Japanese Grammar/Vocab/Kanji (1)

  1. (This is a post from dontcallmesensei!)

    This is my beta test of something I’d like to make a daily series sooner than later. What we’ll be doing is looking at grammar points, vocabulary, and Kanji from a linguistic perspective. So let’s try some thing out this week.

    Grammar (from JapaneseTest4You)

    1. だけ (dake)- is a substantivizing suffix, meaning that it is a suffix that, if it attaches to a verb, makes it syntactically a noun. “Dake” means “only.” “N dake” and “V dake” mean “Only N” and “Only V;” but remember that after “V dake” you may need a copula: “V dake da.”
    2. だろう (darou)- is a verbal expression. It functions as the verb of the sentence, but does not conjugate. It replaces copulae, but does not replace other verbs, which will remain the same when the expression is used, making “darou” seem like a verbal suffix of sorts. It mans “It seems that…” “[Inflexional Phrase] darou” means “It seems that [Inflexional Phrase].”
    3. (de)- is a post-position. It’s like a preposition, giving us spatio-temporal information, but coming after the phrase instead of before. “De” indicates location. It tends to be translated as “at,” but it can also be “on” or “in” depending on context. “[Noun Phrase] de” means “at [noun phrase]
    4. でしょう (deshou)- is just the nicer version of “darou.” They mean the same thing.
    5. (ga)- is a conjunction. It connects two inflexional phrases (or sentences); and it conveys as sense of contradiction of dissonance between the two phrases, thus gets translated as “but” or “though.”
    6. [Noun Phrase]がある (ga aru)- is a sentence construction using the copula “aru,” which, unlike “da,” can easily convey an existential property and not just a categorical property. This is the difference between “It is X” and “There is an X.” “[Noun Phrase] ga aru” conveys the latter for non-living things.
    7. [Noun Phrase]がいる (ga iru)- is the same as the previous, except that the copula is “iru,” and it conveys an existential property for living things.
    8. [Verb Phrase]ほうがいい (hou ga ii)- is a verbal construction. In Japanese, nouns are modified by verb phrases preceding them. “Hou” is a noun that means “way” or “manner.” With the verb phrase preceding it, it means “the way that [Verb Phrase]” “ga” is our nominative particle, indicating that “hou” is the subject of the sentence; and “ii” is the adjective (though it really isn’t an adjective) meaning “good.” So what this is expressing is that “the way that [Verb Phrase] is good.” What the expression is implying is that “One should [verb phrase].”
    9. [Verb Phrase [V-neg]]ほうがいい (hou ga ii)- is the same as the previous, except that the verb in the verb phrase is negative. In this case, as logic would dictate, the implication is that “One should not [verb phrase [V-pos]].”
    10. 一番 (いちばんー ichiban)- is a word that is a noun and adverb- and as an adverb it modifies nouns (meaning it behaves like an adjective). In other words, it’s a very versatile word. It means “number 1″ or “the most.” It will go before the noun or verb it wants to modify.

      A construction JapaneseTest4You brings up is: “[Verb Phrase] no ga ichiban [adjectival noun] da.” “No” is a substantivizing suffix. So the whole verb phrase is a noun. “Ga.” is the nominative particle, meaning it’s the subject of the sentence. (One may also have “wa,” the topical particle, where the meaning doesn’t change much.) And then you have the adjectival noun and “ichiban.” What this conveys is that “[Verb Phrase] is the most [adjectival noun].

    Vocabulary (from Genki 1) 

    (We’ll be using Routledge in the near future. For now, Genki will have to do.)

    1. あの (ano)- is an interjection, equivalent to “umm…”
    2. 今 (いま – ima)- is an adverb meaning “now.” It can also be used as a noun.
    3. 英語 (えいご – eigo)- is a noun meaning “the English language.”
    4. 学生 (がくせい – gakusei)- is a noun meaning “student.”
    5. 〜語 (〜ご – ~go)- is a suffix meaning “language.” It’s what you see in “英語.”
    6. 高校 (こうこう – koukou)- is a noun meaning “high school,” referring specifically to the last 3 years of pre-college education.
    7. 午後 (ごご – gogo)- is an adverb that functions adjectivally meaning “p.m.” It will go immediately before the phrase indicating the time in hours and minutes.
    8. 午前 (ごぜん – gozen)- is just like “午後,” except that it means “a.m.”
    9. 〜歳 (〜さい – ~sai)- is a suffix meaning “years old.” It will go after a number. The only exception that comes to mind is 20歳, which is said “hatachi,” which has nothing to do with Kanji.
    10. 〜さん (~san)- is an address suffix. You put it after someone’s name (most commonly their family name.)
    11. 〜時 (~ji)- is a temporal suffix, indicating an amount of hours. Like “〜歳” it comes after a number.
    12. 〜人 (~jin)- is a suffix indicating one’s nationality or ethnicity; but it is used mostly for the former. It comes after the names of countries.
    13. 先生 (sensei)- is a noun and address suffix. As a suffix, it goes after a person’s name. What it indicates is someone who has a didactic or guiding role in one’s life. This is most commonly used for schoolteachers, professors, doctors, and famous authors.
    14. 専門 (senmon)- is a noun meaning “speciality” or “expertise.” It can be used to refer to one’s “major,” but a better term for one’s major is “専攻 (せんこう – senko).”
    15. そうです。(Sou desu.)- is an expression meaning “It is so.” When make a question, “Sou desu ka,” it indicates intrigue.
    16. 大学 (だいがく – daigaku)- is a noun meaning any “post-secondary education institute” so it refers to both college and university.
    17. 電話 (でんわ – denwa)- is a noun meaning “telephone.”
    18. 友達 (ともだち – tomodachi)- is a noun meaning “friend.”
    19. 名前 (なまえ – namae)- is a noun meaning “name.”
    20. 何 (なに/なん – nani/nan)- is an interrogative pronoun meaning “what?”

    Kanji (from the standard Kyouiku Kanji curriculum)

    Kanji Meaning Chinese Reading Japanese Reading

    一   One    いち         ひと

    二   Two    に          ふた

    三   Three   さん         みつ

    四   Four    し          よん

    五   Five    ご          ご

    六   Six    ろく         むつ

    七   Seven   しち         なな

    八   Eight   はち          やつ

    九   Nine   きゅう         ここの

    十   Ten    じゅう         とう

    So that’s one format we can go for. I’ll throw out another idea tomorrow.