You may have heard that Japanese is written top to bottom, right to left, but is that really true? Is Japanese writing vertical instead of horizontal? Or is it written the same way as English, left to right, top to bottom? Which one is it?
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!
If you have been reading Japanese for a while you might have come across this kanji: 々. Yes, I know, it doesn't look like a kanji, it looks like a katakana, like ma マ, for example, but it is indeed a kanji, and a very special one at that. One that makes you wonder: "what is 々 and why does it have so many readings? What does it mean?"
In case you ever need to read a "map" in Japanese, or chizu 地図, I mean, who am I kidding? You'll never have trouble with that. In case you ever play a game in Japanese that has a map without labels and someone tells you there is a place you gotta go that's either north, west, south or east, but you have no idea which, here is how you say those words in Japanese.
If you've been watching KonoSuba このすば (if not you should) you might have noticed the character Megumin announces her "explosion" magic with a certain peculiar word: bakuretsu 爆裂. However, there's the more common bakuhatsu 爆発 which also means "explosion." So what's the difference between bakuhatsu and bakuretsu in Japanese?
If you've been learning Japanese for some time you might have heard about the so-called "kanji radicals," or bushu 部首, and wondered exactly what is so radical about kanji? Do they practice skate-boarding? Bungee-jumping? No? Then what's the meaning of "kanji radicals" after all?
One of the most common words in shounen anime to talk about friendship, friends, partners, colleagues, teammates, and stuff like that, is nakama 仲間. It is no wonder, then, that it can be kinda hard to figure out what nakama means exactly, after all, you see characters calling pretty much everyone around then nakama. In this post I'm going to try to explain what nakama actually means.
One Japanese word that doesn't exist in English is mama まま, which is often accompanied by a pronoun: kono mama このまま, sono mama そのまま, ano mama あのまま. This word can't be translated literally (one word for one word), but, thankfully, its meaning is actually very simple.
You have ever watched anime you might have noticed that there are plenty of Japanese words that end with masu ます or mashita ました, and that might make you wonder: what does masu means? What does mashita means? Why all these words end like that?
The Jisho Kioku is a Chrome extension that adds a number of features to the online Japanese-English dictionary Jisho.org. These features are: shows the last dozen kanji you've picked from radical search; lets you quickly filter radicals by their names; records the last hundred searches you've made; and lets you bookmark random vocabulary so you can review it later.
One very popular game that almost everyone knows from a certain meme is Gyakuten Saiban 逆転裁判, also known as Ace Attorney, where the lawyer Naruhodo Ryuuichi 成歩堂龍一, a.k.a. Phoenix Wright goes around lawyering miraculously. Since this is really fun game with a lot of Japanese text to read and that requires actually understanding the phrases to win, I decided to compile in this post some of the vocabulary you need to play the game in Japanese.
If you have been reading "scanlated" manga (manga scanned and translated by fans) and "fansubbed" anime (anime translated and subtitled by fans) you might have come across the term "raw," as in "raw manga," "raw anime," or maybe someone told you to "read the raws." But what does "raw" mean? Do they cook manga?
In anime, one expression that shows up a lot is the single word yahari 矢張り, and the extremely similar yappari やっぱり. They are often translated in many different ways depending on context like as "as I thought," "it really was that," etc. And there's the doubt about the difference between yahari and yappari. So in this post I'll explain all these strange things about these words.
Two very common, very basic words in Japanese are: warui 悪い and ii いい, or yoi 良い, which can become yokatta 良かった in past tense. The antonym of warui being ii, and the antonym of ii being warui. These words mean "bad" and "good," respectively, but the way they are used in Japanese is a little more complicated than that.
In this blog I have explained the meanings of many Japanese words often used in manga and anime. I have explained so many words that in this post I'll just link all the words I have explained so you can learn them all at once!
Perhaps the word I had the most problem understand its meaning in Japanese was kagiri 限り, and later the verb it came from: kagiru 限る, specially its negative form: kagiranai 限らない. They often show up in already confusing sentences and only make them even harder to decipher. So here I'm going to explain what they mean.
Like (probably) every other language in the world, the Japanese language also has adjectives. But how do the Japanese adjectives work? How do you tell an adjective from another word? How is the sentence structure with adjectives involved? In this article, I'll explain a little about them.