Japanese/Vocabulary/Linguistics

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When studying Japanese, it can help greatly to know the terminology or jargon used. These may include different parts of speech, grammar structures, names of particles, etc. This is not an explanation of those forms, but a simple list of what they are called. Beginning students may not want to bother with these until they have completed the first lesson, although there may be some useful terms here.

General Terms[edit]

Kanji Kana English
ぶん sentence
言葉 ことば word/language
文法 ぶんぽう grammar
単語 たんご word / vocabulary
語彙 ごい vocabulary / glossary
言語 げんご language

Parts of Speech[edit]

Kanji Kana English Example
品詞 ひんし Parts of speech
動詞 どうし verb 動く
(see "Verb Forms" for more...)
名詞 めいし noun 大学
代名詞 だいめいし pronoun 彼, 彼女, あなた
人称代名詞 にんしょうだいめいし personal pronoun
時相名詞 じそうめいし temporal noun 大体, 以上
形容詞 けいようし "-i" ("true") adjective 新しい
形容動詞 けいようどうし "-na" adjective だめ(な)
副詞 ふくし adverb 早速
接続詞 せつぞくし conjunction そして
助詞 じょし particle は, が, を
格助詞 かくじょし case particles が, を
係助詞 かかりじょし binding particles は,も
~形 ~けい ~form て形 te-form
助数詞 じょすうし counter 本, 枚
感動詞 かんどうし interjection

Conjugated Forms of Verbs / 動詞の活用形 (どうしのかつようけい)[edit]

Kanji Kana Romaji English Example
自動詞 じどうし jidoushi intransitive verb 消える - to go out (flame, etc.)
他動詞 たどうし tadoushi transitive verb 消す - to put out (fire, light, etc.)
可能動詞 かのうどうし kanoudoushi potential verb 飲める - able to drink
状態動詞 じょうたいどうし joutaidoushi stative verb
使役形 しえきけい shiekikei causative form させる
受け身形 うけみけい ukemikei passive form される
命令形 めいれいけい meireikei imperative form 来い、しろ、食べろ、飲め

Particles / 助詞 (じょし)[edit]

Particle Function
topic marker
subject marker
direct object marker
static location marker
directional marker
"by means of" marker
focus marker
"and" marker, quote marker
"and/etc." marker
から "from" marker
まで "until" marker
より comparison marker
many uses mostly as a possessive particle, verb and adjective nominalizer
Sentence-Final Particles
question/doubt particle
agreeance particle
affirmative particle
agreeance/exclamation particle, used almost exclusively by females
agreeance particle, used mostly by men
Emphasizes one's opinion, used mostly by men
emphatic question particle, used mostly by children and women
なあ indicates emphasis, question, or reflection

Speech Variations[edit]

Kanji Kana Meaning
標準語 ひょうじゅんご standard language
発音 はつおん pronunciation
共通語 きょうつうご common language / common term
口語 こうご colloquial language
俗語 ぞくご slang
丁寧語 ていねいご polite language
謙譲語 けんじょうご humble language
尊敬語 そんけいご honorific language
相対敬語 そうたいけいご relative honorific language
タメ語 ためご casual language
毒舌 どくぜつ abusive language
方言 ほうげん dialect
訛り なまり accent
混成語 こんせいご hybrid language / pidgin

Writing[edit]

Kanji Kana Meaning
漢字 かんじ Kanji (Chinese characters)
平仮名 ひらがな Hiragana
片仮名 かたかな Katakana
仮名 かな Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)
万葉仮名 まんようがな Man'yougana (Kanji used phonetically - from which Hiragana and Katakana were derived)
部首 ぶしゅ radical
画数 かくすう stroke count
縦書 たてがき vertical writing
横書 よこがき horizontal writing
句読点 くとうてん punctuation marks
半濁点 はんだくてん circle that changes "h" to "p" on certain kana
てん voicing marks added to certain kana
撥音 はつおん the "ん" sound
母音 ぼいん vowel
子音 しいん consonant
長母音 ちょうぼいん long vowel
子音重複 しいんちょうふく geminate consonant(in romaji)
国字 こくじ Kanji made in Japan