Monday, December 31, 2018

Relative Clauses

Relative clauses, or adjective clauses, are, literally, clauses that work as adjectives to modify nouns. Now, that might sound a bit complicated and grammatical if the only clause you know is Santa, but it basically means that you can use verbs to describe things. For example:
  • neko ga shaberu 猫が喋る
    The cat talks.
    • shaberu 喋る
      To talk. (a verb.)
  • shaberu neko 喋る
    The cat [that] talks
    • ...that talks:
      A relative clause.

In the example above, we aren't talking about any one cat. We're talking about the cat that talks, the talking cat, specifically.

In Japanese, relative clauses are called rentai-shuushoku-setsu 連体修飾節, "prenominal modifying clause," since they're clauses that come before nouns to modify them.
Sunday, December 16, 2018

-naide ~ないで

In Japanese, naide ないで is a phrase created from the auxiliary adjective nai ない plus the particle de で. It has a number of different functions, the most common one being to ask people not do something.

Tabenaide!! 食べないで!! - Kaban-chan from anime Kemono Friends けものフレンズ
Anime: "Kemono Friends," Kemono Furenzu けものフレンズ
  • tabenai-de kudasai! 食べないでください!
    Please don't eat me!
  • Kaban-Chan.
Friday, November 30, 2018

の Adjectives

The term no-adjective refers to Japanese adjectives created by adding the no の particle after a noun. Generally speaking, "noun-no-noun" uses the first noun to describe the second noun somehow. This is also called the "genitive case."

The Legendary Yamada Tae.
Anime: Zombieland Saga
  • Densetsu no Yamada Tae
    The Legendary Yamada Tae.
    • densetsu 伝説

The term "no-adjective" is mostly used when teaching Japanese to non-native speakers, because a noun marked by the genitive case-marking particle no の acts like an adjective.

There doesn't seem to be a Japanese equivalent for this term. Some books don't use the term at all. Furthermore, no-adjectives can be used in a hundred different ways, so it'd be very difficult to explain what is a no-adjective exactly, and perhaps even a futile effort.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

な Adjectives

In Japanese, na-adjectives are words that are usually turned into attributive adjectives by adding a na な after them. Some na-adjectives are always classified as adjectives, but others can be classified as nouns or adverbs when they don't have the na.

The term for "na-adjective" in Japanese is na-keyoushi ナ形容詞, abbreviated na-kei ナ形. They're also confusingly called "adjectival nouns" in English and "adjectival verbs" in Japanese, keiyou-doushi 形容動詞, abbreviated keidou 形動.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

ほしい vs. たい

A question people often have about hoshi 欲しい, or rather, hoshii ほしい, an auxiliary adjective that means "want" in Japanese, is: what's the difference between hoshii and tai たい, another auxiliary which also means "want" in Japanese?

hoshii ~ほしい, 欲しい

The word hoshii 欲しい is a weird Japanese word. If you check a dictionary, you'll see in Japanese hoshii means "wanted." But that doesn't make much sense, does it? To want is a verb, hoshii is an i-adjective. So how does that work? What's the real meaning of hoshii?

An example of ほしい used in Japanese.
Manga: School Rumble (Chapter 3)
Monday, October 29, 2018

Tai-form ~たい

In Japanese, the "tai-form" happens when you add the -tai ~たい auxiliary adjective to the ren'youkei 連用形 conjugation of a verb, causing it to change to the desiderative mood. In other words, -tai means "want to" in Japanese, and verb-tai means "want to verb."

(beware of homonyms: tai 体, morpheme for "body," and tai 対, "versus." Those are also tai but not what this article is about.)

はぁ…女体触りたいモテたい 直球だね transcript from manga Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア
Manga: Boku no Hero Academia 僕のヒーローアカデミア
Saturday, October 27, 2018

い Adjectives

An i-adjective is a type of Japanese adjective with a base form ending in -i ~い, like hayai, "fast," kawaii 可愛, "cute," tanoshii 楽し, "fun," and so on.

