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Learning Japanese for Real

Learning Japanese for Real: A Guide to Grammar, Use, and Genres of the Nihongo World

Senko K. Maynard
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Learning Japanese for Real
    Book Description:

    Concise descriptions of grammar, use, and genres make Learning Japanese for Real indispensable for adult learners of the language. The volume presents a holistic view of the knowledge required for proficiency in Japanese. Following introductory chapters on the language’s background, sound system and scripts, word types, and grammatical categories, it introduces readers to simple then complex sentences. A chapter on emotive expressions contains highly useful entries on attitudinal adverbs, exclamatory phrases, interjections, and rhetorical questions—all of which carry emotive meanings. Learning Japanese for Real then goes beyond grammar to discuss how the language is used in interaction. The author discusses communication strategies such as requesting, apologizing, and inviting as well how to interact when participating in a conversation with behaviors such as hand signals, bowing, and nodding. She considers metaphor, tautology, puns, and the lingering effect of yojoo before addressing the organization of Japanese discourse, including the four-part organizational principle of ki-shoo-ten-ketsu and the structure of "staging." The final sections feature authentic examples of popular culture discourse from manga, television, advertising, magazines, and cell-phone novels and a host of practical suggestions (methods, tools, resources) for learning Japanese. Learning Japanese for Real will become an key source for Japanese language students during their elementary, intermediate, and advanced training. As an essential anthology of grammar, use, and genres of the Nihongo world, teachers of Japanese will also find it invaluable.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6105-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    • CHAPTER 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-10)

      I titled this book with specific reasons in mind. By “for real” in the title, I mean the realNihongo, the Japanese language, used by native speakers. Examples used in this book are similar to authentic Japanese, and they can be used for real communication. Although the necessity of presenting only simple expressions early on made it difficult to be totally natural, I have made every effort to create sentences as close as possible to real Japanese.

      I also emphasize the importance of learning for real, that is, learning not just a few happenstance words, but acquiring knowledge necessary to...

    • CHAPTER 2 Background
      (pp. 11-19)

      Nihongois the national language of Japan, and it is spoken by approximately 127 million people. As a rule, Japanese nationals speak Japanese, and conversely, speakers of Japanese are Japanese nationals. In Japan, a substantial number of foreigners speak Japanese with varying proficiency levels. Japanese is also spoken in Japanese emigrant communities around the world, most prominently in Hawai‘i and Brazil. It is also spoken by Japanese nationals who temporarily reside in major cities throughout the world. In addition, it is estimated that a few million people speak Japanese as a second or a foreign language. Still, unlike the English...

    • CHAPTER 3 Variation and Change in Nihongo
      (pp. 20-28)

      When we refer to “the Japanese language,” we tend to assume there is one language. In reality, however, the Japanese we speak represents one variety among many, all of which belong to the Japanese language.

      ANihongostudent should be aware of the functions of different varieties. Choosing the wrong form at the wrong time can be awkward. Youth language addressed to an audience of seniors, for example, would be not only rude but also silly, and such usage would be considered characteristic of ajooshiki shirazu, a person who lacks social grace.

      There are at least three major factors...


    • CHAPTER 4 The Nihongo Sound System
      (pp. 31-36)

      A precise description of the sounds of a language is difficult, and you can fully master Japanese sounds only by imitating what you hear. However, your efforts will be better directed if you are familiar with the system and are aware of predictable problems.

      Keep in mind that students of any foreign language must be exposed to the natural flow of the spoken words of the target language. It is important to pay close attention to native speakers’ speech in person or through the media. For those of you who are not taking courses and have little access to classroom...

    • CHAPTER 5 Scripts
      (pp. 37-48)

      The Japanese writing system is known to be complex. The most notable feature is its combination of a few distinct scripts. The three basic scripts arehiragana, katakana,andkanji.While hiragana and katakana are based on sound units,kanjiis used on the basis of meaning. In addition, the Latin alphabet(roomaji)and Arabic numerals are used.

      To see some Japanese writing samples, visit the Web sites of the major Japanese newspapers such asAsahi Shinbun, Mainichi Shinbun,andYomiuri Shinbun,and click on the Japanese language icon. Or take a look at Japanese magazines and books if you...


    • CHAPTER 6 Kinds of Words
      (pp. 51-66)

      Indigenous Japanese words are calledwago(和語 わご). 和語 include native Japanese vocabulary, particles, and conjugation suffixes. These are normally written (1) in ひらがな (and occasionally in カタカナ), (2) in combination with 漢字 (かんじ), as in 貧しさ, and (3) in 漢字 with kun-reading, as in 旅.

