TIL: Human Japanese 30 & 31

I love getting some spare time to study 🙂
Chapter 30 is on が and asking who, why, and how. While Chapter 31 is a small blurb on how Japan is expensive, but you can still enjoy it if you live there temporarily (how nice!)

が and Interrogatives

か can make something a yes or no question. We also use the KSAD (Kore, Sore, Are, Dore) set to ask more open-ended questions.
東京とうきょうはどこですか。「Where is Tokyo?」
ーどのえんぴつですか。「Which pencil is it?」

だれ asks “who”
ーだれですか。「Who is it?」
ーせんせいはだれですか。「Who is the teacher?」

Can’t yet ask
-Who went to the store?

は has been used a topic marker and sets up a known topic for discussion, however this doesn’t work for the above type of question. だれ is an unknown, which is opposite to は. This is why we can also use が as a subject marker. が is a subject marker, but it also deserves more attention than you might want to convey in a sentence. If you want focus on what the teacher is doing, you might say
But if you want to focus on the fact that it’s the teacher that is doing something, you would use が rather than は.

Important that we use が when we’re asked who did something. The importance in “Who went to the store?” isn’t the store, it’s the person who went there.
ーだれがいきましたか。「Who went?」
ーまりこさんがいきました。「Mariko went.」
ーだれがいますか。「Who is there?」
ージョンさんがいます。「John is there.」
ーだれがわたしのアイスクリームをたべましたか。「Who ate my ice cream?」
ーわたしがたべました。「I ate it.」

In English, we would often consider the whole answer redundant and would leave it off.
Q. Who ate my ice cream?
A. I did. (not: I ate your ice cream.)

This is true in Japanese as well, though in conversation only, by simply finishing after the が (Which could never be done with は)
ーだれがわたしのアイスクリームをたべましたか。「Who ate my ice cream?」

When we say すしがすきです。 we interpret it as “I like sushi.” but it literally is akin to “Sushi is likable (to me).”
It’s important to keep in mind that が also serves simply as a subject marker like with the above sushi example, and not always as an italicized attention focus. It only takes on this role in places where you could have used は just as easily.
ーわたしはぎんこうにいきました。「As for me, I went to the bank.」
ーわたしがぎんこうにいきました。「I, went to the bank.」

When with いつ

ーいつですか。「When is it?」
ーまりこさんのたんじょびはいつですか。「When is Mariko’s Birthday?」
ーいつ日本にいきますか。「When are you going to Japan?」
ーへやをいつそうじしますか。「When will you clean your room?」

How and Why

As always, context is important in Japanese.

ーどうしてですか。「Why is it?/How is it?」
ーそれはどうしてですか?「Why is that?」
ーなぜせすか。「Why is it?」
Are good questions for four year olds… but adults need more context.

Answers to “how” and “why” questions aren’t predictable, and so the same formula that we’ve been using up until now (where is x? there is x. who is x? x is) fails us if we attempt to use it for everything. Who ate your ice cream requires one word answers, but why did someone eat your ice cream requires an explanation. “how” and “why” must be placed either at the very beginning of the sentence, or directly before the verb.

どうしてがっこうにいきませんでしたか。「Why didn’t you go to school?」
ーがっこうにどうしていきませんでしたか。「Why didn’t you go to school?」
ーなぜわたしのアイスクリームをたべましたか。「Why did you eat my ice cream?」
どうやってそのほんをよみましたか。「How did you read that book?」
ーそのほんをどうやってよみましたか。「How did you read that book?」
ーどうやってわかりましたか。「How did you know?」

The sentence constructs fairly easily:
ーせんせうはいきました「the teacher went」
ーどうしてせんせいはいきましたか。「Why did the teacher go?」

and others
ーそのほんをかいました「bought that book」
ーどうやってぞのほんをかいましたか。「How did you buy that book?」

Chapter 31: Cost of Living

At first, I didn’t care for these informational types of chapters. But they help after doing a bunch of language stuff to make it feel as though you’re still making progress, but you don’t need to struggle to absorb it 🙂

I’ve lived in Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Glasgow (one of these things is not like the others). I recently had been considering living in Japan (hence my renewed interest in learning Japanese this year) and picked up Universe for Rent. There’s something romantic about going to different cities and experiencing life there. Even if the conditions are poor, it’s temporary, so it can be fun, right? Now that I’ve got a kid, I’m not sure how long we can manage to stay sane in small apartments. We’ve got around 600ft2 at the moment, and it’s comfortable… but the kid’s going to need his own bedroom soon, and I’m not quite willing to not have office space.

Maybe at some point I need to blog more on what it’s like living where I’ve lived, and less on note taking while learning new things.