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The Japanese Language

[Today’s photo is the Bible passage known as the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 in Japanese.]

In this blog, I would like to share about the Japanese language. Firstly, I want to give you a quick overview and then share some Japanese words that are included in Sky Blue. I have written a brief definition of their English meanings, and also divided the Japanese words into syllables for clarity.

In a book published by Kodansha International about ‘The Lives of Japan’s Greatest Men and Women’:

(Giants of Japan, Mark Weston, 1999, p.xvii) Mr. Weston said this about the Japanese language:

“The Japanese language may be difficult to learn, but it is easy to pronounce. The vowels O and U sound the same as the long O and U in English, although at the end of a word the U is only whispered. The vowels AE, and I are pronounced as they would be in the word “spaghetti.”

“The Japanese almost always pronounce syllables with equal force. For example, the proper pronunciation of Osaka is not oh-SOCK-ah, but OH-SOCK-AH.”

That is one of the best explanations I’ve read, but there are two things to watch out for. One is to use the correct English pronunciation of spaghetti. It is a word that everyone has their own familiar way of pronouncing. Have you ever heard it as ‘speghetti,’ or ‘spughetti’? The Japanese ‘a’ is always the sound in the word ‘spa,’ a place to relax. Also, the long ‘u’ in Japanese isn’t pronounced, ‘you,’ but ‘oo’ as in booth.

Finally, the Japanese ‘r’ is very different from the English ‘r.’ The Japanese sound for ‘r’ is made more like a soft ‘d’ in English or the English ‘l.’ Made improperly, the ‘r’ can be a hurdle to developing fluency. The internet offers many programs to learn Japanese. Some are free, and others are not. The Lord got me through language study in Japan and continued to help me communicate for over two decades. To God be the Glory!

Fifteen Japanese Words and their English Meanings from Sky Blue

  • arigatou: thank you [a-ri-ga-tou]
  • chan: an informal title for females, placed at the end of the person’s name; includes, but not limited to, girls, younger (single) females at work, and (single) young female friends. (i.e., Eiko chan.) [cha-n]
  • douzo: please, by all means [dou-zo]
  • genkan: entryway [ge-n-ka-n]
  • genki: in good spirits, cheerful, energetic [ge-n-ki]
  • hai: yes [ha-i]
  • konnichiwa: good afternoon [ko-n-ni-chi-wa]
  • kun: an informal title for males, placed at the end of the person’s name; includes, but not limited to, boys, younger (single) males at work, and (single) male friends. (i.e., Satoh kun.) [ku-n]
  • moshi moshi: telephone greeting, meaning “Hello. Are you there? [mo-shi-mo-shi]
  • nihonbare: sky blue; glorious, ideal weather, thought by Japanese to be unique to Japan. The clear sky and sun remind Japanese of their national flag. [ni-ho-n-ba-re]
  • obentou: lunchbox [o-be-n-tou]
  • ocha: green tea [o-cha]
  • ohayou gozaimasu: good morning [o-ha-you] [go-za-i-ma-su]
  • oishii: delicious [o-i-shi-i] 
  • san: honorific title, which goes after the person’s name (i.e., Sakamoto san.) [sa-n]

[There is a total of thirty-eight Japanese words listed in the Sky Blue glossary for those interested.]

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2 Comments

  1. Rachel Rachel

    So fun to refresh my Japanese!! Beautifully written!! 😘

  2. Joy E Sprankle Joy E Sprankle

    Have you considered having the trilogy translated completely into Japanese at some point? ☺️

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