Understanding Rikai markings

March 3, 2012

If you have been using Rikai, you will notice the beginning information in parenthesis. This is the Part of Speech markers used in edict.

Below is a short list of common POS markers that you will encounter. For a full list refer to Jim Breen’s eDict Lexographical Details.

adj-i	adjective (keiyoushi)
adj-na	adjectival nouns or quasi-adjectives (keiyodoshi)
adj-no	nouns which may take the genitive case particle `no'
adv	adverb (fukushi)
adv-n	adverbial noun
conj	conjunction
ctr	counter
exp	Expressions (phrases, clauses, etc.)
n	noun (common) (futsuumeishi)
n-adv	adverbial noun (fukushitekimeishi)
n-pref	noun, used as a prefix
n-suf	noun, used as a suffix
pn	pronoun
pref	prefix
prt	particle
suf	suffix
vi	intransitive verb
vn	irregular nu verb
vs	noun or participle which takes the aux. verb suru
vs-i	suru verb - irregular
vt	transitive verb

「生き残った男の子」Japanese Adjectives

March 3, 2012

There are two groups of Japanese adjectives: the i-adjectives and the na-adjectives.

I am not going to explain in details the Japanese adjectives here. I recommend you read this entry on adjectives, their conjugations and some exceptions for better understanding.

i-adjectives in Japanese is い形容詞 (i-keiyoshi) and na-adjectives are な形容詞 (na-keiyoshi).

So now let’s look at our Harry Potter text and identify and group the adjectives used. I am using the non-spaced text so you can start to identify individual words. You can refer to the intro posts for the spaced version here (paragraph 1) and here (paragraph 2).



Adjectives listed below:

まとも – normal, honest, decent
まか不思議 (不思議) – mysterious
神秘 – mysterious

巨大 – huge, enormous, gigantic
よい, いい – good

よい and いい mean the same and can be used interchangeably. I cannot really explain clearly when to use which but one important point is that よかった is used for the past tense. I’ve never heard of いかった used in text or conversation but I’m assuming it’s not grammatically wrong either (?). Rikai can translate いかった.

In the above, I included 神秘 although it is not followed by な in the text because apart from being a noun, it can also be used as a na-adjective just as 不思議.



Harry Potter copyright owned by JK Rowling
translated by 松岡佑子
published by 静山社

[JLPT-N2] Refresh

March 3, 2012

This week, I and a friend of mine decided to refresh our Japanese and test ourselves by taking JLPT. She decides to take N3 while I will try my luck with N2. It has been almost four years since I moved out of Japan so most of my Japanese have mostly gone down the drain (thus, the Harry Potter review).

So I set off to Kinokuniya bookstore to buy myself the 完全マスター grammar book for JLPT level 2 (the old system) to replace the one that I lost. However, when I got there I decided to take the 新完全マスター for N2 to be updated with the new system. I’ve never had a check on the difference with the two ever since it got implemented. I also bought a grammar testing book 中級日本語文法要点整理ポイント20, although it is not specific to the JLPT levels.


I also had a look at the Japanese Dictionary for Advanced Grammar to complete my set but I was surprised to find that the book costs a little more than SGD80. 😦 They were the new revisions though but the price was off from my expected price. But I guess one day I’ll have to return and buy it anyway.

I’ve also had a look way back on my blog and found my post on my JLPT 2 study plan but I lost all the files I put up. I’ve also moved a lot since then and can’t seem to find those files on any of my drives. So in the coming days I will draft a new plan (updated with the new N2 level).

Watch out for that. 🙂


「生き残った男の子」 Text 2: Introduction

February 24, 2012



In kana:

ダーズリーしは、 あなあけ ドリル を せいぞう して いる グラニングズ しゃ の しゃちょう だ。 ずんぐり と にくずき が よい たいけい の せい で、 くび は ほとんど ない。 その かわり きょだい な くちひげ が めだって いた。 おくさん の ほう は やせて、 きんぱつ で、 なんと くび の ながさ は ふつう の ひと の にばい は ある。 かきねごし に ごきんじょ の ようす を せんさく する の が しゅみ だった ので、 つる の よう な くび は じつ は べんり だった。 ダーズリー ふさい に は ダドリー と いう おとこ の こ が いた。 どこ を さがした って こんな に でき の いい こ は いや しない、 というのが ふたり の おや バカ の いみ だった。



Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.


