The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: September 22, 1999

Ah Yes. Japanese

By: Umi-chan

"Kombanwa minna! Genki?" are one of the many phrases webmasters love leaving around their homepage in the blink tag. I totally agree with Liz in her article "The Biggest Clichè of them All" yes, using Japanese phrases all over one's homepage has definitely turned into a very popular cliche. And yeah, it angers me too to see people showing off their knowledge. Well, maybe I don't have a right to complain about this but here's my Japanese-Knowledge-History: I've been studying Japanese for two years, at a Language center on the sunny little island of Singapore, and there are some really high requirements to fulfill before you can actually begin learning the so-called "sacred language" to anime fans. I can now write compositions and carry out conversation and whatnot. Anime fans out there thing I'm lucky. I'm not. If you want to learn Japanese off the internet, it's just impossible.

I just came back from Hiroshima. And if you go pay a visit to the departmental store and try communicating with the shop assistant, you're gonna be speechless. You'll just feel as though you don't even know the language (that happened to me, but I soon got adjusted thanks to my lovely senoir.) Let me tell you what you're in for. In Japanese there is conversational Japanese and written Japanese. They're somewhat a little different. There's the polite form and plain form, masu-form, nai-form, te-form, ta-form, i-adjective, na-adjective, to change an adjective to a noun take away the -i add a -sa to it etc. There's the jidoshi and tadoshi and a long list of the sickening pair to memorize, sentence particles and the particle "ka" can be used to ask a question and it can also mean "or". The counter words (hitori, futari, san nin, yo nin. etc) Even the first ten days of the month are not read as numbers, the twenty years old is not "ni jyuu sai" it's something else! *Umi-chan pauses to catch her breath* I'll go insane listing down everything! There's more to Japanese than meets the eye!!! And there are so many ways to say "but" in Japanese.

Doesn't it just frustrate you when you see people using Japanese all over their webpages like they know the language? Well, if you know the language, you're excused. Knowing what kawaii, minna, konnichiwa, hai, iie and a bunch of other common words does not mean you know Japanese. I used to harbour this thought when I was 11. I thought I knew Japanese just because I knew these words and knew how to use them. Well, I got a rude shock two years later when I finally got my wish and took up that language. *darn! Should have taken French instead!*

Many people have sent in emails accusing me of being some "false-know-all" acting like I do take lessons. Haha, say anything you wish but I rarely/never use Japanese phrases on my sweet little Planet Mermaid.

By now, my dear readers and wonderful people who frequent my little Planet would have realized I'm Chinese :) And what am I doing typing this article out in English? YES, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE I'M TRILINGUAL. Japanese is like Chinese, some say. They're wrong. The only similarity the two languages have is the kanji. And sometimes the kanji has a totally different meaning in Chinese or it might not even exist in Chinese (example the "to" in Tomoe Hotaru. it doesn't exist in Chinese) Though some Japanese words do sound like the way we pronounce them in Chinese, that's the cute part. Then comes words like maamaa (no this is not Japanese for Mama!) and kuuki (air) which are just so cute you can't forget them ;)

I personally find English slightly easier (excuse my weird spelling, I use British English) compared the Japanese and Chinese and some other Asian tongues. Like take Thai for example, they have more alphabets than English ( does Japanese). Chinese is just totally made up of kanji, kanji and more kanji. There's no simplified symbol like hiragana and katakana in the language.

Well, I won't say that Japanese is the hardest language in the world to master. All languages are just as difficult as each other. It just depends on the learner himself/herself.

Well, after this huge long-winded letter *Umi-chan hears a snore* I hope everyone will realize that using Japanese phrases in abundance (or like siao like that in pure Singaporean slang) all over one's homepage does NOT give it a "Japanese feel" it just irritates the visitor, and even better if the visitor is a Japanese or someone who knows Japanese at an intermediate level 0.o Just try not to do this frequently and stick to the language you intend to use for your homepage.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Umi-chan.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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