In Japanese, such words are called keiyoushi 形容詞, "adjectives," or, more specifically, i-keiyoushi イ形容詞, abbreviated i-kei イ形.

The i-adjectives are different from other Japanese adjectives by the fact they're true adjectives: the word is an adjective as-is, it isn't a noun or adverb that needs a particle in order to be used as an adjective. (which is the case with na-adjectives and no-adjectives.)
Monday, October 22, 2018

kono yarou この野郎

In Japanese, kono yarou この野郎 means basically "this bastard." Most of the time it's used when a character is swearing and angry at what another character did, but it can also be used when a character is surprised and in disbelief or shock, too.

Grammatically, it's the pronoun kono この, "this," plus the word yarou 野郎, which just really means "guy," but since it's often used in swearing, it's often gets translated as "bastard" instead. See: swearing with kono for details.

Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 5, 道具か人間か!?)
  • ii kagen ni shi-yagare,
    • [That's enough],
    • [Stop that],
    • [Cut it off],
  • kono yarou!!!
    [You bastard]!!!

Swearing with Kono この

In anime, sometimes you have a character swearing in Japanese saying something like kono...! something. Like kono yarou!, kono baka yarou!, kono baka!, kono aho! Well. Anyway, it starts with kono この, which means "this," but it often gets translated as "you." In this post I'll explain why.

仕方・・・なく・・・ こ・・・・・・の・・・・・・ 何だ何だ!? ザワザワ
Manga: Zatch Bell!, Konjiki no Gash!! 金色のガッシュ!! (Chapter 1, 清麿、正義のみかた)
Sunday, October 21, 2018

yarou 野郎

In Japanese, yarou 野郎 (or yarō, also spelled やろう, ヤロー, ヤロウ), is a rather weird word. By itself, it can be a casual or rather rude way to say "guy." Originally, it referred to an adult man. But the way you see it used most often in anime is in insults and swearing.

So, in this post, I'll explain the why of all this.

(beware of homonyms: yarou やろう may also be "let's do it," the volitional form of the verb yaru やる, "to do;" and yarou ヤロウ may refer to the plant, "Yarrow," achillea millefolium.)

野郎ッ、調子に乗るなよ!! transcript from manga Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Manga: Black Lagoon ブラック・ラグーン
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

ore-sama 俺様

In Japanese, ore-sama 俺様 is the over-the-top combination of the first person pronoun, ore, and the reverent honorific suffix sama. Basically, ore-sama means the same thing as ore, "I," "me," in English, except it's ridiculously pompous and people would only use it in real life as a joke.

Which means it's mostly a trope used in manga and anime. (just like kisama 貴様.)

俺様に服従せよ。 え・・・
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 66, The Razor's Edge)
  • ore-sama ni
    fukujuu se yo.

    Submit to me.
    • I command thee to submit to THE GREAT ME.
  • e...

Characters use ore-sama to imply they're extremely important. It's used by the type of character that would say "I'm the strongest" or "the smartest" or "the bestest" or stuff like that.

kono ore da! この俺だ!

In Japanese, the phrase kono ore da! この俺だ! translates literally to "it's this me!" But that sounds weird in English. So, in this post, I'll explain what kono ore means and how it works.

何か用でしょうか? 話を今してんのはこのオレだッ! 誰が質問していいと言ったッ!? このボケがッ!
Manga: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Part 5: Golden Wind, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風 (Chapter 441, 黄金体験その②)
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Kono Dio Da! このディオだッ! - Meaning in Japanese

Kono Dio da! このディオだ! is a phrase used by Dio in the manga and anime JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険, and I'm making a post about it because the translation of kono Dio da eludes many Japanese learners.


(the small tsu and the prolonged sound mark ー are other symbols in the panel above.)
Friday, October 5, 2018

Zawa Zawa ざわざわ

The word zawa zawa ざわざわ is a sound effect found in the gambling manga Tobaku Mokujiroku Kaiji 賭博黙示録カイジ, and in parodies of it. It normally shows up in tense, cold-sweat-breaking, anxiety-filled situations, which are common in the gambling series.

