How would you respond when you are not sure in Japanese?

Posted on 31. Jul, 2014 by in Grammar

Have you had a situation where you are having a conversation with someone in a foreign language, and you hear something you are not sure or don’t understand? How would you say, “please say it again”, or  “I don’t understand.” in Japanese?  or perhaps you were in Japan one day when you weren’t too comfortable with Japanese language, and a store staff started to talk to you in Japanese assuming that you spoke Japanese? How would you say “Sorry, I don’t speak Japanese.” ? Well, Let me show you various expressions that you can use for a situation like this.

kaiwa

photo from Jennifer 真泥佛 on flickr.co

What?, Huh?  - E?え?

This expression might sound a bit rude depending on how you use this, just like it might sound rude in English.

What was that?  - imano nani? いまのなに?

This expression is also something you might want to use between close friends. You don’t want to say this too much to someone older, or who is at higher social status.

Excuse me but I didn’t quite get that.  - Sumimasen. Yoku kikitoremasendeshita. すみません。よく聞き取れませんでした。(よく、ききとれませんでした。)

This is a polite way of letting him/her know that you didn’t understand.

Can you speak more slowly?

- Mo-sukoshi yukkuri ohanasi itadakemasuka? もう少しゆっくりお話しいただけませんか?(もうすこしゆっくり おはなしいただけませんか?)

Can you speak a little louder, please?

-Mo-sukoshi ookinakoede onegaishimasu. もう少し、大きな声でお願いします。(もうすこし、おおきなこえでおねがいします。)

I beg your pardon? , Would you say that again?

-Mouichido itte itadakemasuka? もう一度、言っていただけますか?(もういちど、いっていただけますか?)

If you are new to Japanese, you might want to memorize this sentence!

Could you explain that again?

-Mouichido setsumeishite itadaite iidesuka? もう一度、説明していただいていいですか?(もういちど、せつめいしていただいていいですか?)

Excuse me but I don’t understand Japanese. 

-Moushiwakearimasen. Nihongo wa wakaranaindesu. 申し訳ありません。日本語は分からないんです。(もうしわけありません。にほんごはわからないんです。)

Sorry but I don’t speak Japanese.

-Gomennasai. Watashiwa nihongo o hanashimasen. ごめんなさい。私は、日本語を話しません。(ごめんなさい。わたしは、にほんごをはなしません。)

 I am not very familiar with ~.

-~nitsuite amari shirimasen.  ~についてあまり知りません。(~についてあまりしりません。)

Can you give me some examples? 

-Gutairei o agete itadakemasuka? 具体例を挙げていただけますか?(ぐたいれいをあげていただけますか?)

I am sorry. I can’t understand at all.

-Sumimasen. Mattaku wakarimasen. すみません、全く分かりません。(すみません。まったくわかりません。)

I have collected some of the useful expressions above. Hope you found this lesson helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!

Names of different foreign languages in Japanese

Posted on 30. Jul, 2014 by in Grammar

I recently came across this video below. The famous “FROZEN”, “LET IT GO” sung in 25 different languages.  As you know, the movie, Frozen is famous world-wide. When I first watched it at the theater, I didn’t think this movie was going to be that popular around the world. Perhaps that’s because I don’t have a daughter. Although my boys really liked the movie, they don’t sing the song, “Let it go” at home like my friends’ daughters.

While I was in Japan, it was so obvious that this movie took a big hit in Japan.  You could hear the Japanese version of the “Let it go” almost everywhere, including, book stores, grocery stores, drug stores, and clothing stores.

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The “Let it go” in 25 different language inspired me to write this article. Here are the different foreign languages and how we would call them in Japanese. The key point here is that we add the word “Go, 語、ご” at the end of each language. “Go, 語、ご” means “language” in Japanese.

