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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lesson 1

You begin the course with learning to introduce yourself in Japanese. Suppose your name is Naruto. Now to introduce yourself to someone, you will say...

Watashi wa Naruto desu.

Let us look at this sentence. In Japanese, the sentence construction is quite different from English, and the grammar is quite crude. Hence word to word translation will give a garbled English sentence. Let us try to understand the sentence.

1) Watashi wa Naruto desu
Here Watashi can be roughly translated as 'Speaking for myself', 'Pertaining to me', 'About myself', etc.

2) wa is an article we will look at later. As of now don't bother much about it.

3) Watashi wa Naruto desu
Here desu is the copula in Japanese, which is equivalent to the English verb 'to be', 'is', 'am' etc. Note that in Japanese, the copula is always at the end of the sentence. We will study this copula in details later.

Pronunciation : In Tokyo dialect, the pronunciation for su in any part of word or sentence is ss, and the u in su is cut very short almost to the point of not being pronounced. Hence desu is pronounced as dess. Example : The name Sasuke will be pronounced as Saske, with the u sound omitted.

So the complete translation would be...
Watashi wa Naruto desu
(Speaking about myself, Naruto I am)

 (It can be simplified to I am Naruto)

This is the standard way of introducing yourself. Alternately you can decide to omit the subject and simply say Naruto desu as a crisp introduction. In Japanese, it is quite common to omit the subject if the context is clear.

For example:

You want to say that...
Naruto is leaving. He is going to the city.

In Japanese version of this sentence you can say...
Naruto is leaving. Going to the city.

We can omit 'He is', since over here it is clear that the person being refered to is Naruto and no one else. In English Going to the city is an incomplete sentence, but in Japanese its perfectly legitimate as the meaning is clear.

Japanese grammar gives you a lot of liberty for framing sentences, and the rules for conjugation and sentence construction are easier than any most of the popular languages.

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