Archive for December, 2007

Book: Colloquial Japanese

2007 December 25

Colloquial Japanese by H. D. B. Clarke and Motoko Hamamura

One of the books I use to study Japanese is “Colloquial Japanese” by H. D. B. Clarke and Motoko Hamamura. I’m using the 1981 edition, but here’s the link to a newer one. It’s my cousin’s book that I’m currently borrowing.

The book aims to meet the needs of students “who require an overall understanding of spoken Japanese within a relatively short period”. It teaches the reader from the beginning, and the focus is on conversation, namely listening and speaking. The title of the book itself (i.e., colloquial) should already make this evident.

Every chapter starts with “benri na hyougen”, or useful expressions. Here’s a sample from the first chapter: (I use my own romanization, more about that later)

Japanese English
Ohayou gozaimasu. Good morning.
Oyasumi nasai. Good night (before retiring).

After that is “bunkei” or sentence patterns. This section contains short sentences that exhibit new grammars or materials which will be explained in the chapter. Here’s part of the first chapter’s:

Japanese English
Ikimasu. [I] go.
Ikimasen. [I] don’t go.

After that is “kaiwa” or conversations. The conversations are short yet numerous. Again, from the first chapter:

Japanese English
A: Tanaka san. A: Mr Tanaka!
B: Hai. B: Yes.
A: Owarimashita ka. A: Have you finished?
B: Hai, owarimashita. B: Yes, I have.
A: Jaa, kaerimashou ka. A: Well then, shall we go home?
B: Ee, sou shimashou B: Yes, let’s do that.

After that is the explanation and an excellent set of problems. Here are some sample problems from chapter 1:

A Change as indicated in brackets:
1 Wakarimasu. (negative) 2 Ikimasen. (past)…

B Substitute the word in brackets for the word in italics and wake other changes as the sense demands:
1 Ashita irasshaimasu ka. (kinou) 2 Kinou shimashita. (ato de)…

C Translate into English:
1 Ashita aimasu ka. 2 Ohayou gozaimasu. …

D Translate into Japanese:
1 He is coming tomorrow. 2 I didn’t see him yesterday. …

(If you have time, try to answer in the comment 🙂 )

Some design decisions are due to the book’s focus on conversation. For example, the book doesn’t use any Japanese characters. Except for the table of kana in the appendix, that is. The book is also accompanied by a cassette which is very useful to practice your oh-so-hard listening.

The romanization is based on Hepburn so it shouldn’t be alien. What’s interesting is that vowel devoicing (e.g., “-masu” sounding as “-mas”) and pitch is marked. For example, 行きます is romanized as “ikimásψ” (that’s ‘a’ with an acute accent ´ and the Greek character psi is my lame substitute for a ‘u’ marked with an oblique line). It should be great for people that want to sound as accurate as possible. I’m not going to explain how to read the pitch mark since I myself don’t use it :), but rest assured it is explained in the book.

Me doing exercises on Colloquial Japanese

If there’s one feature that I have to give thumbs up, it’s going to be the exercise set. It is numerous and has answer keys. What I usually do is to answer the questions using Japanese characters, thereby practicing my character writing ability (photo above).

This book is orthodox in that it teaches you the polite form before the plain form. In other words, it sacrifices the more logical and understandable approach for politeness on the get go. I think that’s not how one should teach Japanese.

So here’s the sum up:

The Good:

  • Lots of exercises with the complete key.
  • Japanese and English on facing pages so you can play “read and guess the meaning” easily.
  • Audio cassette.

The Bad:

  • Starts with the polite form (e.g., 会います) instead of the plain form (e.g., 会う).

I’m currently on the 6th lesson of this book and plan to go through all 20 lessons. For those of you wondering whether to get this book to start their Japanese, I frankly don’t recommend it! It’s better to start studying from Tae Kim’s guide which progresses logically (e.g., from the plain form up) and is very understandable. It will give you a much better grasp at the language’s foundation, inner working, and way of thinking. After you have studied Tae Kim’s guide, by all means use this otherwise excellent book to reinforce what you have learned with its conversations, explanations, and exercises. The cassette audio is also great for practicing your listening.

The corruption of the last syllable containing the vowel ‘a’ on Indonesian

2007 December 23

In spoken Indonesian, the vocal ‘a’ on the last syllable of many words change into ‘e’. When this colloquial corruption exists, using the correct version sounds very very stiff and formal. Here are some examples:

teman -> temen (friend)
Temenmu tadi juga kuliah di UGM? – Does your friend (which we met earlier) also study in UGM?