      Throughout history, the Japanese language has borrowed many words from foreign countries, the most important from China, as early as the Nara period (710–794 AD). During the Heian and Edo periods (ninth through nineteenth centuries), Chinese words continued to enter into the language, and many were integrated to the extent that they are...

    • CHAPTER 7 Words in Grammar
      (pp. 67-88)

      As alluded to already, in Nihongo there is no grammatical plural form marker. ペン refers to both pen and pens. Counters mark quantity, but the nouns themselves remain constant. So we have ペン一本 (いっぽん) or 一本のペン for one pen and ペン五本 (ごほん) or 五本のペン for five pens.

      Nouns are formed by combinations of various sorts, some of which are listed here.

      1. Repetition of nouns for indicating plurality The character 々 is used to repeat the preceding 漢字 (か んじ).

      人々 ひと びと people

      日々 ひび days

      2. [N + 代 (だい)] ‘fare’, ‘expense’

      バス 代バスだい bus fare

      本代 ほんだい...


    • CHAPTER 8 Simple Sentences—Essential
      (pp. 91-117)

      Generally speaking, inNihongo, any and all elements are left unsaid as long as they are (assumed to be) already understood. Nouns, verbs, and some particles are frequently deleted, especially in spoken language. Instead of strictly following the rule of subject-verb-object, as is the case in English, inNihongoyou mention only what needs to be mentioned in a specific context, all placed before the sentence-final verbal element. Mentioning unnecessary bits of information is in fact a sign of clumsiness.

      When leaving things unsaid, follow the guidelines provided below.

      1. Topic of the sentence and discourse

      Once a topic (marked...

    • CHAPTER 9 Simple Sentences—Enhanced
      (pp. 118-147)

      Recall the gerundive て form of the verb discussed in section 7.12. The [て form + いる] combination offers the progressive ている form. This is somewhat similar to the English progressive tense, the combination of the be-verb and the verb gerundive (-ing) form.

      In casual speech, ている is contracted to てる.

      1. For active durative verbs, ている expresses the progression of an action. KE1 is such an example.

      (a) スージーは今バーでワインを飲んでいる。 Suujii wa ima baa de wain o nondeiru. Susie is now drinking wine at the bar.

      (b) 和也?今、テレビ見てるよ。 Kazuya? Ima, terebi miteru yo. Kazuya? He’s watching television now.

      2. For...

    • CHAPTER 10 Complex Sentences
      (pp. 148-166)

      Japanese conjunctions are used to connect both sentences and clauses. This section introduces basic conjunctions as given below.

      1. Addition そして and それから, among others, to add a related statement to the first sentence

      2. Expansion それで and だから, among others, to add an expansion to the first sentence

      3. Opposition しかし, でも, and けれども, among others, when the second sentence expresses a view opposing the first

      Some of these basic conjunctions also connect clauses, but they do so under certain restrictions. For から, [て form of the verb + から] means ‘after’, and the [verb + から] means ‘because’....

    • CHAPTER 11 Emotive Expressions
      (pp. 167-190)

      In spokenNihongo, interactional particles frequently appear. They are important for making a conversation go smoothly and comfortably. We studied the basics of ね and よ in sections 7.10 and 8.8. Here we will focus on additional information critical to their effective use.

      When the speaker uses ね to give information the partner does not know, ironically because ね assumes the partner’s knowledge, it adds to the sense of empathy and intimacy. For example, when asked a question that requires some thought, you may answer そう ですねえ。やっぱり子供 (こども) の頃 (ころ) が一番 (いちばん) なつかし いですねえ ‘Let me think. After all, to...


    • CHAPTER 12 Interaction Strategies
      (pp. 193-228)

      For the selection of speech styles, a number of situational, personal, and linguistic factors play a role.

      1. Familiarity

      The degree of informal style increases with the degree of familiarity you have with your partner. When speaking to a child, even when you don’t know the child, casual and friendly speech is appropriate.

      2. Relative

      social status Toward yourmeueperson, it is best to maintain a formal style, sometimes with supra-polite expressions (see the next section). Toward yourmeshitaperson, there is less reason to use a formal style, although formality and politeness are often maintained for expressing courtesy...

    • CHAPTER 13 Conversation Management
      (pp. 229-249)

      Participating in casual conversation inNihongois essential in advancing your study of Japanese. First, hearing and understanding what the Japanese speaker is saying is a challenge. And when responding in Japanese, how should you behave verbally and otherwise? This chapter offers guidance for these must-do conversation activities.