I have to say, I kind of prefer the Japanese translation from the original English text. 🙂



Harry Potter copyright owned by JK Rowling
translated by 松岡佑子
published by 静山社

「生き残った男の子」Word Extraction

February 22, 2012



Extracting the words from our main text (separating words with space):

プリベット 通り 四番地 の 住人 ダーズリー 夫妻 は、「おかげさまで、 私ども は どこから 見ても まとも な 人間 です」 というのが 自慢 だった。 不思議 とか 神秘 とか そんな 非常識 は まるっきり 認めない 人種 で、 まか不思議 な 出来事 が 彼ら の 周辺 で 起こる なんて、 とうてい 考えられなかった。


Below is a selection of words with a bit of explanation on the construction of the word (in case of compound word) or the  grammar involved (if there is) :

四番地 – 番地 means house number, so in the English version: … of number four Privet Drive…

おかげさまで – an expression that means “Thanks to god”, or “Thanks to you”. In English equivalent, “Thank you very much”

私ども – this is a humble way of saying “we”. 私 means I

どこから – this is not really one word, どこ means “where” and から means “from” see next word for usage

見ても –  this is also composed of two words 見て and も. 見て is the te-form of the verb miru 見る which means to see. the simplest meaning of も is “also”. ~te + mo (grammar point here)  means “even if” or “although
(see page 468 of The Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar).  So when used with the previous word, どこから見ても would then translate to “however you see <us>”


な –  just quickly, there are two types of adjectives in japanese: i-adjectives (ends in i) and na-adjectives. the previous word まとも is a na-adjective. i will also discuss in more details about na-adjectives in a later post

というのが – we can break down this into と いう (kanji 言う but more often written in hiragana) の and が. ~という marks information that identifies the noun following the phrase. For example, “Harry Potterという本” means “A book called Harry Potter”. More on this grammar point in its own post. the の in というのが is used as a nominalizer and が to indicate the subject, in this case the nominalized phrase.

不思議 – means mystery. this is a complete word by itself however we can break it down to 不 and 思議. 不 is used to negate 思議 which means guess. so something you cannot guess is a mystery.

とか – is used to enumerate an inexhaustive list as example. you can notice that it is used twice in the sentence 不思議とか神秘とか. The formation of which is N とか N とか・・・ you still keep the とか for the last item

そんな – such. other words for such are こんな and あんな. use rikai to differentiate the three from each other

認めない – negative infinitive form of 認める which means recognize or approve. In the english text “they just didn’t hold with such nonsense”

なんて – such as

とうてい 考えられなかった – とうてい means [cannot] possible. it is usually paired with a negative verb, in this case 考えられなかった which is past negative potential form of 考える which means to think or to consider. verb conjugation will be covered in more detail in later posts.



A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Harry Potter copyright owned by JK Rowling
translated by 松岡佑子
published by 静山社

「生き残った男の子」 : Kanji set 1

February 19, 2012


プリベット とおり よんばんち の じゅうにん ダーズリー ふさい は、 「おかげさまで、 わたし ども は どこから みて も まとも な にんげん です」 と いう の が じまん だった。 ふしぎ とか しんぴ とか そんな ひじょうしき は まるっきり みとめない じんしゅ で、 まかふしぎ な できごと が かれら の しゅうへん で おこる なんて、 とうてい かんがえられなかった。


Here we take up the simple and commonly used kanji from our text above. I will try to include JLPT level information as much as I can.

Before we go to our kanji list, you need to know the kanji readings: on-yomi (literally sound-reading), and kun-yomi (literally, meaning reading). From About Japanese page:

On-reading (On-yomi) is the Chinese reading of a kanji character. The Kun-reading (Kun-yomi) is the native Japanese reading associated with the meaning of a kanji.

If you enable your rikai-plugin, hover on this character 四, and press the Shift key. This will give you the kanji information (press Shift again to return to the dictionary display). However, it does not categorize the readings by on- or kun-readings. Rikai also does not give JLPT level information, only its kanji grade.