 

ENGLISH 英語 EIGO
HINDI ヒンディー語 HINDI-GO
SPANISH スペイン語 SPEINGO
ARABIC アラビア語 ARABIAGO
PORTUGUESE ポルトガル語 PORUTOGARUGO
 RUSSIAN ロシア語 ROSHIA GO
JAPANESE 日本語 NIHONGO
GERMAN ドイツ語 DOITSUGO
KOREAN 韓国語(朝鮮語) KANKOKUGO
FRENCH フランス語 FRANSUGO
VIETNAMESE ベトナム語 VETONAMUGO
TURKISH トルコ語 TORUKOGO
DANISH デンマーク語 DENMA-KUGO
DUTCH オランダ語 ORANDAGO
SWEDISH スウェーデン語 SWE-DENGO
POLISH ポーランド語 PORANDOGO
HUNGARIAN ハンガリー語 HANGARI-GO
CATALAN カタルーニャ語 KATARU-NYAGO
ITALIAN イタリア語 ITARIAGO
SERBIAN セルビア語 SERUBIAGO
BAHASA MALASIA マレーシア語 MARE-SHIAGO
BULGARIAN ブルガリア語 BURUGARIAGO
NORWEGIAN ノルウェー語 NORUWE-GO
THAI タイ語 TAIGO
FLEMISH フラマン語 FRAMANGO
CHINESE 中国語 CHUGOKUGO

I believe I covered most of the languages, but if you don’t see a particular language above, and would like to know what it is called in Japanese, please let me know.

I have to post this again, “Let it go” in Japanese version. This song is sung by Takako Matsu. This Japanese version has been very popular.

Let it go phrase has been translated into “Arinomama、ありのまま”. “Arinomama、ありのまま” means more like “let it be” in my opinion but it was translated this way to better fit into Japanese version of this song.  Enjoy!

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How to learn Japanese efficiently.

Posted on 29. Jul, 2014 by in Grammar

If you are learning Japanese and always looking for a way to improve your Japanese, you might want to add this learning method to your current learning.  I would like to suggest “creating a simple sentence” exercise to learn more Japanese expressions.

Let’s start with the word summer (natsu, 夏、なつ)

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photo from ルーク.チャン.チャン on flickr.com

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “natsu(夏、なつ)”?

You might think of sentences such as:

  • I love summer!  - Watashiwa natsu ga daisuki desu. (私は夏が大好きです。わたしは、なつがだいすきです。)

 

  • Summer is hot! – Natsu wa atsui! (夏は暑い!なつはあつい!)

 

  • I like to travel during summer. -Watashiwa natsuni ryokou surunoga suki desu. (私は、夏に旅行するのが好きです。わたしは、なつにりょこうするのがすきです。)

 

  • I love the beach in summer. – Natsuno umi ga daisuki desu. (夏の海が大好きです。なつのうみがだいすきです。)

 

  • It is nice getting together with family during summer vacation. – Natsuno kyu-ka chu-ni kazoku de isshoni atsumarino wa iine.(夏の休暇中に家族で一緒に集まるのは、いいね。なつのきゅうかちゅうにかぞくでいっしょにあつまるのは、いいね。)

 

  • It is too hot to go outside during summer. – Natsuno aidawa atsukute sotoni derarenai. (夏の間は、暑くて外に出られない。なつのあいだは、あつくてそとにでられない。)

 

You can keep making new sentences by replacing the word, “summer(natsu, 夏、なつ)” above with something else. Let’s try another season, “Fall (aki, 秋、あき)” in the first sentence.

  • I love fall!  - Watashiwa aki ga daisuki desu. (私は秋が大好きです。わたしは、あきがだいすきです。)

Try with different words, such as

Spring (haru, 春、はる)

Winter (fuyu, 冬、ふゆ)

How would you say these in Japanese?

I love spring! ==>

I love winter!==>

Any other word you might know in Japanese, try replacing the word above in any of the sentences.

You might want to say:

  • It is nice getting together with “friends” during summer vacation. – Natsuno kyu-ka chu-ni tomodachi de isshoni atsumarino wa iine.(夏の休暇中に友達で一緒に集まるのは、いいね。なつのきゅうかちゅうにともだちでいっしょにあつまるのは、いいね。)

I simply replaced the word “family” with “friends(tomodachi, 友達、ともだち)”. You can try making this sentence with the words like,

co-workers (do-ryo-, 同僚、どうりょう)

brothers (kyoudai, 兄弟、きょうだい)

sisters (shimai, 姉妹、しまい)

mothers (haha tachi, 母たち、ははたち)

~ and so on…

Got an idea?  Once you are comfortable writing or speaking a simple sentence in Japanese, try this learning method to increase your vocabulary.

Answers to the above questions:

I love spring! ==> Watashi wa haru ga daisuki desu. 私は、春が大好きです。わたしは、はるがだいすきです。

I love winter!==> Watashi wa fuyu ga daisuki desu. 私は、冬が大好きです。わたしは、ふゆがだいすきです。