karanguni: (Default)
K ([personal profile] karanguni) wrote2017-01-16 07:18 pm
Entry tags:

Japanese 102: Reading

More Japanese stuff for [personal profile] yhlee. Also available as a Google Doc for printing and editing convenience.

  • Find something to read that you like - song lyrics, reddit, merchandise packaging... - and post that here in a comment

  • Fill out the vocabulary table

  • Practice reading your kana

  • Attempt a translation if you feel up to it! Post it here, ask questions.


With basic hiragana and katakana skills out of the way, it's pretty much time to just find some stuff and read. A lot. It's hard as adults to just pick up and read something: we're not children learning in a native environment or picking stuff up incrementally from texts catered to us. Foreign language texts for adults tend to be frustratingly dry or just straight up condescending.

In my experience, one of the most useful things to read have been - hilariously - those bad phrasebooks you pick up at airports. But it makes sense: phrasebooks, by definition, regurgitate commonly used phrases. They are the core lego blocks of what you need to survive in real life, as opposed to textbooks that want to teach you phrases like global warming or whatever. Once you jazz that up with some incidental knowledge of grammar, you're in a much better position than someone trying to conquer Chapter 1 - 10 of Boring Textbook, at least in my opinion.

Part of that also comes from the auditory exposure you'll get by learning things that are real. Hearing something you're learning adds another layer of memorisation/recall, and so that's what I'll try to aim for with these exercises: content first, vocabulary second, grammar third.

Get Some Content

Time to pick your poison. Maybe try Reddit's Japanese Today I Learned and pick a piece you want to read. Use Chrome's Rikaikun extension to help yourself with the kanji and vocabulary; paste the whole thing here in a comment and we can step through it. Or look at websites for things you like in Japanese (IDK, fountain pen stuff?) and find something that you'd buy in real life.

Test Run

For now, I'm going to stick to one of the ways I learned Japanese before I ever learned Japanese, which is blindly picking an anime pop song that earwormed me, no matter how ridiculous, and learning from there.

I'm going to go with UVERworld's D-technoLife to show how truly out of touch with current anime I am. Hi, BLEACH fans!

Oldness of the source material aside, I've picked this song for a couple of reasons:

  • The lead sings every syllable pretty clearly. Do not, for example, try this with - say - Asian Kungfu Generation just yet.

  • The chorus and bridges both are catchy and contain lots of phrases that you'll encounter a lot. Like how you'll hear corazón in Spanish.

  • It sticks in my head, so it's free mnemonics for me

Another thing is that Animelyrics.com provides romaji and kanji, so if you get stuck on kanji lookup you can cheat and just do this for now. Let's step through it. I'm picking the chorus for this assignment.

Before jumping in, listen to the video a couple of times and try to avoid the translation until you're done with your own.


癒えない 痛み 悲しみで キズついた 君
もう笑えないなんて 人嫌いなんて 言葉そう言わないで
見えない未来に起こる事 全てに意味があるから
今はそのままでいい きっと気づける 時が来るだろ


いえない いたみ かなしみ で キズ ついた きみ よ

もう わらえない なんて ひときらい なんて ことぼ そう いわないで

みえない みらい に おこること すべて いみ が ある から

いま は そのままでいい きっと きづけるとき が くる だろ

First up: I've spaced the words out so that you don't get saturated trying to fight and figure out where one word ends and a particle begins. It's important to know that you want to get away from this and towards reading the giant chunk of united text sooner rather than later, but I've got two things to say to that:

One: kanji form natural separators, and without it, you're going to have a bad time. Until you're learning more kanji, don't feel bad about having a headache with kana-only chunks. I'd sure as hell get a headache if I had to read English without fullstops.

Two: known vocabulary and grammatical structures will do the same thing in time. Once you start recognising things like common particles, negations (ない) and tenses, reading will be better.

In the meantime, trying to fight all those battles - reading kana, reading kanji, recognising vocabulary, recognising grammar - all at the same time is frustrating and super duper uber unfun. So I'm going to try to cut shit down as much as possible so that you can focus on what matters at the current point you find yourself.


I'm going to fill out some of this, and leave the rest to you as an exercise in preparation for GRAMMAR!

Using Rikaikun, use a dictionary service (like jisho.org) to find out the type of verb (click Show Inflections) - ichidan or godan. Take note of it in your table but don't worry until next week.

Happily enough, all of these words are fairly common and worth knowing.

Word ー> Form In The Lyrics



癒える ー> 癒えない

Verb, ichidan


To heal, to be healable -> To not heal; to not be healable




Noun form of 痛む, to hurt








Injury. Written in katakana for emphasis.

つく ー> ついた












笑う ー> 笑えない

 To laugh -> To be unable to laugh




Such-like, something like












言う ー> 言わないで

  To say -> Without saying

見える ー> 見えない


 To be able to see (this is a special verb) -> To be unable to be seen



The future



































To come

です ー> だろう



To be

~ will likely be

yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

assignment: something to read

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-17 04:51 am (UTC)(link)
I am ass at hearing song lyrics even in English...and the one anime opening theme I know bits of ("Cruel Angel Thesis") I am also spoiled on some of the translation from seeing the subtitles so often back in the day, ahaha. So I have decided on this product description for the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen from Amazon.co.jp. I own one of them and love it to bits for inking, and Japanese art supplies = A++.


And that kana vocabulary drill paid off right away because my eye was caught by アメリカ and I could read that straight off!

I have given a quick read-through of the kana-ified version of the practice passage and will give the vocabulary table a shot tomorrow. Today got eaten by Family Time and Writing Time. *wry g*

ETA: and upon second glance, I'm guessing that キャンセル = "cancel"?
Edited 2017-01-17 04:53 (UTC)
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

Re: assignment: something to read

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-19 01:33 am (UTC)(link)
Ahahahaha and here I was thinking it would be about advertising their ink and bristles or something. BUT returns & guarantees are also good things to know while wandering about shopping off the internet! ^_^
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-18 04:13 am (UTC)(link)
I'm having trouble getting jisho.org to find this one--I think that first kanji = ki = energy or something, the one after it I don't know, and then I assume ける is the verb ending or some such thing. Help? I've filled out the rest of the table though.
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-19 01:32 am (UTC)(link)
Ah, gotcha. どうもありがとう!
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

first flailing attempt at translation

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-20 01:15 am (UTC)(link)
Hampered by the fact that I know only little snatches of grammar, like "SOV usually but particles???" and guesswork around particles and how clauses are connected. (I really don't know how subordinate clauses work in Japanese at all--the summary made sense when I read a grammar but that was almost 20 years ago so my memory is gone.)

I went through and did a word/phrase gloss:

not-heal pain grief because-of injury arrive-at (alternately, scar? scar makes more sense to me, but I'm not a native speaker!) you

already unable-to-laugh something-like person hate so something-like words without-saying

unable-to-be-seen future at happen fact/thing(s) all meaning-(subj.) is because

now-(topic) it's-good surely notice time come likely be


If I had to COMPLETELY GUESS how to munge that into English, keeping in mind also that I have some vague recollection that Japanese verbs don't inflect for person so you have to figure out from context, I might handwave it into something like:

Unhealing pain due to grief, injury scars you (not really sure what part of speech that 君 is occupying, though *flails some more*)

Already unable to laugh, (the? if Japanese is like Korean I'm guessing there are also no articles?) person hates (???) without saying words (???)

In the obscure [I am being a bit handwavy about "unable to be seen" to make it read nicer in English] future, where all things happen because of their meaning (?!?! really flailing with that から)

Now, surely, everything is good. Surely you recognize the time has come to be.

(I listened to the song, and probably heard it baaaaaack in the day when I used to watch Bleach, but couldn't watch the video for clues because the flashing lights were bothering me.)

I bet this is, in the words of Pauli, "not even wrong." Not even hilariously wrong.

*goes to look up real translation*

Oh whoa, I didn't even think of the imperative as a possibility for some of those verbs. What happens when I don't know moods/aspects!

*falls over dead*
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

Re: first flailing attempt at translation

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-20 04:52 am (UTC)(link)

Hilariously, I suspect that a fruitful but impossible-to-find approach to grammar would be to take Japanese grammar, point at the bits where it looks similar to Korean grammar (because I remember when I read that book on Japanese grammar so much felt similar), and explain it in English. I'm betting this material exists for Korean speakers in Korean, though! ^_^

(My mother's father was fluent in Japanese because of the occupation--he actually went to university in Japan. My mom once took him one of my volumes of Neon Genesis Evangelion to get the kana translated and it turned out, of course, that they were all just sound effects. My grandfather was very amused.)
yhlee: Korean tomb art from Silla Dynasty: the Heavenly Horse (Cheonmachong). (Korea cheonmachong)

Re: first flailing attempt at translation

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-20 05:35 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, modern Korean uses far less hanja/Chinese characters than it used to according to my mom, but educated Koreans will have a leg up on me. I was pathetically grateful to be able to read "sun" and "moon" and "water" because those got used enough around me that I absorbed them. And Korean def. has the politeness level thing going on, and all those cognates from Chinese. It's not even in the same language family as Chinese but all that cultural influence means we stole ALL the vocabulary. :D

I'd love to see some scans! I did not realize that there was quadrilingual material. That would actually be super-helpful.

(My mom screwed around trying to learn Japanese a bit when she was in high school, but never got far. Languages are not her forte--she's much more arts/crafts. My dad, hilariously, flunked German and took English instead because it was so much easier. And then there's my one aunt, my mom's older sister, who has a freaking doctorate in French literature. We have a hilarious variety of languages between us!)
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)

Re: first flailing attempt at translation

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-23 08:11 pm (UTC)(link)
This is really interesting, thank you! It's interesting--Japanese looks more consistent than English, because [long modifier clause] + [noun] sounds in a way like it's the same word order idea as [adjective] + [noun] (at least, I think I'm remembering that adjectives go before???) whereas in English we have [adjective] [noun] BUT we also have [noun] that/who/which [long modifier clause], which reverses the order.
yhlee: M31 galaxy (M31)

Re: first flailing attempt at translation

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-20 05:28 am (UTC)(link)
Wikipedia says yes!

I've heard similar stories about physicists and/or lab equipment from working physicists. Hilarious stuff. =)

(Also, thank you so much for all the Japanese stuff! It's 11:30 p.m. so I am too brain-fried to dive into the new material but I am looking forward to having fun with it tomorrow. :D)
yhlee: a sewer cover in Kyoto (I am not making this up) (Kyoto)


[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-20 01:21 am (UTC)(link)
I've been continuing kana drill.

Tomorrow I'm going to do up a vocabulary chart for the Amazon.co.jp RETURNS AND WARRANTY passage I picked out, and maybe try to do CRACKALICIOUS BABY TRANSLATION of that, depending on how it goes. Wish me luck!
momijizukamori: (Gintoki - Grin)

[personal profile] momijizukamori 2017-01-21 04:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Late to this particular party, but I'm probably going to try doing this with some of my giant pile of doujin, because pictures are helpful for context and also I am really motivated to try and read them, haha.
yhlee: (SKU: Anthy/Utena (credit: sher))

[personal profile] yhlee 2017-01-23 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)

although my are all m/m so I...wonder about what the vocabulary. ^^;; I also already know that there is a ton of ああ~ in the dialogue and, uh, I can figure out from that + context that they're moaning...
momijizukamori: Green icon with white text - 'I do believe in phosphorylation! I do!' with a string of DNA basepairs on the bottom (Default)

[personal profile] momijizukamori 2017-01-23 08:39 pm (UTC)(link)

Hah, yeah, ones that aren't porn are probably more informative in that regard - basically all of mine are m/m (with a handful of gen), but most of them are PG-13-ish and quite a few lean towards plotty.

I wonder if this will be too long for a DW comment.

[personal profile] chagrined 2017-01-25 08:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Haha, I guess I'm the kind of boring person who really likes learning grammar first. XD So I probably need to get back on top of my self-study textbook for that, BUT. I may as well give this a go too TO MOTIVATE MYSELF? Let's see, I'll grab the Tsuritama tie-in light novel I bought. That would be fun to read.

Well typing up the first couple of lines was an exercise in itself lol (some of the kanji had furigana, and some I knew so I didn't need them, but some I didn't know so I had to look them up even to type it haha).

「ユキ、ユキー、こんなの見つけた! 長ーい!」
「きれいな色の紙がいっぱいついてる! これ、飾り? クリスマス?」

At least the first line was easy to type: 何で、こんなことになったんだろう……。

So, "I wonder how/why this sort of thing happened?" I think is the gist of it.

2nd line: 真田ユキは膝を抱え込んだ。

I knew ユキ was a character's name and knew 田 could be read "da" and the character's surname was Sanada, so even without looking up the other character in 真田 I figured that was his surname, and yep. So
膝 = ひざ (thanks for the furigana there, book, haha) = lap/knee/thigh, apparently?
抱え込む = かかえこむ = to hold in one's arms OR to take upon oneself
It seems like a literal translation would probably be something like "Sanada Yuki had a lot in his lap" but I wonder if the meaning is more like the metaphorical "Sanada Yuki had his hands full." Which would also make sense given that I know what the plot of the story is, lol. (Him getting stuck in a storage closet with his alien friend Haru.)

3rd line: 「ユキ、ユキー、こんなの見つけた! 長ーい!」

This is the other character Haru, which I would know even if I didn't know he was in this story due to his repeating and drawing out the end of Yuki's name, lmao.
見つける = みつける = to discover/find/come across. I didn't know this word but was able to type it anyway due to guessing the 見 would be み lol.
I already knew 長い.
So Haru is all like, "Yuki, Yukiii, look at this thing I found! It's long!"
Although I guess he isn't directly saying to "look at it" (rather just "this kind of thing I found") but I feel like it's probably better translated that way in English? Since he's obviously also showing it to Yuki and calling his attention to it.

Oh my god the next line: 金髪の少年が楽しそうに何かを抱えて待ってくる。ガサガサと葉の擦れる音がした。顔を上げると、二メートル以上はある笹が目の前に差し出される。

Haha this killed me to type. God. I guess I can break it into sentences.

金髪 = きんぱつ = blonde hair (okay, so it's referring to Haru)
少年 = しょうねん = youth (which... god I should have known this and probably did at some point but had totally forgotten it though lol, despite knowing both of these kanji separately I did not recognize the compound word at all)
楽しい I know but I'm unfamiliar with this ending conjugation (しそう). Though it's feeling vaguely familiar... Is it the probability thing...? Uhhh
何か = something (I know this)
抱える = かかえる = to hold/carry. lol looking this up was made easier by the fact that I was already on this page of my kanji dictionary from the 2nd line, lol.
待って = I know. Though I forget what it means when combined in its て-form with くる.

So, uhhh. The blonde youth (Haru) is the subject, easy. "楽しそうに何か" = "something fun"? So he's holding something fun. I'm not sure how this combines with 待ってくる in this case, though. Maybe he's waiting for Yuki to respond to the fun thing he's holding? lol this really makes me feel I need to brush up on my grammar. XD

ガサガサ = rustling/rough to the touch
葉 = leaf
擦れる = かすれる = in context I think the pertinent definition is "to scrape"
音がする = おんがする = make a sound
So, something like "The scraping sound of the rustling leaves [past tense]" or "The rustling leaves made a scraping sound"? I'm only confused about the と usage here which I think in this situation would be "and"? But then it's like, "the scraping sound of the [rough and leaves]"? Or maybe it's that the rustling and the leaves are both being modified by the scraping sound? lol I should consult my grammar dictionary too. XD

顔を上げる = to raise one's face (I knew these)
二メートル = 2 meters
以上 = いじょう = not less than (had to look up)
笹 = ささ = bamboo
目の前 = before one's eyes
差し出す = さしだす = to present/hold out
So something like, "He raised his head, and 2 meters above his eyes Haru held out bamboo."

「きれいな色の紙がいっぱいついてる! これ、飾り? クリスマス?」
きれいな色 = pretty color
紙 = paper (haha had forgotten this word, fail)
いっぱい = got confused by my dictionary saying "the amount necessary to fill a container" but then thought, oh, isn't this a counter? bamboo is a long thin object so I think Haru is just counting it?
ついてる = "to be in such a state"?
Kind of confused about the use of 紙 here (is he talking about the ...bamboo?) but seems like he's saying soething about "What a pretty color this one is"?

これ、飾り? = Is it a decoration?
クリスマス? = Christmas? (lmao thank god a sentence I can read ttly unassisted hahaha)

WELL SO OVERALL, they're in the storage cupboard (though this isn't stated yet but I know that's where they are) and Haru found some kind of bamboo? or leafy? decoration? That has pretty colors? And is rough to the tough and makes a rustling sound. And he's showing it to Haru and asking if it's a Christmas decoration.