Young children should learn how to tell their own address and phone numbers. That’s how we can be sure they don’t get lost. That’s how important learning numbers is. So let’s pretend we’re at a Sesame Street age and learn numbers.
You’ll want to be very solid in your numbers so I recommend practicing whenever you can. When you practice writing your hiragana or katakana, count the strokes. In Japanese, counting from 0-99 is very easy. We’re starting with just 0-20. You’ll already see something unusual; there are two words for the numbers: 4, 7 and 9. Actually, you might want to add 0 to this list. The Japanese word for zero is れい。
How do we explain this? In the case of zero, the Japanese have just adopted the English word. For 4, 7 and 9, that has to do with superstitions.
In America, we have superstitions about the 2-dollar bill, so to a certain extent that means 2 is unlucky. Of course, we also think that 13 is an unlucky number and you’ll rarely see a 13th floor in a building. In the case of Japan, unlucky numbers are connected with homonyms. The number 4, し (四）, sounds like the word for death し（死). Likewise, seven しち( 七）, sounds like しち （死地）the word for jaws of death or place of death. The number nine, or く (九）sounds like く（苦）which mean pain.
When you use numbers to express a phone number, you separate the groups of numbers with a particle or postpositional we already know: の。Use this where you would ordinarily use a dash.
The Japanese numbers you are learning can help you count all the way to 99. If you notice, you just as a number, X, and then add 10 and you get the number that is equivalent to X x 10. So twenty is にじゅう and then thirty is さんじゅうand forty is よんじゅう. In this respect, Japanese is easier than English.
Also in this chapter, we’re going to build on the sentence we already know and learn how to negate it. So X is Y, but now X is not Y.
X は Y です。
X は Y では ありません。
X は Y じゃ ありません。
Remember how sometimes in Japanese we can drop things that are understood? You saw this in Lesson 1.
(X は) Y です。
（わたし は）たなか Y です。
In this case, the teacher knows the answer, but will likely as you to complete the sentence.
これ は （Y です。）
This is easy, but really this is being asked as a question.
これ は （Y です か。）
Originally, Japanese didn’t have any punctuation and that includes question marks. So post-positionals were used to show the sentence was a question. This is also true in Chinese as well.
We are also going to shorten other things such as the noun phrase that we saw in the last chapter: Noun の noun.
X は Y の Z です。
X は Y の（ Z） です。
If we use a pronoun such as わたし or あなた, then we change the word.
わたし の Z means “my Z.”
あなた の Z means “your Z.”
In my class, I like to add other nouns by looking at what your average student will have in their bags:
- かばん : briefcase, sometimes backpack
- ハンドバッグ: handbag
- バックパック: backpack
- うでとけい : wristwatch ( とけい actually is less specific and means clock)
- ほん : book
- えんぴつ: pencil
- ペン : pen (also まんねんひつ）
- めがね: glasses
With these words you can also use the words we learned in the last lesson to make these noun phrases:
- lawyer’s briefcase: べんごしのかばん
- secretary’s handbag：ひしょのハンドバッグ
- student’s backpack：がくせいのパックパック
- teacher’s briefcase：せんせいのかばん
- Chinese language book：ちゅうごくごのほん
- Japanese language book：にほんごのほん
- Japanese person’s book：にほんじんのほん
- English language newspaper：えいごのしんぶん
- Mr. Tanaka’s pen：たなかさんのペン
- Ms. Tanaka’s glasses：たなかさんのめがね
If you want to really work on your language skills, try:
- Japanese language student’s book：にほんご の がくせい の ほん
- Chinese language teacher’s umbrella：ちゅうごくご の せんせい の かさ
One thing your teacher should be sure to tell you is how you present your name card to people. Even students have name cards and these are very important. Always present the name card or business card with two hands to the recipient and be sure that the words are right-side up to the recipient.
Another thing that you’ll see in Lesson 1 and 2 are words that seem to both mean this.
“This” is the word that refers to something close to the speaker. “That” is the word for something closer to the listener.
In English we only have this and that, but in some languages there is a third option: that over there (meaning something distant from both the speaker and the listener).
The major difference between これ and こちら is that you never use これ ( それ and あれ) to refer to a person. That would be considered rude. The Japanese language differentiates between animate and inanimate things. This difference between これ ( それ and あれ) and こちら (そちら and あちら) is the first one you’ll learn in this text.
The literal meaning of the latter set is:
こちら : this direction
そちら : that direction
あちら : that direction over there.
Also, it is important to know that これ ( それ and あれ) and こちら (そちら and あちら) are NOT used in the X の Y noun phrases.
You’ll learn why in the next lesson.