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Japanese Study

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Japanese Study 101
In the year AD 391, a Japanese expedition arrived in Korea, at the time divided among several warring kingdoms, and gave considerable support to the king of Paikche in his struggle with the king of Koguryo. Not many years later the king of Paikche repaid the king of Japan, sending him sumptuous clothing, jewels, and also a collection of books, thanks to which the Land of the Rising Sun came in contact with “written language.” (We can point out in passing that Korea also later replaced Chinese characters with a syllabic system, called Hangul.) The first monks and scribes hired by the Japanese government came directly from China. The oldest Japanese inscription is one commemorating the construction of Uji Bridge by the monk Doto of the Gango-ji Temple in Nara in AD 646. During the eighth century, with the assertion of support of Buddhism in Japan, the members of the Japanese court undertook the copying of the sacred texts of the new religion. They did so out of devotion, but also to show off their culture and refinement. In their efforts they were instructed by monks that remained faithful to the Tang tradition. The best-known calligraphy of this genre was created by empress Komyo (AD 701 – AD 760), wife of Emperor Shomu. In the ninth century the three calligraphers Ono no Michikaze (AD 894-966), Fujiwara no Sari (AD 944-998), and Fujiwara no Kozei (AD 962-1027) – known as the Sanseki (“Three Brush Traces”) – broke with this tradition and in a certain sense moved away from the Chinese influence to create a Japanese style of calligraphy. During the tenth century, since Chinese characters were poorly suited to the syntactic flow of the Japanese language, a phonetic (belonging to or associated with the sounds of human speech) syllabary (a list or set of written characters in which each character represents a single syllable e.g. the Japanse kana) was created using forty-eight signs, each derived from a Chinese character in its cursive form. This syllabary was known as the hiragana, a term that means “common loan character,” from hira “common,” and kana. “loan character.” (In this word, kana is pronounced gana to make the pronunciation easier.) So it was that the Japanese alphabet came into being. It would more accurately be called a “polysyllabic syllabary,” but it has become customary to refer to it as an alphabet. Cometimes this ordering of kana is also called the gojoun, meaning the “fifty sounds” (following the reform of 1948 only fourty-six signs are used, but sometimes two of the y’s and two of the w’s are included by custom). In recent years scholars, most of all in the West, have sought to determine which Chinese ideographs were used for the establishment of the two Japanese alphabets, an endeavor that has not been without differences of opinion and debates. Each hypothesis remains only that, a hypothesis, for we possess no original documents.

Among the most ancient examples of hiragana writing is an eleventh-century copy of Kokinshu (the Kokin Wakashu, a famous anthology of Japanese poetry), with the kana drawn in a fluid and harmoniously flowing way but accompanied by hiragana signs. Dating to not much later is an example of another poetry anthology the Wakan roei shu, in which there are both Chinese characters, and Japanese syllables. The hiragana alphabet was later joined by the katakana (from kata “part”, and kana, “loan character,” meaning in general “fragmentary kana”), simple writing signs designed for easy reading that have no origin in calligraphic art. This second alphabet seems to have been outgrowth of the simplified and abridged system of notation used by students of Buddhist religion when experiencing difficulty during their lessons in keeping up with all of the kana. Like the hiragana it is only phonetic, but it is more angular than the hiragana (katakana is known as “square kana,” as opposed to the “smooth kana” of hiragana), and is poorly suited to calligraphic expression. In the end a sort of compromise was reached: the kanji were used for proper names, nouns and the roots of verbs; the hiragana served to add and distinguish the sequence of Japanese grammar; and the katakana were used to explain foreign pronunciations or even (most of all today) to wire out terms adopted from foreign language (such as today’s term biru, meaning “building,” and in fact derived from the English word). So it was that Japanese writing became in large part “synographic” (using different writing systmes with the same meaning).

