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Where to begin with translation?

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Where to begin with translation?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Wed 04.27.2011 8:39 am

Hi, I am new to Japanese, only been learning 3-weeks and loving it.
I have bought a 'junk' magazine written in Japanese for fun to scan trough and 'spot' kana as a fun way to practise.
Anyway, I actually found a whole string of kana that I know, which is amazing as I only know enough to understand 'sake', 'sushi' and 'suki' in kana so far!

Here is the string:
sa n ka (with two little dots) i ta
It appears in an article with a photo of a Japanese lady taking the London tube.

A translation would be lovely, as would finding out what the dots mean (grammar I suspect) but what I would really like to know is where to begin when I locate a string like this. How do I even start to translate it?

All suggestions/ advice very welcome,
I'm not trying to translate 'Grazia' magazine, but when I find something interesting like a string I recognise I would like to go a bit further and try to figure it out a bit.

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Re: Where to begin with translation?

Postby Hyperworm » Wed 04.27.2011 11:11 am

The two dots ゛ are called a "dakuten".
There's also a "han-dakuten" or "maru", which is a small circle ゜.

Dakuten changes the sound of kana like this:
s゛→z(さsa→ざza) also: しshi→じji
t゛→d(たta→だda)also: つtsu→づzu, ちchi→ぢji

Handakuten only works on "h"-row kana (including ふfu):

I'm guessing there was a kanji name before the string さんがいた? :)
Including the name, this isn't a bad sentence to use to explain things.

To understand this sentence, you need to know:

the さん name suffix
the particle が
the verb いる (or this page)
plain past tense
(There's actually a little more to the use of いた here than that, but that should do)

Figuring stuff out you've actually seen in context like this is good fun and discovering something on your own helps it stick better, so that's why I've given the links this time.

But as for the actual general question of "how do I even start to translate something I just found" - the best way is to already know the grammar before you come across the sentence. For that there are lots of guides online (including the ones linked above) and lots of textbooks or other resources people can recommend.

If you don't already know the grammar it can sometimes be hard to look it up on your own - because you don't know what you're looking for. ^^;
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Re: Where to begin with translation?

Postby TheEnglishKnitter » Wed 04.27.2011 2:45 pm

Wow, thank you
That's heaps to get my teeth into
Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this, I really do appreciate it.

I have found with other languages that they are far more fun if I just launch in with some junk magazines and try to start recognising stuff, but it does seem a tad more difficult in Japanese because I have yet to fully understand where words/ phrases begin and end. I'll get it in the end.

Thank you so much.
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