For English speakers, learning Japanese can be a really daunting task. The foremost reason for that, is the way the language is written. Often, professional translators make sure that when they translate Japanese; they write the pronunciation of the original phrase in the translated text as well.
Furthermore, the vocals and consonants that make up Japanese differ from other languages such as English and Spanish in many significant ways, since these languages evolved with minimal interference or amalgamation. There are still very few loan words in Japanese.
However, if you’re looking to learn some basic Japanese for a school project, or just for fun, there are a few key phrases that you should learn.
To start with, let’s look at the basics!
- ohayou gozaimasu – Good morning!
- konnichiwa – Hello! (Can also be used for ‘good afternoon’)
- o namae wa nan desu ka? – What is your name?
- (…) desu – I am (…) (add your name)
- mou ichidou itte kudasai – Please say that again (As a beginner, you are bound to have difficulty getting used to the different dialects)
- arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you!
- Douitashimashite – You’re welcome!
- gomen nasai – I am sorry
If you’re lucky enough to visit Japan, you will almost certainly find yourself in a restaurant
So it’s best to know the basic words which you can use in this situation!
- menyuu, onegai dekimasu ka – May I have the menu?
- sore wa nan desu ka? – What is that? (Japanese cuisine is full of surprises!)
- kore o tabete mitai desu – I would like to try this!
- oishii desu – it’s delicious!
- gochisousama deshita – thank you for the meal!
- (…) ga arimasu ka – do you have (…)?
What fun is going to a place, if you can’t shop!?
So you’re in the mall – what do you say? Let’s find out!
- kore wa nan to iu mono desu ka – What is this called? (Japan has a rich history. You are likely to be unaccustomed to their cultural gifts)
- kore wa ikura desu ka – How much is this?
- hoka no iro ga arimasu ka – Do you have another colour?
- kurejitto kaado wa tsukaemasu ka – Can I use my credit card?
- tsutsunde itadakemasu ka – Can I have it gift wrapped?
Knowing basic terms in a language has several benefits, especially if you are a tourist. The most obvious one is that you’ll be able to communicate with the locals which will make the experience far more interesting and rewarding. Another reason, which people often overlook in hindsight, is that if you’re familiar with the language, you are less likely to get ripped off by taxi drivers or vendors. It always pays to be well-equipped!