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Thread: Japanese to know upon arrival

  1. #1

    Default Japanese to know upon arrival

    Anything you wish you knew how to communicate when you first got to Japan? I feel like there are those super common phrases/situations in all countries you would never learn in a textbook... Now that I know I'm going, I figure I should take my Genki I level Japanese a lil further lol.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    The first phrase that my study abroad program's staff taught us on day 1 of orientation was "mottainai", which translates to "What a waste". I thought that was a really good phrase to know because there are so many opportunities where you might be tempted to play it safe (whether it's trying a new food or going out with people you don't really now). Also, I really wish I had been given a primer on Kansai-ben before I left for study abroad because my host family used it constantly and I felt so lost for like a month or so. Therefore, when I learn my placement, I want to see what kind of dialect they use and try to prep on that beforehand.
    Last edited by naginataonthebrain; April 2nd, 2015 at 03:33.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Quote Originally Posted by naginataonthebrain View Post
    The first phrase that my study abroad program's staff taught us on day 1 of orientation was "mottainai", which translates to "What a waste". I thought that was a really good phrase to know because there are so many opportunities where you might be tempted to play it safe (whether it's trying a new food or going out with people you don't really now). Also, I really wish I had been given a primer on Kansai-ben before I left for study abroad because my host family used it constantly and I felt so lost for like a month or so. Therefore, when I learn my placement, I want to see what kind of dialect they use and try to prep on that beforehand.
    yeah dialects are a big concern for me since my Japanese is so remedial haha. I requested Osaka for one of my placements.... if I get it... that'd be cool, but... Imma be so lost haha....

  4. #4

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    You'll probably get a cheat sheet with few basic things like a basic self introduction using a bit more formal language and advising to use plenty of yoroshiku onegaishimasu and gambarimasu. Just use what you know.

    Maybe one you won't hear but the sentiment will follow you around is 'shoganai' - sort of a too bad mixed with a 'nothing can be done to change the situation' sort of resignation.

    Unless you want to dive down the hole of local dialects when you get your placement info.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I wouldn't worry about dialects too much when you first get here. They're sticky business, but I feel like they're best learned when you're exposed to them. Useful Japanese, obviously, is greetings, basic grammar forms and learning hiragana and katakana. If you have time to learn some kanji, start that as well. There's more than enough time to get a basic grasp of the language before you head out. But, you should also focus on business style Japanese. There's going to be lots of talk about contracts and paperwork and various buildings that you'll be going to in your first weeks.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mothy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Food kanji is useful to know right away. Especially if you have any dietary restrictions.

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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I'd recommend learning job titles of people within a school (kouchou, kyouto, etc.), and some words used in the daily schedule (#-jikanme, kyuushoku, souji/seisou, nicchoku, uchiawase). Also, it couldn't hurt to things like city hall, board of education, supervisor, etc.

    If you find yourself somewhere with a cool dialect, just add it to your studies. Keep studying the language normally, and try to figure out when people use weird stuff. Once you have the real (hyoujungo) way to say it, try to work the dialect into your speaking. After a couple years, you'll be translating your dialect into regular Japanese for people from out of the area.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I think something really useful would be "Sumimasen, nihongo ga (yoku) wakarimasen." (Sorry, I don't understand Japanese (well).)

    Good Osakaben to know:
    - shindoi = tired
    - ya = da/desu (ex: seyakedo = sou dakedo)
    - na = ne
    - verb-hen - verb nai (ex: wakarahen = wakaranai)

    Poeple don't actually say Ookini, but they do say Nandeyanen!
    Last edited by AyaReiko; April 2nd, 2015 at 12:55.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Quote Originally Posted by AyaReiko View Post
    Poeple don't actually say Ookini, but they do say Nandeyanen!
    In my experience, the only time I've heard ookini is when somebody was trying to use Osaka-ben and the other person thought it was funny/cute.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I've only ever heard it said as an example of Osaka-ben.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    osakini shitsurei shimasu when you get off work

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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Quote Originally Posted by AyaReiko View Post
    I think something really useful would be "Sumimasen, nihongo ga (yoku) wakarimasen." (Sorry, I don't understand Japanese (well).)

