26 September 2017 @ 02:36 am
i’ve almost finished what i have of 2 JLPT N1-level anime now (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; From the New World) and i’m a bit disappointed. while i’ve improved my understanding of various “grammar points”, i feel like i haven’t learnt many words at all from either of them because the new vocabulary repeats itself too little. i mean, when a word like, i don’t know, “molotov cocktail” only shows up twice in two series, i just don’t end up learning it. and that’s the problem with most of the unknown vocabulary i’m seeing here.

all the JLPT levels up until now were easy: watch around 60 episodes in a given level on animelon and you'll have gotten to the point where you can move on to the next level. but N1 isn't working that way so far. it might be time to move on to series specifically entrenched in certain themes i don’t have much vocabulary in, ex. doctor series for medical vocabulary, and to ignore the overall level of the series as long as i still have a good vocabulary gap...

anyway, i really have a lot of respect for people who make it to N1 level: considering how infrequent some of these words / grammar pieces appear, that's a LOT of language use!
20 September 2017 @ 04:54 pm
Slowly updating the layout. If you're red-green colourblind let me know how well you can see the changes in link color when you hover....
12 September 2017 @ 06:57 am
Here's some stuff you'll see a lot right when you start out, so I thought I'd explain them here. Pronunciation of the kanji is in katakana.

大 丈夫(ダイジョーブ)This is 丈夫 "durable" and 大 "big", so we end up with "Hey, I saw you fall! Are you alright?" "Don't worry, I'm VERY DURABLE!" = I'm fine!. Thus "Hey, are you really durable?" = "Are you alright? Can you handle whatever's happening to you?".

お 邪魔 し ます(ジャマシ) The お means "you(r)", 邪魔 means "hinder", します means "(I) do/am doing". So together "I'm doing something that hinders you" = I'm being a nuisance/bother (to your work, to your peace at home, etc). 邪魔 する な! "don't hinder!" = "stop bothering (us)!" ex. don't break into our conversation!

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09 September 2017 @ 11:09 am
The list of N5 pronunciation changes from the JLPT grammar example list post was getting too long so I decided to put them in their own post instead. Last updated: 2017.09.09

あい、おい、いい —> えー (えぇ) : in manga this usually happens in informal or childish speech but my teachers say in general it's simply showing "the spoken language" (versus the written language).
• いい —> ええ "is good, yes"
• ない —> ねー "is without, -less, non-existing"
• こわい —> こうぇえ "is scary"
• うまい —> うめぇ "is tasty"
• うるさい —> うるせー "is noisy" = shaddap!!
• ぐらい —> ぐれー "around (this time/amount)"
• おもしろい —> おもしれー "is interesting, fun"

い —> ゆ: same as above.
• いく —> ゆく (in most dialects). "goes".
• どう いう —> どう ゆう "what way" (used to mean ex. "what do you mean, what are you saying?").

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05 September 2017 @ 07:46 am
how are you guys practicing handwriting? here's how i'm doing it right now:

take an erasable pen in an eye-catching colour and write:

• pronunciation of unknown words (hiragana for japanese, katakana for chinese-derived pronunciation)
• if i know a synonym in japanese, the meaning of unknown words in kanji or “fake kanji words”. ex. if this word means “not full”, even if “not full” isn’t a real japanese word i write it anyway.
• if i can write a single kanji hint to the meaning (“this is an abbreviation that’s missing x kanji”) i write that instead.
• when i can’t do either of those i write in the meaning (in esperanto)

it’s really hard for me because in order to write so small i have to get 2cm away from the paper, but i can do it so i’m doing it. next time i read this book i’ll just erase the writing i don’t need anymore. it takes a long time (for me) but if i just do a little every day it’ll be good i think. my problem with handwriting is i don’t ever need to handwrite (not even the grocery list) so then i don’t practice since there’s no point. but if i get to the point where i can write class notes and stuff in hiragana/katakana/kanji fast, i’ll be handwriting a lot… i think.

when i do this so far it’s been late at night using my phone (yomiwa) as a dictionary, but that dictionary sucks so it’s really frustrating… i need to use sanseido on my phone or something…
26 August 2017 @ 06:02 pm
lately i've really been noticing all these times when they say の in front of some adjective where i as a stupid learner would say が or は. for example:

「目 の 悪い 人」 people with bad eyes
「非 の ない 者」 people with no faults(?)
「行った 事 の ない 庭園」 a garden (i've) never been to

i myself would've tried to word this as 「目 が 悪い 人」 so i tried searching online but couldn't find anything explaining it. i might have come up with the answer. が would mean "eyes that are/have bad people", "faults that are/have no people". の instead connects the two words before and after it together, showing that both of those act like a set pair that then modifies the THIRD word.

