Commonly Misused Japanese Words and Phrases by Philippine Anime Fans: Wrong Grammar

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Commonly Misused Japanese Words and Phrases by Philippine Anime Fans

Continued from Commonly Misused Japanese Words and Phrases by Philippine Anime Fans: Wrong Context

This last part deals with out and out grammar abuse, commonly committed by those who have had zero instruction in Japanese, and rely mainly on what they think they learned watching anime or j-drama.

Japanese Grammar Mistakes Committed by Weaboos

Saying “[your name]-san”.

Some local anime fans introduce themselves on forums and in real life by saying “I am____-san.” (私は ____さんです。), which is wrong. It is one of the first rules your Nihongo instructor will teach you.

One never refers to oneself as “-san” because it is like referring to yourself in the third person in English. Think of it this way: remember how American wrestler The Rock would always say “The Rock this” and “The Rock that” but never say “I am” or “I will”? Same banana.

Saying “Kurismasu omedetou.”

Just because “Happy birthday” is “Otanjoubi omedetou.” (お誕生日 おめでとう。) it does not automatically mean that “Happy Christmas” is “Kurisumasu omedetou.” (クリスマス おめでとう。). The Japanese say “Merry Christmas” (メリークリスマス。) much like the rest of the world, with the only difference being in the way it is pronounced — it is closer to “Merii Kurisumasu” than actual “Merry Christmas.”.

Adding “s” to a singular Japanese word to make it a plural.

Some anime fans pluralize singular nouns in Japanese by adding an “s” at the end of the word just like they do in English. As a result, I’ve encountered such monstrosities as “I love collecting mangas!” and “I enjoy watching animes”. If you must, try revising your sentences by saying “I love collecting manga volumes.” or “I enjoy watching anime shows.” instead. Japanese and English are two completely different languages, so one should not apply the grammar rules of one language to the other as if they were interchangeable.

Using “-dewa nai / -ja nai” in negating verbs.

The use of “-dewa nai” (ではない) or “-ja nai” (じゃない) in negating verbs is incorrect, as the two are applicable to nouns only. The most horrifying misuse of the negative form I’ve encountered was from the “Learn Japanese” thread of a local message board, where one member actually said “Watashi wa Nihongo ja nai.” (私は日本語じゃない。) or, “I am not the Japanese language.” — which he obviously wasn’t.

Up to now I am still unsure whether he wanted to say “I am not Japanese” — “Watashi wa Nihonjin ja nai.” (私は日本人じゃない。) or “I do not speak Japanese.” — “Watashi wa Nihongo wo dekinai.” (私は日本語をできない。). Either way — he was still wrong.

Using “-chau” to negate words, because it is short for “chigau”.

This “rule” was made up by a forum member who obviously thought that watching anime made him an expert in the Japanese language. He claimed that appending “-chau” (っちゃう) to any verb negates it as well as turns it into an interrogatory verb — which is complete bull. “-chau” is simply the colloquial for “shite shimau” (してしまう) — which is appended at the end of verbs to illustrate negative stress after the action has been done.

That’s it for our Terrible Twenty — our list of Commonly Misused Japanese Words and Phrases by Philippine Anime Fans. If there’s any lesson at all that I want blog readers and anime fans to take away from this series of posts, it’s that no matter how much (subtitled) anime you watch and how much (scanlated) manga you read, if you want to really learn the language there is no substitute for a good Nihongo instructor.

This series of posts has been suggested by the very inspirational Nina of Just Wandering. Thanks for being a great travel buddy and supportive friend :D:D:D

Thank you also to Chelli of Hitorigoto for providing additional cases or incidents of Nihongo abuse. Thanks for the laughs and I hope we get to go back to Tokyo together soon!

22 Comments Add yours

  1. dementedchris says:

    I’ve forgotten nearly everything I’ve learned from Japanese classes so forgive me for asking: meron bang plural form ang objects in Japanese? I feel moron-ish just for asking.

    Like

    1. nope, there is no plural form for nouns; but you can add a numeric word counter to indicate the amount.

      Like

  2. gass06 says:

    Anime is not used solely by the Japanese. You can even find it in some English dictionaries so adding a plural -s form to it isn’t entirely wrong.

    Like

    1. You can even find it in some English dictionaries so adding a plural -s form to it isn’t entirely wrong.

      please provide valid proof (links or scans of dictionary entries) that show that anime + s is an acceptable plural, because i tried my hardest to search online to no avail, leading me to conclude that your statement is most probably incorrect.

      for many fans — especially those who are familiar with the japanese language, the plural of anime is still anime even when using it in english. also, it is conventional wisdom that in english, the plural for loanwords remains the singular (dim sum, linguini, paella, foie gras, etc.).

      Like

  3. Euri says:

    gass06:
    Though it’s not solely used by Japanese, the term originated from Japan. AND “anime” is both singular and plural. Arguing is not permitted. (>_<#)

    Quoting Len:
    Anime is Singular AND Plural. It works both ways, like Rice. You dont eat Rices.. you eat Rice, and Rice is singular as well.

    Like

  4. teluete says:

    @gass06:

    I agree with magnetic_rose. I have yet to find Animé in any English dictionary since it is a French adjective. True, at times a plural “s” is added, but that is only when the preceding noun is also a plural, since in French, the adjective follows, or “copies” the noun. Hence:

    dessin animé = (singular) animated cartoon
    dessins animés = (plural) animated cartoons

    But of course, we’re not French. In English, we don’t add plural “s'” to our adjectives.

