Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let's enjoy Japanese: It's not THAT difficult

If you've ever spent some time in Japan and picked up a chopstick or uttered a word of Japanese in the presence of a native, you've probably heard all about how skilled you are at either. For this entry I'm going to skip the debate over whether or not this is rude or condescending. Another one you'll hear, if you're studying Japanese is "日本語は難しいね" (Japanese is difficult, aye?). Some foreigners take offense at this, interpreting the comment to mean that our puny, foreign brains just can't grasp the language. I must admit that at times I've gotten annoyed when this little gem has been directed at me, but more often I just shrug and nod and mutter something about foreign languages being tough, but communication being important.

Well, thanks to a new grammar pattern I recently learned, I can now tell these folk that Japanese isn't that difficult. Here it is:


See how it works? If not, let's try another example:

A: このテレビゲームは高いね。
B: いや、高くはない。

A: This video game is expensive, huh?
B: Nah, it's not that expensive.

So here's the deal: for ~い adjectives, you take the adverb form (change い to く) and tack on はない (and of course the は is pronounced "wa").

For ~な adjectives, you take the root and add ではない. So for example, 好き (すき; to like) becomes 好きではない. As in:
A: 来週のライブに行く?
B: 行かないよ。そのバンドが好きではない。

A: Are you going to next week's concert?
B: No. I don't like that band that much.

As far as speaking, I believe with ~い adjectives, emphasis is placed on the は, and with ~な adjectives it is placed on で.

So I hope you enjoyed this lesson. But I don't hope that much.

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