Google+ Japanese Talk Online

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Anime & Manga Japanese - Common Japanese Phrases

"Tadaima~ I'm Home~"

You may have noticed how certain phrases crop up a lot in anime, but do you know what they're saying and do you know exactly what they mean? This post looks at these common phrases used in anime and explains their etymology, hopefully shedding some light on where they came from and their cultural relevance.

These are some some the core phrases used in everyday Japanese language and therefore in anime. Understanding the meaning of the words being used can help you remember the words and spread light on aspects of Japanese culture that you might not be familiar with (such as using a phrase when you leave the house or when someone else leaves). These are phrases that really are used every single day so it's important to know them.

If there are any other phrases you'd like to know more about feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Daily Greetings

Good Morning:
ohayougozaimasu - おはようございます (ohayou - おはよう)
The word for good morning uses はよう (早う) which is an old word meaning "early". The お and ございます is very formal (keigo) grammar which means です, or "it is". In other words おはようございます literally means "it's early".

konichiwa - こんにちは 
This word breaks down into "this" こん (今) "day" にち (日) "is" は. You may notice that the "wa" uses the particle は and not わ (although even Japanese people get this mixed up).

は is the particle for a topic marker, which means that the phrase こんにちは is possibly a shortened form for phrases such as "how are you doing today?" (今日は御機嫌いかがですか konnichi wa go-kigen ikaga desu ka) or "isn't it fine weather today?"(今日は良い天気ですね konnichi wa yoi tenki desu ne)

o-su オッス
These two words are very, very informal greetings of "hello" or "what's up" used a lot by boys in anime. オッス takes the お from the start and す from the end of おはようございます. There are some variants on these depending on accents and laziness such as ウイス.

Good Evening:
konbanwa - こんばんは
This phrase is very similar to こんにちは as it breaks down into "this" こん (今) "evening" ばん (晩) "is" は. And is once again possibly a shortened for of various greetings that were once used in Japanese.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

"I heard" "It seems" - The different uses of sou そう

This is a grammar point that had me in a lot of confusion recently. I'd created some lessons to help people on the Memrise group learn these but due to conflicting information on the internet the course got very jumbled and had to be corrected a number of times. I've finally pinned down these grammar points after checking with native Japanese people. Apologies to those who have been using Memrise and gotten confused on these points. I hope the following helps.

The following are all the uses for そう for "It seems" and "I heard". If you have any further questions feel free to ask in the comments.

If the following doesn't help Maggie Sensei has a good explanation for "it seems" (sadly she doesn't go into detail on "I heard")

Maggie Sensei explains the use of "it seems"

You can practice the following grammar on Memrise in lessons 8 & 9 in the Beginners Japanese Grammar 2 course. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Apologies, Updates, Changes and Plans!


Apologies for the last few weeks of radio silence everyone! Life, as always, gets in the way and as this blog and Memrise is something I do out of my own time it sometimes gets pushed down the priority list.

The last few weeks which were missed (the 10th and 17th), as well as the Advanced Reading Practice I promised, will be updated this week along with this week's post.

Update days are being changed to Thursday! This is because Wednesdays are packed all day with commuting, classes and Uni work, but my Thursdays are free so I should have more time to get them done and updated then.

At the moment I am prioritising a few themes on J-Talk over others. The first is JLPT N1 and advanced readings. This is because I'm studying for the N1 exam and creating these on the blog and memrise help me a lot, as I hope they help others.
I'm also going to be doing one more Anime focused lesson before dropping those for a while. But I will be finding more videos and practice to add to previous blogs that are missing them.

As always, if you have any requests or ideas for topics that could be covered in the blog please let me know in the comments or facebook page. I won't be taking any suggestions for courses on Memrise though as I'm focusing on the N1 and advanced Japanese levels for now.

Thanks for your understanding!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

My Japanese Study Routine

As I mentioned in the last post on Finding Your Daily Study Routine everyone works differently using different resources and methods to learn Japanese.

The following is my own routine, what works for me, what doesn't and how this has changed over time and why. Hopefully this will help give people a better idea of how to study Japanese in your spare time.


First of all, I don't set a fixed number of hours aside a day to study. I've tried it in the past and it's always been detrimental for me because I feel like I HAVE to study rather than I WANT to study. I feel like it's very important to enjoy studying, or at least have that sense of achievement that you've reached your goal.

I set myself goals instead. The big one is Take the JLPT N1 on July 5th 2015. I have had this goal on the table to the last year and a half and never study enough in preparation for it. I even paid for the exam in December 2014 and didn't go because I was not ready! But no use crying over spilt milk. I accept that it happened (or didn't happen) and move on, focusing this time on July.

