Pimsleur Japanese 1 – Unit 1

Language and culture are so closely intertwined that learning them separately can make you literally “culturally-deprived,” that is, unable to produce appropriate and meaningful language. For this reason you must carefully notice the different ways the Japanese “act” in the various situations you will experience as you proceed through the units of this course. Being sensitive to”who is doing what to whom, and why,” is what you have learned to do almost unconsciously in your native tongue -you will attain this same sense of “awareness” as you gain proficiency in your new language. This implicit instruction will come from the lessons, as you learn to identify the intonation and melody of the speakers. This Booklet will provide additional explicit instruction to further confirm what you have learned. 

In this unit, you have learned sumimasen for “Excuse me.” You will find yourself using and hearing this expression quite often in your interactions with the Japanese. sumimasen is used for several purposes. It is often used to express the speaker’s sincere and polite attitude toward others. However, Japanese people use this expression to convey not only “Excuse me,” but also “I’m sorry,”and even “Thank you.” You will hear them say sumimasen to attract someone’s attention when initiating a conversation, as was demonstrated in the Unit. You might also hear this expression from someone who mistakenly steps on your foot in a crowded train and wishes to apologize. It is a very useful expression in a wide range of social contexts.
Word Order
You noticed in this unit that the Japanese word order is very different from what you are accustomed to in English. Such
words as masu, masen, and masu ka – which determine whether the speaker is making a statement, negating or asking something – come at the end of a sentence. You need to, therefore, listen to the speaker all the way through to the end of the sentence to find out the speaker’s intention. This may be confusing to you at first, but as you become skillful, you will be able to use this sentence structure to your advantage, as you can carefully sense the listener’s feeling while you speak. You can then decide on the overall tone of your message by modifying the ending accordingly.

A: すみません。 あなた は えいご が わかります か。
sumimasen. anata wa eigo ga wakarimasu ka.
B: いいえ、 わたし は えいご が わかりません。
iie, watashi wa eigo ga wakarimasen.
A:   わたし は にほんご が すこし わかります。
watashi wa nihongo ga sukoshi wakarimasu.
B: あなた は アメリカじん です か。
anata wa amerikajin desu ka.
A:  はい、 わたし は アメリカじん です。
hai, watashi wa amerikajin desu.
excuse me
English (language)
えいご が
eigo ga
English (“in a sentence”)
to understand
you understand (“you” is implicit)
えいご が わかります。
eigo ga wakarimasu.
You understand English.

question marker (at the end of a sentence)
わかります か。
wakarimasu ka.
Do you understand?
えいご が わかります か。
eigo ga wakarimasu ka.
Do you understand English?
わたし は
watashi wa
I (as used in a sentence)
わたし は わかります。
watashi wa wakarimasu.
I understand.
わたし は えいご が わかります。
watashi wa eigo ga wakarimasu.
I understand English.
わたし は わかりません。
watashi wa wakarimasen.
I don’tunderstand.
わたし は えいご が わかりません。
watashi wa eigo ga wakarimasen.
I don’t understand English.
いいえ、わたし は わかりません。
iie, watashi wa wakarimasen.
No, I don’t understand.
にほんご が
nihongo ga
Japanese (“in a sentence”)
わたし は にほんご が わかります。
watashi wa nihongo ga wakarimasu.
I understand Japanese.
わたし は にほんご が わかりません。
watashi wa nihongo ga wakarimasen
I don’t understand Japanese.
にほんご が わかります か。
nihongo ga wakarimasu ka
Do you understand Japanese?
a little
わたし は すこし わかります。
watashi wa sukoshi wakarimasu.
I understand a little.
American (nationality)
あなた は
anata wa
you (as used in a sentence)
あなた は です。
anata wa desu.
You are.
あなた は アメリカじん です。
anata wa amerikajin desu.
You are American.
あなた は アメリカじん です か。
anata wa amerikajin desu ka.
Are you American?
Grammar points
• “You” (or “I”) is often implied and not explicitly stated
• ”ます“ is a typical positive verb ending, ”ません” is a typical negative verb ending

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