Episode 45 – Japanese (日本語)

In this episode I talk about Japanese, giving an overview of the history of the language, its vocabulary and grammar, and how and why I learnt it.

日本語 (nihongo/nippongo) = Japanese

  • 日 (nichi, jitsu, hi, bi, ka) = day, sun, Japan, counter for days. E.g. 日曜日 (nichiyōbi – Sunday), 日々 (hibi / nichinichi – daily), 日陰 (hikage – shade, shadow, sunlight), 日外 (jitsugai – once, some time ago)
  • 本 (moto, hon) = origin, source, base, foundation, root, cause, ingredient, material; book, volume, script; counter for long cylindrical things. e.g. 本木 (motoki – original stock
  • 語 (go) = word, language, speech
  • 語る (kataru) = to talk about, speak of, tell, narate, recite, chant, indicate, show
  • 日本 (nihon/nippon) = Japan (“sun’s origin”) – nippon is used in official uses, such as on banknotes and stamps, while nihon is used in everyday speech.

Japan used to be called 倭 (wa) or 倭國 (wakoku) in Chinese – a name first used in the 3rd century AD. 倭 means “dwarf” or “submissive”. Later the Japanese changed the character 倭 to 和 (peaceful, harmonious) and combined it with 大 (big, great) to form 大和 (yamato) or “Great Wa”, which possibly originally referred to a place in Japan – 山戸 (yamato) or “Mountain Gate”.

絵文字 (emoji) = pictorial symbol, pictograph or pictogram. Also written 絵もじ or エモジ.

  • 絵 (e, kai) = picture, drawing, painting
  • 文 (fumi, aya, bun, mon) = sentence, text, letter
  • 字 (aze, azana, na, ji) = character, letter, written text

More information about Japanese

Music featured in this episode

Hedge Cats / Cathod y Gwyrch

See the score for this tune.

幻想的の曲 (gensō-teki no kyoku) – a sort-of Japanese-sounding improvisation played by me on the tenor and descant recorders.

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3 thoughts on “Episode 45 – Japanese (日本語)

  1. Surprisingly, there are a fair number of Japanese speakers in Michigan. This mostly stems from the presence here of Japanese car companies such as Mazda. As a result, it is quite easy to find Japanese restaurants in the metropolitan Detroit area.

  2. The sound is muffled. Unfortunate, since this podcast is very informative. I don’t know what your audio setup is, but I use a Heil PR40 with an inexpensive USB preamp (a Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface). This isn’t a marketing campaign–I just want to hear your podcast!

  3. I use a Blue Yeti USB microphone, which is generally good, but you’re right – the sound quality isn’t the best on this recording.

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