Monday, 13 May 2013

Things on your desk (trilingual post #3)

By request of someone, I'll see if I can incorporate some sentences into these posts. So today I'll do a bit of grammar with a short list of words.

Same disclaimer as always:
I'm not a teacher, I compile each of these posts by going by my own knowledge and they only reflect my own opinion. You should at all times think for yourself and not take any of what is said as the pure truth, I am after all human so I make mistakes too.


Vocabulary list:

Japanese English Dutch
本(ほん) book boek
ペン pen pen
えんぴつ pencil potlood
ノート notebook schrijfblok
かぎ key sleutel

Here are the words we'll be using this time, not a lot but I'll be doing a bit of grammar with them, so we don't need many.

Sentence order.

J: これです
E: This is a book.
D: Dit is een boek.

J: それペンですか。
E: Is that a pen?
D: Is dat een pen?

As you can see in this short example, Japanese word order doesn't change. The common order in Japanese sentences is Subject, Object, Verb and it happens that subjects are left out altogether, but that is for another time. Dutch and English both commonly use the Subject, Verb, Object construction unless used in special circumstances, like making a question out of a sentence.

A few things to remember in Japanese, the は is actually read as わ and points to the object of the sentence (the word after it) and they use か to create a question out of a sentence, they don't use actual question marks.

Let's do a few more sentences, this time about an item and its position from either the speaker or the listener.

The Japanese 何(なに) is loosely translated as what. So if I would translate the first sentence into English word by word it would read "That(それ) what(は何) is(です)?(か)"

If something is closer to the listener but further away from the speaker:
J: それは何ですか。
E: What is that?
D: Wat is dat?

J: これはえんぴつです。
E: This is a pencil.
D: Dit is een potlood.

If something is close to the speaker but further away from the listener:
J: これは何ですか。
E: What is this?
D: Wat is dit?

J: それはノートです。
E: This is a notebook.
D: Dit is een schrijfblok.

If something is far away from both the speaker and the listener (this isn't that special in English or Dutch but has a special word in Japanese, so I'm adding it to this list).
J: あれは何ですか。
E: What is that?
D: Wat is dat?

J: あれはかぎです。
E: That is a key.
D: Dat is een sleutel.

You can now point out things in Japanese, English and Dutch and ask what they are. Quite a useful skill to have. It can help you learn a lot of new words if you're somewhere.

So, sentence order in Dutch and English looks a lot alike, and it is, most of the time. Japanese on the other hand uses one structure of sentence, subject-object-verb. and changes meaning of those sentences with little words (called particles), this is both easy to understand and sometimes confusing to use.
English and Dutch only have two words to show position this/dit and that/dat, the one is for things that are close, the other for things that are far away. Japanese has three of these, それ - that (away from the speaker but close to the listener), これ - this (close to the speaker, away from the listener) and あれ - that [over there] (far away from both the speaker and listener).

And that was the first trilingual grammar lesson.

Study on!


For those who have trouble reading Japanese, check out my Hiragana and katakana cheat table.

Those studying Dutch, words that are underlined are onzijdig and thus don't use de but het when you write them.