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Thecopula

Level1Chapter04

Thecopula
In English, we say My name isTom.The key to this sentence isthe verb tobe.Wecan sayIamTom.anditgetsexactlythesamemeaningacross. To say what something is in Japanese, we normally use , linguistically called the copula.Youcanstickanynounbefore.Incaseofgivingourname,wesimplysay:
(Showtranslation) IamTom.

Weve added spaces in Level 1 of the ETextbook but note that words are normally not dividedinJapanese. You maynow bewonderingwhere the pronoun Ifeaturesinthis.TheJapaneselanguage has many different words for I, which you will learnas you progressthroughthiscourse. However,themostcommonone,usedbybothmenandwomen,is(wheneveryouseea kanjiorawordyoudontknow,rolloverittolearnitsmeaningandhowtoreadit). It is very tempting as an English speaker to use in the same waywe useI inEnglish. Althoughthemeaningisthesame,theusageisnt. Thekey tofluency inJapaneseissayingaslittle aspossiblewhilststillconveyingthe same idea. For cases where the meaning is implied through the context of the conversation, it is perfectly acceptable to omit words such as in simple sentences such as stating your

name,andinmostcasesunlessyouspecificallyneedtorefertoyourself. Equally, when introducing people around a circle, its enough to say that persons name followed by , as the fact thatitis this particularpersonyouarereferring tois implied throughyourhandgesture.
(Showtranslation)

Greetings

Level1Chapter04
Whenmeetingsomebodyfor the first time,itiscustomarytosaywhichliterally means for the first time. In a similar way as How do you do? is used as an almost meaninglessinterjection inEnglish,in Japanese wesaythe very first time we speaktoanewperson.Letstakealookatabriefdialogue.

(Showtranslation)

Hello.

(Showtranslation)

(Showtranslation)

(Showtranslation)

(Showtranslation)

(Showtranslation)

Aswe cansee, therewas noneedforthewordmy orevennameinthesesentences,as itwasclearthatTomandHikariweretalkingaboutthemselves.

Culturalnote:Theuntranslatable
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Often when youlearnaforeignlanguageyoullcomeacrossidiomsandphrasesthatareat first glance untranslatable into your ownlanguage. Japanese is noexception as thereare

phrases that have developed over thousands of yearsofwhichthe true, literal meaningis lostandonly the idiomatic usageremains. For example, the word forhellowritteninkanji, , literally means Thisdayis and comes from an expression commentingon the daysweather. Another example is . Although written in hiragana nowadays, it originates with the use of which means best regardsorgood.The expressionis used quite regularly in Japan when two people meetforthefirsttimeand wish tocontinue their relationship (personal or business) into the future, or when somebody is looking to seek support orcompanionship from somebody else after theirfirstmeeting.So,textbooksand dictionaries often translate as please treat me well, I look forward toworkingwith you,or pleaseremember me. Intruth, noneofthesetranslations encompass the full meaning of the expression. These days its a tradition to use this expression and oneshouldnot readtoomuchintoitsmeaning.Youshouldunderstandthat itisusedoftenandgetintothehabitofsayingitwhenyoumeetnewJapanesepeople.

Wecanuseasimilarconstructiontoletothersknowhowoldweare,butfirst,wellneedto learnsomenumbers

Basicnumbers
Level1Chapter04

Basicnumbers
Arabic numerals,which we are usedto intheWestern world(0, 1,2,3,),canveryoften be seen in Japanese texts. However, each number also has its ownkanji, whichis used mostlywhenwrittenvertically,informalwritings,andinsomeother,specificsituations.

