Learning Japanese via ‘manga’

Check out a new site to help you understand/learn that pesky Japanese slang! Japanese in Anime & Manga.

“Manga” comic books and “anime” films are building up interest around the world in learning Japanese.

Providing a link: A Web site operated by the Japan Foundation features English translations of Japanese phrases typically spoken by “manga” and “anime” characters.

But students of the language are having a tough time understanding the colloquial expressions that abound in manga and anime, for instance when a samurai character ends a sentence with “gozaru” or a man from Osaka says “desse,” because dictionaries and language textbooks say sentences end with the polite forms “desu” or “masu.”

The Japan Foundation, a public entity supervised by the Foreign Ministry, launched a Web site earlier this month to teach foreigners phrases spoken by typical anime and manga characters.

via Learning Japanese via ‘manga’ | The Japan Times Online.


I had not really appreciated the significance of appreciation until recently when someone learning English as a second language wrote “I would appreciate you if you correct my English.” Yes, everyone knows that this is perfectly understandable, but the person really wanted strict advice and commented that there is almost no method to verify the correctness of a sentence. For me, learning Japanese is extremely difficult, but I cannot imagine how much harder English must be with all of it’s exceptions – not to mention all of the conversational usage which breaks what rules there are. This got me to thinking about “to appreciate.” Let the rambling begin …

It seems the issue with ‘appreciate’ is that it might seem crass if you say “I would appreciate you if you do XYZ” as it sounds a bit rudely like a bargain. Imagine if you say “I would love you if you buy me this” or “I would be your friend if you do my homework.” This sort of thing is only said jokingly (or extremely seriously to an intimate partner (eg. “I would love you if you stopped dating my brother and sister when we get engaged”)).

If you do want to ask someone to do something for you, rather than saying you would appreciate them if they do it, you would say ‘I would appreciate it if you (would/could) correct my English.’ This way it sounds like you would like the person to do something, but you will value the person regardless of whether they do it or not. Similarly, people frequently say something like ‘I’d love it if we went to Disneyland’ – but never “I’d love you if we went to Disneyland.” 🙂

If you do not make appreciation (or love, friendship, etc.) of a person dependent on some action then you could say “I appreciate you.” So, if the other person has already done something for you or has already agreed to do it for you, then you could say “I (really) appreciate you doing this for me,” “I really appreciate you correcting my English,” “I appreciate you being there for me,” etc.

As a side note, I heard my father simply say “I ‘preciate ya.” Yes, he’s Southern (U.S.). I asked him about this, saying that in California we always say “I appreciate it.” He responded that “That’s the whole difference between California and The South. – Here we care about the person, not the thing.”

Anyway, I hope this is helpfully correct and makes some sort of sense. If not … I’d appreciate hearing from you.

PS: This is marginally related to the differences between North/South alluded to above and seems as good a place as any to input a nifty quote I heard about D.C.. “Washington D.C is a city of Northern hospitality and Southern efficiency.” I’ll put an attribution here if I remember who summed up things so pithily.

First Japanese Class

So, I’m going to AjALT ((ajaruto) – the school that made the Japanese for Busy People series of books) and started yesterday for their ‘Beginner Foundation’ course. It’s MWF with a specific teacher for each of the days. It’s at exit three from the Hibiya line Kamiyacho if you’re interested. It does seem to be a great school with no recourse to “childish or classroom-only” language. The class completes the first volume of their text from introductions, business cards to going to a party. It seems incredibly well structured for dealing with Japanese society. For example, last time I went to Billboard live we met the manager … introductions, introductions of friends, business cards … it’s a perfect fit for reality. At risk of being overly ambitious, I will try to put notes up on here. This is for me to remember and not to be construed as advice upon any language of any kind.

Ch1. Introductions
こちらXYZ Corp のRandall-さんです。
はじめましてRandall です. よろしくおねがいします。