Animated Tale of Genji
Animated Tale of Genji The invention of the alphabet gave access to writing to the women of Japan’s court, who, not being permitted to study Chinese, had not been able to write, although they were skilled poets. They put the alphabet to good use, giving a considerable impulse to the literature of the late Heian period (AD 794 – 1185) and perhaps also introducing a delicate and sensitive writing hand called onnade, “woman’s hand,” in contrast to the robust style called otokode, “man’s hand.” The masterpieces written by women during this period include Genji-Monogatari (“Tale of Gengi”) by Murasaki Shikibu; Makura-no-soshi (“The Pillow Book”) by Sei Shonagon; and Sanuki no Suke nikki (“The Emperor Horikawa Diary”), by Sanuki no Suke. These were written entirely in hiragana. There were two types of graphic layout, the isolated style (hanachigaki), in which the characters, and in particulare Chinese ideograms, were clearly separated from one another, and the continuous style (renmentai), in which the brush was hardly lifted from the page, with the kanji and kana written without separations between the signs even over an entire line of writing, spaces usually begin provided only for the kana sign, the genitive no. The layouts acquired increasing vigor and aesthetic appeal, based on the techniques with which the brush was handled: intial stroke, stroke, final touch; but the result was also effected by whether one wrote with the brush held vertically or obliquely to the page, by rubbing the brush, dragging the brush, with the brush loaded with ink, with only a small amount of ink, and so on.

Mora-timing vs. Stress-timing

Japanese, even spoken at a normal speed, sounds like rapid streams of short syllables in a relatively monotonous intonation to English speakers. English, on the other hand, sounds very fast to Japanese speakers: vowels and consonants amalgamate and go up and down. This is because Japanese is a mora-timed language and English is a stress-timed language: that is to say, in Japanese, each mora, roughly equivalent to the sound of one kana letter occurs at the same interval, whereas in English each stressed syllable does so. This is typically reflected in poems in each language:
Furu ike ya; kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry.

(The first two lines from “The Wild Swans at Coole,” by William Butler Yeats) In the above Japanese poem there are twelve moras, each of which is pronounced roughly for the same duration. In contrast, in the above two lines of the English poem there are eight stressed syllables (in block), which are pronounced roughly at the same interval. In this English poem, an unstressed syllable precedes each stressed ones; also there are more consonants around each vowel -- the first stressed vowel, for example, has two consonants before it, i.e. t and r, and one consonant after it, i.e. z -- than around each vowel in the Japanese poem, in which each vowel has at most one consonant.

Pitch-accent vs. Stress-accent The Japanese moras do not change their duration like English syllables -- stressed ones are usually longer than unstressed ones in English -- does not mean Japanese is always pronounced in a level tone. Japanese, like English, uses accent to distinguish one word from another. Ame with an accent on the a, i.e. ame, is “rain,” but ame, with an accent on the second mora me, is “candy” in Japanese -- cf.record vs. record in English (accented portions are in block). However, accent is essentially marked by pitch in Japanese, while it is marked by stress in English: that is, the accented part in high in Japanese has its own accent pattern, which often changes when followed by a different ending, especially in the case of verbs and adjectives. Accent, although important, does not play as an important role in Japanese, however, as, for example; it does in Chinese, because utterances are rarely distinguished solely on the basis of accent.
Devoiced Vowels Although Japanese has mora-structures as shown above, i.e. there is generally at most one consonant before a vowel, sometimes more consonants occur in stack due to the phenomenon called vowel-devoicing, or whispering, whereby the whole mora loses its voicing quality. E.g. the Japanese word sukii is pronounced just like “ski” in English, from which the word is borrowed, although in the Japanese orthography there is u expected between s and k, the u is not pronounced in this case. Such devoicing occurs when (1) the vowel /i/ or /u/ consonants such as /d, b, g, z/), or (2) it occurs word-finally and is pronounced at a low pitch – there is an accent in a preceding syllable in the same word. Examples for (1) are as follows:
Word pronunciation meaning suki s’ki like tsukue ts’kue desk chichi ch’chi father Examples for (2) are as follows:
Tachimasu tachimas (I’ll) stand. hon desu hon des (It)’s a book. hashi hash chopsticks Beginning learners of Japanese should pay attention to such a phenomenon especially when they listen to Japanese – as you can imagine, whispered sounds are hard to hear.