The sound effect zawa zawa ざわざわ, as seen in the manga Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji 賭博黙示録カイジ

Awkwardly, zawa zawa is an onomatopoeia, and not a non-onomatopoeic mimetic word like gogogogo ゴゴゴゴ from the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. That is, in the anime adaptation, you get to hear the zawa zawa sound, and you assume the characters can hear it too.

Muda Muda Muda Muda 無駄無駄無駄無駄

In the manga and anime JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, a certain character screams muda muda muda muda 無駄無駄無駄無駄 as his stand goes around punching people in the face, very much like ora ora ora ora is used by Jotarō and his Star Platinum.

Muda muda muda muda muda muda muda muda muda muda muda muda 無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄無駄 yelled in the manga JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険.

Also similarly, this muda muda muda muda doesn't really mean anything besides the word muda repeated over and over. Although, indeed, a single muda 無駄 does mean something in Japanese.

Ora Ora Ora Ora オラオラオラオラ

If you watched JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, specially Stardust Crusaders, you've probably already heard Kujō Jotarō 空条 承太郎 and his stand, Star Platinum, screaming ORAORAORAORA オラオラオラオラ at everyone they punched. And you might have asked yourself: what does oraoraoraora mean in Japanese?

The answer is: not much.

Ora ora ora ora ora ora ora ora ora!!! オラオラオラオラオラオラオラオラオラ!!! yelled by Star Platinum from manga JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険

(note in the picture above that ora ora ora ora is actually said, spoken in speech balloons, and not an onomatopoeia like the dodododo ドドドド)

Dodododo ドドドド

In Japanese, dodododo ドドドド is an onomatopoeia that has a number of uses.

In the manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, dodododo ドドドド tends to show up when things are getting bizarre. When something sudden and unexpected happens, something of "real form unknown," shoutai-fumei 正体不明, etc.

dodododo ドドドド as seen in the manga JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken ジョジョの奇妙な冒険, accompanied by the text kore wa ittai...!? これはいったい・・・!? "What is this?!"

A number of comedy manga parody this usage from JoJo, so, most of the time, dododo means this even when the manga isn't JoJo. (they also often parody gogogogo ゴゴゴゴ, by the way, another sound effect JoJo uses.)
Sunday, September 30, 2018

Monster Girl

Within the anime fandom, "monster girl," monster musume モンスター娘, is the name given to non-human fantasy game "monsters" turned into cute anime "girls." It's a sub-category of jingai musume 人外娘, which includes all "non-human girls," whether they're from games or not.

The word is also romanized monsutaa musume モンスター娘, and abbreviated monmosu もん娘. The musume part can mean "daughter," but in this case it means "girl." (see: suffix -kko っ娘)

gijinka 擬人化

In Japanese, gijinka 擬人化 means "anthropomorphization," the process of adding human traits to something that's not human. In anime, moe-gijinka 萌え擬人化, "moe anthropomorphization," refers to the practice of turning things into cute anime girls, or cute anime guys.

Anthropomoerphism: examples of things turned into cute anime girls: a serval, a sword, a girl, who's a warship, and a couple of guys who are train stations, from the anime Kemono Friends けものフレンズ, Touken Ranbu 刀剣乱舞, Kantai Collection 艦隊これくしょん and Miracle Train: Ooedo-sen e Youkoso ミラクル☆トレイン ~大江戸線へようこそ~. The first three anime are based on online games for some reason.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Peachification, in Japanese Piichi-hime-ka ピーチ姫化, literally "turning into Princess Peach," is the term for turning characters into Princess Peach-like characters by putting a Super Crown on them.

Also spelled peachfication or peach-fication.

See Bowsette and Other Princesses for reference.

The peachification of Bowser to Bowsette, as illustrated by Ayyk92
(comic source: ayyk92 at deviantart)

Bowsette's Japanese Name

For reference, the Japanese name for Bowsette is Kuppa-hime クッパ姫, literally "Princess Koopa," and I'm writing this post, of course, because I think it's funny how the English name Bowsette and the Japanese name Kuppa-hime have almost nothing to do with each other.

