Wednesday, September 30, 2009

人 (ひと) is not a complicated word. It means "person." What is complicated about it is the many different readings of this kanji. Depending on the context, this kanji is read either "ひと," "とり," "たり," "じん," or "にん." When speaking of "man" or "people" in general, you are almost certain to pronounce it "ひと." 人人 (ひとびと, more appropriately written 人々), as the picture would imply, means "people," or "each person." When speaking of just one person, though, you have many options. じん and にん are used as suffixes to indicate that the subject is a "something-person," i.e. 日本人 (にほんじん), "Japanese person," and 浪人 (ろうにん), a "masterless samurai (or more literally, "unrestrained person")." とり and たり are used in conveying numbers of people, exemplified in the words 一人 (ひとり), "alone" (literally "one person") and 二人 (ふたり), "together" (literally "two people")

follow @sjcJapanese

Monday, September 28, 2009


仮名 (かな) is the Japanese syllabary. 仮名 is used to in much of Japanese writing, so this is where you should start if you're learning to read. There are two different syllabaries: ひらがな (平仮名) and かたかな (片仮名). You'll see mostly ひらがな, as this is the syllabary used to represent native Japanese words and constructive particles. かたかな is used to represent foreign sounds or borrowed words, such as コンピュータ (computer) or ラジオ (radio). Your name, more likely than not, would also be written in かたかな (you are foreign, after all...). Though ひらがな is a bit easier to learn, you'll find great benefit in taking the time to learn both syllabaries, as both are equally important!

follow @sjcJapanese

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

花 (はな) is a very common and simple word that is used to refer to a "flower" or "blossom" of any kind. For example, 桜の花 (さくらの はな) would mean "cherry blossom (blossom of a cherry tree)." The word can be used to refer to a flower store (花や) or a floral design, i.e. 花の模様 (はなの もよう). Pretty simple, but there you have it.

follow @sjcJapanese

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

物 (もの) is a very versatile word. Putting it at the end of nouns affects those nouns, and putting it at the end of a verb's stem turns that verb into a noun. Generally speaking, 物 means an "article" or a "thing." For instance, 食べ物(たべもの) is "food," literally "eat-thing/thing for eating'. 化け物 (ばけもの) is "monster/evil thing." Additionally, 物 can be used to refer to as a thing or things in general, as "thing/s" is in English, i.e. "それは私の物だ" ("that [thing there] is mine") or "物には..." ("as far as things are concerned, ...")


Monday, September 14, 2009


Saturday we learned about 語. Well here's one more way to say "language" in Japanese, but there's a slightly different sense here: 言葉(ことば)literally means "leaflet/incarnation of communication," 言 meaning "something someone says" and 葉 "leaf." You can use this word to refer to a dialect (京言葉 - "Kyoto dialect"), or to the words somebody is speaking (感情を言葉に表す (かんじょうを ことばに あらわす - "express one's feelings in words").

Saturday, September 12, 2009

語 (ご) means speech, just in general. Used as a suffix it can mean "word", "language", or "term".
For instance, 合成語 (ごうせいご) would mean "compound word". 英語 (えいご), however,
is "English". 日本語 (にほんご), similarly, is "Japanese". Also, if you had to write a 1,000-
word paper, it would be a 1000語のレポート.

follow twitter links to this website daily for a bit more than a word!