Monday, 10 June 2013

The week off

Hi everybody,

I missed the interview last week and I don't think I'll have the time to do my posts this week either.
The reason is both work and this little creature:

His name is Kuro, aka black in Japanese. The funny thing was that the people where he came from had a daughter and she had already called him Blacky.
He is so cute and cuddly but very active and needs a lot of supervision still. So this week I'll be spending all the time I'm not working with him (and to be honest, I basically work during his naps and that doesn't leave me with a lot of time anyway).

So, see you all next week when we've all settled in a bit more.

Study on!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Learning kana, post 4 (special sounds)

There we are, we finished hiragana and have now moved between that and katakana. For this post I'll talk about a few kinks in the writing of it.

Mixed/double sounds

Okay, the first thing is mixed sounds. As you see the above video is Nyan cat. Nyan is one of the words that uses a mixed sound. Without knowing about the double sound you would think that it would be written N-ya-n, as those are the kana that you know.
But Japanese has one set of double sounds. Any kana that ends in -i (apart from the single I kana) can be a double sound with one of the y- sounds.
So, nyan is actually Nya-n.
Let me show you with actual kana.
You can see that the second kana is smaller than the first one. This way you can see that you're talking about a kana that is not used on it's own but in a combination.

The rule of mixed sounds: any kana ending in -i can also be ended in y-.

Here is the list of all the combination kana:

きゃ きゅ きょ ki, kya, kyu, kyo
しゃ しゅ しょ As with the regular kana shi, this is sha, shu, sho
ちゃ ちゅ ちょ again, as with chi, these are cha, chu, cho
にゃ にゅ にょ ni, nya, nyu, nyo
ひゃ ひゅ ひょ hi, hya, hyu, hyo
みゃ みゅ みょ mi, mya, myu, myo
りゃ りゅ りょ ri, rya, ryu, ryu

The same rules when it comes to dakuten also goes for these double sounds, so きゃ becomes ぎゃ and so on.

Doubling of sounds

In a lot of languages we simply double vowels or consonants when we want a longer sound or something like that.

For consonants Japanese has a special kana for that. It's the small sign of つ.
きて = come
きって= postage stamp

The only time this doesn't work is with the N sound. To double a N you use the ん with one of the kana from the N line.
Pronunciation wise it is a bit different from how we double the consonant. To properly pronounce it in Japanese you don't pronounce it double but you start pronouncing the sound, pause, and then pronounce the rest. Try it, it's a bit different but it is doable.

For vowels it's slightly different. You double the kana of the vowel you want to lengthen. So a long か is かあ and a long に is にい.
Though there are two exceptions. An O sound is usually doubled by a U though in older words it is still an extra O. Like よう vs おとおさん. The other exception is the E, it is usually lengthened with an I and other another E, like せんせい, unless in some older situations. Another exception is when the word is split exactly where the vowels are next to each other in these two cases, then you do read them as o+u and e+i. Though you can hear that, so you don't need to worry about that too much.

Something about ん

Since you can you use the N on it's own and it can be followed by a vowel you need to pay attention to the word. In some cases the split in a word is right after a ん (as you can see above) and the next part of the word can start with a vowel. In this cases you don't use kana from the N row but simply ん + vowel. This is something that you will run into while learning kanji and isn't as confusing as it now looks as it's obvious where the split in a word is with different kanji.

That is it!

Next week I'll be starting the first set of katakana.

Study on!


Monday, 3 June 2013

No trilingual post for today

Sorry, today no awesome trilingual post.

I had a few ideas to do with them for the next few weeks, but as I was doing research I found out that things that are very straight forward in Dutch or English are very very complicated in Japanese. This stopped me right in my tracks and forced me to rethink what I am doing with these posts.
The topics I had planned on were how to tell time and how to count items. These are some of the more difficult grammatical constructions in Japanese and would require a lot more information than I want to put in these posts. Not because I don't want explain them but because I want to keep these posts short.

At the same time, I do want to share more things. So I'm rethinking what to do with them for this week.

I'm reaching out to you all, what topics would you like to see me talk about?
Clock/time/dates and counting things will be coming up, just in a different format than I was planning on as it seems that it is going to take quite a few posts to talk about these things. I don't want to spend the next 20 weeks talking about everything that has to do with numbers so I want to do some other things too.

You can see previous posts here:
1. Pets (vocab)
2. Farm Animals (vocab)
3. Things on your desk (vocab and grammar)
4. Numbers 0-20 (vocab)
5. Numbers 20-99 (vocab)

What did you like about them? What would you like to see more of? Do you have any ideas of topics or themes that you would like me to talk about? I'd love to hear from you.

Study on!


P.S. The Wednesday kana post is still going up on Wednesday, this post on trilingual doesn't have anything to do with that.