛ける」. There’s no way a word like that is not going to be useful. The trick is finding the common thread or concept behind all these definitions so you can actually sort it out in your head. That’s what this post is for.

Just think of Captain Hook and his umm… special hand

Basically, this verb is used to hook or hang things. What can you hang? Why anything of course including clothes on hangers, covers, your butt to a chair, emotions, bother, time, voice, money, traps, bets, and even magic spells. It’s usually just written in Hiragana.

Examples

  1. 迷惑をかける – hang bother (to bother someone)
  2. 時間をかける – hang time (spend time)
  3. お金をかける – hang money (spend money)
  4. 声をかける – hang voice (call out)
  5. アイロンをかける – hang iron (iron clothes)
  6. 電話をかける – hang phone (make phone call)
  7. 腰をかける – hang hip (sit your ass down)
  8. 魔法をかける – hang magic (cast magic)

Don’t forget about the intransitive version as well: 「かかる」. For example, 「時間がかかる」 means something takes time instead of spending time.

Most of these examples make sense if you think about it the right way except for maybe the phone. Maybe it’s because you hang the phone to your ear? Though 「電話がかかる」 means the phone is ringing before you pick it up. Maybe you expect your mom to call and the phone call is hanging on your conscience? Ha ha. Anyway, there are also some additional compound verbs such as 「出かける、見かける、話しかける、引っかかる」 that combines hanging with another verb.

What’s the best way to learn all these countless different uses of the same verb? You can take my approach and just learn them as you see them.