when you say 私 の 犬 は 可愛い "my dog is cute", you're linking together 私 [の] 犬: it's not "me" that's cute, it's not "dog" that's cute, it's the inseperable two words MY DOG together as a set that is cute. 目 の 悪い, you've linked "eyes are bad" together so that BOTH of those modify the third word 人. otherwise we'd be confused, thinking we could be saying "eyes; bad person" (悪い 人) instead of "eyes bad; person" (目 悪い).

i'll slowly try to think about it more and find more examples to add to this post and see if the theory holds true.
23 August 2017 @ 08:29 am
JLPT N2 Score: July 2nd, 2017

Vocab, Grammar: 27 / 60 (19 to pass)
Reading: 23 / 60 (19 to pass)
Listening: 30 / 60 (19 to pass)
Overall: 80 / 180 (90 to pass)
Reference Grade: B
= I failed by 10 points.

Thoughts: I've already improved so much in the 2 months since I took it that it'd be impossible to fail if I were to take it again in December (also next time I'll bring some kind of medicine so I don't give up halfway through due to eye pain again), but considering what a stressful, huge pain it is I'll only take it again if I can't find a part-time job during my exchange year in Sendai without it. I'm assuming that if I can get a part-time job, on top of having "Japanese-class grades" I can show to potential employers, the bosses at the part-time workplace can be my references that can "prove" I know Japanese even without me having taken the JLPT / having my finished degree. I don't know what you guys think / know about that.

Unrelated but I also just beat my first game in Japanese (.hack//infection, a PS2 game) where I actually understood what was going on the whole time: I understood nearly 100% of the dialogue, 95% of the in-game forum posts and Emails, 80-90% of the item names/descriptions. So if you're at around N2 level I recommend it (I don't think it's any good for learning from context because there's not enough context clues, but it's good for reviewing — most of it's voice-acted too).
16 August 2017 @ 11:01 am
List of stuff I think is N2 level, as I find them. At N2 you can puzzle out probably anything in normal, modern, everyday-ish (not extremely poetic etc) Japanese as long as you have a dictionary.

• (Kabaneri): https://www.pixiv.net/novel/show.php?id=8192324

Website pages:

(Go look at the animelon list)
16 August 2017 @ 10:56 am
Here I'll link to / list things that I consider to be N1 level as I find them, since everyone needs reading practice but even at N1 we're still not at "native level" yet. N1 is essentially made up of archaic grammar, irregular or rare kanji usage, jargon, and extremely poetic stuff/flowery writing.

• 愛よ愛 by 岡本かの子: http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000076/files/4554_15427.html

• (Kabaneri) https://www.pixiv.net/novel/show.php?id=7666616

• 沖縄と核 (Documentary on America keeping atomic missiles/bombs in Okinawa): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFkBWgsDuow
15 August 2017 @ 09:31 am
We're all probably studying Japanese, right? So why doesn't anyone ever tell us the actual useful words for learners?? I'll start making a list here as I find them.

違い a difference (ex. in word usage: 何 の 違い what kind of difference?). when i want to know the difference between two different kanji i just write something like "熱 暑 違い" into google and see what comes up.
語源 word origin = etymology
読み方 "read-method" = pronunciation
動詞 move word = verb
複数 more than one (layer) number = plural
形容(詞) modify (word) = adjective
同義語 same duty word = synonym
辞書 word (compared to grammar) writings = normal dictionary
字書 letter writings = kanji dictionary (though i don't know if they have another term for it)
意味 meaning
さま (様) means the same as 様子 which is "tends to behave like; form", in the case of words: "tends to be used like, tends to mean".
ニュアンス nuance
外来 arriving from overseas = foreign/loanword. 外 is short for 外国 or 海外 and 来 for probably 出来.
略語 short(ened) word = abbreviation (ex. JD, JP)
熟語 a 2+kanji word where the individual kanji have almost exactly the same meaning (ex. 思想)
宿題 (at-)lodging (work-)theme = homework
試験 test-try(?) = exam
受[試]験 receive-try(?) = taking an exam
模試[験] imitation test = mock exam
授業 receive-knowledge work(?) = class lesson
卒業 ? = graduate
予習 pre-learn = study in advance
練習 ? = practice exercise (ex. listening drill)
復習 ? = review-study
自習 self-study (ex. study at home the material you learned in class)
習う learns (under someone's instruction; not necessarily a school-teacher)
勉強 study (not necessarily with anyone's help)
締め切り tie-up(?) run-out/cut-off = deadline
10 August 2017 @ 12:19 am
1. I've cleaned up the tags and fixed the profile, hopefully things are more organized now.

