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…
The most common words for ‘I’ that appear in animes and manga are:
- 私 – watakushi – very formal
- 私 – watashi – formal, gender neutral
- あたし – atashi – feminine, formal
- 僕 – boku – young, respectful, male
- 内, 中 – uchi – children and women, Kansai dialect
- 俺 – 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’
- 君 – 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!
watashi wa baiorinisuto desu ne
わたしは バイオリニスト ですね
watashi, baiorinisuto da na
- 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.
lit: Kao! Tsubaki!
Thank you for the respectable flowers.
ja mata. o-hana wo arigatou gozai-mashita
じゃまた。おはなを ありがとう ございました
Ja ne. o-hana, arigatou
- ‘hana’ is flower(s)
- Kawori is talking respectfully of the flowers so she adds the ‘o-‘ prefix
- Still, Kawori is talking casually so she drops the ‘wo’ particle
- In the formal speech, Kawori would thank with ‘arigatou gozai-mashita’ instead of ‘arigatou gozai-masu’ because the ‘kindness’ of the girls is already completely in the past, i.e, Kawori already received the flowers
- ‘chan’ is a casual form of the ‘san’ honorific
o-hayou gozai-masu (casual) Ep.6
lit: Good morning.
- ‘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.
lit: Me? I’m a fool.
watashi wa baka desu. nyaa.
わたしは ばか です。にゃあ。
boku wa baka da. nyaa.
ぼくは ばか だ。にゃあ。
- ‘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…?
anata no kaban wa doko desu ka?
あなたの カバンは どこ ですか。
are! kimi, kaban wa?
- 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!
anata wa zankoku desu ne
あなたは ざんこく です ね。
kimi wa zankoku da ne
きみは 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’.