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TYJ Dialogue 2

This article is in the series Teach Yourself Japanese

9.2. Dialogue 2

In this dialogue, Shô meets two students from overseas. One is a boy from the U.S., and the other is a girl from China.

しょう : はじめまして。
Romanization: Ha zi me ma si te .
Structure: (nice to meet you, interjection)

(continued) ぼくはすぎやましょうです。
Romanization: Bo ku wa Su gi ya ma Shô de su .
Structure: (I, noun) (topic marker) (Sugiyama, a surname) (Shô, a given name) (is + polite, copula)

His surname is one of the hundreds of thousands of surnames in Japan. The most popular ones are すずき "Suzuki", たかはし "Takahasi", さとう "Satô", and たなか "Tanaka".

ビル : はじめまして。
Romanization: Ha zi me ma si te .
Structure: (nice to meet you, interjection)

(continued) わたしはビルグリーン です。
Romanization: Wa ta si wa Bi ru Gu n de su .
Structure: (I, noun) (topic marker) (Bill, a given name) (Green, a surname) (is + polite, copula)

Since Japanese morae have a simple structure, writing pronunciations of foreign languages is sometimes tricky. In this case, Bill becomes ビル "Biru". The sound of English "l" is changed to Japanese "r", and "u" is added to satisfy the rule that all consonants except ん "n" must be followed by a vowel.

Foreign proper nouns such as names are written with katakana because they are imported words. You don't have to flip your name order when you speak Japanese.

(continued) サンディエゴからきました。
Romanization: Sa n d'i e go ka ra ki ma si ta .
Structure: (San Diego, noun) (ablative marker, from) (came + polite, verb)

Japanese didn't have the pronunciation of the English "di", because the Japanese "di" is pronounced as "ji". Later the combination of で "de" and ぃ (small ぃ "i") was invented to describe the sound. See the chapter of double kana for imported words.

The ablative case marker から "kara" is the postposition for the starting point of a movement. It is the same as the English preposition from, and the sentence above means "I came from San Diego."

On the other hand, the postposition for the ending point of a movement is the dative case marker に "ni". It is the same as the English preposition to. I show you two examples (the word for I is omitted) :

Kana: アメリカからにほんにきた。
Romanization: A me ri ka ka ra Ni ho n ni ki ta .
Structure: (America, noun) (ablative marker, from) (Japan, noun) (dative marker, to) (came, verb)
Meaning: I came to Japan from America.

Kana: かれにてがみをおくった。
Romanization: Ka re ni te ga mi o o ku t ta .
Structure: (he, noun) (dative marker, to) (letter, noun) (accusative marker) (sent, verb)
Meaning: I sent a letter to him.

In both of the sentences above, the English preposition to is used for the Japanese postposition に "ni". You have learned that the dative marker is also used for existence.

れいか : どうも、ワンリーホ です。
Romanization: mo , Wa n ho wa de su .
Structure: (hello, interjection) (Wáng, a surname) (Lìhuá, a given name) (is + polite, copula)

You have already learned どうも as "Thank you", but in fact, you can also use it as "Hello" and "Nice to meet you", so it is a handy phrase.

(continued) にほんごのはつおんは。
Romanization: Ni ho n go no ha tu o n wa
Structure: (the Japanese language, noun) (genitive marker, of) (pronunciation, noun) (topic marker)

(continued) おうれいかです。
Romanization: Ô Re i ka de su .
Structure: (Ô, a surname) (Reika, a given name) (is + polite, copula)

This sentence means "The Japanese pronunciation (of my name) is Ô Reika." Chinese and Japanese share kanji, but pronunciations are quite different. But kanji carry meanings, so they often allow themselves to be called in different pronunciation, using the same kanji. In this case, the character of her family name, which means king, is pronounced "wáng" in Mandarin and "ô" in Japanese. The first character of her given name, which means elegant, is "lì" in Mandarin and "rei" in Japanese. The second one, which means flower, is "huá" in Mandarin and "ka" in Japanese. My name "Takasugi Shinji" is pronounced "Gāoshān Qīnzhī" in Mandarin.

