ＨＥＬＬＯ！ And, welcome to January Japanese Word of the Weekday presented by Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online! Ｉ ＡＭ ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™！ This special corner is dedicated to those who would like to get into the habit of learning something new each day to further their Japanese language learning goals one step at a time. However, it does not have to be January to decide to begin improving your life. The best day to begin working towards your goals is today! No matter if it is one sentence, one character, or one word, learning one more thing today is one more thing than you knew yesterday.
In order to learn a language, it is important to engage as many of your senses as possible. Speaking is an important kinaesthetic action that can help you further solidify concepts in your mind. And, another great way of learning is to ask questions. Today, we will be combining these in this useful and important phrase!
Before we begin, it is important to note that there are many ways to express certain concepts either because of subtle nuance or due to a variance in casualness such as being polite or colloquial wording. So, bear in mind that learning phrases and vocabulary is not a replacement for studying grammar, reading, and writing. But, it is still very important to give yourself as many vocabulary words as possible in order to practise these concepts.
However, you need not worry, because Kiki and Koko, and I, ＱＵＩＺＢＯ™, will be there every step of the way to assist you on your Japanese language learning journey!
Without further ado, let us NihonGO!!
Word(s) of the Weekday:
○○は 何と言う 意味ですか？
○○は なんという いみですか？
○○wa nanto iu imi desu ka？
What does ○○ mean?
This is translated by meaning rather than being translated literally. It is important to remember that Japanese functions differently to English, and in order to fully become familiar with the language, you must think of it grammatically through its Japanese wording rather than through its English equivalent.
This includes the expression 何と言う, which has been encountered before in a previous Word of the Weekday. This is also used to say “of what name,” but also literally translates as what is to say. So, you could technically literally translate this as: ○○ is what to say meaning? However, this computation is still be flawed as the structure may make perfect sense in Japanese, but becomes difficult to express verbatim in English.
This is why you could also say:
○○は どんな 意味ですか？
○○は どんな いみですか？
○○wa donna imi desu ka？
What does ○○ mean?
And, this will have the literal translation of: What kind of meaning is ○○？
However, you can also use another demonstrative:
○○は どういう 意味ですか？
○○は どういう いみですか？
○○wa dou iu imi desu ka？
What does ○○ mean?
There are many more ways to express this idea, but for now, we will focus on this basic phrase.
Subject + Particle 「は」
As we talked about in the first instalment of Word of the Weekday as well as in a few others, this is a topic marker, the particle 「は」. In the blank space, you place the word or phrase for which you desire the meaning
Today, in order to simplify its meaning, we will be combining this into its single expression. Though we covered one of the ways this expression is translated, we will return to a previous translation, such as, “how do you say” or “how do you call.” And, this makes sense in Japanese because you are asking how the person would say the meaning of the word or phrase you are presenting.
Noun (名詞)、suru verb (「名詞＋する」の動詞)、
This is not a placeholder error, 「意味」literally means meaning. It can also be used to express that a word, phrase, or concept “means” something, as well, when it is converted into a verb. It usually takes the particle 「を」。
Copula(繋辞)/Verb (動詞) +Particle 「か」( 助詞「か」)
The copula 「です」will appear often as it is a multitool with many uses. It is recommended that you read our lessons: この魔法的な「です」とは？｜What is this magical 「desu」?（SIDE A） and 繋辞とは？｜What is a Copula?（SIDE B） in order to gain an understanding of this important magical copula.
This particle「か」 indicates the sentence as a question. Though it could be explained at length, here, this is not the nature of Word of the Weekday. If you want to know how to really make questions in Japanese as well as get an understanding of these particles, please read: How to [really]: Make Basic Japanese Questions | Particles か+の. It is truly quite helpful!
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So, now that you know each part of the sentence, it is time to see how to use it with our handy-dandy example sentences! Hopefully these will assist you in practising this sentence structure as well as asking questions of your own to learn more and further your Japanese language learning goals.
ねえ、Bさん「知らない」は なんという いみですか？
nee, bsan “shiranai” wa nantoiu imi desuka?
Hey, B, what does 「知らない」mean?
おれは そんあことは せぬ。
ore wa sonna koto wa senu.
I don’t do that.
e? dou iu imi?
Huh? What do you mean?
きみは おれの言うこと よく わかってるよ。
kimi wa ore no iu koto yoku wakatteru yo.
You know what I mean.
kimi wa “shiranai wa nanto iu imi desuka?” to kiku.
You ask, “What does 「知らない」 mean?”
オレは「I dont know」」と言う。
おれは「I don’t know」という。
ore wa “I don’t know” to iu.
I say, “I don’t know.”
soshite kimi wa “maa, ii deshou, himitsu no mama ni shiteoite …” to iu.
And you say, “Alright then, keep your secrets.”
じんるいは おなじ あぼっと あんど こすてろの こんとを えいえんに くりかえす うんめいなのか？
jinrui wa onaji abotto ando kosutero no conto wo eien ni kurikaesu unmei nano ka?
Is humanity doomed to repeat the same Abbott and Costello bit for eternity?
これは 役に 立ってるのか？ これは現に勉強から学生の気をそれてるのか？
これは やくに たってるのか？ これは げんに べんきょうから がくせいの きを それてるのか？
kore wa yaku ni tatteru no ka? kore wa gen ni benkyou kara gakusei no ki wo soreteru no ka?
Is this helping? Is this actually just distracting students from studying?
おれは にんげんで さえないのか？
ore wa ningen de saenai no ka?
Am I not even a human?
おきゃくさま、こちらは どらいぶするーです。 なにか ごちゅうもんは ありますか。
okyakusama, kochira wa doraibusuruu desu. nanika gochuumon wa arimasuka.
Sir, this is a drive-through. Would you like to order anything?
ええと・・・あおりんご わっくしぇいくを ひとつ。
eeto… aoringo wakkusheiku wo hitotsu.
Uhhh…I’ll have a…Green Apple WcShake.
おきゃくさま、もうしわけございません。それは さんじゅうねんちかくも めにゅーに そんざいしません。
okyakusama, moushiwake gozaimasen. sore wa sanjyuunen chikaku mo menyuu ni sonzai shimasen.
Sorry, sir, that hasn’t been on the menu for nearly 30 years.
de.…poteto no essu saizu wo hitotsu … ijou de onegai shimasu.
Then… a small fry… That’s all.
はい、ひゃくごじゅうえんに なります。おくるまを まえへ おねがい いたします。
hai, hyakugojuuen ni narimasu. okuruma wo mae he onegai itashimasu.
Okay, that’ll be 150円. Please (drive) your car forward.
Thank you very much.
(Bさんは くるまで はしりさります。)
(Bsan wa kuruma de hashirisarimasu.)
(B drives off.)
… okyakusama …? … okyakusama?
… sir…? … sir?
That is all for today’s instalment of Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online’s Japanese Word of the Weekday! We hope that you will continue to join us for more of this special corner as well as more of our Japanese language and culture resources. Just because the activity of today is complete does not mean that your daily learning journey has to stop here. You can have a look at previous Word of the Week articles for even more Japanese vocabulary. You can be sure that you are caught up with the latest by visiting ieindigoeast.com, and clicking the sidebar link labelled 今週の単語 | Word of the Week, or go to ieindigoeast.com/kikiandkokoletsnihongo and scroll down until you see my monitor on the Word of the Week banner, and you can access the archives.
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