Posts Tagged ‘Langauge’

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, sometimes we all need to take a vacation from language learning. I had to do just that. But, now I’m back (well, as of tomorrow!) I plan to start really focused work starting the 1st August. That way I have about 2 months before my “Japanese Conversation and Composition” classes start. The interesting thing is that I’m also taking Korean. I already (rather randomly) have the book that I need for the class! I’m a bit… meh… about classes starting again to be honest. I don’t quite know why. But, I did find a MA/PhD that I want to do up in Columbus at OSU. I just… need to get through the next couple of years.

It’s going to be difficult, but I really want to do it.

So, as of tomorrow, this blog is back full-time!


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Sometimes, I get so frustrated with my inability to actually say what I mean in Japanese. It drives me insane. I’ve found that while I think I am getting better, my writing skills seem to be pretty much the same regardless. I don’t know. I feel like I know more things but seem unable to put them to use. Perhaps I’m just overthinking things? =sigh=

In other news, I watched “Ramen Girl” the movie with Brittany Murphy last night. It’s a pretty cool movie, and really quite surprising. Here’s the trailer:

Anyway, I’m off to shower and then attempt to study.

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Today I’m going to talk about the word 「はじめ」. The general meaning is “begin” and there are several very confusing sentences that use はじめ.

  • はじめは – at first, in the beginning
  • はじめに – to begin with, first of all
  • はじめて – for the first time
  • はじめから – from the begining.

Whaa! They’re so similar. I always get them confused. Here are some example sentences, which will perhaps clarify use:

  • はじめはラシュアワーの電車に乗るのがいやだったけれど、やっと慣れました。
  • At first, I hated riding on the train during rush hour, but I finally got used to it.

  • はじめに自己紹介をします。
  • FIrst of all, let me introduce myself.

  • 去年はじめて富士山に登った。
  • Last year I climbed Mount Fuji for the first time.

  • 駄目な事ははじめから分かっていました。
  • I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t work.

Although they are all so similar it’s easy to see when used in sentences like this, that actually they are all very different and their usage means very different things!

Well, I’m off… got a lot to do today (we’re going on vacation to Arkansas on Tuesday–have to get everything ready!)

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From johnnywander.com/

Escape Chute!!

Escape Chute!!

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Last time I told you about the hard copy dictionaries that I use every day. Today, I’m going to talk about online sites.

The two main sites I use are: JLPT-Kanji.com and renshuu.org (練習.org). I’ve looked at other sites before, but found them to be either difficult to use, or to have incorrect usage of words. The JLPT Kanji site is very useful. You can type either Japanese or English words and it will find them for you. If you enter part of a word in Hiragana, Katakana, or Kanji, it will find all words that contain the letters you entered. It’s great if you’re reading a website or article online in Japanese and need to translate kanji or vocabulary. You can just copy and paste them over and away you go.

Renshuu.org dictionary also has this function. However, for many of the words there are example sentences. I find this so useful. It helps with correct conjugation of new verbs and gives the correct sentence pattern for use of vocabulary. However, the one lacking feature is that you can’t search English–>Japanese. I still find it very handy, and tend to use it along side the JLPT site. For example, if I don’t know the word for “dark” I would head over to JLPT-Kanji and type in dark. I get several results:

0 exact match(es) on ‘dark’

100 or more compound matches of ‘dark’. – returning first 100:

夜目 よめ (n) in the dark
やみ (adj-no,n) darkness/ the dark/ black-marketeering/ dark/ shady/ illegal/ (P)
ねず (n) (1) mouse/ rat/ (2) dark gray/ slate color
めい (n) dark
くろ (n) (1) black/ (2) dark/ (P)
闇夜 やみよ (n) dark night
闇路 やみじ (n) dark road
根暗 ねくら (adj-na,n) dark-natured/ introverted/ dour/ moody/ insular/ glum/ pessimistic
ねずみ (n) (1) mouse/ rat/ (2) dark gray/ slate color/ (P)
真暗 まくら total darkness/ shortsightedness
黒子 ほくろ (n) dark mole/ face mole/ beauty spot/ mite/ (P)
みょう (n) dark
闇夜 あんや (n) dark night
暗夜 あんや (n) dark night
暗部 あんぶ (n) dark side (of nature, town, etc.)

It’s often hard to finely pinpoint exactly which “dark” I want to use, so I’d pick the most likely candidate for the meaning I have in mind (暗い) and head over to renshuu.org.

After copying and pasting 暗い these are the results:

暗い / くらい
dark, gloomy; dark (in colour), dull; depressed, dispirited; sorrowful, bitter (as in a dark past); unclear, unfamiliar, unknown (adjective/-い type)

When I click on the “sentences: view (5)” link this is what I get:

Example Sentences
  1. 蛍光灯がくらいね。もう寿命かなぁ。
  2. 部屋がくらくなってきたので、電気を付けて下さい。
  3. 悲しい時は、アイスをたくさん食べるなり、くらい部屋で音楽を聞くなり好きなようにして過ごす。
  4. くらいから10歳くらいサバを読んでもばれないだろう。
  5. 部屋をくらくして、怖い話をしよう!
Here you can see that there are 5 different sentences with the use of 暗い. Some of the sentences have the word conjugated (くらく) and show different usages. It helps a great deal in figuring out just how the word works within a sentence and how to express properly what you want to say.


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I have several Japanese dictionaries. Both hard copies and those online. I find myself using the hard copy when I am writing a journal entry on lang-8 or perhaps an essay for school. I also tend to use the JLPT-Kanji website quite often too. I’ve heard good and bad about both methods and feel justified then, in using both.

The hard copy dictionaries I use most are Kodansha’s Furigana: Japanese-English Dictionary (hard back) and The Starter Oxford Japanese Dictionary (paperback). The Kodansha is amazing, but rather large. It adds Furigana readings to all kanji, provides over 16,000 vocabulary words, and adds many sample sentences as examples. Sensical definitions in clear English, along with sample sentences in modern Japanese makes this dictionary indispensible. I would definitely recommend it to any serious Japanese student. The use of furigana and hiragana (and not romanization) make this a step in the right direction for continuing studies.

In contrast the Oxford Starter Dictionary is smaller, lighter and aimed more towards the upper-level beginner.  The “How to use this dictionary” section in the beginning has perhaps the world’s best chart for converting conjugated verbs back to their dictionary form. (Making them much easier to look up.) All Japanese entries are in Japanese syllabic script (kana), and followed by their kanji character if they have one. (They are also arranged kana-betically in the J-E section.) The “Glossary of grammatical terms” is a fantastic refresher for those who haven’t taken high school English in quite some time. Headword entries are colored blue to help draw the eye and words which have issues associated with their use, have, after their definition, a special explanation which is marked with an “!” and enclosed within a blue box. Multiple senses of a word are each bulleted and different parts of speech are numbered.  Most words have examples of usage, and/or arrow points offering page numbers of related entries. All verbs are followed by their -te, -nai, and -masu forms as an aid to beginners and particles which can be used with a particular verb, are displayed in circles in the verb’s entry.

So, if you’re looking for a dictionary to aid your studies, I definitely recommend either of these (or both). They are both indispensable in their own ways and can aid your studies greatly.

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I just finished working on a new grammar page for this blog. I have my first post up “Women’s Language” and will be writing another one on the use of particles later today. Hopefully this will help me since grammar is my weakest point!!

Okay! Another edit! I’ve uploaded the second grammar page “particles-「は」and「が」” and it’s now accessible from the Japanese Grammar page!


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