Read an Excerpt
Say it in Japanese
By Miwa Kai
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1983 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Japanese is the language of over 117 million people in the main Japanese islands and in the Ryukyus; there are also substantial Japanese-speaking communities in the United States and Brazil. The Japanese language may be distantly related to Korean, and perhaps also to the Altaic language family, which includes Mongolian and Turkish. For all practical purposes, however, Japanese stands alone, with a grammatical structure unlike that of any other language. One unique feature of Japanese, for example, is the very large role that relative levels of courtesy play in the grammar. Say It in Japanese provides many grammatically and socially correct expressions which will be useful to the traveler or foreign resident in Japan. The Japanese text of this book is in Standard Japanese, which is based on the language spoken by educated people from Tokyo, and is that used in the media and the schools. Though there are some dialects of Japanese which are hard for other Japanese speakers to understand, Standard Japanese will be understood wherever Japanese is spoken.
Japanese is ordinarily written in characters (kanji) originally borrowed from Chinese, together with phonetic symbols (kana) representing syllables rather than single sounds. There are also two standard systems for writing Japanese in Roman letters (Romaji); this book makes use of the modified Hepburn system, in which consonants are pronounced as in English and vowels as in Italian (see the "Pronunciation" section below for detans). The written Japanese characters for each phrase have been included for those who wish to use them for reference and further study. They also provide another means of communication, since they may be pointed out to a speaker of Japanese. Because the Japanese writing in our book follows the entries in Roman letters, it is written from left to right and horizontally, rather than from top to bottom and right to left as in standard Japanese practice.
NOTES ON THE USE OF THIS BOOK
The words, phrases and sentences in this book have been selected to provide for the communication needs of the traveler or foreign resident in Japan, and they have been divided into sections according to the situations likely to be encountered in travel and in daily life. Sections consisting of word lists are in alphabetical order for easy reference. The index at the back of the book enables you to find a specific word or phrase quickly, and also serves as a handy English-Japanese glossary. With the aid of the index or a bilingual dictionary, many sentence patterns given here will answer innumerable needs. For example, the place occupied by "Friday" in the entry
We plan to stay here until [Friday].
may be filled with another word in accordance with your plans. In other sentences, the words in square brackets can be replaced with words immediately following (in the same sentence or in the indented entries below it). Thus the entry
These things to the [left] [right] belong to me.
provides two sentences, "These things to the left belong to me" and "These things to the right belong to me." Three sentences are provided by the following entries:
Give me a seat [on the aisle].
[Tsurogawa] no seki ni shite kudasai.
—by a window.
—by the emergency exit.
Hijoguchi no soba—.
Note that the substitutions are made at the beginning of the Japanese sentence in this case. Because Japanese grammar is so different from that of Western languages, you would be well advised to stay close to the forms given here in making substitutions. As your Japanese vocabulary grows, you will find you can express an increasingly wide range of thoughts by using the patterns given in this book.
Please note that while brackets always indicate the possibility of substitution, parentheses enclose synonyms or alternative usage for an entry, as in
I am sorry (OR: Pardon me).
Parentheses are also used to explain a word or some nuance of meaning that may be implicit in either the Japanese or English phrase. The abbreviation LIT. is used whenever a more literal translation of a Japanese phrase is provided.
You will notice the word "please" has been omitted from many of the English sentences, in order to save space and avoid repetition. Since "kudasai," which is usually used to form polite requests in Japanese, requires a verbal participle as the main verb in the sentence, every Japanese sentence given here is complete as it stands at the proper level of politeness. To be especially polite, you may add "dozo" to the beginning of the sentence. A concise explanation of all the Japanese grammar you need for everyday conversation, E. F. Bleiler's Essential Japanese Grammar, is available from Dover Publications, 31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, New York.
You will find the extensive index at the back of the book especially helpful. Capitalized items in the index refer to the section headings and give the number of the page on which the section begins. All other numbers refer to the individual entries, which are numbered consecutively throughout the book.
Excerpted from Say it in Japanese by Miwa Kai. Copyright © 1983 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.