The kana in the Japanese hiragana can be easy to confuse sometimes. There's mi み, ro ろ and ru る, and they all look like 3's, but luckily it stops there, right? Except when you encounter the rare wi ゐ and we ゑ which are hiragana too and look like some weird versions of first three! Just what are those kana? Since when do they exist? Weren't the kana in the w row just wa わ and wo を?!
One of the most artistically inspired symbols in the Japanese language is the prolonged sound mark. It looks like a longer horizontal dash, or a vertical line in vertical text. Like this:ー. And it performs a very simple function in writing: to make sounds longer.
One of the most well-known and yet most strange words in the Japanese language is the word sensei 先生. As dictionaries will quickly tell you, sensei means "teacher" when translated to English, but it's a little more complicated than that.
Words related to ages, people's ages, in Japanese are tricky ones. This is because for every single word there seems to be a very similar word which is the wrong on. Even the phrase "years old" in English doesn't translate word-per-word to Japanese.
The Japanese language has many gotchas for beginners, some that will make anyone question everything they've learned so far about a single word, or, most likely, about a single kanji. In this post I'll warn you about some common words in Japanese that have kanji that will suddenly show up in completely different words of totally unrelated meaning which may leave you feeling lost and confused.
If you've been watching anime for a while, you might have watched one of those famous OVAs, or even an ONA. And if not, I'm sure you've heard of the term before. But what are OVAs, exactly? And how are OVAs different from normal anime? And, of course, what does the word OVA mean to begin with?
If you've been learning Japanese for a while you might have seen one or two of these words already: makka 真っ赤, massao 真っ青, masshiro 真っ白 and makkuro 真っ黒. These words all start with the kanji for "truth," 真 followed by the name of one color or another, so one might wonder what's so "true" about them and what do these "true" colors mean in Japanese.
In English, we have the colors white, black, red, blue, yellow, green, orange... uh... gray, purple.... brown...? Cyan, magenta... and... you know, the other ones. In Japanese, there are names for colors, too, obviously, and in this post I'll talk a bit about them.
Perhaps the biggest problem globalization has faced until now is this simple problem: how to write a date. In British English you'd write 12 of March of 2017, or 12/03/2017. Day, month and year. In American English that'd be March 12th, 2017, or 03/12/2017. Month, day and year. But what about Japanese? What's the date format used in Japan?
This post is being written in 2017, a year. Think of it, it's a pretty big number, isn't it? Over 2000. If you were to give 12 months 12 different names, that's easy, 7 weekdays, 7 different names, also easy, 4 seasons, 4 names, very easy. But 2017 different names is kind of ridiculous, isn't it? Sure the Japanese have a very simple, normal way to call their years?
One very basic word in Japanese, that's not even really a word, is the suffix nai ない. It appears often appears after the particles dewa では, as in dewanai ではない, or after verbs, shinjirarenai 信じられない, and sometimes even completely alone, just nai 無い by itself. So, the question is, what does nai mean in Japanese? And why you hear it so much?
The names of the months in Japanese are not like the names of the months in English. In English, we have these very name-like names: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. In Japanese, however, they are literally just numbers.
There are many things weird about the Japanese culture, but their calendar weeks have seven days just like the rest of world (probably). That said, what are the weekdays called in Japanese?
If you have been reading manga for a while you might have encountered this very strange kana: ヴ. The obvious problem with it is that it is an u う in katakana, u ウ, but it has a diacritic. Since you don't put diacritics on aiueo アイウエオ, only in certain syllables like kakikukeko カキクケコ to make them gagigugego ガギグゲゴ, for example, the ヴ kana makes no sense, and yet it exists.
If you're reading this article, chances are you are trying to setup the controls in Japanese PC game and can't remember which kanji is for "right" and which one is "left." But worry not, I'll tell you which ones are those and "up" and "down" too!