Monthly Archives: March 2015

Japanese family terms which include birth order

In Japanese, differences in position, experience, and age are considered very important and are built into the language itself in the form of words that indicate where someone is with respect to others. This concept is expressed in the terms 先輩 (senpai), which refers to someone older or with more experience, and 後輩 (kouhai),  which… Read More »

Japanese podcast review: “Oogiri Corner”

In a previous post I’ve talked about the NHK Japanese podcasts, which are freely available online for a variety of programs. I’ve jumped around listening to a few of these, but lately have really gotten into one called “Oogiri corner” (大喜利コーナー)that is billed as “The earliest in Japan” (日本一早い) and is part of the “Suppin”… Read More »

Easily mistaken Japanese word: 病院 (byouin)

As we all know, one of the best ways to learn a foreign language is immerse yourself in an environment where it is beneficial, even necessary to communicate in that language. One of the pitfalls of this type of situation is that there is always the chance of miscommunication, either because you make a mistake… Read More »

Expressing interest in Japanese

In Japanese, you can use the word 興味 (‘kyoumi’) to talk about interest in something. It is typically coupled with the が or は, plus the verb for inanimate existence, ある (‘aru’), or some derivation of it (negative form, polite form, etc.). Let’s start with a simple example: それは全然興味がありません。 I am not interested in that at… Read More »

Japanese manga review: “Dog House” (いぬやしき) Issue 1 by Hiroya Oku

Recently I happened to stop by Kinokuniya, one of the better Japanese bookstores in San Jose. I wanted to buy a few things there to read, but since I had done practically no research before arriving I ended up picking up the first issue of Hiroya Oku’s “Dog House” base only on the cover art and some text which said something about robots… Read More »

An overview of confusing Japanese loanwords

In previous posts I talked about a few theories about why Japanese has so many loanwords, especially from English. This time I’d like to discuss some of the specific words themselves. Once the Katakana alphabet is learned, loanwords become a great help as many of them can be understood by English-speakers by simply sounding them out without having to… Read More »

Spoken language vs written language

When learning a foreign language, it’s usually assumed that in addition to spoken language studies (listening and speaking) there will be a focus placed on written language (reading and writing). At first you might think the only difference is learning characters vs sounds, but there is much more involved. As a result there are some differences in… Read More »

Japanese consanant verbs that end with eru/iru

Japanese has two verb types, consonant (godan) verbs and vowel (ichidan) verbs, each with their corresponding conjugations. Here is an example of each with conjugation into the past and -masu forms. Vowel (ichidan) 食べる (taberu) – to eat Past: 食べた (tabeta) ~Masu (polite): 食べます (tabemasu) Consonant verb (godan) 分かる (wakaru) – to understand Past: 分かった… Read More »