Despite every student in Japan being required to take English language courses, it may be difficult to find everyday people who enjoy and feel comfortable speaking the language. Sure, there are some former compulsory school students who are completely fluent in English, but overall, finding a native-level speaker or even someone confident enough to speak with can be difficult. That’s why we were surprised and pleased to watch this video of an Australian expat and his English language encounter at the McDonald’s drive-thru in Japan.
- Philip Kendall
Jun 26, 2014
Hearing native Japanese people casually using English slang is a special kind of awesome. All too often, Japanese are taught straight-laced, borderline archaic phrases that, while grammatically sound, remove all trace of the speaker’s personality to the point that they end up sounding like stuffy university professors rather than they people they actually are. So when we spotted this video, which shows one English teacher’s students working their way through the recently released book F*ck no Tadashii Tsukaikata, or “How to Use ‘F**k’“, it brought huge smiles to our faces.
So, if you’d like to hear perfectly nice and respectable Japanese people saying things like “I’m trusting you with the drugs; don’t f**k me over” and “He’s going to sh*t a brick”, make sure there are no impressionable youngsters in the room and join us after the jump.
- Master Blaster
Jun 22, 2014
Although Italian in origin, the words pasta and spaghetti are now everyday words in English. Thanks to the foods’ proliferation around the world these words can also be found in Japanese, pronounced pasuta and supagettī respectively.
But in recent years, it seems as if the word “spaghetti” has been falling out of favor in Japan, being replaced by the word “pasta.” Although in English the distinction between “spaghetti” and “pasta” is pretty clear (pasta being the foodstuff, spaghetti one of its many varieties), it seems there is a whole other world of nuances when the words cross over into Japanese.
- Krista Rogers
Jun 18, 2014
If you’re American, do you usually drink at the “water fountain,” the “drinking fountain,” or (my personal favorite, all you Rhode Islanders) the “bubbler”? And how about that fizzy fountain beverage–what do you call it in your neck of the woods?
In the same way that the above-mentioned drink is known variously to American speakers of English as soda, pop, or coke, Japanese speakers also use different terms for the same thing depending on where they live. In fact, Japanese regional dialects, known as hōgen (方言), can differ so much from the standard Japanese (hyōjungo [標準語]) spoken in the Tokyo area and national media, that subtitles are often necessary when someone speaks with a thick local accent on TV. It’s not just the pronunciation that differs; often the form of words and syntactical structures are completely distinct.
To show you what we’re talking about, we’d like to introduce five examples of words that look and sound completely different from standard Japanese when said in regional dialects. If you’re a speaker of Japanese and you use one of these words when speaking to someone from a different part of the country, you may be met with a blank stare if your terms for the same thing are mutually unintelligible.
Did you have anything OC Desu (OCです) today?
If your answer is “Wha?” then you’re probably not hip to the new buzzword circling around social media in Japanese recently. Students of the language can probably figure it out by saying it out loud, and the image above gives us a pretty big hint too.
Everyone knows that there are certain nuances in every language that you just can’t learn from school. Humor, for instance, but also cursing. Sure, you might know the definitions of a few key words, but stringing them together is a task unlikely to be perfected except by those who have spent some time with folks who are native speakers.
A recent book written by MADSAKI and published by Transworld Japan is giving Japanese speakers the fine opportunity to learn how to creatively curse in American-English. Titled, How to use F*** Correctly: 99 Phrases Using F***, S***, D***, and H*** that Schools Won’t Teach You, Handle with Care, it promises 176 pages of illustrated cursing, with examples.
Recently we brought you a selection of Japanese words we’d love to import into English. Well, it seems we’re not the only ones that feel that way. Digital artist Anjana Iyer, a designer based in Auckland, New Zealand, is undertaking a project to illustrate 100 words that can’t be translated into English. The words she’s chosen come from languages ranging from Latvian to Inuit, and even better, we here at RocketNews24 were excited to discover that there are already seven Japanese words on the list!
Below is our pick of Anjana’s ongoing project, which is entitled “Found in Translation”.
Japanese is not an easy language to learn. Though, we have to say, we’re not sure that any language is easy to learn when you’re a beginner! But for English speakers, Japanese is certainly one of the most difficult languages to pick up. Anyone who’s taken a class will surely remember the first time they opened their textbook and saw two massive charts full of squiggly lines and realized that they now had to learn two more alphabets! And then start on kanji…
However, it looks like one Japanese-speaking UK native has found the key to Japanese using just one word!
- Philip Kendall
May 20, 2014
We’ve talked countless times about how to learn Japanese. Heck, we’ve even brought you lists of essential applications and resources to help you in your quest to master the language. But we’ve always maintained that the best way to learn Japanese, or any language for that matter, is to make practical use of it and make it relevant to your own life.
And what better way to use your newly acquired Japanese than making friends all over the world while avoiding being crushed to death by spiked ceilings or knocked into a bottomless pit?
