piranha: red origami crane (Default)
on studying japanese. i'm going to log it here simply because i've never done that for a language i've learned, and it might be interesting to look back on later. and maybe somebody will come by who's also learning, and we can exchange notes. if you speak japanese and you see something wrong here, please let me know. if you're interested in something i am saying even though you don't speak japanese but you have questions anyway, ask away -- i will probably enjoy looking it up if i don't yet know it.

i've decided to tackle verbs as a major focus, because they change form by inflection, and without knowing the basic forms it's rather hard to determine what people are saying to each other in my beloved radio dramas. ergo, i want to learn these forms as quickly as possible. which will also aid in looking things up in dictionaries, because if i can reduce a verb form to its dictionary form, i'll be less frustrated trying to make the WWWJDIC server cough up a translation. vocabulary acquisition will take a back seat for now. i might learn a kanji a day, but while i am all excited now, i want to be careful to not make the load too heavy for when i am less excited (which will no doubt happen). more important than the kanji is really kana writing practice, but i'll do that on paper. i will copy the kanji for a word down when writing on the computer just so that i keep seeing it (and hope for osmosis).

so. verbs. the good news is that some things about japanese verbs are a total cakewalk. like, they don't inflect according to who does what; it's irrelevant whether i or you or we or they do it, the form stays the same. also, there are extremely few irregular verbs, and they're actually fairly regular in their irregularity :). originally i read that there are only 2, but that's not strictly true. however, there are only 2 that are so irregular that one has to memorize their forms:

kuru 来る (くる) -- to come; to arrive; to approach; to become; to grow; to come from; to be caused by; to derive from;
suru 為る (する) -- to do; to try; to attempt; to execute; to play (game); to practice;

japanese dictionary forms all end in -u. and more restrictively, if the last syllable of a verb is not -su, -ku, -gu, -bu, -mu, -nu, -ru, -tsu, the verb isn't in its dictionary form.

beyond those two exceptions listed above there are two regular groups of verbs, and the exceptions are all in the second group, and they are relatively rare.

group II verbs, also called ichidan (one-step), are those verbs that end in -ru and where the penultimate syllable is from the -i or -e row of the kana table; therefore all ichidan verbs end in -iru or -eru.

group I verbs, also called godan (five-step), are all the rest. and, returning to those irregular verbs that are actually quite regular, there are some verbs ending in -iru or -eru that actually inflect just like the godan verbs. i've not discovered a pattern there yet, so it seems one simply has to learn which ones those are when one comes across them. it seems they differentiate clearly in their past tense, so i can remember them if i memorize the past tense along with the dictionary form. (when i learned french, i would learn each noun by memorizing its gender right along with it, such as "chien (m)" or "fenêtre (f)", which has worked very well over time).

since i am reading so much yaoi, i think my verb acquisition will be slightly different from that of business travellers or highschool students. except for those highschool students who're doing it with each other. or with business travellers. :)


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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