In Japanese, different types of characters are used: i.e. Chinese characters, hiragana, and katakana. Hiragana and katakana represent sounds and are simplified forms of (parts of) cursive Chinese characters. Although katakana is only used to transcribe sounds and thus is used to write foreign words, or foreigners’ names, hiragana was a wider use: every word ordinarily written in Chinese characters by educated adults can be written in hiragana. Because this is the approach taken in this textbook, i.e. to write Japanese without Chinese characters, it is crucial to read hiragana to use this textbook. It will be shown in the following how hiragana to use this textbook. It will be shown in the following how hiragana words are written and read. The table below contains all the hiragana symbols used except for some diacritic symbols.

Hiragana Chart | a | i | u | e | o | | あ | い | う | え | お | k | か | き | く | け | こ | s | さ | し | す | せ | そ | t | た | ち | つ | て | と | n | な | に | ぬ | ね | の | h | は | ひ | ふ | へ | ほ | m | ま | み | む | め | も | y | や | | ゆ | | よ | r | ら | り | る | れ | ろ | w | わ | | | | を | The five columns differ in vowel: all the letters in the a-column have the vowel /a/, all the letters in the i-columns have the vowel /i/, and so on and so forth. The rows differ with regard to a consonant that precedes the vowel: the letters in the first row do not begin with any consonant, i.e. they are vowels, and all the letters in the k-row begin with the k-sound and so on.
| Hiragana | Pronunciation | English Equivalent | 1. | なまえ | namae | name | 2. | はい | hai | yes | 3. | いいえ | iie | no | 4. | おやすみ | oyasumi | good night (informal) | 5. | ねて | nete | sleep | 6. | おきて | okIte | wake up |
(N.B. The I in okIte is voiceless. See the explanation given above. Hereafter, devoiced vowels are indicated by upper-case letters) 7. | かいて | kaite | write | 8. | に | ni | two | 9. | かみ | kami | paper | 10. | いす | isu | chair | 11. | なな | nana | seven |

The above hiragana chart was made about one thousand years ago and thus each letter is not as systematically plotted on the chart as it used to be. The letter in the t-row and the i-column (t-I, hereafter), i.e. ち, for example, is no longer pronounced /ti/, although that was supposed to be the original sound; now it is pronounced /chi/. The following are tips for reading and writing hiragana. 1. し (s-i) is pronounced /shi/.
1. | します | shimasU | (I’ll) do (it). | 2. | おしえて | oshiete | teach | 3. | けして | keshIte | erase | 4. | もしもし | moshimoshI | hello (on the phone) |

2. ち (t-i) is pronounced /chi/.
1. | いち | ichi | one | 2. | はち | hachi | eight | 3. | こちら | kochira | this way, this person | 4. | たちます | tachimasU | (I’ll) stand. |

3. ち (t-u) is pronounced /tsu/.

1. | つくえ | tsUkue | desk | 2. | いつつ | itsUtsu | five items | 3. | ななつ | nanatsU | seven times | 4. | ここのつ | kokomotsU | nine times |

4. ひ (h-i) is pronounced farther front in the mouth than ordinary h-sound, just like h in hew.
1. | ひる | hiru | noon | 2. | ひとつ | hitotsU | one item |

5. ふ (h-u) is pronounced fu in this lecture. It’s pronunciation, however, is not exactly /fu/: the articulation of the initial consonant is not exactly between the lower lip and the teeth as in /f/ but rather between the lower and upper lips—similar to the sound you make when you blow candles.

1. | ふるい | furui | old | 2. | ふたつ | fUtatsu | two items | 3. | ふね | fune | boat |

6. ら り る れ ろ (r-a, i, u, e, o) The r-sound in Japanese is different from that in American English. This sound is made by flapping the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth; it is similar to /d/ but the toungue is more relazed and flaps the roof more rapidly when it produces the Japanese /r/. Similar to the Spanish language.
1. | あります | arimasU | (It) exists. | 2. | すわります | suwarimasU | (I’ll) sit. | 3. | わらいます | waraimasU | (I’ll) laugh. | 4. | あるきます | arukimasU | (I’ll) walk. | 5. | これ | kore | this thing | 6. | それ | sore | that thing | 7. | あれ | are | over there | 7. を (w-o) This is pronounced /o/ just like お. を is used only as the objective particle, which will be explained later.
なまえお かきます | namae o | (I’ll) write | | kakimasU | (my) name. |

