１２日以内に大学に帰らなくちゃいけません。 - I have less than 12 days before I have to go back to my university.
１２日以内に大学に帰らなくちゃいけません。 (Jyuu ni nichi inai ni daigaku ni kaeranakucha ikemasen) - I have less than 12 days before I have to go back to my university.
１２日 (Jyuu ni nichi) - 12 days
以内 (Inai) - Within, inside of, here means “less than”
に (Ni) - Particle used with time phrases
大学 (Daigaku) - College/university
に (Ni) - Particle used for destinations
帰らなくちゃ (Kaeranakucha) - Negative te form of 帰る (Kaeru, to return) plus particle は; the final て and は are condensed to ちゃ (帰らなくては -> 帰らなくちゃ)
いけません (Ikemasen) - Polite negative form of いける, which always appears in the negative form as いけない or いけません to mean you “must not” do something, or that it’s “bad” to do something.
is there anything I can do to improve my pronunciation in Japanese?
The earlier you start, the better. If you start learning any language as a teenager or later, you’re going to have a noticeable accent. Although getting rid of it completely might be impossible, you can definitely work to make your Japanese “prettier.” Here’s a couple of tips I have though:
- Start with the smallest units, the sounds themselves. Find a hiragana audio chart (like this) and emulate the sounds, listening and them repeating them as best as you can. With Japanese, you’re lucky, as almost all the sounds (m, k, s, etc) are present in English as well, so making the sounds themselves shouldn’t be hard. Instead, focus on making the intonation and pronunciation sound authentic.
- In particular, ら・り・る・れ・ろ shouldn’t have a strong English “r” sound, even though they’re usually written with “r”s. It’s difficult to explain, but I think the closest equivalent is the “l” in “supplies”; it’s a quick flick of the tongue off the roof of your mouth that’s weaker than the first sound either “ryes” or “lies.” Other people say it’s “halfway” between “r” and “l,” so maybe you can think of it that way.
- If you’re a native English speaker, pay special attention to your pronunciation of カタカナ words. It’s very easy to slip into English pronunciation of the English words in particular. For example, remember that there is no “uh” sound in Japanese, so while you might say “Uh-me-ri-kuh” for “America” in US English, when you say アメリカ in Japanese, take care to make the アand カ have strong “ah” sounds, like “Ah-me-ri-kah.” Pay attention, maybe even record yourself speaking, and try to eliminate those weak “uh” sounds in all your words, as Japanese doesn’t have them!
- Long vowels and small っ breaks are also easy to forget about when speaking. Try slightly exaggerating the length (or っ stop)to help yourself remember the words they’re in.
- Keep in mind that Japanese has a pitch accent, and while it may not be as important as in, say, Chinese, it is still there. Rather than try to memorize the pitch pattern for every single word, if you consciously listen to and emulate the pitch of a Japanese conversation, you may find yourself subconsciously putting the pitch changes in your own speech. If you’re an advanced student, you can ask a native speaker to critique you; if you’re starting out, it’s honestly not that important.
- Pay attention to the pitch of the larger phrases and sentences as well. Declarative sentences tend to slightly “fall” in pitch during the final verb, but if you’re asking a question, raise the pitch instead.
私は外国人なのでその冗談の意味が分かりませんでした。- I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t understand that joke.
私は外国人なのでその冗談の意味が分かりませんでした。(Watashi wa gaikokujin na node, sono joudan no imi ga wakarimasen deshita) - I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t get that joke.
私 (Watashi) - Polite first person pronoun “I”
は (Wa) - Topic marker
外国人 (Gaikokujin) - Foreigner, person from another country
な (Na) - Particle used between nouns (and na-adjectives) and の particles
ので (No de) - Because / so (cause and effect)
その (Sono) - That
冗談 (Joudan) - Joke
の (No) - Possessive particle
意味 (Imi) - Meaning
が (Ga) - Subject particle
分かりませんでした (Wakarimasen deshita) - Polite negative past form of “wakaru” (分かる, to understand)
Literally, “I’m a foreigner, so I didn’t understand that joke’s meaning.
I realize I haven’t been posting, please don’t think I forgot about this blog. This semester’s just been very tough and I’m busier than usual. I hope to put up some posts over spring break (next week), but again I may lapse back into inactivity once I get back into class schedule. On the plus side, I should be in Japan next semester so I’ll have lots of useful things for you!
Hello! Im still a beginner so i've got a question (probably a stupid one). If I ask someone 今日は忙しい？And they answer うん、忙しい。And then I ask them 明日は？ Can they just say 明日も。? Or they have to complete the sentence since I asked it the short way? Hope you understand, I'm terrible at explaining! Also thank you very much this blog is really beautiful and its helping me a lot!
Yep! Like in English, when you write Japanese, you generally shouldn’t use sentence fragment, but in spoken Japanese, fragments are actually generally more acceptable in spoken Japanese than in English, and the one you posted is fine.
The new tumblr keeps reblogging things to this blog instead of my personal, if you see something seemingly random it should get deleted within a minute, my apologies :)
若いうちに楽しい時間を過ごすべきです。- You should have a good time while you’re young.
若いうちに楽しい時間を過ごすべきです。(Wakai uchi ni tanoshii jikan o sugosu beki desu) - You should have a good time while you’re young.
若いうちに (Wakai uchi ni) - While young (若い, wakai = young; うちに, uchi ni = literally ‘inside,’ see below)
楽しい (Tanoshii) - Fun
時間 (Jikan) - Time
を (O) - Object marker
過ごす (Sugosu) - To spend (time)
べき (Beki) - Should
です (Desu) - Polite copula
Literally, “While you’re young, you should spend fun times.”
天気が良くなるかどうか分かりません。- I don’t know whether or not the weather will improve.
天気が良くなるかどうか分かりません。(Tenki ga yoku naru ka dou ka wakarimasen)- I don’t know whether or not the weather will improve
天気 (Tenki) - Weather
が (Ga) - Subject marker
良く (Yoku) - Adverb (ku) form of いい (ii, good - originally 良い, yoi, hence this irregular form)
なる (Naru) - To become
かどうか (Ka dou ka) - “Whether or not” - Used to form question clauses in sentences without question words (who, what, when, etc)
分かりません (Wakarimasen) - Polite negative form of 分かる (Wakaru, to know/understand)
This sentence literally means “I don’t know whether or not the weather will become good.”