Japanese I-1-8

With lessons 1-8 of the Pimsleur Japanese I course we should be able to understand the grammar of the following clips from ‘Shigatsu wa kimi no uso” (Your lie in April). They all use casual language, though, so we might not recognize the words at first, but it’s easy to map them to the formal language used in Pimsleur. The clips are very short, both because they have to qualify as ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material, and because it’s difficult to find dialogs that span more than a sentence or two that contain only words used in the lessons. In many cases, a dialog will have additional words not covered in the lessons, in which case we added a short explanation of what the new words mean.

Watashi and anata

The formal pronouns ‘watashi’ (I) and ‘anata’ (you) do not show up in animes and Japanese dramas as often as we would expect because in animes, where casual language dominates, the preference is to use other ways to say ‘I’ and ‘you’, each one with its own nuance. In this clip from ‘Your name’ (kimi no na wa), a girl that unwillingly has exchanged bodies with a boy named Taki, is talking to his friends for the first time; not knowing how Taki addresses himself, she tries different ways to say ‘I’ until she hits the right one:



Taki: aa… eeto…
Taki: watashi…
Shinta: watashi?
Taki: watakushi?
Taki: boku?
Taki: ore?



 
The most common words for ‘I’ that appear in animes and manga are:

  • – watakushi – very formal
  • – watashi – formal, gender neutral
  • あたし – atashi – feminine, formal
  • – boku – young, respectful, male
  • 内, 中 – uchi – children and women, Kansai dialect
  • – ore – confident, tough, male

Japanese avoid saying ‘you’, and instead use the name of the person, so all of these forms of ‘you’ are mainly relevant in pop culture:

  • あなた – anata – formal, business-like, neutral; it is also a way for a wife to address her husband, meaning ‘dear’ or ‘darling’
  • – kimi – affectionate, friendly
  • あんた – anta – rude, confrontational
  • お前 – omae – rude, tough; the kanji means ‘respected front’ but this meaning no longer applies
  • 貴様 – kisama – vulgar (used all the time in ‘Bleach’ by about everyone)
  • てめえ – temee – vulgar, male only (“Bleach”‘s Ichigo favorite word)

In some animes, people that are portrayed as polite enough might use ‘anta’, ‘ore’, or ‘omae’, but my Japanese teacher frowns at all of these; Japanese people do not speak like characters of TV shows. There are many more ways of saying ‘I’ and ‘you’, depending on the character’s trade – a samurai, a farmer, a servant; location – Tokyo, Kansai, Okinawa, Hokkaido; and mood – irritated, pretentious, humble.


watashi, desu/da, ne/na Ep. 1



Eng: I’m a violinist
lit: Me? I am a violinist!



 

formal
watashi wa baiorinisuto desu ne
わたしは バイオリニスト ですね
私はバイオリニストですね


casual
watashi baiorinisuto da na
わたし バイオリニスト だな
私バイオリニストだな


  • Kawori is talking casually, so she drops the ‘wa’ particle, and uses ‘da’ and ‘na’ instead of ‘desu’ and ‘ne’
  • ‘baiorinisuto’ is the gai-rai-go for ‘violinist’, i.e., it’s a word borrowed from a foreign language.

Jaa, ne, hana, ‘o’ prefix, arigatou, san/chan Ep.2



Eng: Kao! Tsubaki!
      Then… see ya.
      Thank you for the flowers.
      Sure.

lit: Kao! Tsubaki!
      Then… right?
      Thank you for the respectable flowers.
      Yes, understood!



 

casual
kao san!
tsubaki san!
ja mata. o-hana wa arigatou gozai-masu
hai

かおちさん。
つばきさん。
じゃまた。おはなは ありがとう ございます。
はい。


casual
kao chan!
tsubaki chan!
Ja ne. o-hana arigatou
hai

かおちゃん。
つばきちゃん。
じゃあね。おはな ありがとう。
はい。


  • ‘hana’ is flower(s)
  • Kawori is talking respectfully of the flowers so she adds the ‘o-‘ prefix
  • ‘chan’ is a casual form of the ‘san’ honorific

o-hayou gozai-masu (casual) Ep.6



Eng: hey.
      ‘sup.

lit: Good morning.
      Good morning.



 

formal
kon-ban-wa. (twice)
こんばんは。


casual
osu. ossu.
おす。おっす。


  • ‘o(s)su’ is a very casual shortening of ‘o-hayou gozai-masu’.
  • Even though ‘o-hayou gozai-masu’ means ‘good morning’, in certain contexts, like here, it simply means ‘hey’, or ‘sup’ (what’s-up).
  • Since the encounter between Kousei and Tsubaki happens at night, a formal greeting would have been ‘kon-ban-wa’.

watashi/boku, desu/da (casual) Ep.15



Eng: I’m a fool.
      meow.

lit: Me? I’m a fool.
      meow.



 

formal
watashi wa baka desu. nyaa.
わたしは ばか です。にゃあ。
私はばかです。


casual
boku wa baka da. nyaa.
ぼくは ばか だ。にゃあ。
僕はばかだ。


  • ‘baka’ is ‘fool’ or ‘idiot’
  • ‘boku’ is a casual way to say ‘watashi’.
  • ‘da’ is the casual way to say ‘desu’.
  • Cats say ‘meow’ in English, and ‘nyaa’ in Japanese.
  • Since ‘nyaa’ is an onomatopoeia, we could also write it in katakana: ニャア.

anata/kimi, no, wa Ep.16



Eng: What the…?
      Where’s your bag?

lit: What the…?
      Your bag?



 

formal
anata no kaban wa doko desu ka?
あなたの カバンは どこ ですか。
あなたのカバンはどこですか。


casual
are! kimi kaban wa?
あれ!きみ カバン は?
あれ!君カバンは?


  • Kousei is talking casually so he drops the ‘no’ particle
  • ‘kaban’ is bag or briefcase
  • ‘kimi’ is a casual form of ‘anata’; it has a connotation of familiarity and affection
  • ‘are!’ is an exclamation that means ‘What the…?’ or ‘Oh my!’ [slang]

watashi/kimi, desu/da, na-adjective Ep.18



Eng: You are so cruel!

lit: You? You are cruel!



 

formal
anata wa zankoku desu ne
あなたは ざんこく です ね。
あなたはざんこくですね。


casual
kimi wa zankoku da ne
きみは ざんこく だね。
君はざんこくだね。


  • ‘kimi’ is a casual form of anata
  • Kawori is talking casually, so she uses ‘da’ instead of ‘desu’
  • ‘zankoku-na’ (i.e., cruel) is a na-adjective. The ‘na’ particle is appended when the adjective is applied to a noun, e.g., ‘zankoku-na hito’, but is not added when the adjective is alone, e.g., ‘zankoku desu’.