Most anime fans can't help but develop some yearning to learn Japanese, whether it be just a few words or a mastery of the entire language. I started formal study of the Japanese language in 2004 at community college and continued to take Japanese classes at my university, and also at Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto for a month. Even though I now have a B.A. in East Asian Language & Literature, with an emphasis on Japan, and I've taken about 4 years of formal Japanese study, I'm still far from fluent. But I'll continue to study it formally and informally as often as I can. Since I began studying Japanese, I've come to realize that it's completely different from English in many ways and it's very difficult for Westerners to begin learning it from scratch. So I decided to put together this small introductory Japanese guide for those of you who are interested in learning helpful words, common phrases, some writing, and basic fundamentals of the Japanese language. However, this guide only covers the most basic elements of Japanese for people just starting out. Taking actual Japanese classes at school or living in the country are really the only ways to become fluent! =)
Part 1: Japanese vs English - introduction to the Japanese language and how it differs from English
Part 2: The Japanese Writing System - basic information and visual explanations of the three Japanese writing systems; hiragana, katakana, and kanji
Part 3: Vocabulary and Common Phrases - extensive lists of Japanese nouns (animals, food, people, etc) and pronouns, as well as interrogatives and many common phrases
Part 4: Verbs and Adjectives - describes how Japanese verbs and adjectives are classified and conjugated. Also lists many common verbs and adjectives
Part 5: Honorifics and Politeness Levels - explains honorifics and the varying Japanese speech levels
Part 6: Particles and Basic Grammar - talks about the most common Japanese particles and how to use them to make simple sentences.
Part 7: Other Important Aspects of Japanese - other parts of the Japanese language that I feel are important but don't really fit into the other categories
The following is a list of the books I used to help me make this guide. All of them are highly recommended if you're serious about learning Japanese! ^_^
Akiyama, Nobuo and Carol Akiyama. Japanese Vocabulary. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series Inc., 1991.
Kamiya, Taeko. The Handbook of Japanese Verbs. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha America Inc., 2001.
Lampkin, L. Rita. Japanese Verbs and Essentials of Grammar. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2004.
Sakade, Florence. A Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing, 2003.
The Association for Japanese-Language Teaching(AJALT). Japanese for Busy People 1. New York, NY: Kodansha America Inc., 1994.
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