ousekeepingtip:Gettogripswithwhatkanjiare
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Every kanji has what are known as and two categories of character

readings. When Chinese characters were originally imported from China, some primitive Chinese sounds accompanied thecharacters.Forexample,, which means sun or day, canberead, , and ,amongst others, dependingon howitis usedinawordand themeaningitrepresents. Sometextbooks encouragestudents tomemorise all of themanyreadings of kanji,butin some instances this can be a major waste of time. Kanji exist to represent words, and thats exactly how you should learn them as words, and as parts of words. You should alwayslearn kanji incompounds, lookingup different words they are used in and building upyourown vocabularybank.This way you wontblindlymemorizetonsof(unevenlyused) readings, and instead build a network of words, kanji, their meanings and their readingseachofthesehelpingyoutoremembertheotherswhentherighttimecomes. Also,we havemadelittle mention of radicals, the smallpuzzlepieces of thekanjithatare combined to make the various characters. While at first, thethousands ofkanjimay look impossible to learn, you will soon notice that the more complicated characters are often composedof severalsimple ones. For example, the character fortree is, andsome of thecharactersforforestareand. Therearesome approachesto learning Japanese which focus entirely onrote learning of the radicals and their meaningsearly on in Japanesestudy.Historically,theywereofgreat importance to learners ofJapanese (both native speakers andforeigners),due tothefact that they wererequired tolook upkanjiin paper dictionaries. However, with theadventof computerlexicons, they are rapidly decreasingin utility. Thereis littlepointinrotelearning the radicals from the outset, as you will gradually acquire them up as you familiarise yourselfwithmoreandmorekanji. When you do a jigsawpuzzle, its easiertolook atthepictureontheboxthanstudy each individualpiece andcombination to work out what youareheadingtowards.Itisthesame with kanji.Focus onthemeaningandcompoundreadingsofthecharactersandalltherest willfallintoplace. Asyoull learnlater, Japanesenumbersare pronounceddifferentlydependingonwhatyou are counting. For now,however,lets concentrateonlearningtheirmostcommonreadings andtheassociatedcharacterspresentedbelow.

Beyondten
Level1Chapter04

Beyondten
Numbershigher than10 are composed ofseveral characters. Numbers betweentens are composed not unlike Roman numerals. For example, to write 12, one would simply combineandtoform(thinktenandtwo). MultiplesofteninJapanese,however,workdifferentlyfromtheRomansystem.Towritethe number 20, for example, all one has to do is swap the two characters from theprevious example toform(think two lots of ten).The number21 is written , 22 is ,andsoon.


Thispatternisverysimpleanddoesntchangeevenforlargenumbers(e.g.,, 3,713). However, such numbers become increasinglydifficultto read when written inkanji (ex. , 9,856,497) and and youll usually see them written in Arabicnumeralsorasacombinationofnumeralsandkanji(,93,000). Asyou mayhave noticed already,large numbersaregroupedby 10,000,not by 1,000as is common in western countries. In other words, numbers are organized as 1,0000 1,0000,000010^1210^16andsoon. The number zero canbewrittenin threedifferent ways: Arabicnumeral 0,kanjicharacter , and in some cases, as . For example, depending on the situation, 2009 can be written as , ,or.Whicheverwayitiswritten,itisreadeitheras or as .Sometimes, 0 may also be read as (which means circleandisthede facto reading of the character ), similarly to how we spell this number as letter o in addresses,phone&roomnumbers.

Culturalnote:Unluckynumbers
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The two main unlucky numbers in Japan are 4 and 9 due to the way that they can be pronounced. The of4is which isahomophone forthe worddeath, .Equally, the readingfor 9 is, which isahomophone forthe word, whichmeanspain,anguish or suffering. You will find many instances in Japan where these numbers do not appear such as airline seats or hospital ward numbers. Also, gifts are givenin denominations of threeorfive,neverfour.

Age
In Japanese, dependingonwhat you aregoingtocount, youhavetoaddaspecialcounter wordafterthe number.Thisis verysimilarto howyou say one loaf ofbreadoroneslice of breadin English. TheJapanese equivalentswouldbe (bread oneloaf)and (breadoneflatpiece). TheJapanese wordfor ageis,anditisthe firstcounteryouaregoingtolearn.Because the kanji is rather difficult, it is also written as (although it is actually a completely differentcharacter). To letothersknowhowoldyouare,simplysaythenumber,followedby andthecopula.Forexample,wouldsay:
(Showtranslation) Iam19yearsold.

Asyoucansee, it isallprettystraightforward.However,thereareafewexceptionsinsome of thereadings. The mostnotable exampleis the age 20, which isgenerallyread. The other three exceptions are much more common and youll meet thesereadings with many other counters. is read , is read , and is read .