Also, notice that katakana are used for the Chinese pronunciation of her name, and hiragana are used for the Japanese pronunciation.

The suffix ご "go" means language, and it's easy to derive the language name from its spoken area. The only exception is English, which is called えいご "eigo". Its origin is explained later.

Ni ho n
Ni ho n go
A me ri ka
the United States

I gi ri su
United Kingdom

Ka na da
E i go
Ka n ko ku
South Korea
Ka n ko ku go
Ta i
Ta i go
Tyû go ku
Tyû go ku go
Do i tu
Do i tu go
Hu ra n su
Hu ra n su go
Ro si a
Ro si a go

Note: Not all country names are from their original pronunciations. For example, the Japanese word for the United Kingdom came from Dutch.

You have already learned the suffix じん "zin" for people of a country. Since it is simply added after a place name, such as イギリスじん "Igirisuzin" (a British person), it is much easier to derive a people's name than in English.

(continued) しゅっしんは シャンハイです。
Romanization: Syu s si n wa Sya n ha i de su .
Structure: (hometown, native place, noun) (topic marker) (Shànghăi, noun) (is + polite, copula)

You don't have to say words that are clear from the context in Japanese. In this sentence, the phrase わたしの "watashi no" (I + genitive marker = my) before the noun しゅっしん "syussin" (hometown) is omitted because it is clear she talks about her hometown.

しょう: にほんいきたもくてきは
Romanization: Ni ho n ni ki ta mo ku te ki wa
Structure: (Japan, noun) (dative marker, to) (came, verb) (purpose, noun) (topic marker)

(continued) なんですか。
Romanization: na n de su ka .
Structure: (what, noun) (is + polite, copula) (question marker)

The subject, にほんいきたもくてき, is a relative clause that means "the purpose you came to Japan for".

ビル : わたしはさどうです。
Romanization: Wa ta si wa sa dô de su .
Structure: (I, noun) (topic marker) (sadô, Japanese traditional art of tea, noun) (is + polite, copula)

Do not translate this sentence to "I am sadô." It means, "I came to Japan for sadô." Information clear from context is scarcely repeated in Japanese, and in this case "came to Japan for" is clear, and you don't have to say it again. But as I have explained, a predicator (either a verb, a copula, or an adjective) is necessary to form a grammatically correct sentence in Japanese, which is why the copula is just added to make the sentence grammatically correct. Also, it is polite because the polite copula is used. You cannot use the polite mode unless you use a predicator. This structure is very common in Japanese, and you have to understand what predicator is omitted.

The topic, わたし, cannot be omitted here because it is a selected topic. Shô asked their purpose to come to Japan, and Bill answers only his purpose. If the topic was omitted, he would mean their purpose.

れいか : わたしはにほんりょうりと
Romanization: Wa ta si wa ni ho n ryô ri to
Structure: (I, noun) (topic marker) (Japan + cuisine, noun) (group marker, and)

(continued) まんがをまなぶ つもりです。
Romanization: ma n ga o ma na bu tu mo ri de su .
Structure: (manga, Japanese comic, noun) (accusative marker) (learn, verb) (to have a plan to do, verb) (is + polite, copula)

This sentence means "I have a plan to learn Japanese cuisines and manga". The phrase つもりです "tumoridesu" is commonly used to mean you have a plan to do something. Its structure is not important because it is simply added after a sentence.

The group marker と "to" is the same as the English word and. Even if there are more than two things in a group, all nouns are often followed by the marker like this:

Kana: にわとりとごとりとわに
Romanization: ni wa to ri to ko to ri to wa ni
Structure: (chicken, noun) (group marker, and) (small bird, noun) (group marker, and) (crocodile, noun)
Meaning: Chickens, small birds, and crocodiles

Just for your interest: The phrase above is a palindrome. Japanese palindromes are based on kana, not on alphabets. It's much easier to make palindromes in Japanese than in English.