2. Remember that you guys can post too!! Post whatever you want!! How's learning going? What did you learn/read/listen to yesterday? Confused about anything?
09 August 2017 @ 10:48 pm
Okay, everyone hates kanji. Even Chinese people hate kanji (because in Chinese, every character has more or less only ONE pronunciation). And the dictionary definitions for kanji are really bad, so you don't know why x is also used for y which seems like completely different meanings to you. In reality kanji are pretty easy.

First off, each kanji only has 1-2, very rarely 3, individual pronunciations and/or meanings worth knowing. In most texts, anything more than those 2-3 pronunciations — or any rare kanji, or kanji not taught in school, even if it's standard pronunciation or actual common words, — will almost always have hiragana (furigana) to the side showing the correct pronunciation. Even usually in newspapers, which are the hardest things to read in Japanese (aside from archaic stuff). The exception is often really famous words, ex. certain place-names, but even those actually might also be written in/with hiragana instead. Stuff written for highschoolers and younger (meaning: most manga) will ALWAYS have pronunciations on kanji, even if they're super common kanji. (About the list of kanji people learn in school: by adulthood Japanese people have forgotten hundreds of them, but they know hundreds more that are outside of the list.)

Read more... )

Finally: never "memorize" a multi-kanji word unless you know for a fact it's "missing" a kanji or written for sound and not pronunciation. It's a complete waste of time and brainpower to memorize "puppy" when you already know it by sight and context (because it's actually "child dog"). Japanese people do not see something like "child dog" as a unique, individual word like our "puppy": they see it as two separate words they can mix and match whenever they like. That's how kanji are used: like LEGOs. So that's how you have to learn them. A good example is the word "keigo" you'll see when people write about politeness levels in Japanese, as if it's untranslateable: this is literally just 敬 respect 語 single word, language = "respect-showing word(s)".

Here below, I'm going to put a few very clear examples (as I find them) of why you NEED to learn individual kanji and completely ignore whatever your translation dictionary may say about the resulting compound.

Read more... )
05 August 2017 @ 10:55 pm
Most Japanese "phrases" are super clear and instantly understandable (stuff like "your work, your result = you've made your bed, now lie in it") but of course there's still many that aren't so clear. I've slowly started learning some, as I find more I'll list them here. Feel free to post your own!

詰め が 甘い、詰め の 甘さ = fuck-up. ex. "you're a fuck-up, you always fuck-up right at the last minute" — but it's slightly more polite than the english version (closer to "slip-up" in politeness, but still putting blame on the person). sounds like it should be 爪が甘い (and some people do write it that way) but it apparently comes from chess slang, where 詰め means checkmate, so "your checkmate is (too) weak" i guess.
念 の ため: "feeling's reason", just to be safe
役 に 立つ:"stand in(to the) role", be useful. "role" is the same as in ex. "we're playing the role of the fox, and he of the hunter".

苦労:ご 苦労 様、ご 苦労 さん "(You Mr.) Painful Work" = good job today! thanks! You can also put でした after it.
疲れる:お 疲れ さま、お 疲れ さん "(You Mr.) Become-tired" = same as above. You can also put でした after it.
今日は:こんにち は、こんにち わ "this day is", good afternoon!
今晩は:こんばん わ "this night is", good evening!
お 早い ござる:お はよう ござい ます "(your) early exists", good morning!

気(気分 mood):
気 が 早い "feeling is fast" = is rash about something
気 が 短い "feeling is short" = short-tempered (he's got a short wick)
気 が 遠い ?? I thought I saw this somewhere but maybe not.
気 が 遠く なる "feeling becomes distant" = passes out
気 が 付く "a feeling sticks" = notices something
気 が 入る "feelings go in", put effort into
気 が 難しい "feelings are difficult", difficult to please, grouchy
気 を 付ける "can stick to a feeling" = watch out!
気 を 失う "lose feelings" = pass out
気 を 落とす "feelings are dropped (by something)" = get disappointed
気 を 引く "draw feelings" = draw attention (引く is pull as in drag, pull a gun trigger)
気 に 入る "enter into feelings", (start to) like something, be pleased with something
気 に する "causes a feeling", lets something get to one, is bothered by something (short-term??)
気 に なる "becomes a feeling", worries about something (long-term??)
気 の せい: "feeling's fault", it's just (my) imagination
気味 の 悪い(きもい) "bad (to the) feelings", gross
気 安い "feelings are easy/cheap", too friendly. in anime i see this constantly used for BAD stuff, ex. "you're touching my butt" "you're trying to help me when i haven't asked", but i don't know if that's the normal connotation
04 August 2017 @ 07:15 am
Japanese doesn't "really" have plurals so when they need/want to specify, they add in extra words that make the meaning clear. For example, "a bunch/group of", "ten", "diverse types", "all", "every", "countless". Usually people feel confused about this, but we have the same thing in English.