(and of Other Princesses that got "Peachfied" too)

If you don't know who Bowsette is, she's the gender-bent / rule 63 / nyotaika 女体化 version of Bowser that turned into a meme overnight this week. (it all began in 2018-09-19.)

Bowsette character, "Princess Bowser" or "Princess koopa." Japanese name:also known as Kuppa-hime クッパ姫

doki doki ドキドキ

In Japanese, doki doki ドキドキ is an onomatopoeia for the thumping sound of the heart. It's usually used in situations where someone falls in love, though it may also be used when they're excited, tense, anxious, and so on.

Often, however, it implies romance, like in Doki Doki Literature Club or in PreCure.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Reduplication in Japanese

In Japanese, sometimes you have words that repeat themselves, they're the same thing said twice, like: hitobito 人々, iroiro 色々, betsubetsu 別々, marumaru 丸々, dandan 段々, hibi 日々, tsugitsugi 次々, itaitashii 痛々しい and so on.

When such thing happens, it's called reduplication, or choujou 重畳, the process of creating "reduplicative words," jougo 畳語, and it's not specific of the Japanese language. English has it too.

Reduplication in Japanese: diagram identifying simplex forms, reduplicative words, their base and reduplicant, the iterative mark noma ノマ, dakuten 濁点 diacritics, and rendaku 連濁 consonant changes in a suffixed morphemes, the reduplicant in this case. Examples include: tsugi 次, "next"; tsugitsugi 次々, "in succession"; toki 時, "time"; tokidoki 時々, "sometimes"; hi 日, "day"; hibi 日々, "daily"; dai 代, "generation"; daidai 代々, "for generations"; ikkoku 一刻, "one momment"; Kokkoku 刻刻, "Moment by Moment"; kami 神, "god"; kamigami 神々, "gods"; hito 人, "person"; hitobito 人々, "people"; hoshi 星, "star"; hoshiboshi 星々, "stars"; marui 丸い, "round"; marumaru 丸々, "very round"; atsui 熱い, "hot"; atsuatsu 熱々, "very hot"; hiroi 広い, "spacious"; hirobiro 広々, "very spacious"; baka 馬鹿, "idiot"; bakabakashii 馬鹿馬鹿しい, "foolish"; itai 痛い, "painful"; itaitashii 痛々しい, "painful to look at".

In this article I'll explain how it works in Japanese, and common effects it has on the meaning of words.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Iteration Marks - ゝゞヽヾ々〻〱〲〃

In Japanese, iteration marks are symbols which can be used to repeat parts of a word. The most common mark, 々, is written instead of a repeated kanji. The marks ゝゞヽヾ are written instead of a repeated kana. Besides those, there's also a long く mark, this thing 〻, and the ditto mark 〃.

〃 Ditto Mark in Japanese

The Japanese ditto mark, 〃, called nono-ji-ten ノノ字点, because it resembles the katakana ノ twice, tenten てんてん, chonchon ちょんちょん, and officially onajiku kigou 同じく記号, works just like the English ditto mark: it's used when a part of one line is the same thing as the previous line.

The only difference being that English uses a ditto mark for each word repeated, while Japanese uses just one ditto mark for the entire repeated part.

Example of Japanese ditto mark. ousai gakuen seitokai kaisoku hito~tsu! himegoto wa... subete houkoku se yo! 桜才学園 生徒会会則 ひとーつ!秘め事は…全て報告せよ! Ousai Gakuen Student Council Rules O~ne! Your secrets... report all of them! (ditto) futa~tsu! fudeoroshi wa... shinchou ni 〃ふたーつ!筆下ろしは…慎重に ””””” Tw~o! The first time... be prudent. (ditto) mittsu! miraretara... misekaese! 〃三つ!見られたら…見せ返せ! ””””” Three! If you're seen... show back! Every episode of the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo 生徒会役員共 has a segment where a new innuendo-filled "rule" is declared. The declarations all start the same way. Not pictured: Tsuda's retorts.

