Japanese formal speech - it's easier than you think!

Posted on November 24, 2005 | evankirby

To many students of Japanese, the use of polite forms (or "keigo") can seem like one of the hardest parts of the language to learn. After all, the words in a sentence can change completely based on whether you're talking to someone higher in rank than you, someone lower in rank, or an equal. For example, here are just a few of the ways you can ask someone if they want to eat (in Japanese, "taberu")

TV Shows

Posted on November 10, 2005 | evankirby

Time for some TV show recommendations, I think. Here are some current Japanese TV shows that might just help your Japanese ability:

1. Tamori no Japonica Logosu (every Tuesday, 11pm, channel TNC in Fukuoka)
Fukuoka-born Tamori and a panel of guests pick the mistaken Japanese out of daily situations. Full of interesting tidbits for the somewhat advanced learner. For example, did you know that "moushiwake arimasen" is incorrect? Me neither, but according to their experts, it's a one-word adjective, "moushiwakenai", so "nai" is NOT short for "arimasen"! Feel smart when you can get one right, feel less dumb when half of the studio guests get the same ones wrong as you...

2. Anata, setsumei dekimasu ka? (every Wednesday, 7:25pm, channel RKB or TBS)
Anata, setsumei dekimasu ka?
A little similar to the one above, this show asks guests to guess the difference between two similar words. (Yeah, a whole program built out of one very simple concept, but at least it's good for the Japanese learners amongst us...) For example, did you know that the difference between "onigiri" and "musubi" is that musubi are made by hand, while onigiri are made using tools? Try telling the staff in the convenience store that half of their products are labelled incorrectly, though...

3. NHK Nihongo Kouza: Shin Nihongo de Kurasou (every Thursday 0:10am - 0:30, Friday 11:10pm - 11:30, channel NHK Kyouiku)
One step above your basic Japanese language education show, this features a small cast of foreigners to help you through each week's topic, all presented by the fastest-talking teacher in Japan. A lot of useful information for the pre-intermediate student, and well worth taping regularly.

4. Sanma Daigoten (every Saturday from 11pm)
Koi no Kara Sawagi
Absolutely no educational benefit at all, just a personal favorite of ours... If vapid discussions about love by strange strange women are your thing, you will be happy here.