But not preman -> premen (even though it has the same last syllable as the previous example)

dalam -> dalem (inside)
Bukunya ada di dalem tas yang kecil itu. – The book is inside that small bag.

malam -> malem (night)
Gimana kalo ngerjainnya nanti malem aja? – How about doing it later tonight?

But not salam -> salem

tanam -> tanem (to plant), also its derived word tanaman -> taneman (plant)
Tadi aku ngeliat taneman aneh lo di kuburan! – I found a weird plant on the cemetery, you know!

enam -> enem (six)
Aku udah nyoba enem kali tapi masih belum bisa menang juga. – I’ve tried six times but still couldn’t win.

But not senam -> senem

senang -> seneng (to like)
Aku nggak gitu seneng lagu ini. – I don’t really like this song.

But not renang -> reneng

simpan – simpen (to keep something in a place)
Simpen di tempat yang aman lo! – Make sure you keep it in a safe place!

But not depan -> depen

malas -> males (lazy)
Kalau kamu males-malesan, mana bisa lulus? – If you act lazy, how can you pass?

But not kelas -> keles

Most of the words that I could think of ends with -n, -m, or -ng (which in Japanese is all represented by ん). Can you find other examples?

It is OK to use the corrupted vocabulary presented here when talking to someone higher (e.g., teacher). However, it is not used in formal writing or speech.

Plastik sebagai alat makan

2007 December 15

Di halaman Wikipedia tentang daftar peralatan makan, kita bisa menemukan sendok sampai sumpit. Walaupun begitu, ada satu alat makan yang biasa kugunakan namun tidak terdaftar di situ: plastik!

Plastik untuk makan

Plastik menggabungkan kenyamanan makan menggunakan tangan dengan kepraktisan tidak perlu mencuci tangan maupun alat makan. Cara mendapatkannya juga sangat mudah, tinggal meminta “plastik minum” ke penjual makanan setelah kita membayar.

Inilah tata cara makan menggunakan plastik:

Mengeluarkan isi plastik

Pertama, turn the plastic inside out. Bahasa Indonesianya, buatlah agar permukaan dalam plastik menjadi permukaan luar. Alasannya, ada kemungkinan permukaan luar aslinya telah terkontaminasi berbagai debu dan kuman. Permukaan dalam aslinya mestinya tidak pernah terekspos lingkungan luar sehingga lebih higienis.

Langkah ini belum tentu selalu berhasil dengan mudah. Kadangkala, kita mendapatkan plastik gagal alias permukaan dalamnya saling merekat. Terus saja menggesek-gesek sampai berhasil melepas rekatannya atau sampai bosan.

Memasukkan tangan ke plastik

Setelah itu, masukkan tangan kamu ke dalam plastiknya. Langkah ini juga belum tentu langsung berhasil, sebab kadang-kadang penjual makanan tidak punya stok plastik yang cukup besar. Kalau plastiknya terlalu kecil, coba saja regangkan sambil berharap plastiknya tidak robek.

Makan dengan plastik. Itadakimasu!

Setelah semua persiapan tadi, tinggal acara utamanya yaitu makan! Jangan lupa membuang sampahnya pada tempatnya.

Sebagai alat makan yang sekali pakai buang, sepertinya kelemahan satu-satunya alat makan ini adalah sampah yang dihasilkan. Ya, alat makan ini tidak ramah lingkungan! Di saat ada orang-orang tertentu yang membawa kantong sendiri untuk berbelanja di swalayan (untuk mengurangi jumlah penggunan plastik yang ujung-ujungnya menjadi sampah), makan menggunakan teknik ini rasanya sedikit bersalah. Baikkah menyebarkan meme (baca: mim) “plastik makan” ini di Internet?

Seberapa luaskah penggunaan alat ini? Seringkali, waktu aku minta plastik kepada pedagang yang baru kukenal pun, ada yang menjawab “Oh, buat makan ya?” Mungkin penggunaannya tidak sesedikit yang kuduga. Tapi selama ini, pengguna lain yang pernah kulihat hanyalah beberapa temanku, dan pasti saat makan bareng aku. Dengan kata lain, saat aku yang pergi beli makanan, mereka nitip plastik juga karena sebelumnya telah melihat aku menggunakannya. Misalnya saat makan malam YIC di perpus sebelum melanjutkan bertanding lagi, atau bersama teman lain saat sedang Wifi-an di kampus.

Kalau kamu belum pernah mencobanya, ayo coba sekali-kali…

Translation attempt: Haikara-san ga Tooru

2007 December 11

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Panduan Yahoo! Jisho: Kamus Jepang Inggris dengan Banyak Contoh Kalimat

2007 December 8

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Bunting, HP Frenku itu…

2007 December 4

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