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In today’s lesson, we will cover another extremely important phrase. Can you speak English? I know you are going to use that a lot. Using this phrase as opposed to suddenly blurting in English is important for many reasons. For one, if the party you are speaking to doesn’t understand English, at least they will be able to understand what you are asking and it shows a lot of respect to show that you took the effort to learn even a little bit of the language and for these reasons and many more, we are going to cover this phrase.
In Japanese, can you speak English is Eigo o hanase masu ka? Eigo o hanase masu ka? Eigo o hanase masu ka? I know that’s a long sentence. So let’s break it down. E-i-go-o-ha-na-se-ma-su-ka? Altogether it’s Eigo o hanase masu ka?. Let’s break it down by word. The first word Eigo means English. E-i-go. Eigo. This is followed by o which is an object marker O. Here this is marking the word English Eigo. Followed by that is Hanase masu ka. Hanase masu means can’t speak. Ha-na-se-ma-su. Hanase masu is can’t speak and finally we have the particle Ka which is used to make an interrogative sentence. Altogether now it’s Eigo o hanase masu ka? which literally means English, can’t speak. Notice there is no subject in this sentence.
Convenient thing about Japanese is you can say a lot of different sentences without the subject. It’s implied. In this situation, it’s implied that the subject is the person you are asking. That’s because the sentence ends in a Ka and the intonation is right. Now let’s try a different language. How about let’s say French. In Japanese, in most cases, it’s the Japanese name for the country of origin plus the word Go which means language.
For example, let’s take French. France in Japanese is pronounced Furansu. Furansu. So the word French is simply Furansu-go. Fu-ra-n-su-go. Furansu go. pretty simple right. Let’s try this with Spanish. Spanish originated in Spain and so we use the Japanese word for Spain which is Supein. Su-pe-i-n. Supein. Add a Go at the very end and you have Supein-go. Su-pe-i-n-go. Supein-go. So if you wanted to ask, can you speak Spanish, you can say Supein-go o hanase masu ka? Supein-go o hanase masu ka? or if you wanted to ask for French, can you speak French, you would say Furansu-go o hanase masu ka? Furansu-go o hanase masu ka? and as you’ve noticed, you can just change the first word to indicate the language and add o hanase masu ka? Can you speak French? Furansu-go o hanase masu ka? Now on to Sachiko secret.
Now after this explanation, you may wonder where does the word Eigo come from. There is no country called ei. Good point. Well Ago is actually an abbreviation of the word Eikoku-go. Eikoku-go. refers to the UK but instead of saying Eikoku-go. they shortened it to Eigo. Another interesting tidbit is that before world war II, Japanese schools actually differentiated between British English and American English. They even had a different name for it. British English was Eigo which we still use now. American English was Beigo. American is still referred to as Beikoku in Japanese. So they took the first letter of the word Beikoku stuck it with the Go and turned it into Beigo.
Okay so to close our today’s lesson, let’s practice what you have 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. So let’s do a recap. Can you speak English Eigo o hanase masu ka? E-i-go-o-ha-na-se-ma-su-ka? Eigo o hanase masu ka? Can you speak French? Furansu-go o hanase masu ka? Fu-ra-n-su-go-o-ha-na-se-ma-su-ka? All right. That’s going to do it for today. See you later which in Japanese is Matane.