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Lesson Transcript

Peter:
Konnichiwa! My name is Peter Galante, and I’ll be your friendly neighborhood non-Japanese guide to everything Japanese…
Naomi:
And I’m Naomi! Here as the Japanese native to help along the way.
Peter:
That’s right, this lesson is all about your home and native land.
Naomi:
Yes, and yours too, Peter!
Peter:
Well, kind of, I’ve been living here for 11 years, so it really has started to feel like home to me. So, we’re here to teach you the ins-and-outs of the wonderful Japanese language.
Naomi:
Yes, Japanese is a really unique language in a lot of ways. From the writing system…
Peter:
to the grammar…
Naomi:
to the slang…
Peter:
everything! It’s truly a beautiful language., with an rich history and intriguing culture to match.
[Linguistics section]
Peter:
So Naomi-sensei, I have some questions for you.
Naomi:
What is it?
Peter:
All right, first question. What language family does Japanese belong to?
Naomi:
That’s actually a really good question, because it’s something that linguists have been arguing over for a long time!
Peter:
Yeah, I think some say it’s a language isolate, bascially, it’s own language, and some say it belongs to the Altaic language family… so it’s something that’s really hard to pinpoint the origins of. So if you know somebody who’s into linguistics, you can impress them with “Altaic language.” For most of us, including me, this is probably the first and last time I’ll come across this.
Naomi:
Right. These days, there are around 130 million speakers of Japanese!
Peter:
That’s a huge number! Apparently that puts it in the Top 10 list of languages based on number of native speakers. Japanese also boasts a really unique writing system. Naomi-sensei, can you tell us more about that?
Naomi:
Sure – basically, there are three different alphabets… I guess we can call them that.
Peter:
Count them, three. But don’t let that scare you off! Two of them are very easy. It’s the last one that takes a little bit more… how can we say… dedication.
Naomi:
Yeah. The Chinese characters, right?
Peter:
Right. The two native Japanese alphabets are:
Naomi:
Hiragana and katakana.
Peter:
Japanese has also borrowed thousands of characters from the Chinese language and adopted them as their own.
Naomi:
And each Chinese character has its own meaning.
Peter:
This is a really fascinating topic, but we’ll cover the writing system more in-depth in the next lesson.
Naomi:
Okay! Now let’s talk about pronunciation for a moment.
Peter:
Ah yes, pronunciation. I’ll tell you right now that Japanese pronunciation is actually not that difficult... at first.
Naomi:
At first, right. And Japanese vowels are really simple! Not like English - you have so many different ways to say one vowel, right?
Peter:
Yeah, with Japanese, there’s only one pronunciation. You just say it as you see it. Now, I’ve heard that the vowels in Japanese are comparable to those found in Spanish or Italian in this sense.
Naomi:
Oh, interesting!
Peter:
We’ll actually have a series for Japanese pronunciation. In those lessons, you’ll learn more about Japanese pronunciation. At first, you’ll get the hang of it – I think relatively quick. But actually, to get your pronunciation perfected - like that of a Japanese person – that’s a little bit tricky.
Naomi:
I agree.
About the Motherland
Peter:
Naomi-sensei, we’re going to be talking about your motherland.
Naomi:
Oh yeah.
Peter:
So how about going over a bit more about Japan itself. Naomi-sensei, Japan and the Japanese language have long history behind them, right?
Naomi:
Yes, and at the same time it’s one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
Peter:
There’s a great mix of traditional culture and cutting-edge technology. Interesting combination. In Japan, that’s often talked about. They way they co-exist is really interesting.
Naomi:
Yeah, preserving culture is really important to Japanese people.
Peter:
I think a really good illustration of this is the name Japan, if we look at it in Japanese.
Naomi:
Okay. Japan is known as Nihon, or sometimes Nippon, but Nihon is more commonly used in conversation.
Peter:
It’s written with two Chinese characters meaning: “sun” and “origin”. That’s why it’s often referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun”.
Naomi:
Right. I’ve heard it’s because Japan is located to the East of China. And the sun rises in…
Peter:
the East.
Naomi:
Right. As you may probably know, the relationship between Japan and China goes back many years. When Japan officially sent envoys to China, Japan referred to oneself as the “Land of the Rising Sun”. That’s the beginning of the name.
Peter:
See, that makes perfect sense!
----------
Peter:
Naomi-sensei, who can resist the lure of Japanese? Are you ready?
Naomi:
Okay!
Peter:
We’re going to give you the top five reaons why you should study Japanese.
Naomi:
Starting with number 5:
Peter:
To communicate with Japanese people. Whether it’s with Japanese friends, family members, people you meet when travelling… it doesn’t matter. Japan is one of the Top 10 languages in the world based on number of speakers. That’s over 130 million people. So, that’s a lot of people to converse with!
Naomi:
Okay, number 4!
Peter:
Japanese pronunciation is easy! *At first*. Japanese is pronounced just the way it looks, so you can start speaking right away.
Naomi:
Okay. How about number 3?
Peter:
Learn more than just a language. Learning Japanese will give you great insight into the world of Japanese culture that you just can’t get any other way. By learning how the language works, you’ll learn more about how the culture works.
Naomi:
How about Number 2?
Peter:
Japanese is fun! Japan has a lot to offer in the way of pop culture – fun and interesting movies, music, TV shows, comics, anime, manga, games – you name it! Learning Japanese will give you even greater access to the rich world of Japanese pop culture.
Naomi:
And… the number one reason you should learn Japanese:
Peter:
Pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You can get rich! Japan boasts the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Again, here kind of an asterisk: it’s 2009, so probably in the near future, China…
Naomi:
Ah, no, Japan will be the first one!
Peter:
I stand corrected. Sorry, Naomi-sensei! Yes, Japan will be the number one economy in the world in the near future. So, proficient speakers of Japanese can find jobs in various fields such as business, international relations…
Naomi:
finance…
Peter:
electronics…
Naomi:
information technology…
Peter:
Your specialty, Naomi-sensei, tourism…
Naomi:
translation…
Peter:
and much, much more.
Naomi:
Wow…!
Peter:
OK everybody, so, are you ready? Get out your pen and notebook,
Naomi:
grab your iPod…
Peter:
fire up your computer…
Naomi:
whatever you use to study…
Peter:
…and get ready for some Japanese lessons straight from the heart of Tokyo, Japan…
Naomi:
…from JapanesePod101.com!

