Nihongo Notes 1: Speaking and Living in Japan

Nihongo Notes

Aizuchi ~ あいづち ~ How Japanese listen (pp. 14--15)

On the use of aizuchi in conversation.

Konnichiwa ~ こんにちは ~ Good afternoon (pp. 16--17)

Do not use こにちは as a generic replacement for English 'hello'. It is not appropriate for use with the in-group.

Doomo ~ どうも ~ Indeed (pp. 22--23)

On the usage of どうも.

Ikaga-desu-ka ~ いかがですか ~ How are you? (pp. 24--25)

Expressions like いかがですか or どうですか should not be used as general greetings.

Hai, orimasu-kedo... ~ はい、おりますけど…… ~ Yes, he's home, but... (pp. 26--27)

Ending a phrase with が or けど is a polite way to invite the interlocutor to complete it with their request.

Anata ~ あなた ~ You (pp. 28--29)

Do not use あなた for people to whom you should be showing respect.

Shitsuree-shimasu ~ 失礼します ~ Excuse me (pp. 30--31)

The phrase 失礼します, which literally means "I will be rude" (and other forms of the same), can be used in a variety of situations as a salutation, apology, thanks, or for other purposes.

Motte-kimasu ~ もってきます ~ I'll bring it (pp. 32--33)

もってきます is used to mean "I will bring (some object)" and should not be used to speak of bringing people. Use つれてきます for that.

In the case of iru and aru, the distinction is very rigid; all inanimate things are referred to with aru, and all living things are referred to with the verb iru, from human beings down to such tiny creatures as mosquitoes.

The distinction between tsurete-kuru and motte-kuru is somewhat different. Motte-kuru is used in the case of all inanimate things, but tsurete-kuru is not necessarily used with all living things. Human beings are described with this verb, and for dogs, too, it is used without question; but for smaller pets like goldfish or birds, one does not usually use tsurete-kuru. It seems that tsurete-kuru presupposes that the object of the action is capable of moving, guided by the person who does the action of bringing it. Human beings, however, do not have to possess this characteristic in order to be described with tsurete-kuru -- bringing a baby is describe as tsurete-kuru even though he cannot walk yet.

Yaseru hito? ~ やせる人 ~ A Person who is getting thinner? (pp. 34--35)

Use the past tense to refer to actions that have completed. For example, 結婚する人 means a person who is going to get married, while 結婚した人 means a person who has already gotten married.

Shujin = Shuujin? ~ 主人=囚人? ~ Husband = Prisoner? (pp. 42--43)

Pay attention to long vowel sounds. しゅじん means husband, while しゅうじん means prisoner, for example.

Index entries (formatted)

Term Location
Japanese, aizuchi 14–15
Name Role
Nobuko Mizutani Author
Osamu Mizutani Author
The Japan Times, Ltd. Publisher