Beginner Japanese Lesson #2: Negative State-of-Being and Referring to people (length: 42:21) and original lesson details.
Here is the recording for the second beginner Skype lesson. You can subscribe to this podcast with iTunes from the following link:
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The echo is gone only to be replaced by equally annoying static. It gets better later on but if anybody has any ideas on where the static is coming from or how to remove it, let me know. Those of you who are signed up for the third lesson, make sure you are familiar with the contents of the first two lessons.
On another note, please don’t sign up and then not show up. It’s not fair to the other people who couldn’t participate.
Details of the next beginner lesson and lesson date will be posted afterward in another post.
In the previous lesson we talked about tones and how to practice them by mimicking Japanese speakers. Another way to practice tones by yourself is to get some sort of audio material, record yourself and compare the pronunciations.
However, be careful to find a good model because the degree of change in tones depends on the gender.
Females tend to have more drastic changes, and pronunciations are clearer, making listening comprehension easier. Males have much less variation and pronunciation tends to be more muffled making it more difficult to understand.
In the last lesson, we also learned how to say, “I’m doing good” using 元気 but not how to opposite, “I’m NOT doing good.”
Rules for negative conjugation
1. Add 「じゃない」 for casual
2. Add 「じゃないです」 for polite
Politer and former forms such as 「じゃありません」 or 「ではありません」 exist but for conversation, these two are fine
・Saying different degrees of 元気
1. まあまあ – so-so
3. あまり – Can only be used with negative
4. 全然 – Mostly only used with negative
As before, the negative also works with nouns such as 「日本人じゃないです」.
・Getting somebody’s attention
In Japanese, we almost never use the word “you”. Instead, we usually refer to people by their name or title. And only when necessary. A important principle in Japanese is that less is better.
Today, we will learn the polite name suffix which you probably heard of already: さん.
Now that I have your attention, how am I going to tell you what I’m going to talk about?
Answer: the topic particle
・What are particles?
One or two hiragana characters that define the role the sentence is playing in the sentence. It comes after the word that it applies to. There are many different types of particles but we’ll just cover the topic particle today.
When the other person has no way of knowing what you are going to talk about, the topic particle is like picking a topic from a bag of the topics of the universe. You can only hold one topic at a time, to change the topic, you have to put the first topic back in the bag and pick out another one. Once a topic is out of the bag, you can but you don’t have to repeat it (and often don’t).
The topic particle is a haragana 「は」 and attaches to the end of the topic. It is read as /wa/ and not /ha/.
It was also in the expression 「こんにちは」 and 「こんばんは」 from the last lesson.
元気です。(same topic) Yさんは？ (changes topic)
This is why context is so important in Japanese because people don’t repeat things that were said previously and subject/objects aren’t required.
Now that we are learning more and more vocabulary, you’ll want to start learning Kanji to help your memorization.
16 小学校【しょうがっこう】 – elementary school
17 中学校【ちゅうがっこう】 – middle school
18 高校【こうこう】 – high school
19. 大学【だいがく】 – college
All use the kanji for school: 「校」. Also, if you know the kanji for small, medium, large, you can easily learn elementary, middle, and college by reusing 学校 and 学. Same goes for 高校 using the kanji for high and school.
Let’s use kanji to easily learn 4 new words (purposely not on the list). We learned 学生 in lesson 1. It uses 生, the kanji for life so with 学 (study, learning) it becomes student. How would we use the same 生 (life) kanji to say elementary school student, middle school student, high school student and college student?
Learning these characters will help you learn other words like 予備校, 校庭、大事, the list goes on and on.
・How to learn Kanji
When learning a kanji for the first time, practice the correct stroke order and count. You can look online for most characters by using the Kanji dictionary at WWWJDIC by clicking the sod link. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the stroke direction but it is top to down for more vertical strokes and left to right for more horizontal strokes.
You’ll notice that there are readings in both katakana and hiragana. The katakana reading is called 音読み and is written in katakana because it’s a Chinese-derived pronunciation. (Though the actual Chinese pronunciation is probably very different) Words such as 学生 that are a combination of characters usually use this reading.
The other hiragana readings are called 訓読み. Originally Japanese words that was latched onto the Chinese character when they imported them into their writing system. Verbs, adjectives, and single character words usually use this character.
Some characters can have only one, both, or multiple such readings. Don’t worry about them until you actually learn words that use those reading. Learning just the readings doesn’t help as much as learning actual words with the readings along the way.
Again, because, there are so few sounds in Japanese, so many words look alike and you really need the visual aspect as a memory aid to keep tham all seperate.