117 Comments

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JapanesePod101.com
Monday at 6:30 pm
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みなさん、こんにちは! Welcome to the first installment of the All About Japanese series! We shared some reasons for studying Japanese, now share with us your reasons for studying!

October 26th, 2016 at 6:02 pm
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Anton san,
Konnichiwa.
関西弁 is a direct in Kansai area.
If you want to learn kansai-ben, please visit the page below.
http://web.mit.edu/kansai/0readfirst.html
Ganbattekudasai.
:smile:
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com

Anton
October 18th, 2016 at 10:36 pm
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日本人 seems pretty kwl. Ganbarimasu!

– Anton

Anton
October 18th, 2016 at 7:04 pm
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Should I worry about the words that I cannot find?

For example: かんさいべん or 関西弁 can not be found in the dictionary.

If I find them on say, forvo. Could I source the words to an editor/programmer or something so the missing words can be patched in?

– Anton

October 3rd, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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Antonさん、
Konnichiwa.
Thank you for your post.
Please have many lessons. :smile:
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com

Anton
September 28th, 2016 at 10:43 pm
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:) Great can’t wait to get back into it!

April 19th, 2016 at 10:53 am
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Hello George,

Thank you for posting.
We have an Android app which supports the Android tablets too.
If you have some issues on your tablet, could you let us know at contactus@JapanesePod101.com ?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.innovativelanguage.innovativelanguage101

Let us know if you have any further questions.
Sincerely,
Lena
Team JapanesePod101.com

George
April 15th, 2016 at 8:18 am
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I can view the Lesson Notes in .pdf on my Desktop & Laptop. But I can’t view them on my Android Tablet. I get an error about it not being a valid format. Can you try with your Android tablet and let me know what I can do?

April 9th, 2015 at 5:35 pm
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Patrick san,
Konnichiwa.
You are welcome. Douitashimashite. :smile:
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com

Patrick
April 8th, 2015 at 7:43 pm
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Hi Yuki-san,

Konnichiwa! :smile:

Thanks much for your reply.

Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!

April 8th, 2015 at 7:30 pm
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Patrick さん、
Konnichiwa.
りょくちゃ is green tea and まっちゃ is powered green tea.
Ice creams include まっちゃ.
Yuki 由紀
Team JapanesePod101.com