In a phrase like "every dog has its day", we know we're actually talking about multiple (countless) dogs even though we're using the singular "dog". In "they said that's their hat" we assume "they" refers to one single person because probably multiple people aren't sharing a single hat. But in "they announced it on the news" we can assume multiple people because we're referring to the multiple people who work at the news station.

Read more... )
02 August 2017 @ 09:49 pm
(x-posted to the japanese comm on LJ)

there's one thing i've noticed. with certain grammar points either it comes up completely randomly in one sentence out of 10 anime episodes or there's "that one character" who always says it, like "albeit" versus "but/however" in english. now there's points even rarer than that, and what i don't understand is WHERE these points are being used in the japanese language to make them be this or that level on the JLPT.

for example, ものの is something i've only ever seen like once out of like 80 anime eps so far; and i've been watching everything from detective shows to slice-of-life to sports anime. yet ものの is JLPT level 2, and level 1 is the hardest test level. obviously there's some kind of genre where ものの is in constant use that the JLPT is expecting you to be reading/watching, right? what is that genre?!

EDIT: I've now met a Hokkaido person who uses ものの a ton, I wonder if it's dialectal how much you use it?

といい といい, ごとき, 極めて, 始末, ってば have shown up at least 5-10 times. ぶり, それまでだ, すら at least 20 times. and yet these are supposedly N1 level! だって shows up like every two pages in half the manga you'll read, but it's N2 level and not N4!

have you guys noticed anything with this? where the heck am i supposed to go if i want to drill ものの into my brain for example? and there's plenty of N1 ones i feel like i haven't seen even once (though i might have just not noticed them when i did see them), ex: だの~だの, かれ~かれ, も顧みず, のなんのって, とみるや, のみか (though i've seen the plain のみ).
02 August 2017 @ 02:38 am
With a lot, lot of words there's actually 2 forms in common use: usually the "everyday" one is English, the "formal/archaic" is either originally Japanese or Chinese. Make no mistake, these Chinese ones ARE used and WILL come up when reading in Japanese! It might be in the newspaper, it might be in the title of an anime, etc. These are NOT "katakana words that have kanji forms", I mean actual synonyms that are more than just one-time borrowings.

From what I understand, Chinese/kanji words sound "tough, manly, harsh" while English words sound more "cool, fun, mysterious". So an action manga will use tons of kanji in the attack names but an advertisement will use a ton of English, for example. But ignoring that, here's the list! I don't know so many of them so please add in any you know!

電脳 コンピュータ コンピュ コン computer (kanji = used a lot in scifi: ex. 電脳コイル "Dennou Coil", anime name)
自動車 車 カー car (カー is hardly ever used)
乗り合い自動車 乗合自動車 バス bus
動力 力 エネルギー エネ energy
Read more... )
01 August 2017 @ 03:11 am
My friend linked to this on twitter and I was shocked, I could actually understand most of the speech in the beginning! So if you can understand all this, you're at at least N2 level:

29 July 2017 @ 09:08 pm
When you're just starting out, I advise you to learn katakana first. This is because you already know most katakana words! Here I'll make a list of all the ones I find in reading so that you can practice your katakana: note that this list will, eventually, get reaaally long.

NOTE!: These words are "officially" supposed to be written in katakana because they're foreign; in reality there's no such limit, you'll constantly see "katakana" words written in hiragana and vice versa. Don't memorize them as if they can "only" exist in katakana.

Last Updated: 2017.07.30

Read more... )
03 August 2017 @ 04:25 am
I've been playing some online games and reading "Overlord" (manga about an MMORPG) and slowly learning chatspeak so I'll start making a list of what I figure out here!

