The book I am using is Contemporary Japanese Vol. 1 by Eriko Sato from the Tuttle Language Library. This is a personalized journal of my Japanese language journey, and the target audience would be other students of Japanese, beginners if possible. Let’s start! But before we do please watch the video after or while reading, it’s meant to complement the content of this blog article. If you watch just the video and not read, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Volume 1 of the book has 61 lessons. I only study Monday to Friday, two days for each lesson, which means it will take us 122 days or 24 weeks and 2 days to finish the whole book. Target end date is March 20, 2012.
MONDAY: Lesson Eight - 私は日本人です
Our lesson today is focused on the topic marker は which is used to mark what you want to talk about. It is NOT a subject particle. In English, the subject usually goes in front of the sentence, in Japanese it is marked by another article that we won’t be discussing today. In English, if you want to mark or stress something in your sentence, you use the tone of your voice and the stress. For example, you say “This is the library” or “This is the library” depending on which you would like to highlight. You usually pronounce the corresponding word in bold with more stress. In Japanese, they attach はat the end of the word so that the first sentence would be これは図書館です while the second sentence would be 図書館はこれです. As you can see, aside from adding the particle, the focus of the sentence also tends to go in front, which further leads the student to think that it is a subject particle. Again, it is not. In future lessons we will find out that words with this particle could also be placed in different parts of the sentence specially when another word with the subject particle is around.
TUESDAY: Lesson Nine - せんこうは何ですか
One of the new Kanji introduced today was the character for “what” 何 which could either be pronounced as なん or なに depending on the word following it. Do your own research on that, you’ll eventually get the drift. When in doubt, choose one pronunciation. If you get a weird look, it might be the wrong one, haha. The only other grammar point for today is the particle -よ which is added to the very end of the sentence, meaning at the end of the verb, for emphasis. 私は フィリピン人 です would be “I am Filipino” while 私は フィリピン人 ですよ would be more like “I am Filipino, you know!” If you don’t agree with what another person just said, you could say the opposite and add this particle at the end to emphasize your disagreement.
WEDNESDAY: Lesson Nine - せんこうは何ですか
We’ve been introduced to ちょっと already and we all know that it means “a little” which is used to intensify something negative. What if you want to intensify something positive? Use まあまあ. How? Easy vs. difficult. If you want to intensify “easy” to mean “more or less easy” you would be using the latter because it is for values viewed as favorable, so you will have まあまあかんたんです. If it is difficult and you want to say “a bit difficult” that would be ちょっとむずかしいです. Anyway, just scrap the definitions. Just think of their functions as the same but going in different ways.
THURSDAY: Lesson Ten - それはわえいじてんですか
Okay, so we have reached that part when we would have to learn about “this/that/that over there” which is common in Asian languages as opposed to English which only has two. Memorizing them is easy because they have a pattern and are high-frequency to boot. The common trend is this, for something with or near the speaker, the こ- prefix is prevalent; for “this” meaning with or near the one being spoken to, the prefix is そ- and for “that” which is far away from both speaker and listening, the prefix is あ- except for place “there”. Okay, nosebleed. Let’s explain. For “this/that/that over there” + noun the Japanese terms are この、その、and あの respectively and then you add the noun. “This book” is この本, “that book” is その本 and “that book over there” is あの本. If you want to omit the book and instead refer to it simply as “this/that/that over there” you say これ、それ、あれ. To say “here/there/over there” you say ここ、そこ、あそこ. See the common trend? What about questions? どの + noun, どれ、and どこ are “which + noun/which/where”. Okay, too much info for one day!
FRIDAY: Lesson Ten - それはわえいじてんですか
If you want an interjection that is handy for asking a follow up question or changing the topic, just so your interruption won’t sound too brash, you can say じゃあ before your next statement which is the same one used in the expression “ok, see you” じゃあ、また. The other grammar topic today is the particle which means “also” to list down items in a sequence: -も. “Father is Japanese. Mother is Japanese too.” おとうさんは にほんじんです. おかあさんも にほんじんです. As you can see, it replaces the subject particle. You can’t use both for one subject.
See you next weekend! For next week I would be covering lesson eleven until the second half of lesson thirteen. We can do this guys! The goal is to pass the N5 examination of the JLPT in December 2012! =)