Note that this mark is unlikely to show up in manga, or in any dialogue text. It can show in a school, an actual, real school, in class, when a teacher is writing on an actual blackboard. As well as in tables when you have multiple rows and cells of a row are the same thing as cells of the row above.
Sunday, September 16, 2018

ゝゞヽヾ - Hiragana & Katakana Iteration Marks

In Japanese, the symbols ゝゞヽヾ are iteration marks for hiragana and katakana, that is, they work similar to how works for kanji. They work pretty much the same way, repeating the character that precedes them, the main difference being that they're used with kana instead, and they're Used Less.

(note: if you saw ヽ in the furigana space, it's probably an emphasis mark instead.)

The differences between the five symbols are pretty simple:
  • 々 is used with kanji.
  • ゝ and ゞ are used with hiragana.
  • ヽ and ヾ are used with katakana.
  • ゞ and ヾ add a dakuten accent.
  • ゝ and ヽ remove the accent.

Diagram: Iteration marks for Katakan & Hiragana. ヽ(^∇^) ゝ.  Examples: susume すすめ, すゝめ; suzushii すずしい, すゞしい; banana バナナ, バナヽ; habanero ハバネロ, ハゞネロ.

(see Examples for details.)

Regarding the names of the symbols ゝゞヽヾ, they're called ichi-no-ji-ten 一の字点, "character mark [that looks like] 一," but known by the same names 々 has: kurikaeshi 繰り返し, odoriji 踊り字 etc.
Friday, September 14, 2018

Mimetic Words

Mimetic words, or ideophones, are words which mimic or evoke an idea. One kind of ideophone are onomatopoeia, which mimic sounds. But Japanese also features hundreds of non-onomatopoeic ideophones, like sappari さっぱり, yukkuri ゆっくり, kichinto きちんと, chanto ちゃんと, wakuwaku わくわく, pikapika ぴかぴか, nikoniko にこにこ, among others.

This post will explain how such words work.

Chart: Mimetic Words in Japanese: Non-Onomatopoeic Ideophones (a.k.a. gitaigo) and Onomatopoeia (a.k.a. giongo.) The four types ideophones, "imitated... something... words:" gitaigo 擬態語, phenomimes, that imitate "state;" gijougo 擬情語, psychomimes, that imitate "emotion;" giseigo 擬声語, animate phonomimes, that imitate "voice;" and giongo 擬音語, inanimate phonomimes, that imitate "sound." Examples of gitaigo: pikapika ぴかぴか, *sparkling,* yukkuri ゆっくり, *without hurry,* hakkiri はっきり, *with certainty,* chanto ちゃんと, *properly.* Examples of gijougo: wakuwaku わくわく, *excitement,* iraira いらいら, "irritation," bikkuri びっくり, *surprise,* unzari うんざり, *annoyance.* Examples of giseigo: wanwan わんわん, *bow-wow,* konkon こんこん, *what the fox says,* nyaa にゃー, *meow,* gya'! ぎゃっ! *eek!* Examples of giongo: dokidoki ドキドキ, *thump-thump,* zaazaa ザーザー, *white noise,* pyon ぴょん, *boing,* gokun ごくん, *gulp.* Among these words, the following feature reduplication: pikapika, wakuwaku, iraira, wanwan, konkon, dokidoki, zaazaa. Some feature ri り endings, and chanto features an embedded to と.
Friday, September 7, 2018

Japanese Onomatopoeia - Grammar

Onomatopoeia are words that imply the sound they sound like. That is, words like *bang*, the sound of a pistol firing. Or *meow* the sound a cat makes. In Japanese, such words are disturbingly common, so I'll dedicate this article to explaining them.

bari-bari gusha-gusha baki-baki gokun. バリバリグシャグシャバキバキゴクン。 Crunch-crunch munch-munch crack-crack gulp. Onomatopoeia found in the manga MONSTER, the full-color extra volume: Name no Nai Kaibutsu なまえのないかいぶつ
(In case you need it: なまえのないかいぶつ on Amazon.)
Friday, August 31, 2018

"It" in Japanese - Pronoun

If you're looking for how to say "it" in Japanese, I've got some bad news for you: one of the things English has that Japanese doesn't have happens to be the pronoun "it." So there's no way for you say "it" in Japanese, as that word simply doesn't exist. The good news is: you don't need "it" in Japanese.