Last updated: 2017.09.20

こん茶:こんにちは good afternoon!
いてらー: い[っ]てら[っしゃい] see you later!
おは: おは[ようございます] 'morning!
ノ: 乗る "riding" as in "i'll ride/hop on the bandwagon" = "i agree", "i'll come join the raid" etc. usually someone will ask something and then a string of people will "raise their hand" like this to agree.
あざーす: あ[りがとう ご]ざ[いま]す "thanks"
イベ: イベント "event", ex. キルイベ "kill event" (event where you're supposed to kill enemy soldiers)
サブ: "sub" as in "sub-account, my non-main account"
アカ: アカウント "account", ex. サブアカ "sub account", 新アカ "new account".
イン(している): ログインしている "is logged in" (インする to become logged in = to log on). note that instead of saying someone's "offline" they tend to just say "not logged in" (インしていない).
テレポ: テレポート (アイテム) "teleport(ation scroll etc)"
引退: "retirement" = quit the game (or guild)
神: "god" = what you'll be called if you're online constantly, appear whenever someone needs you, or can translate between japanese and another language
kwsk: 詳しく "in detail" = details/source please
w: 笑、笑う "laugh" = lol
g: ゴールド "gold" (in-game money)
(お)ひさ:久しぶり "long time (no see)"
萌え: 萌える "buds, becomes sprouting" but actually this is the kanji for "moe". Ex. ギャップ萌え "gap moe", the moe of a gap in looks vs personality.
ノンケ : ノンゲイ "non-gay", straight.
i am japanese! : this actually means "i only speak japanese, i don't understand a single word of what you're saying, slow down and be nice" etc.
native : too foreign/not japanese (as in "i only understand broken english, not authentic english!" = "too native lol i'm japanese lol").
モン: モンスター monster
ハン: ハント、ハンチング hunt(ing), ex. モンハン monster-hunting

General useful vocabulary:

同盟 "alliance" = guild (in certain games)
合併 "merge" = merging 2 guilds into one etc
兵士 = soldiers
切れ(た) = ran out of something, ex. スタミナ 切れ "out of stamina"
敵 = enemy
襲う = attacks, robs
敵襲 (=敵 襲う) = raid (enemy attacking you)
攻撃(される) = (become) attacked
28 July 2017 @ 04:46 pm
In English we often shorten phrases by omitting an entire half or more: "Ask not for whom the bell tolls (it tolls for thee)", "Birds of a feather (flock together)". Words are the same way, "(inter)net, teach(er), sis(ter)". Strings of words also get their first or last sounds or letters taken and merged: "Government Issue = GI, Tele Vision = TV", "shark tornado = sharknado". Japanese is exactly the same way. Each kanji is a unique word and they mix and match these words in order to say what they want. For example:

公 public/popular/wide 安 safe 局 department = 公安局 government department of public safety (3 words)
安 calm/safe 心 core/mood = mental relief (2 words)
不 not 安 calm/safe = worry (= mental upset) (2 words)
安 calm/safe 全 complete = safety, security (2 words)

公安局, 安心, 不安 and 安全 aren't unique words worth memorizing. You instead need to remember the kanji meanings, because each kanji is a separate word. Japanese people always mix and match words this way to create whatever it is that they want to say; we in English say "library, librarian", we say "Washingtonian, laundrette", but, for some reason, we don't say "libroshop, librette, bookian, bookette" — Japanese people (and most cultures in the world in general) do exactly that however. For the most part it doesn't matter what a word's origin is, they'll mix and match it to say what they want.

The trouble with this only comes when what we think is "a complete word" is actually short for a longer word. For example:

少年[男] = "few-years [male]" = young boy
少[年]女 = "few-[years] female"= young girl
妖怪[獣] = "uncanny-suspicious [beast]" = ghost, demon
妖[怪]力 = "uncanny-[suspicious] power" = demonic/supernatural power
[犯]無実 = "[crime] not true" = innocent (of a crime)

These appear in real life as: 少年, 少女, 妖怪, 妖力, 無実 and the dictionary won't show you the origins I've pointed out above, despite that if you actually do know what the full word/phrase must have at some point been (as a native speaker does!) then the shortened word is instantly recognizable and memorable without any special study.

It's my goal to make a dictionary and textbook that teach Japanese in exactly that way: showing you that what you're learning isn't actually a special, unique word and thus making everything a lot easier to learn. The problem is, this takes an amazing amount of time, especially since I'm still learning Japanese myself — I have to create the entire dictionary by gathering words MYSELF, figure out all the kanji meanings MYSELF because the existing materials are completely awful. For example, a "word" like 妖力, despite being constantly in use in manga and anime, isn't in the dictionary. I myself have to find this word and realize 妖 is short for 妖怪, as well as that 妖怪 itself is short for 妖怪獣.

So anyway, my idea was to make a dictionary that only gives kanji meanings, except it'll also point out when compound words are abbreviations (like 妖: 1. uncanny, 2. 妖怪[獣] and then I might have 妖怪[獣] as a separate entry because its meaning isn't obvous). What do you think? What should I make sure to do or not do? What are the problems you've been finding in dictionaries and textbooks? What's your ideal dictionary/textbook?