ビル: にほんにはげんだいぶんかと
Romanization: Ni ho n ni wa ge n da i bu n ka to
Structure: (Japan, noun) (dative marker, to) (topic marker) (modern + culture, noun) (group marker, and)

(continued) でんとうのりょうほうが
Romanization: de n tô no ryô ga
Structure: (tradition, noun) (genitive marker, of) (both, noun) (nominative marker)

(continued) ありますね。
Romanization: a ri ma su ne .
Structure: (exist + polite, verb) (tag question marker)

Meaning: Japan has both modern culture and tradition, doesn't it?

りいか : ええ、それが おもしろいです。
Romanization: Ê , so re ga o mo si ro i de su .
Structure: (yes, noun) (demonstrativ, that) (nominative marker) (interesting + polite, adjective)

The subject is not followed by the topic marker, so it is a focus. The translation is "That is the interesting point of Japan," not just "That is interesting."

ビル : わたしもいろいろまなぶ
Romanization: Wa ta si mo i ro i ro ma na bu
Structure: (I, noun) (addition marker, also) (variously, adverb) (learn, verb)

(continued) つもりです。
Romanization: tu mo ri de su .
Structure: (to have a plan to do, noun) (is + polite, copula)

Meaning: (Not only Reika but also) I am planning to learn various things.

しょう : ぼくもできるだけ
Romanization: Bo ku mo de ki ru da ke
Structure: (I, noun) (addition marker, also) (as much as possible, adverb)

(continued) きょうりょくします。
Romanization: kyô ryo ku si ma su .
Structure: (cooperate, help + polite, verb)

Meaning: (You make an effort and) I also help you as much as possible.

The verb きょうりょくする "kyôryoku suru" (cooperate) is the combination of the noun きょうりょく "kyôryoku" (cooperation) and the verb する "suru" (do).

Remember the Japanese nonpast tense means either present or future.

ビルとれいか : ありがとうございます。
Romanization: A ri ga tô go za i ma su .
Structure: (thank you very much, interjection)

The second dialogue is now over. All the sentences are shown below again.

しょう : はじめまして。ぼくはすぎやましょうです。
ビル : はじめまして。わたしはビルグリーン です。サンディエゴからきました。
れいか : どうも、ワンリーホ です。
にほんごのはつおんは。おうれいかです。しゅっしんは シャンハイです。
しょう : にほんいきたもくてきはなんですか。
ビル : わたしはさどうです。
れいか: わたしはにほんりょうりとまんがをまなぶ つもりです。
ビル : にほんにはげんだいぶんかとでんとうのりょうほうがありますね。
れいか : ええ、それが おもしろいです。
ビル : わたしもいろいろまなぶつもりです。
しょう : ぼくもできるだけきょうりょくします。
ビルとれいか: ありがとうございます。
Next article in the series 'Teach Yourself Japanese': The Number System of Ancient Japanese
Previous article in the series 'Teach Yourself Japanese': Dialogue 1
About author
My name is TAKASUGI Shinji. TAKASUGI is my family name, and Shinji is my given name; a family name is placed before a given name in Japan, as in other Asian nations. My family name is capitalized to avoid misunderstanding.

I have been living in Yokohama since I was born. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan, which is just 30 kilometers away from the biggest city Tôkyô. It takes 30 minutes to go by train from home to Shibuya, which is the hottest town now in Tôkyô.

I work as a display engineer.

One of my hobbies is creating things with computers; creating programs, computer graphics and web pages is the thing I spent a lot of time doing. I am also interested in a wide range of sciences, and linguistics is my favorite. I like English and I like using it, but my focus is mainly on Japanese, which is my native language. I'm proud of knowing the language, and the difference between English and Japanese has been fascinating me. I have been thinking whether I can introduce it to people outside of Japan. My attempt of introducing Japanese with some Java applets has had more than 1 million visitors.


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