Some dirty tips in casual conversation

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Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by NileCat » Wed 12.01.2010 2:51 pm

I recently noticed that there is a common hurdle many people face in the course of their studying Japanese, which is “particles”.
As you know, of course, there is no royal road to any language learning. However, watching so many people to suffer setback due to the toughness of handling the particle problems, I was wondering if there is an easy way for them to cope with them. And it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to tell them some tips to manage those complex particles at least in the casual conversation level.
Although I don’t think this is helpful information for proper study like you do at school, I hope this can offer you a different perspective about Japanese grammar.

The knack is very simple: “Ignore all the particles”

<example 1>
Yesterday, I went to school and studied Japanese.

This would be a typical sentence structure many of you see in your textbooks. Does it sound too easy to you? But, in reality, we usually phrase it in our conversation like this:
<example 2>
I have been to England.
Which do you think are the correct particles? イギリス or イギリス? こと or こと?
Here, you can ignore both of the particles and that would sound totally natural.
<example 3>
Did you put the letter in the drawer of the desk?

Again, you can ignore all the particles.

Ah, did you shout “wait!”? I can imagine some of you would think it too rudimentary. That might be true. But now, I can give you another knack to make it sound natural, which is “Cheat it”.
Try to say “rock’n roll” aloud. That is “and”, right? Then, try to unvoice the “n” sound. Some kind of “slight gap” and “falling intonation” would be helpful to make it work. And adapt the technique to the example sentence above. Let’s start with a very simple form:
Tsukue-n Hikidashi-n Tegami-n Iremashita?

Sounds weird? Yes, it does. It is just for your practice. The thing is, unlike the English conjunction “and”, not all the Japanese particles contain “n” sound in them. So, now, try to completely erase the “n”s. Tsukue- Hikidashi- Tegami- Iremashita? Remember the “rock’n roll” method. Very very subtle gaps (pauses) and very slight falling intonation should exist there. For the ultimate idea here is to create “imaginary particles between the words”.
<example 4>
John said he likes me.

Can you differentiate the nuances? It is important to know the proper grammar, that’s for sure. However, when it comes to your daily conversation, you can convey the nuance by your facial expression or your tone. You don’t need to hesitate to phrase it simply like this:
ジョン、私、好き(と or って)、言いました。
The particle after the verb is relatively tough. It isn’t that easy compared to the ones after the nouns. It would sound unnatural at first. But when you came to be very good at “cheating”, you could even erase “と” or “って” as well as the particles after the nouns.
ジョン- 私- 好き- 言いました
(If you are at “advanced level”, try to “nod with your eyes closed” right after pronouncing “suki”, like you have swallowed the particle. Your remark would sound perfectly natural in many situations. Let the listener imagine the appropriate particles or even more complicated phrases, such as ジョンったらのことが好きだなんてことを言いました)
Please note that I’m not trying to say it is correct and proper as a written sentence. It is just a kind of dirty technique that makes you sound as if you were speaking properly along the accurate grammar even when you are not quite sure what the appropriate particle is. And, believe me, it works.

There exist many layers in Japanese language in terms of the level of politeness or formality. I personally assume it something like a dress code. When you are expected to be wearing black tie, you might want to knot it carefully in front of the mirror and you can enjoy the style. But when T-shirts and jeans are fine, don’t let it bother you. I think it’s fun to play around with Japanese at times.
Enjoy your study.

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Re: Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by becki_kanou » Wed 12.01.2010 8:38 pm

Thanks for the great and thought-provoking post Nile-Cat.

While reading it, however my feeling was very divided. On one hand I think it's a great way to gain confidence when speaking, but on the other hand I think it may be too tempting to beginners to omit all particles before they've really learned which ones to use where. It's easy for us to say "You don't really need particles when you speak", because we know which are appropriate to use and when, but for new learners it might be too much of a crutch.

Just my two cents.

And by the way, your English seems to get better with every post. I'm very impressed! :D

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Re: Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by Hektor6766 » Thu 12.02.2010 12:01 am


Of course, first you must learn all of the particles. But you quickly encounter such language in movies and anime, if not by virtue of actual conversation, and it really helps with listening comprehension to know this and not fall behind.

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Re: Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by phreadom » Thu 12.02.2010 9:37 am

I really enjoyed reading this.  :mrgreen: NileCatさん、ありがとうございます!

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Re: Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by NileCat » Thu 12.02.2010 3:13 pm

Becki-san, I totally understand your concern. The methodology I posted is not a panacea. We all have to understand both the benefits and the possible problems of using this sort of quick ‘n’ dirty tricks.
I personally believe, however, that knowledge is power, always.

A couple of months ago, I had a very intriguing experience here.
Do you remember this topic? Arrr! How be ye t’day? Arrr!
Honestly, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first. I spent the whole night to get the concept. After watching quite a few videos on YouTube, I suddenly got it. I mean, I finally acknowledged the nature of copula in English! I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it was a kind of revelation for me. I’ve read a bunch of English textbooks (over a hundred, maybe) in my life but none of them taught me how to speak like a pirate. I was excited to find that the copula ‘be’ is still ‘be’ in essentials even when it is conjugated in the normal language for “landlubbers”.
...Do you know what I mean? :shock:

Anyway, I think I should reiterate need for textbook grammar. I have no intention of denying the importance.
And, thank you becki-san for your compliment! :)
Phreadom-san and Hektor6766-san, I believe you wouldn’t incur drawbacks by reading my post! :wink:

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Re: Some dirty tips in casual conversation

Post by Hektor6766 » Thu 12.02.2010 9:31 pm

Nay, b'lay the thought! :lol:

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