Stroke Order

If you are interested in the stroke order of the kanji, you can download the stroke order diagram animation at Kanji-cafe.com. The site provides different file-naming formats for the SODAs. Unfortunately they provide the UTF-8 encoding while rikai-chan provides UTF-16.

I found an online tool to convert codes here. Input the value found in rikai to the UTF-16 code units box and click convert. The resulting UTF-8 code is the filename of the kanji SODA you are looking for 🙂

So going back to our kanji 四, the UTF-16 code is 56DB and its corresponding UTF-8 code is E5 9B 9B, so the filename should be e59b9b.gif.


Now that you know what on- and kun-readings are, and you are equipped with stroke order diagrams, try to find look-up the following kanji and practice writing them if you like 🙂 I will just provide the meaning, their grade and JLPT level of the kanji characters below, in that order.



四 – four; 4; 1

番 – turn, number in a series; 2; 2

私 – private, I, me; 3, 6

見(て) – see, hopes, chances, idea, opinion, look at, visible; 4; 1

人 – person; 4; 1

間 – interval, space; 4; 2

出 – exit, leave; 4; 1

来 – come, due, next, cause, become; 4; 2

事 – matter, thing, fact, business, reason, possibly; 3; 3

起(こる)  – rouse, wake up, get up; 3; 3

考(えられなかった) – consider, think over; 3; 2


You may notice that the very common kanji 番 is introduced only in JLPT 2 (probably N3 now?).


The Kanji levels above may be incorrect as per new JLPT levels introduced last 2010. The JLPT Kanji project doesn’t seem to have updated their levels yet.


I myself am not a big fan of mnemonics but if it’s your thing, you can have a look at Henshall Kanji Mnemonics.

26 four fingers in clenched fist
196 rice sown in fields by number, in turns

I just don’t get it ^_^;



JLPT Kanji Project
Ishida Unicode code converter

Harry Potter copyright owned by JK Rowling
translated by 松岡佑子
published by 静山社

「生き残った男の子」 : Grammar : だ

February 18, 2012


プリベット とおり よんばんち の じゅうにん ダーズリー ふさい は、 「おかげさまで、 わたし ども は どこから みて も まとも な にんげん です」 と いう の が じまん だった。 ふしぎ とか しんぴ とか そんな ひじょうしき は まるっきり みとめない じんしゅ で、 まかふしぎ な できごと が かれら の しゅうへん で おこる なんて、 とうてい かんがえられなかった。

Past grammar: は and が


Today we talk about the copula だ. In the above text, the copula is obviously used twice in the clause:


The less obvious usage of the copula is shown in the first clause of the second sentence:


In our HP text, we find three different forms of the copula: です、だった and で.  です is the formal non-past form, だった is the infinitive past form, and で is its te-form.

We have also encountered the copula in the previous post:


gakusei desu.
(I am a student.)

The non-formal infinitive (non-past) form is だ (da) which is the title of our grammar post. So we can change the above sample sentence to 私は学生。 (I am a student.).

The non-formal infinitive negative form is ではない (dewanai). The colloquial form of which is じゃない (janai). You will encounter the colloquial form very often. Our sample sentence can then be converted to 私は学生ではない。(I am not a student.) or 私は学生じゃない。for the colloquial equivalent.

The equivalent formal form of だった is でした.

(I was a student.)

The te-form で however is only used to modify or connect.

Below is the conjugation table for the copula da:


Inf. Neg. Nonpast Inf. Past Inf. Neg. Past Condition Te-form


ではないじゃない だった ではなかったじゃなかった なら(ば)であれば


です ではありませんじゃありません でした ではありませんでしたじゃありませんでした

You can find the above conjugation table in the book A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar (p.580).

は, が, の, and だ are very important things to learn in the Japanese language.

Below is a shortlist of our previous vocabulary which will be of interest to us in our next lessons:

見て(見る) – to see
そんな – such
認めない (認める) – disapprove (to recognize, to approve)
考えられなかった (考えられる) – unthinkable (to think)


A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar

Harry Potter copyright owned by JK Rowling
translated by 松岡佑子
published by 静山社

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