15 Minute Japanese
|15 minute BACKGROUND|
Japanese is said to have begun some 2000 years ago. (English is about 1000 years old) Japanese's long history makes it a very deep and interesting language to study. Japanese has 3 writing systems. HIRAGANA, KATAKANA, and thousands of Chinese characters called KANJI. [Don't panic yet - it's really fun, really] This page will ignore all of this and focus instead on ROMAJI, or the writing of Japanese words using the Alphabet. THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF ROMAJI! Learn hiragana quickly. Don't let romaji become a crutch!
Now back to the background... Basically the writing system is based on the vowel sounds, which aren't that hard to learn.
a - (as in Ah!)
i - (as in fEEt or the letter"E")
u - (as in fOOd)
e - (as in hAte)
o - (as in Oh nO!)
SO the Japanese word "AOI" (the color blue) would be pronounced "AH OH E"
For now, just pronounce the consonants as you would in English and the vowels as above. (to learn more on pronunciation (beyond your first 15 minutes!) go to the HIRAGANA PAGE)
|15 minute GRAMMAR|
Here it comes...
The sentence order is very different from English. In English we use Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) but in Japanese it is usually Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) - observe:
|JAPANESE||watashi wa||pan o||tabemasu.|
Also notice there are extra "words" in the Japanese (WA and O). These are particles or markers and they tell us the fuction of the word just before it. So "WA" is connected with WATASHI and it tells us that WATASHI is the "main topic of the sentence." Likewise, "O" is connected with PAN and it tells us that PAN is the "object of the sentence." Don't worry yet...
For more on this go here
|15 minute ESSENTIAL WORDS AND PHRASES|
Here is the main event, what you have been so patiently waiting for... <drum roll>
Learn these words well. It may take you more than 15 minutes (sorry) but at least pick out the words that strike you as interesting or useful. ganbatte (do your best!)
- ohayo (gozaimasu) - Good morning! [NOTE: the gozaimasu is normally added for politeness, but just ohayo is ok!]
- konnichi wa - Good afternoon! or Hello! [the daytime greeting]
- konban wa - Good evening! [the evening greeting]
- sayounara - Goodbye! [actually Japanese usually say "Bye!"]
- (o) genki desu ka? - How are you? [NOTE the o is added for politeness]
- genki desu. - I'm fine. [The common answer to #5]
- hai - yes
- iie - no
- ~wa nan desu ka? - What's ~ [Just replace ~ with anything]
- hajimemashite - Nice to meet you. [Used on the first meeting]
- ganbatte - Do your best [used very often to encourage others "good luck"]
- ganbarimasu - I will do my best [here is a reply to when someone says #11]
- mata ne - See you [Another commone bye bye]
- ~ga suki - Do you like ~? or I like ~[ [This can be both a question and a statement - just raise the tone of your voice at the end of the word; also to make it a "proper" question add desu ka (see #20)]
- nihon(go) - Japan(ese) [the country and the language]
- eigo - English [NOTE the go at the end of #15 and #16 means "language"]
- ~san - Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or ??? [NOTE: san is like Mr. or Mrs., but it is always (almost) used even among friends]
- sugoi - cool! or great! [Used like "cool" in English]
- daijoubu - OK [This can be both a question and a statement - just raise the tone of your voice at the end of the word; also to make it a "proper" question add desu ka]
- ka - makes statements into questions [Note how #5 and #6's only difference is the ka] For more click here
- arigatou - Thank you
After reading this you may be scratching your head and asking many strange questions. This is good, as now you have an idea of what to ask and perhaps how to find it out! I hope you will enjoy your Japanese language studies. It really is fun. Take a look around and explore...NOTE: You may want to read our 'New to Japanese' article here.