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DIfferent kinds of Japanese

Posted: March 16th, 2009 7:14 am
by sakurakofahl
I wonder if there could be tracks that are in more styles than only -desu/-masu and informal level. I mean, everyone learning Japanese is thaught that it's good (sometimes even extremely important) to know keigo, and I know there are some lessons on this site and elswhere where they focus on keigo. However, I think that many learners in the end "get stuck" in the -desu-masu-forms, because they are after all the most commonly used in textbooks as well as here. And I myself have experienced some embarrassment not knowing enough keigo when talking to superiors in Japan, or not understanding what the clerks in the shops are saying. Simply because I was never enough exposed to or in other ways "forced" to learn keigo.

So I think it would be very helpful to learn the various levels of politeness not only in theory but also in practice by hearing longer all-Japanese soundfiles in these seperate levels only. For example some audio blog episodes with only keigo, some episodes with only da-form, "de aru"-form, girls' language, boys' language, rough language, young people's language, elderly people's language etc. It would be a good way of getting used to the forms, and hearing them being actually used and not only talked about. :roll:

Also, for people being interested in old Japanese (like me :wink: ), I think it would be nice with some tracks (or videos with the text being shown) with for example bits of old literature (Japanese originals as well as translations) from various eras. Maybe with explanations (in English of Japanese), or just "translations" into modern Japanese attatched to them.

By the way, does anyone know any good site where one can study some "kanbun" (Chinese classics)?

Oh! And I personally like those tracks about Japanese dialects, and would love to hear more of those!

Posted: March 16th, 2009 10:21 am
by Jessi
Thanks for your feedback!
Like you mentioned, there are several lessons that utilize keigo, and it may be that they are a bit hard to find. My recommendation would be to try using these tags to find the lessons that contain keigo: (for sonkeigo) (for kenjogo)

You'll find that most of the lessons that use these tags fall under the Lower/Upper Intermediate series, so you might want to try going through and listening to some of those :) You'll find lots of keigo usage!

As for the different styles, the speaking style varies from character to character. To give a few examples from the current seasons:
Beginner Series: Tendo Kiri (feminine language), Tendo Raizo (masculine language)
Lower Int: Jack/Kazuki (boys' language)
Upper Int: There aren't many set characters, but you'll find a mix of just about everything in this series.

I hope this helps somewhat! We'll keep trying to incorporate various speaking styles in the lessons :D

Oh, and as for tracks about dialects, Yuri will be talking about the Kansai dialect in her Audio Blog in the future! (It's actually a few months away but... something to look forward to!)

Posted: March 17th, 2009 6:01 am
by Javizy
I think JPod has done a great job of introducing us to the different styles you mentioned. The original beginner series started with teinei-go, and switched to mainly plain form after building a decent foundation, with a lot of talk about the distinctions between gender styles; it certainly wasn't as rigid as most of the textbooks you see. They even had bonus tracks with the polite/informal versions of the dialogues at one point.

Keigo is much too advanced for beginners, even though ironically you need to understand it to do many simple touristy things. Many Japanese people themselves have difficulties with it. In fact, recently on a podcast there was a little keigo question, which seemed like a no-brainer to me, so it's actually quite shocking (the podcast was aimed at a Japanese audience).

All the other JPod series have a nice mix of speaking styles, have introduced me to some contractions I haven't seen anywhere else, even though they're extremely common in everyday speech, and given me a decent grounding in very polite language that helped me answer the question above :wink: Admittedly, literary language is one area that isn't widely covered, and perhaps something for the future. There are a number of constructions that require ใงใ‚ใ‚‹ to follow nouns, so it could be a good idea to have a lesson that introduces one.

I don't know what level your Japanese is, or how much exposure you've had to the lessons, but you'll find there's a nice representation of the various speaking styles throughout the lessons, and keigo gets its fair share in the more advanced ones. If you listen through from the beginning of the original intermediate series, you should learn most of what you're after. If you're still a beginner, then sit back and enjoy the show while you build up a nice foundation of grammar before you start worrying too much about honorifics and such :wink: