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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Japanese For Japanese Language

It's useful when learning any language to know the words that describe the grammar and make-up of the target language. Teachers of other languages to Japanese students may benefit from knowing certain linguistic key words when trying to describe grammatical points.

So lets look at a few basics to start.

語学 (gogaku) is language study.
母音 (boin) is vowel, lit. "mother sound".
子音 (shi'in) is consonant, lit. "child sound".
動詞 (doshi) is verb.
助動詞 (jo-doshi) is auxiliary verb.
副詞 (fukushi) is adverb.
名詞 (meishi) is noun.
代名詞 (daimeishi) is pronoun.
形容詞 (keiyoushi) is adjective.
接続詞 (setzusokushi) is conjunction.
前置詞 (zenchishi) is preposition.
接頭語 (setto-go) is prefix.
接尾語 (setsubi-go) is suffix.

Other useful phrases could include タブー語 (tabu-go) taboo words and 差別語 (sabetsu-go) discriminatory language - obviously try and avoid those.

For example, the term 外人 (gaijin) meaning foreigner (lit. "outside person") is considered discriminatory by some foreigners who prefer the less stark 外国人 (gaikokujin) meaning foreigner (lit. "outside country person").

Another example is 三国人 (sankokujin) lit. "third country person" - a war-time phrase, not found in modern dictionaries, that referred to Koreans and Chinese who were ruled under the Japanese Empire; and a term known to have been used by Tokyo's nationalist Governor Shintaro Ishihara in describing ethnic Koreans and Chinese living in Tokyo.

It has the same resonance for ethnic Koreans and Chinese as calling the Japanese "Japs" and is very much a term from the racial profiling typical of the language of World War II.

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