This big goal is split into smaller goals: 
Study all of JLPT N1 2000 Vocabulary on Memrise (which I managed to achieve this week!)
Study all of Nihongo Somatome N1 Kanji on Memrise (which I am writing the course for and have begun learning) 
Read more Japanese texts (news articles, novels etc)
Listen to Japanese news radio (and be able to understand what's being said)

I then have deadlines for these goals, but they're flexible deadlines because, as you may have seen with the N1 exam, I'm bad at sticking to my deadlines...

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Finding Your Daily Japanese Study Routine

Every person's study routine is different. Not only does it change from person to person but can vary over time. This post talks about different study routines you can do, why it's important to keep it varied, and how to find one that works best for you. For someone who is just starting out it's hard to get into the swing of a daily routine, but persistence brings out the best results.

If you would like more advice on studying Japanese I always recommend Master Japanese which has lots of useful information about study methods, types of learners, facts about classes vs private tutors, and study types. It's a really good site that makes you think about what you want out of Japanese and how to structure you goals and study methods around that.

How your study routine plays out depends very much on the type of resources you use and how you learn best, which is why the following has a number of suggestions of resources you can use to study.

The following information consists mostly of advice. I encourage you to explore some of these suggestions as well as try and find your own. Ask friends or others for what they enjoy using/how they learn, and find what works best for you!

Different Study Resources
(These do not include teachers as study routines are supposed to be your day-to-day type studying you do outside of the classroom)

Review regularly to remember!
Flashcards - These are great for studying vocabulary and kanji. You can use a pre-made deck on an app or create your own on paper.
It's important that you study these often. Don't go through them once and think you're done. That's why it's great to get an app that has spaced repetition which helps you remember the word just before you forget it.

Useful flashcard apps:

(For a more extensive list of Apps for android and IOS for different things click here)

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Advanced Reading Japanese Practice (7th Feb 2014)

  • 村上ファン集うカフェで発表待つイベント
  • フェリー3隻 大型船でミャンマーへ

Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud - Even if you're just moving your lips (because you're in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory.

Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud - Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you're more likely to skip over words and readings, which won't help your comprehension.

Tip 3: 
Time yourself when you read an article - Make a note of how long it takes you to read and try an improve on that time. This is not only good practice for vocabulary but also for your comprehension and reading speed.

Click here if you're wondering "What is Advanced Japanese Reading Practice?"

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice (4th Feb 2014)

  • 「イスラム国」がシーア派600人を殺害か
  • カナダ 日本人女性不明で捜索
  • 「決闘」容疑で少年グループ書類送検

Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud - Even if you're just moving your lips (because you're in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory.

Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud - Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you're more likely to skip over words and readings, which won't help your comprehension.

Tip 3: 
Time yourself when you read an article - Make a note of how long it takes you to read and try an improve on that time. This is not only good practice for vocabulary but also for your comprehension and reading speed.

Click here if you're wondering "What is Advanced Japanese Reading Practice?"

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Introducing Advanced Japanese Reading Practice

"I find it hard to sit down and practice reading when I don't know half the words..."

To help improve people's vocabulary, kanji recognition and general reading comprehension J-Talk Online is releasing new posts that help you practice advanced Japanese readings, whether this if for JLPT N2, N1 or just for fun.

Each week on Saturday a number of articles (1-3) will be released on the blog. These articles will vary in length and will be accompanied by a vocabulary list. People are free to use them as they are on the blog, for their own flashcard programs, or use the Memrise course which will have the vocab lists followed by the articles.

Articles will cover a varying array of topics from a number of sources, which are listed below. Sources have been linked so you can explore them yourself to practice reading more

Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Foreigner Sumo Wrestling in Japan - Guest Post

I was a Shindeshi: A Foreigner’s Chance at a Japanese Sport

Foreigner sumo wrestling in Japan Newspaper article

  Sumo (相撲: sumou), I have been familiar with the sport for a while now, because of my interest in Japanese culture, but I never really imagained that I would throw on a mawashi (廻し: a thick waisted loin cloth), be thrown into the dohyou (土俵: the ring made from clay and sand for sumo bouts), and do well!