It’s no surprise that in the field of entertainment many talented individuals have found work in Japan and many more have expressed an interest in Japanese culture. But beyond those who stop by Japan and utter a simple “oishi” in a beer commercial or create a music video wearing a cupcake skirt, are a select few who have learnt or are well on their way to learning the Japanese language. Here are a few of them representing the fields of film, sports, and music.
Chances are, if you’ve ever had a conversation in Japanese – or even any other language – with a native Japanese person, you might have been slightly disconcerted by their constant interjections.
That’s because nodding along, saying things like “I see” (naruhodo), “Oh really?” (sou desu ka?) and just plain grunting is considered a polite way to indicate to a speaker that you’re following along in a conversation.
This technique is called “aizuchi” in Japanese and, sure, it seems common sense in any culture to occasionally give a nod of the head or look up from your riveting game of Candy Crush Saga to indicate you have at least a passing interest in what’s being said, but the Japanese really turn it into an art form.
Long ago, when the majority of the Japanese vocabulary I knew came from reverse engineering the English subtitles on anime tapes, I was patting myself on the back for having figured out that “watashi” means “I.” So imagine my shock and disappointment when I came across a different scene showing a character so overcome with emotion he’d been reduced to stammering, with the subtitles saying, “I…I…I…,” even though he never once said watashi.
Nine times out of ten, you can make money betting against my deductive reasoning skills, but this was one of those rare occasions where my conclusion had been right, as watashi does indeed translate as “I.” It’s just that “I” doesn’t always equal “watashi,” because Japanese has over a dozen pronouns you can use to talk about yourself.
A little while ago, we introduced you to the Japanese expression “hana yori dango” (dumplings over flowers), using a picture of one of our capybara friends at the Ueno Zoo as a living example of the phrase. Well, that article got us thinking about Japanese idioms/expressions that may sound strange or funny in a different language when translated literally, and we thought it might be interesting to share a few of them with you. Here are some common phrases that we use in the Japanese language as a matter of course, but could make you laugh if you visualize their literal meaning in your mind. And yes, some of them involve cats!
- Philip Kendall
Apr 15, 2014
Anyone who has spent any length of time in Japan will tell you that onomatopoeia is not just common, but an integral part of the Japanese language. While English speakers might find sentences peppered with additional ‘sound effects’ somewhat inelegant, in Japanese onomatopoeic words are not only considered perfectly normal, but there are mimicking sounds for every possible occasion – including states of being where there is no sound to mimic – and most people know exactly how to write them.
We’d wager than few native Japanese have ever come across an instruction manual that uses mimicking words to explain potential problems with a washing machine, though…
- Philip Kendall
Apr 11, 2014
There are some Japanese words that, no matter how many textbooks you read, you’ll simply never encounter. As we’ve seen, the Japanese love a good pun, and cheesy wordplay on TV and the media in general is far more commonplace than it is in English. So it’s surprising that the owners of this Tokyo-based computer school didn’t choose the name of their establishment – and the wording on their sign, for that matter – a little more carefully.
If you can already see why so many Japanese netizens are chuckling, then congratulations – you’re clearly a Japanese slang master. The rest of you? We’ll see you after the jump.
As we’ve said before, Japanese isn’t actually as hard to learn as it’s often made out to be. Unlike English, for example, Japanese follows its own grammatical rules far more rigidly, pronunciation is easy because there is only one variant of each vowel sound to choose from (none of this tomayto/tomahto business), and it’s possible to create entire, perfectly meaningful and valid sentences without uttering a single pronoun or bothering to conjugate a verb.
Nevertheless, the language will not magically seep into you through a desire to speak it alone — you still need to encounter and study it as often as possible. With that in mind, we’d like to present to you the six and a half resources that no dedicated student of the Japanese language should ever be without. Oh, and the good news is some of them are completely free.
Well, good afternoon/evening/morning/day everyone! Today we’re going to talk about Japanese greetings and what they really mean.
Just as in English, “Konnichiwa” or “Good day” is a greeting that is technically an idiom with a complex and near-forgotten past. Just as English language greetings tend to stem from bastardizations of foreign loan words and/or full sentences that have been gradually shortened over the years, “konnichiwa” is actually a shortened version of a full and meaningful greeting, because, if anything, human beings are a lazy sort with a bad habit of cutting corners whenever possible.
When it comes to Japan’s three writing systems, kanji, hiragana and katakana, it’s the most complex of the lot that usually gets the most attention. The numerous lines and strokes involved in kanji pictographs are so revered that people nominate one at the end of every year to represent the mood of the nation. Even foreigners across the world are taken by their meaning and beauty, with many committing a patch of skin to their favourite (sometimes completely wrong) kanji in tattoo form.
But what about the least utilised member of the group, the katakana characters used for foreign words? Well it looks like they’re finally getting a bit of love, with a recent survey being conducted among foreign residents in Japan to determine the coolest looking symbol in the katakana syllabary. Place your bets now for which one comes out on top!