The above symbols on the chart are not enough to write modern Japanese and the following devices are used to transcribe other sounds. 8. ん is used to represent a syllable-final /n/ as in hon.
1. | ほん | hon | book | 2. | にほん | nihon | Japan | 3. | しけん | shIken | test | 4. | すみません | sumimasen | I’m sorry. | 5. | さん | san | three | 6. | よん | yon | four | 7. | たなかさん | tanakasan | Mr. Tanaka |

9. つ, the small letter of つ(t-u), represents the same (non-nasal) consonant that follows this letter, e.g. /t/ in たつて /tatte/-- つis pronouncesd as /t/ because て /te/ follows it in this case. Not that this small つ and て are pronounced almost as long as one mora.

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...Different Social and Taboo Cultures and Business Etiquettes and How it Influences the Workplace When going to your workplace, DO NOT eat while on the streets or in public transportations. Breakfast and dinner is normally consumed at the person’s respective house or apartment. Men wear conservative business suits and women are encouraged to keep jewelry to a minimum. Women should not wear high heels if the result is towering over their male counterpart. Bow when meeting, thanking, apologizing or saying goodbye. The 45-Degree Saikeirei Bow is used for moments for sincere apology or to show the highest of respect. The 30-Degree Keirei Bow is used to show respect to superiors. The 15-Degree Eshaku Bow is used for Semi-formal and used for greetings when meeting with people for the first time Call people especially your co-employees with their last name especially when in the workplace and for formality purposes. Add “-san” as a suffix to their last name as a sign of respect. When meeting someone for the first time, especially in the workplace or in a gathering, it is important to give a business card using two hands (Avramova, 2015). It is also important to bring a business exchange gift (especially during a large gathering or informal meeting). It is improper to give flowers as they used in funeral services. Buying any in a set of four is deemed unlucky as well as the number 9. When in a meeting or large gathering, DO NOT introduce yourself. Wait for your superior or......

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Japanese Falling Asleep on Meetings

...Why Do Japanese Fall Asleep In Meetings? Santiago Puente Gallegos Intercultural Management 2341 March 9, 2016 Bill Louden Why Do Japanese Fall Asleep In Meetings? According to Rochelle Koop the reason why Japanese fall asleep in meetings is because “Japanese believe that by closing their eyes, they can hear more effectively, because they are screening out the visual stimulus and focusing only on the sound” (Koop, 2011, p.109). After I was reading this case study, and I wondered what would be my reaction if people stayed silent after I spoke? A lot of things came through my mind. For example, as a Hispanic I would think that Japanese falling asleep during my speech is rude and disrespectful. Probably, I would walk away and leave the office. But I have to consider that not all cultures and customs are the same as ours. On the other hand, I would put my mind working and begin thinking that Japanese are probably evaluating my speech, are visualizing my ideas, or that like the author states, “I’m so boring that this key person is sleeping” ( Koop, 2011, p.109). I have to think that in the business world, I......

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Learn Japanese

...foreign language well? Why is it important to learn a language? Now, as everyone knows, English is the most widely spoken language, so almost all of the people in the world want and intend to learn it, but just mastering a language is not enough to live in modern society. So many people also learn other rare foreign languages, such as Japanese. If people want to master the language of Japanese, they should know the characteristics of the Japanese language, the relation between language and culture, and learn some methods to learn Japanese well. Frist of all, we have to know the function of the language. There are five main characteristics about Japanese. First of all, Japanese is an SOV language subject, object and verb. The second one is ellipsis. It is possible that sentences can omit its subjects, transitive verbs, and third person pronouns in Japanese. Polite and honorific expressions are the third one. Its abundance in grammar’s and vocabulary’s means for make a distinction between diffident levels of politeness and civil in Japanese and are well known in the world. Forth is passiveness. Intransitive verbs can be used in passive sentences in Japanese. Verbs are just charged their forms of verbs and put in the end of sentences. Fifth is a unique one that they have their own women’s language. The difference between first person and second person is used by men and women, which is the most common words that distinguish men and women’s language. As a result, people can......

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