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  5. vim says:

    あたしも日本語ちゃう!(笑)
    I have always associated “-chau” as equivalent to the standard “ja nai”, when used with nouns….
    Of course if one is from Osaka (or thereabouts), that’s the standard. 🙂

    (10年前の)大阪から来たビムでーす。

    Like

    1. VIM  お久しぶり (マジで)! 今まで どこで 隠しているの?O.O

      anyway, so “-chau” is a the negation for nouns in osaka?! first time i’ve ever heard of that 😀

      i’ve been schooled in the standard (tokyo) accent so this is really a new thing for me 😀

      Like

  6. vim says:

    お久しぶり。こっちにおるわ。
    Just somewhere in the capital, working for a multi-national company, not really using nihongo, except to read….hmmm…hehe)

    “~chau” has many (convenient) uses, not just in Osaka, but in the entire Kinki area.

    Yes, one of them is for negation (like じゃない), although I think “ya nai” (~やない) is also common.

    ex. そういう関係じゃない。= そういう関係ちゃう。

    It can also be used to ask for confirmation.
    ex. これじゃないの?= これ(と)ちゃうか?or これとちゃうのん?(has variations)

    And as equivalent to “chigau”.
    ex. それは違うよ。= それはちゃうで。

    When used with verbs, the most common form I encounter is ~とちゃう/~んとちゃう, which is similar to ~の違う. So in essence, by inserting the nominalizer の after a sentence, we can negate a sentence using “-chau”.
    ex. だから、私は隠してるんとちゃう。(or something similar)

    Of course, aside from the language course I got from Osaka, I am also influenced by what I hear/read from drama/manga, so my explanation is rather limited, and I still don’t understand the nuances of the dialect. Also, Osaka-ben is basically spoken language, so there usually are several variations on how a sentence is formed and how a verb is conjugated and how particles are appended.

    言いたいことうまく説明できなくて、ごめん。:)

    あぁ、疲れた。(笑)

    Like

    1. えっ まったく同じ仕事じゃん~ wwwwww

      i think the problem with osaka-ben is that there are very few written resources (books, etc.) on how native osakans speak japanese. so even if it was used online in a message board or blog post context, most people would consider it incorrect since: 1) it is not in standard japanese; and 2) there are no sources proving its correct usage.

      いい勉強になりそう~ こうゆう話し 😀

      Like

  7. Adette says:

    I got a laugh reading this series! 🙂 But I’m glad I learned some new stuff as well.

    I admit that my knowledge of Nihongo is limited to Hiragana, the basic self-introduction (“Hajimemashite…”), and whatever stuff I pick up from variety shows so there are times when I tend to mispronounce words. I aim to learn the language properly starting next year, though.

    Like

    1. i’m glad you enjoyed this series of posts, and good luck with your nihongo studies 🙂

      Like

  8. Anea.chiii says:

    Oh wow.
    I was actually wondering how to say “Manga” & “Anime”
    in plural. XD

    I made a few mistakes before when I was still a new Otaku,
    like using “Mangas” & “Animes” >.<

    Right now, I just type
    Manga(s), Anime(s).

    Thanks for this post!
    It really helped a lot. 🙂

    Like

    1. Out there says:

      Manga is a rather new loanword whose grammar is yet to be fully established. However, to those who know what manga is, it is obvious that it is a category word, like butter or beer. And just like you wouldn’t say “beers are good” you woldn’t say “mangas are fun”. You need to specify the units: beer bottles, manga books. Or, just say “beer is good” or “manga is fun”.

      On the other hand, once a loanword is established it is no longer debatable by the original language speakers. Sorry rose, it’s out of your control. If it turns out to be a countable in English, there will be heaps of mangas for sale at all well-stocked magazine vendors, and you just have to endure it.

      Thanks for your informative posts!

      Like

  9. no worries — you learn new things everyday 🙂

    Like

  10. boom says:

    On the plural thing:

    That’s why I find it hard to translate sometimes. I don’t know if it’s singular or plural since there’s no plural form in Japanese. I also sometimes find it hard to distinguish who the doer of the action is. 😛

    Like

    1. I also sometimes find it hard to distinguish who the doer of the action is. 😛

      ah, the curse of the hidden subject >.>

      Like

  11. go_ren says:

    like this article…we do have japanese language class when I was in high school, but it is just super basic…still I learned a lot, especially when introducing yourself…I tend to laugh my head off whenever I hear some people trying to say something in japanese and it’s really wrong..at least whatever that comes out of my mouth, though I only remember few, I am sure that it’s correct…=)

    Like

  12. milktea says:

    late reader (i rarely read blogs so…), but hehe 🙂 love these “CMJWnP by PAF” articles (i shortened it ^^U). had a great laugh in the wrong context. so many “onga naman” moments. i used to have these pet peeves too. now they just make my eyebrows twitch sliiightly – i’ve been desensitized O_o.

    >.< i'm guilty of the +s = plural since i never thought of reconstructing them (or i'm just plain lazy to do that). *tonk* will be a good nihongo student now and follow your advice ^^U

    thanks for the read. will try to drop by here some more. you've got interesting articles 😀 (the rockband japan T_T – it brought me here)

    Like

    1. lol welcome to the blog 🙂 i’m delighted that you find the posts entertaining and educational at the same time 🙂 cheers! ❤

      Like

  13. Yan Muhrin says:

    Great article there. It kinda gave me the giggle while reading. XD

    However, I was wondering if its okay to add “tadaimasu” in the list of pseudo-Japanese words/phrases which are deliberately blurted out by a bunch of clueless weaboos?

    I’m frickin’ annoyed at people in Plurk who post “tadaimasu” instead of “tadaima” every time they return home. I don’t remember “tadaima” has a verb form. <_<

    I even dared looking for the word in dictionaries like Kenkyusha. As expected, 0 results found lol.

    Like

  14. “tadaimasu” — wtf is that?! o.O you’re right, we should add that to the list!

    Like

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