This happens because most of the time you need an explicit "it" in English, you can simply omit "it" and leave "it" implicit in Japanese.

Manga: Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon 小林さんちのメイドラゴン (Chapter 2, トールと出会い)
  • Context: Kobayashi 小林 sees a dragon girl in maid clothes.
  • meido fuku...
    Maid clothes...
  • yume? yahari yume ka?
    [Is it a] dream? As I thought, [is it a] dream?

But let me explain more about each use of "it" in English and what's done in Japanese instead.
Thursday, August 30, 2018

zettai ryouiki 絶対領域

In Japanese, the term Zettai Ryouiki 絶対領域, or ZR, literally "Absolute Territory" in English, refers to the space of bare thighs between the skirt and above knee-length socks.

Yes, seriously. That's what Zettai Ryouiki means. It's an anime trope.

What is Zettai Ryouiki
Anime: Outbreak Company (Episode 4)
Sunday, August 19, 2018

ヶ - Small Ke ケ

In Japanese, the small katakana ke ケ, ヶ, is a bit different from the other small kana, in that it's not usually read ke, but instead as ka か, ga が, or even ko こ. Similar to how the small tsu isn't read as tsu つ.

For example, ni-ka-getsu 二ヶ月 is how you say "two months," as in counting the months. It's not read ni-ke-getsu despite having a ke in the middle.
Monday, July 2, 2018

Hiragana-Chan: Android App for Learning the Kana

So I'm making an Android app for people who like anime and want to start learning Japanese. It helps memorize the hiragana and katakana. Utterly basic stuff and not really interesting for anyone who's already learned them, but should be useful for absolute beginners.

Link: Hiragana-Chan on Google Play.

Since I never made something like this before so I don't know if it works. Do post feedback in the comments below if you have any.

Screenshot of Japanese romaji/kana quiz app Hiragana-chan
Thursday, May 31, 2018

yome 嫁

In Japanese, yome 嫁 means "wife," or "bride," or "daughter-in-law," the "wife of your son," or "bride of your son." It can also mean "read!" but that's a bit unrelated to this article.
Sunday, May 20, 2018

ojousama お嬢様

In Japanese, ojousama お嬢様 means "daughter", just like the word musume 娘, but it can also mean a "young girl," or a "rich girl." In the anime fandom, ojousama, or ojou-sama, refers to a rich anime girl.
Friday, May 18, 2018

chama ちゃま - Honorific

In Japanese, ~chama ~ちゃま is a mix of two honorific suffixes: the diminutive ~chan ~ちゃん and the reverent ~sama ~さま. It's not normally used in Japanese.

One way it can be used is in obocchama お坊ちゃま. Maids, butlers, servants who serve a house and its master, sometimes refer to the son and daughter of the house as obocchan お坊ちゃん and ojousama お嬢様, respectively.

The word obocchama would be trying to match ~sama ~さま of ojousama in the word obocchan.

わぁ! 坊っちゃま!新しいお洋服ですか? ・・・まあな あ!数日前仕立て屋さんをお呼びしてオーダーメイドしたものですね!
Manga: Bocchan to Maid, 坊っちゃんとメイド (Chapter 11, 小さな冒険(3))
  • waa! bocchama!
    Wah! [Young master]!
  • atarashii oyoufuku desu ka?
    Are [those] new clothes?
  • ...maa na
  • a! {suujitsu-mae
    shitateya-san wo
    oyobi shite
    shita} mono desu ne!

    Ah! [It's] the one [that] {[you] custom-ordered some days ago when you called the tailor}, right?!