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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Learn Japanese with Mickey and Friends!

A while back I posted that I was interested in creating a series of posts dedicated to teaching you all a little bit of Japanese, and today I would like to introduce you to the first post in Learn Japanese with Mickey and Friends!

You see, in Japanese there are a few different alphabets. 

  1. Romaji- this is used to write out Japanese words in the English alphabet. I will be using that here to help people who cannot read the other alphabets!
  2. Hiragana- this is the phonetic alphabet of Japanese writing. Technically, you can write pretty much everything in hiragana, but that will be very difficult to read, even for native Japanese.
  3. Katakana- this is the alphabet used for loan words, ie. words that have been adapted into Japanese from other languages. In regards to Disney, you will see these a lot!
  4. Kanji- this is the symbolic alphabet of Japanese, and the most complicated. There are over 2000 common kanji used by most native Japanese. Unlike hiragana, this is not a phonetic based alphabet.
Below you will find a hiragana and a katakana chart. Don't be put off by how complicated it looks! With practice, you will learn. And, if you are purely interested in learning how to speak Japanese, then I will be using romaji in my posts, so don't you worry!

Hiragana Chart- start from the right in the bold box, and read down.
Katakana Chart- start from the right, and read down.
So, how about I teach you a phrase that you will need a lot as a Disney fan!

I love Disney!

Let's look at the vocabulary used in this sentence!

私 (watashi) is the Japanese word for I. This sentence works just as well without this, because in Japanese, sentence meaning is determined through context.

は (wa) is the subject marking particle. This is used to show what the sentence is about (in this case, it is about "I", the person saying the sentence). Even though this is the hirigana for ha, when it is used as a particle, it is always pronounced wa!

ディズニー (dizuni-) is the Japanese way of writing Disney. This word is written in katakana, as it is borrowed from English (though remember that not all katakana is for words borrowed from English- it is for words borrowed from any language other than Japanese).

大好き(daisuki) means to really like, or love something. When you are expressing whether or not you like or dislike something, you place the particle が (ga) in between the thing that you like, and the word for like. A particle is something used in Japanese language that doesn't really have an English equivalent (though, some of the particles have actual meanings that can be translated. We will look at these a little bit later).

です (desu) often goes at the end of a sentence when you are talking politely, and is called a copula verb. It translates as it is. If you wish to sound polite as you talk, then you should put this at the end your sentence (though there are exceptions, like when your sentence ends with a verb. We will see this later). If you are talking with people you are very familiar with, then you may not need to be as polite, so it can be dropped, or replaced with another version of the copula verb.

So there you go! You can now tell people that you love Disney in Japanese! Good job!

Now, I want you to remember that I myself am not fluent, and am still learning. So, this is a good opportunity to share what I have learned, and to ensure that I remember it. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them, and if I cannot, then I will ask my tutor for you : )

Please, if you are interested in this segment, let me know if this format worked for you, or if you would prefer a different layout!

Next time, you will be learning how to introduce yourselves!


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