    Good Osakaben to know:
    - shindoi = tired
    - ya = da/desu (ex: seyakedo = sou dakedo)
    - na = ne
    - verb-hen - verb nai (ex: wakarahen = wakaranai)

    Poeple don't actually say Ookini, but they do say Nandeyanen!
    I definitely heard shopkeepers in Kyoto say ookini but never in Osaka so maybe it's just a Kyoto thing?

  13. #13

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    YES thank you guys. Super helpful. I know maybe a little over 100 kanji, but... we all know how that is. I'm definitely gonna start trying to improve that number before I go. And yeah, looking at business Japanese is definitely not a bad idea either....

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    Looking for some chaw acpc2203's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Kore onegaishimasu (this please) is useful when you order food from a menu, since you can just point at something on the menu instead of having to say it what it is.

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    Senior Member Lorenzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    As I'm beginning to learn what a helpful, kind and empathetic guy you are, Ini, especially to new, fresh-faced, rabbit-in-the-headlights JETs, I thought I better Google that one before memorizing it. Probably a good thing I did.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I'm bringing this back because omg I'm at such a studying block. I feel like actually BEING there is gonna help me improve so so much, but right now I feel like I know zero Japanese even though I've been in class consistently for a year ugh.... I'm gonna be so discouraged when I get there haha. It'll be so overwhelming no matter how much I study, so that's something to prepare for for suuuure.

    I'm finishing up Genki I, so I know some really good basics and I'm definitely gonna get Genki II. I sometimes use Anki, but I don't think it really works well for me. I'm definitely the type of person where repetition through writing helps more than repetition through flashcards... any suggestions? Right now I'm just kind of doing the work in Genki, memorizing vocab/kanji... I feel like I could be doing a lil more but I'm not sure where to start!

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    Looking for some chaw acpc2203's Avatar
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Quote Originally Posted by weepinbell View Post
    I'm bringing this back because omg I'm at such a studying block. I feel like actually BEING there is gonna help me improve so so much, but right now I feel like I know zero Japanese even though I've been in class consistently for a year ugh.... I'm gonna be so discouraged when I get there haha. It'll be so overwhelming no matter how much I study, so that's something to prepare for for suuuure.

    I'm finishing up Genki I, so I know some really good basics and I'm definitely gonna get Genki II. I sometimes use Anki, but I don't think it really works well for me. I'm definitely the type of person where repetition through writing helps more than repetition through flashcards... any suggestions? Right now I'm just kind of doing the work in Genki, memorizing vocab/kanji... I feel like I could be doing a lil more but I'm not sure where to start!
    I'd try to start reading native Japanese stuff, books and magazines geared towards kids are a good start since they don't have complex grammar and often have furigana. Helps a ton with grammar since you see how it is actually used instead of having a book explain it to you, also it's a good way to pick up new words. Also you can practice your writing on Lang8 and native Japanese speakers will correct it for you. I really liked anki but for it to work you need to be religious about doing your decks everyday (same for all SRS stuff really) or you will forget it and/or have a huge backlog. Finally be sure to study at least a bit everyday, it definitely helps with retaining things you learned.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    Quote Originally Posted by acpc2203 View Post
    you see how it is actually used instead of having a book explain it to you
    This is great. Mild immersion helps out a lot. Also, jisho.org is great for vocab, because it offers a lot of sample sentences so, again, you can see how a word is used.

    Don't worry about slow progress. If you've only been studying for a year, being at a pretty elementary level is normal. Getting to Japan will definitely help. Give it time.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    If writing works for you, just get a bunch of Japanese kids books/manga etc and transcribe them into notebooks. You can double that up by translating everything you get your hands on. I did this for my school - I translated all the 1,2,3rd year, health, and principal's newsletters for a while. Which usually helps with vocabulary around the school as well.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Japanese to know upon arrival

    I really like that idea webstaa, I'm gonna start doing that. Thanks guys.

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