Foreigner sumo wrestling in Japan

Firstly, I am currently an ALT with the JET Program working for the Board of Education in Katagami City, Akita Prefecture, Japan. I am really greatful to be working with this program due to its amazing network, which has connected me to people from all over Japan. The Akitan JETs are fantastic with all of the events, festivals, professional conferences, and help that is offered. I felt like I was instantly accepted into this community. It was just like when I first went to university or studied abroad, just being thrown into this adventure and instantly bonding with the myriad people going along for the ride.
Well, en route on this JET Program ride, one day I got a text message from a friend asking me for help. I just assumed he needed a ride or something, so I sent him a response back asking what was up. He told me that the Sumo competition he was organizing just had a guy drop out and now he had to find a replacement. I had actually known that this was happening, but did not sign up due to the fact that I had never done Sumo, and I was actually still recovering from an injury. But, it seemed like the Japanese gods had spoken and were beckoning me to the arena!
I said sure.
     I had become a shindeshi (新弟子: a new sumo recruit). Instantly I was being caught up to speed. The tournament was in four days, and I needed to make my shikona (四股名: a wrestler’s fighting name). Memories of watching “Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t” in my university’s Japanese class came back to me, reminding me what I had just signed up for.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

New Memrise Course - Anime Grammar for Beginners!

To go along with the Anime Japanese posts I've been doing recently I made a memrise course for people to learn informal grammar used in anime and manga. It accompanies the Beginners Anime Japanese course which focuses on basic vocabulary. Because this is a beginners course it only tests on hiragana, but has the romaji and kanji for reference. A lot of the grammar overlaps with Beginners Grammar 1&2, but mostly has new verbs for each of the grammar points if you've done these courses already.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Anime Japanese - Verbs

Besides adjectives verbs (and grammar) are probably the most common words used in anime

A previous post covered adjectives in anime. This one will go over verbs, the types that are used, how it's different to what you learn in a classroom, and the best way to study them along with grammar.

Japanese Verbs Used in Anime

All of the Japanese verbs are used in anime. But unlike the Japanese you might learn in class these are normally in informal, or quite often said with a certain dialect. The best way to learn these is to learn the basic or dictionary form, and then learn informal grammar from these.

For those that don't know there are 3 groups of verbs. I've gone over them before in a previous post, but will quickly go over them again here (feel free to scroll down to resources for learning these and grammar):

Group 1 or “u verbs” 

These are words that have an “u” sound at the end. When you turn a “masu” form into plain form the “I” changes to the “u” for group 1 verbs. Such as the following.

いきます ikimasu  -> いく iku   = to go

あらいます araimasu -> あらう arau   = to wash

たちます tachimasu -> たつ tatsu   = to stand

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Using NHK to Practice Japanese - Beginners to Advance

For those that don't know NHK is the Japanese Broadcasting Network. A bit similar to the UK's BBC, it runs regular new reports and articles on local and international affairs. They actually have websites in many different languages (including English) if you want to read about current affairs in Japan without needing to read the Japanese.

Besides learning about Japanese affairs as they happen, NHK can be a great resource for studying the language for all levels.


NHK Online Lessons: NHK offers free online lessons for beginners learning Japanese using MP3 and pdf worksheets. They release 10 minute radio postcasts a week for beginners as well.

The big difference between these lessons and other beginner classes, is that the NHK ones are aimed at people going to Japan to live or for business. I still think that these are very useful for beginners who are probably going to Japan for a year abroad or to do JET. It not only helps with the language but mannerisms in an office environment.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Translating from Japanese to English for Beginners

"I want to be able to translate..."

This post is for people interested in Japanese translating but don't know how to because they haven't had any formal training. I am assuming that the people interested in translating are at a skill level of between N3-N1 Japanese.

Understanding Japanese, and understanding Japanese to then turn it into English are two different skill sets. This is because you not only need to understand the languages you're translating from, but you need to know the appropriate language to use in the language you're translating to (which I'm assuming is English). For example, although I am fluent English speaker, if you were to give me a piece of work on deep sea diving, I will have no idea how to translate it because I am not a deep sea diver!!! 

Hanako to Anne translation scene

You need to know the culture and social contexts surrounding what you're translating. Even if it's a manga translation about beach volleyball, can you tell me you know all the native English language for certain terms? Then there are the specific terms in Japanese which you need to understand, which may not necessarily coincide with the English term.

All of this will be discussed below with tips on translating and books you can buy to read to help you.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Anime Japanese - Adjectives Are Everywhere

You can understand a lot from a situation in anime simply from learning adjectives.

Adjectives are used all the time in anime. Their use ranges from a single statement describing the obvious (i.e "it's hot"), to describing a person or situation in a complex sentence, but even then it's incredibly useful to have a grasp of adjectives when you watch anime.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Accidental Hiatus

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Also apologies to everyone. As I finished my first term of University I had a number of essays to write which took priority of my time and as soon as those finished I was hit with the full force of Christmas and it's been non-stop causing an accidental hiatus in both the blog and correcting mistakes on the Memrise courses. Apologise for the radio silence up until now. I promise the New Year will come with a lot more regular posting.

Corrections to Memrise and blog posts will resume from the 7th January.