- Philip Kendall
Mar 28, 2014
I’ve always maintained that, while the method may work for a very lucky few, drilling lists of words and kanji characters is like trying to commit blocks of random numbers to memory – that is to say painfully hard work, time-consuming, and not in the least bit natural or fun. Rather, a better way to approach language learning is to encounter words in context so as to easier form cognitive connections and assimilate them into that which we already know.
So when I stumbled upon Koe, an upcoming role-playing game designed to help people learn Japanese as they play, I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of excitement.
- Philip Kendall
Mar 4, 2014
YouTuber and full-time Japan fan Sharla is back this week with a brand new video. After bringing us exploding condom ice cream and giving us a peek inside one of Japan’s typical love hotels, she’s currently back in her native Canada and just for kicks decided to try out a few English loan words that appear in the Japanese language on her non-Japanese-speaking friend.
As we’re about to see, despite the majority of these words originally coming from English, once pumped through the Japanese lexicon and read back to a native English speaker they make almost zero sense. The full, laugh-out-loud video after the jump.
- Internet survey sheds light on how Japanese women deal with the hair ‘down there’1
- Gamer discovers his deceased father’s ghost on an old Xbox game, challenges it to a race2
- Nara’s deer continue their summertime tradition of commandeering one of the city’s streets3
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker4
- Beautiful 400-year-old garden in Okayama about to be replaced with condominium complex5
- Run For Your Lives! Zombie-infested obstacle course heading to Singapore this October【Video】6
- Raising awareness in the competitive gaming community – two female perspectives7
- Toyokazu Nagano’s “Magic Road” – the funniest, most adorable photos you’ll see today8
- Man kidnaps, imprisons 11-year-old to raise her to be his “ideal girl”9
- Japanese Twitter users report an increase in ninja cat sightings as summer settles in【Photos】10
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker1
- Creative pet “haircuts”: Funky or funny? You decide.2
- Middle-aged Chinese man’s “stomach pains” turn out to be his first period as a woman3
- This man’s face left Chinese internet users in amazement, agony and confusion 【Photos】4
- Gamer discovers his deceased father’s ghost on an old Xbox game, challenges it to a race5
- Man kidnaps, imprisons 11-year-old to raise her to be his “ideal girl”6
- Japan’s Glico lets snackers turn their empty boxes into augmented reality sets for Doraemon!7
- Internet survey sheds light on how Japanese women deal with the hair ‘down there’8
- More than one way to skin a cat? Japanese YouTuber shows how to “open” a cat with belly rubs9
- Is Attack on Titan a documentary? Mikasa spotted in Russia!10
- Nailed it! The shape of your nails may reveal the type of person you are!1
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker2
- Life’s not perfect? Says who? This woman’s life is too perfect to be true!3
- Japanese politician screams and cries at press conference as he defends expenses claims【Video】4
- Japan’s Glico lets snackers turn their empty boxes into augmented reality sets for Doraemon!5
- “Retweet if you thought I was a girl”: This beautiful young man, in his own words【Photos】6
- Japanese giant salamander caught taking a stroll on land7
- 16 photos that show why Singapore has the world’s best airline8
- German team hero Mario Gotze wins World Cup, later loses dignity thanks to gross pic9
- These anime mascots are just what the World Cup has been missing!10
- How to make epic pancakes with your Japanese rice cooker1
- Nailed it! The shape of your nails may reveal the type of person you are!2
- Samurai in Brazil shows off incredible freestyle football skills ahead of World Cup3
- Doggy gets upset over his new haircut, walks around on hind legs like a boss for two days4
- Russian crocodile hospitalized after woman falls on it5
- Internet falls in love with Chinese cosplaying beauty, disappointed to hear she’s a guy 【Updated】6
- Not your average Bulbasaur: Mayan-style Pokemon7
- Chinese student asks for cooked sushi at Sukibayashi Jiro, gets flamed by Chinese netizens8
- What if Sailor Moon characters were lingerie models? They’d look stunning like this 【Photos】9
- The official Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist trailer just made our day【Video】10
- Run For Your Lives! Zombie-infested obstacle course heading to Singapore this October【Video】
- Raising awareness in the competitive gaming community – two female perspectives
- Toyokazu Nagano’s “Magic Road” – the funniest, most adorable photos you’ll see today
- Man kidnaps, imprisons 11-year-old to raise her to be his “ideal girl”
- Japanese Twitter users report an increase in ninja cat sightings as summer settles in【Photos】
- Too hot during the blackout? Cool down with an electric fan, veteran newscaster suggests
- Five amazing Japanese Starbucks locations that let you keep sightseeing as you take a break
- International survey finds that 90% are open to a romantic encounter with a Korean partner
- Our take on Studio Ghibli’s newest anime, When Marnie Was There【Impressions】
- Kids’ Hello Kitty Dictionary is surprisingly gritty
- Middle-aged Chinese man’s “stomach pains” turn out to be his first period as a woman
- Japanese critic shares his (kinda weird) views on Japanese vs Western adult entertainment
- “Black Cat” delivery company uses pawprint gloves to ensure packages are handled with cute