      Conversational Nihongo contains the following features.

      1. Short utterances, with easy-to-understand vocabulary

      2. Frequent deletions, and as a result, grammatically incomplete sentences

      3. A relatively free word order, with some inversions

      4. Expressions sensitive to the situation, including shifting styles to meet interpersonal and personal needs with appropriate politeness levels and honorifics...

    • CHAPTER 14 Gestures and Signals
      (pp. 250-255)

      In real-life communication, verbal signs are intermingled with many non-verbal signs. Some of the non-verbal signs carry specific meanings, and it is important to know what they mean. In general, when there is a conflict of information between verbal and nonverbal signs, we take the non-verbal sign more seriously.

      Think of a situation where you are saying you are sorry. But inside, you are angry and blaming someone else. Your apology will not come across as sincere, even when you repeat すみません and ご めんなさい many times, unless your posture is submissive. Bowing and casting your eye gaze downward are...

    • CHAPTER 15 Rhetorical Figures of Speech
      (pp. 256-267)

      Some metaphors are universal across languages and cultures. For example, cold as ice is easily understood across many cultures.

      There are two types of metaphoric expressions in Japanese. The simile uses markers, such as ような ‘it is like’, まるで ‘it is as if’, and みたい ‘it resembles’. Metaphor, in a technical sense, is a straightforward linking without these markers. Here we use the term “metaphor” in a broad sense.

      Perhaps one of the most culturally specific metaphors in Japanese is 花 (はな) ‘flower’, the cherry blossom in particular. Metaphoric idioms and expressions include the following.

      (a) 高嶺の花 。

      Takane no...

    • CHAPTER 16 Discourse Organization
      (pp. 268-278)

      When you combine multiple sentences, you create discourse. Multiple sentences are tied together to communicate a meaningful comment or argument, and they are connected by various means. They are usually structurally organized to form a cohesive whole.

      The basic and universal principle of organization is the three-part structure, that is, a beginning, middle, and end. In logical terms, they are the introduction, the main point, and the conclusion.

      Obviously, not all discourse is organized this way, but it is useful to think of discourse in these three parts and to understand discourse in terms of this structure.

      Note that the...


    • CHAPTER 17 Genre Appreciation
      (pp. 281-285)

      Written discourse in theNihongoworld is categorized into a number of genres. First, I will divide genres based on their purpose, that is, (1) to convey information, (2) to persuade, and (3) to stir the emotions....

    • CHAPTER 18 Selected Popular Culture Genres
      (pp. 286-314)

      This chapter contains examples drawn from authentic Japanese discourse. To appreciate these examples, you will need to use a dictionary for unfamiliar vocabulary items. Use the ローマ字 (じ) presentation and English translation provided as your guide.

      I have selected the following items because incorporating “real” Japanese in your study is critical. Only through exposure to the actual everyday discourse of Japanese people can you begin to learn Japanese “for real.” The examples are taken from the kind of discourse in which you, as a student of Japanese (as a foreign language), are likely to be interested. They represent today’s popular...


    • CHAPTER 19 Methods
      (pp. 317-327)

      If it is at all possible to take structured courses in the Japanese language, you should do so. Learning in a classroom offers the kind of experience difficult to duplicate otherwise. You will meet a teacher who is a native or near-native Japanese speaker. You will get acquainted with people who share your interest in learningNihongo.

      Taking classes can offer the following.

      1. A systematic introduction to and the learning of sounds, scripts, and grammar

      2. Enacted interaction practices focusing on communication strategies

      3. Cultural information related to topics covered in the lessons

      4. Up-to-date audio and video materials...

    • CHAPTER 20 Tools and Resources
      (pp. 328-338)

      Given the fluid nature of information on Japanese-language learning, I will touch on only a few tools and resources. Search for up-to-date detailed information on the Internet. If possible, it is always a good idea to ask your instructor about the reliability of information on the Internet. In most cases, reliable sites are those sponsored by textbook publishers, Japanese-language programs at colleges and universities, and Japanese-language and cultural associations and organizations.

      Although there are a number of Japanese-language textbooks available, below I list a few elementary ones. Many of the textbooks come with workbooks and CDs, as well as their...

  11. Appendixes
    (pp. 339-342)
  12. List of Author’s Works
    (pp. 343-350)
    Senko K. Maynard
  13. Subject Index (English)
    (pp. 351-354)
  14. Subject Index and Key Phrases (Japanese)
    (pp. 355-358)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-362)