Thursday, February 17, 2011

grammar surge in the snow

So we have more snow. More snow, more slick, more sludge. Indoors, I write entries in crappy Japanese on Lang-8 and try, slowly, to understand and absorb the corrections made on them.

It's pretty depressing. [Edit: Started this entry TWELVE DAYS AGO, and the weather has changed much -- and for the better! since then. Ugh procrastination.]

I meant to do an entry in Japanese every day, seeing as how it looks like an internship in Yokohama is going to happen this summer; so far it's been three entries in six days. I'm improving. Part of the reason I haven't posted an entry about what I've learned/reviewed is because I received TONS of corrections on all my entries, and it's been a little overwhelming to go through them all. Obviously it's great and I appreciate the help, but it takes a long time for me to read each correction and figure out what I should be learning from it.

Some [boring] grammar notes:

1. If a sentence is negated, think carefully about using the "は" particle. (は is a particle put after noun-like words or phrases to indicate emphasis and contrast, "and as for this noun X," as opposed to が, which more or less just marks a subject. I tend to use these two interchangeably but they're not really interchangeable. . . )

2. "B thing called A name" is "AっていうB" not "Aって言うのB." I knew I was screwing this up as I wrote it, but the last phrase sounded right when I said it in my head.

3. For the phrase "at that time," "その頃は" may be a better choice than "その時に." (I can't exactly explain the difference between these two, but I think the first one might more clearly refer to a period of time during one's life, like high school or childhood, while the second one could be one specific moment or a period of time. I think.)

4. If I want to say "[I do something] again and again and again," I do not say "mata mata mata," but rather "何度も何度も," which is more like "time and time again."

5. The sentence word-by-word translates to: "Non-understandable words there are still many," rather than "Still there are many words I don't understand." I think this should tell me something about appropriate word order and thought construction.

6. Remember to mark the object of the sentence with an を particle!

7. In the "no de" because construction (one can put "kara" or "no de" at the end of a clause to indicate that it is a "because" clause), remember that the "desu" --> da --> na. So a clause ending in a nominal should go into "na no de," not just "no de."

8. "Ni" is the correct particle for indicating static existence -- i.e. "I am in Tokyo," or "I was in Tokyo."

9. It seems to be more correct to put an adjective/descriptive word at the end of a sentence if possible -- i.e. the "As for my speaking, it is still unskillful" word order seems to be preferable to the "I still unskillfully speak" word order.

10. 然し, shikashi, "however" is not usually written with the kanji.

11. 練習が必要だと分かりましたが 、口を開けると吃るようになり始めました. -- In this sentence, the particle "to" is used like "with" -- "[...] guti o akeru to todoru yoo ni nari hajimemasita," -- "with opening my mouth, I started to be in a stuttering seeming/way." For some mysterious reason, the "to" particular gives me even more trouble than the others.

New words:
This is a hard one because I've also been trying to watch Gankutsuou, a beautiful anime retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, and carefully go through every line of dialogue to make sure I understand what they're saying. Which means I've sort of learned a lot of words, but also sort of not, alongside the words I had to look up to write my entries.
1. 漫画 is "manga." Okay, I knew this word, but not the characters associated with it.
2. 専門 is "senmon," specialty. ARGH I LEARNED THIS WORD IN CLASS WHY DID I FORGET IT.
3. 離れる is "hanareru," to be separated from, as in "this store was separated from my house by twenty-five miles."
4. 著者 is "chosha," author.
5. 第二話 is "dai ni wa," meaning "the second episode." 第, dai, is a prefix which makes an ordinal number. 話 is the counter used for the number of episodes or stories.
6. 素晴らしい is "subarashii," or magnificent, splendid. I knew the word but not the kanji.
7. I am going to just copy this whole sentence from a correction, because the whole thing was sort of a revelation: アニメの絵は色が豊富で描写が細かいです, or "anime no e wa iro ga houfu de byousha ga komakai desu." "The anime had a multitude of colors and finely detailed portrayal." 絵 is "e", painting or drawing; 豊富 is "houfu," multitude, plenty; "描写" is "byousha," depiction, portrayal; and 細かい is "komakai," a word I knew, detailed. This is pretty much just what I meant and totally different from how I attempted to phrase it the first time.
8. Another sentence: "色合いも細かく描かれています," "iroai mo komakaku egakarete imasu," "the hues and tints are also drawn in a detailed fashion."
9. 理解する is "rikai suru," to comprehend, to understand. Similar to wakaru but apparently not similar enough.
10. 簡単, "kantan," simple.
11. 設計, "sekkei," design. Apparently "design office" sounds more worldly and less stiff than "architecture office" in Japanese.
12. おしゃべりな方, "oshaberi na hou," a chatterbox, talkative kind of way. (hee hee I am learning more words to describe myself.)
13. 臆病, "okubyou," cowardice, timidity.
14. 必要, "hitsuyou," need. . . another one of those words I forgot.
15. 吃る, "domoru," to stammer or stutter.

Sigh. . . I guess I could have posted this a while ago, as my notepad document deleted all the Japanese words that I learned from Gankutsuou. Why, cruel Windows programs? Why?

And, before going, I think I have finally found a good online Japanese dictionary, rather than just using the kanji-to-kana converter and the kanji dictionary. cough.

In other language news:

Reading about French slang on Wikibooks.

A reasonably good online French dictionary.


  1. My theory with respect to lang-8: As determined by trying a few experimental queries against the マチング feature, Japanese speakers studying English outnumber English speakers studying Japanese by about 4-1. So English speakers studying Japanese are more likely to receive corrections. I imagine it helps if your entries are interesting too. :-)

  2. Yes, I've found that Japanese speakers tend to outnumber speakers of other languages as well. . . my entries in Japanese typically receive 2-4 corrections apiece, whereas entries in French or Spanish usually receive only one or two. Admittedly, I haven't been on the site all that long, so I can't really speak to longterm trends. :P