Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Today we will cover basic readings for the appropriate time of day. Like many other languages, Japanese has a greeting for the morning, afternoon and evening. So let’s cover all of them today. In Japanese, good morning is Ohayō gozaimasu. Ohayō gozaimasu. Let’s break down this word and hear it one more time O-ha-yo-u-go-za-i-ma-su. Ohayō gozaimasu. Now the first sound O is an honorific form for the next word. Ohayō is a conjugative form of the word that means early. This is followed by gozaimasu which is a polite way of saying Is. All of this is combined to make the polite way of saying good morning. Ohayō gozaimasu. Ohayō gozaimasu. Now let’s move on to the afternoon. Good afternoon in Japanese is Kon’nichiwa. Ko-n-ni-chi-wa. Kon’nichiwa. Let’s break it down by syllable. Ko-n-ni-chi-wa. Kon’nichiwa. Now let’s hear it again. Kon’nichiwa. The first word kon’nichi is one way of saying today. Back in the olden days, they used to say kon’nichi to refer to today. Now we say Kyō. So Kon’nichiwa is a combination of kon’nichi which means today and va which is a topic marking particle.
So if you notice the greeting literally means today is. It sounds like an incomplete sentence, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Long ago, Japanese people used to greet each other by talking about the weather like today is sunny, isn’t it? Or today is a bit cloudy, isn’t it? And since all those greetings started with Kon’nichiwa or Kon’nichi wa, this part became the greeting itself. It simply became shortened to Kon’nichiwa literally meaning today is but we use it to mean good afternoon or hello. Kon’nichiwa. Now I know in English we tend to say Kon’nichiwa but in Japanese, we don’t have a strong intonation for words. Usually it’s just very, very flat.
Kon’nichiwa, Kon’nichiwa, no intonation and finally we have the evening greeting which is Konbanwa. Ko-n-ba-n-wa. Konbanwa. Let’s break it down by syllable Ko-n-ba-n-wa. Konbanwa. Now the first word Konban means tonight and we still use this in modern day Japan Konban. Let’s break down this word and hear it one more time. Ko-n-ba-n konban. This is also followed by the topic marking particle wa. So again the greeting is similar to Kon’nichiwa and that people used to greet each other in the evening also by talking about the weather. For example, Konban wa samui desu ne. to mean oh tonight, it’s a bit chilly, isn’t it and so the greeting itself just got shortened to Konbanwa. Konbanwa to mean good evening.
Now for Sachiko secret. This is something I picked up working in a Japanese media. Now a lot of media jobs start in the afternoon. For example, I had a TV producer job that started at noon and ended at 8 PM or the worst shift started at 3 PM and ended at midnight. I guess people tend to be in night hours. I am not really sure. Any ways, no matter what time you start work or what time of the day it was, we used to always say Ohayō gozaimasu. whenever we met someone. I don’t know where that came from. It could be 3 PM, it could be 8 PM, it could be 9 PM. If you are meeting someone for the first time, we said Ohayō gozaimasu. So don’t be surprised if someone says that to you really late at night.
Just assume the person works in the media and has kind of a whacked up sense of time. I know I did. Okay so to close our today’s lesson, let’s practice what you’ve just learned. I will give you the English equivalent of the phrase and you are responsible for shouting it out loud in Japanese. You got that. I will give you a few seconds before I give you the answer. So good luck Ganbatte kudasai. Good morning is Ohayō gozaimasu. O-ha-yo-u-go-za-i-ma-su. Ohayō gozaimasu. Good afternoon in Japanese is Kon’nichiwa. Ko-n-ni-chi-wa. Kon’nichiwa, Good evening Konbanwa. Ko-n-ba-n-wa. Konbanwa. All right, that’s going to do it for today. See you later which in Japanese is Matane.

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