An vital a part of studying any language is constructing your vocabulary, and Japanese isn’t any exception.
There are lots of methods for vocabulary constructing, starting from rote memorization to makes an attempt at studying new phrases “naturally” by listening to entire sentences.
All have their proponents and a balanced studying plan incorporates parts of a number of methods.
It’s additionally a good suggestion to take into consideration how usually you’ll use a given phrase and how helpful will probably be as you progress towards your private language-learning objectives.
One such helpful phrase is 英語 (えいご), the English language.
What does 英語 (えいご) mean?
The phrase 英語 (えいご) is a noun which means “the English language.” The primary character on this phrase, 英, means English or England, whereas the second, 語, means “language.” Put them collectively and also you’ve bought 英語, the English language. Should you’re attempting to pronounce this phrase in Japanese, it’s romanized as “eigo,” which sounds just like the ay in “away” adopted by the English phrase “go.”
The elements of 英語
Like most Japanese phrases, 英語 is made up of a number of kanji, that are type of like word-pictures derived from Chinese language writing and tailored for Japanese phrases. Every kanji supplies some meaning to the phrase as a complete in addition to affecting how it’s pronounced.
On this case, now we have two kanji:
- 英 – “English”
- 語 – “language”
It’s price noting that kanji usually have a number of meanings relying on the phrase they’re used inside. 英, for instance, can also be utilized in phrases like “hero” and “excellent.” Likewise, whereas 語 can be utilized to mean “phrase” and “speech,” on this specific context it undoubtedly means “language.”
Taken collectively, then, 英語 merely means “the English language.”
How to write 英語 (えいご)
Phrases in Japanese could be written in quite a few methods, and 英語 isn’t any exception. The shape used all through this text, 英語, is described above, but it surely’s not the one choice.
As you could already remember, Japanese has three conventional writing techniques. As well as to kanji, there are two distinct phonetic syllabaries or techniques of writing the place every character represents a particular sound.
Moreover, any Japanese phrase could be represented within the Roman alphabet we use when writing English.
Hiragana (ひらがな) is the syllabary used for Japanese phrases. There are usually particular causes you may be utilizing hiragana as an alternative of kanji, however if you would like to write 英語 on this syllabary it appears like this: えいご.
Katakana (カタカナ) is hiragana’s blocky cousin. Though it’s usually reserved for international phrases and emphasis, you may write any phrase in it. 英語 is written out as エイゴ when utilizing katakana.
The Japanese phrase for the Roman alphabet is romaji (ローマ字). Though romaji generally has spellings that may look plain incorrect in English, and though there are some idiosyncrasies in its use that differ from place to place, 英語 is luckily not certainly one of these circumstances.
Written in romaji, the phrase is spelled as “eigo.”
Though every of the methods above is legitimate, it’s unlikely that you just’ll see 英語 written as something aside from kanji except you’re studying a kids’s guide or in another particular circumstance.
If you’re utilizing the kanji, keep in mind that it’s vital to comply with correct stroke order or your writing shall be more durable to learn.
How to pronounce 英語 (えいご)
As any scholar of Japanese will inform you, pronunciation is a supply of frustration whereas additionally being simple.
Japanese phrases are straightforward to pronounce as a result of every mixture of syllabary characters all the time makes the identical sound.
This implies you don’t want to fear as a lot as in English, the place phrases like “tough” and “dough” are pronounced fully otherwise regardless of being spelled the identical.
Alternatively, kanji normally have a number of pronunciations relying on whether or not they’re used individually or together with different kanji.
Often, the identical kanji can have a special pronunciation in numerous phrases as effectively.
In the end, the best tip for saying Japanese phrases is to be taught how to write every new phrase in hiragana. For 英語, as we’ve already coated, that is えいご.
Every of those characters makes a definite sound, technically referred to as a “mora.”
- え - “eh,” as within the English phrase “elbow”
- い – “ee,” as within the English phrase “key”
- ご – “go,” identical to the identical phrase in English
Put these sounds collectively and also you get eh-ee-go. As a result of vowel sounds in Japanese run into each other, the primary two sounds mix to sound one thing just like the “ay” in “away” or the “ey” in “hey.”
The quick model is that this phrase sounds a bit like “ey-go.”
Utilizing 英語 (えいご) in a sentence
Whereas it’s fascinating to know the interior workings of a phrase, it’s additionally vital to perceive how to use 英語 in a sentence.
英語 is a noun, and can most likely be the article of a verb except you might be describing some attribute of the language itself or evaluating it to different languages. Japanese is a subject-object-verb language, so 英語 will sometimes be solidly in the course of a sentence or clause.
「私は英語が話しません。」 (わたし は えいご が はなしません)
This sentence is pretty simple. 私は is the topic (“I”) adopted by the subject marker. Subsequent up now we have our featured phrase, 英語, adopted by the particle が to present its relation to the topic.
Lastly now we have the detrimental type of the verb for “to communicate,” 話しません.
Put all of it collectively and now we have a sentence that claims, “I can’t communicate English.”
「すみません、英語ができますか？」 (すみません えいご が できます か)
The primary phrase on this sentence, すみません, means one thing like “excuse me,” and is an effective way to politely get somebody’s consideration. Subsequent up is the phrase 英語 adopted by が once more. As above, this implies 英語 is the article. So the place’s the topic?
In spoken Japanese, topics are sometimes implied and should be discovered by context. For the reason that verb on the finish of the sentence できます, means “have the opportunity to do” and is adopted by the query marker of か, we are able to guess that the implied topic might be “you.”
That makes “Excuse me, are you able to communicate English?” an excellent translation for this sentence. (Though できます means the literal translation is “Are you in a position to ‘do’ English?”, that sounds unnatural in English and the phrase is best understood as standing in for some extra particular verb.)
「英語が大嫌い！」 (えいご が だいきらい)
That is one other sentence with an implied topic and the phrase “英語が.” For the reason that final phrase, 大嫌い (だいきらい) means “hate,” we are able to think about a pissed off elementary faculty scholar shouting “I hate English!”
Utilizing 英語 whereas touring in Japan
It’s no secret that many Japanese persons are anxious about their capacity to communicate English.
Should you can communicate to them politely in Japanese first, nonetheless, many are prepared to strive. Should you’re travelling and unsure how to ask for assist in Japanese, strive utilizing the instance sentence 「すみません、英語ができますか？」 as a approach of breaking the ice.
Bonus: phrases for different languages
As a result of 語 is all the time used for languages, you may work out language names if you realize the name of a rustic in Japanese.
フランス語 – フランス means France, so フランス語 is the phrase for the French language.
日本語 – 日本 (にほん) is Japan, making 日本語 the phrase for the Japanese language.
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