Japanese Lesson 1: Introductions/Basic Information

In the midst of everything else going on (and starting next week there will be even more, details on that later) I started a night course at Seneca. As part of my Professional Development for the College I’m taking a Japanese language course.

I’m nervous and excited about it. Japan and Japanese culture is obviously near and dear to me, but the idea of learning a new language (beyond the limited amount of Japanese slang/simple speech I already know) is intimidating. The only other language I attempted to learn was the basic French taught to all Canadian students, and it was one the lowest marks I ever earned in school. The instructors were unengaging and I had no desire to try and improve in it. Now I’m older and wiser, but it’s still nerve wracking.

If I have time I’ll type up some of my notes from the class, both as interesting blog fodder and as a way for me to help memorize new material as I learn it.

LESSON 1: Introductions/Basic Information

Watashi wa Zub desu.
Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Nice to meet you.
I’m Zub.
I look forward to working with you.
(Not an exact translation. It’s a very cultural term.)

If I was introducing someone else I would say

Kochira wa _name_-san desu.
This person is _name_.

You add –san to the name as an honorific, but never for yourself or introducing your family.

If I wanted to add a bit more detail about myself or the person, I could say

Zub wa Seneka no sensei desu.
Zub is a professor from Seneca College.

The ‘no’ is possessive, so whatever noun is in front of the ‘no’ is possessed by the latter noun. In this case it’s “Seneca” and “professor”.

You have to put the ‘wa’ or ‘no’ in there. You can’t stack two nouns one after another without them.

You can swap in all kinds of stuff.

Watashi wa Toronto no Zub desu.
I’m Zub from Toronto.


Watashi wa Kanada-jin no gakusei desu.
I’m a Canadian student.

For countries, you just say the name of the country and add “jin” to it to denote “people of” that same place.

Amerika = USA
Chugoku = China
Doitsu = Germany
Furansu = France
Igirisu = England
Kanada = Canada
Kankoku = Korea
Nihon = Japan
Osutoraria = Austrailia
Tai = Tailand

If I want to make any of the above a question, I just have to add “ka” to the end of the sentence. For example

Kochira wa Kanada-jin desu ka?
Is that person from Canada?


Kochira wa Toronto no Zub desu ka?
Is Zub from Toronto?

To which I could answer.

Hai, Toronto desu.
Yes, Toronto.


Iie, Toronto dewa arimasen.
No, not Toronto.


Iie, Oshawa desu.
No, from Oshawa.

Getting a bit more complex, you could give people choices.

Zub wa Kanada-jin desu ka, Amerika-jin desu ka?
Is Zub a Canadian or American?

and answer it

Kanada-jin desu.

We also covered the first 20 hiragana (letters) of Japanese writing. If I get a chance I’ll post those practice sheets up later on. Memorizing those symbols and relating them to the corresponding sounds is going to be tough!

Wish me luck!

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