Tag Archives: Japanese language

Learning Japanese – An Infographic

16 Mar

Here’s a great little infographic from Lingualift that we discovered. We thought we would post it here as well it’s likely to be interesting for anyone studying Japanese.

Click Image to Enlarge
Learning Japanese infographic: Steps to success & fluency
Source: Learn languages online at LinguaLift

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Review: Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori

7 Feb

Japanese: 中学生漢字(書き取り編)
Level: All
Format: App
Available on: iPhone/Android
Price: Free
Publisher: Gakko Net
Site: http://www.gakko-net.co.jp/

Chuugakusei Kanji Kakitori 4This is the second app published by Gakko Net designed to test your knowledge of kanji. Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori follows on from the previous app in the series, Shougakusei Tegaki Kanji Drill 1006 (see our earlier review here). Both apps work off the same formula and design features however this version doesn’t introduce any new kanji but does continue to test your knowledge of vocabulary.

The vocabulary appearing in this app is of a higher difficulty than that in the Shougakusei edition and is generally around N3 or N2 level. The kanji are presented more frequently in kanji compound words (熟語), which require you to know a kanji’s onyomi reading. This is in contrast to the Shougakusei app where kunyomi readings are more common. This isn’t that surprising considering the app is designed for middle school children so naturally they will have a much larger understanding of their language.

Words are divided into three difficulty levels with two groups per level. In total there are 600 questions, which means just only half of the 1006 kanji taught in the previous app appear here. This is a bit of a shame as it would be nice to have the ability to review all of the kanji available in the other app.

As in the Shougakusei version you draw the missing kanji in the compound on the screen to answer the question. This app is also pretty good at recognising handwritten kanji but we did encounter an occasional problem where it wouldn’t accept the correct kanji we had drawn. The answer button makes an appearance again providing you with the correct kanji for you to trace.

We did find a couple of glitches while testing the app that made us answer the same question twice in a row. Overall the stability of the app was good on our Android test device. We also noticed that the advertising along the bottom of this app was slightly more intrusive but it’s free it is a small compromise to make.

Chugakusei Kanji Kakitori is a decent app to practise your knowledge of kanji readings and handwriting. It isn’t as thorough as the previous app in the series since it is lacking quite a number of kanji but nevertheless makes a good revision tool. We recommend completing the app designed for Shougakusei students first before moving onto this app as the difficulty is significantly higher.

Score: 7/10

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5 Really Useful Japanese Onomatopoeia

3 Feb

Like the English language, Japanese has quite a number of words used to express sounds, words which are known as onomatopoeia. Some common English onomatopoeia are words like ‘bang’, ‘crash’ or ‘boom’. However the Japanese have perfected these words into an art form that they are no longer used to only represent sounds, but also emotions, people’s behaviour and the state of objects.

In Japanese these words are known as 擬声語 (giseigo) and can be broken down into a couple of groups. The two we are interested in are 擬音語 (giongo), which represent sounds such as a dog’s bark or a door slamming, and 擬態語 (gitaigo), which are used for behaviour and emotions. Words similar to gitaigo don’t really exist in English; instead we tend to use an adverb to give a person’s behaviour the characteristics of something else. Think sluggishly and sheepishly. On the other hand, the sound of a gitaigo word represents the way someone does something or how they feel. ニコニコ笑う (niko niko warau)  means to smile while くすくす笑う (kusu kusu warau) means to chuckle to oneself. To different actions but both use the verb 笑う (warau) meaning ‘to laugh/smile’.

What’s more, these words are actually quite common in everyday spoken and written Japanese so it pays to know a few of the more common ones. If you use these words your Japanese will sound much more lively and natural, and they really help to emphasise what you’re talking about. They are also kind of fun to say because in English we don’t really have anything that sounds like these words at all. In this post we are going to focus on some 擬態語 (gitaigo). Here’s five to get you started.

1. ゆっくり – ‘Yukkuri’ is one of the most common gitaigo you will hear, and it means to do something slowly, calmly or restfully. It can be used with any number of verbs, for example ゆっくり歩く (yukkuri aruku) to walk slowly, ゆっくり食べる (yukkuri taberu) to eat slowly or ゆっくり考える (yukkuri kangaeru) to think slowly about something/to think something over. It can even be used with the verb する to mean ‘not really doing much of anything, just taking your time to do as you please’.

2. びっくり – ‘Bikkuri’ is another word you will hear ALL OF THE TIME. It’s used when you’re surprised or shocked about something and is paired with する.  You bump into your friend unexpectedly while getting some groceries, びっくりしました! Your teacher tells you that you aced that exam you were sure you had failed, びっくりしました! You get the picture. It’s a really versatile word and very very Japanese.

3. たっぷり – ‘Tappuri’ is often used with food and means ample or plenty. A sign advertising a new donburi outside a restaurant might read 牛肉たっぷり! (gyuuniku tappuri) meaning ‘there is heaps and heaps of beef in this!’ or you might see お野菜をたっぷり入りました on the menu of a Chinese restaurant, which essentially means ‘We’ve put a lot of veggies in this’.

4. ぐっすり – ‘Gussuri’ is used with the verb 寝る (neru) to sleep and together they mean to sleep soundly, or to be in a deep sleep. A useful one to remember when you’re telling your friends how you slept after your night out at karaoke.

5. こっそり – ‘Kossori’ means to do something sneakily or stealthily and generally has a negative connotation to it. For example こっそり入る (kossori hairu) means to come in/enter sneakily. We could be talking about a burglar entering a house or a teenager sneaking back inside after going out. Another example is こっそり見る (kossori miru) meaning to sneak a glance. You could use it to say you looked at your friend’s answers in an exam or took a peek inside a closed door.

So there you have it! Five new words that will really help to lift your Japanese and make it a touch more expressive. We’ll bring you some more of these words soon since there are A LOT more of them out there.