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Geisha Culture and Arts

Minarai 3: LANGUAGE

 

The Tao te Ching: Verse 81 The Paradoxes of Life

True words aren't eloquent;
eloquent words aren't true.
Wise men don't need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren't wise.

The Master has no possessions.
The more he does for others,
the happier he is.
The more he gives to others,
the wealthier he is.

The Tao nourishes by not forcing.
By not dominating, the Master leads.

http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/taote-v3.html#81

Japanese Phrases Overview

This lesson provides you with some basic phrases and references that you might like to use if  you  are  interested.

Directions for the Japanese Phrases 

It is NOT an expectation for you to memorize these phrases...they are here as a point of reference and interest. However it is good to be familiar with some of them. If you use them in conversation, please also add the translation in your chat line. So for instance if you are meeting someone for the first time, you could type this in the chat line:

 

Hajimemashite.. how do you do?

 

Of course, the words and phrases in this lesson do not represent a complete list. Sharing with sister geisha is considered good etiquette, so if you come across useful words or phrases that are not on the list, please consider sharing them with others. And if you think something else should be added to this lesson, please let Okaasan know.

A wonderful website for learning simple Japanese phrases is hyperlinked below. It also has lessons in reading, writing and sound files to learn pronunciation:

http://www.learn-japanese.info/

 

The following is a must-have reference site for all things geisha. This link goes to the glossary pages:

http://www.immortalgeisha.com/glossary.php

 

Other sites you may want to look at include:

 http://www.amazon.com/quot-Books-Resources-Learning-Japanese/lm/RYJGJ545AQDP0

 http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/japanese-language

 http://www.trussel.com/jap/jbooks01.htm

 


http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/japanese-language
http://www.trussel.com/jap/jbooks01.htm
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Japanese

Pronunciation

Here are some basic Japanese pronunciation of vowels

A is pronounced as in Ba (bah) 

E is pronounced as in Be  (bay)  

I is pronounced as in Bi (bee)    

O is pronounced as in Bo (boh)

U is pronounced as in Bu (boo)   

If vowels are combined, each vowel is pronounced as the ei in geisha - it sounds more like the e in met

ai in maiko = ma - ee - ko

okiya is o - kee - ah

The vowel u at the end of words is usually silent or very softly spoken as in desu sounds like des or as in suki which tends to be pronounced like ski

Consonents

Some differences from English are:

g is always "hard" like the g in go

ch is always pronounced like the ch in chirp

fu sounds somewhat like "who" only short and cut - the lips are close together

r is more like an L in English but again is short and made by the tongue behind the top teeth - just flicking away there

tsu sound is another sound shaped by the tongue against the upper palate - it is as if you pronounce the t and s on top of each other with a very short u following close behind and almost barely perceptible. Listen to the sound files from the link above.

y is not like the vowel in English but always pronounced like the consonent y as in yo yo so Kyoto is pronounced Kyo - to, Tokyo is pronounced To - kyo

These and other pronunciation rules are found in the link above. I would encourage you to visit that site if you are interested in learning to speak and Japanese words.

 

Greetings

Greetings are very important to learn. Greeting and parting phrases are called aisatsu. If someone does not make aisatsu, they may be seen as cold and dysfunctional. Even if you are only going to use English, making aisatsu is certainly an expectation of your training and behavior in the okiya.

 ohayou gozaimasu  "good morning"
 ohayou  less formal for "good morning"
 konban wa  "good evening"
 konnichi wa  "good afternoon" or "good day" to anyone
 hajimemashite  said to someone as a greeting/hello whom you have only just met
 oyasumi or oyasuminasai  "sleep well/good night"
 ja mata  "see you later"
 ja ne  "bye-farewell"
 sayonara  "goodbye" (when you do not think you will see for awhile)
 ogenki desu ka?  "how are you?"

 okage-same de

 "I am fine, thanks to God and you, my friend."
 yoroshiku onegaishimasu  "please favor me with your friendship" or "nice meeting you"
 yoroshiku  "I am pleased to meet you" or " I appreciate your helping me"
 kochirakoso yoroshiku  "I am pleased to meet you" (in reply to yoroshiku)
 watashi no namai wa...desu  "My name is......"

 san

sama

 common suffix to add to someone's last name who is outside your "in-group"

sama is a polite suffix after last name like Gable-sama (only if you don't really know the person...like a waitress to a customer)

Example conversation

Suzu  Konnichi wa  Hello
 Kiko  Konnichi wa. Ogenki desu ka?  Hello. Are you doing well?
 Suzu

 Hai, genki desu. Kiko-san wa?

 Yes, I'm fine. And how about you, Kiko?
 Kiko  Genki desu.  I'm fine.

Manners

 a domo  "O thank you"
 domo or arigato gozaimasu  "Thank you" (to bosses, older strangers, or if they are not easy-going)
 arigato  "Thank you" (to family, friends, co-workers, subordinates, younger strangers)
 arigato gozaimasu or domo arigato  "Thank you very much"
 gokuro-sama  "Thank you for your trouble"
 i-e (eee-a)  "No problem" (say in reply to "thank you")
 ja, onegaishimasu  "Yes, please"
 hai  "yes"
 i-e  "no"
 onegai shimasu  "please" (literally, I wish)
 douzo, haitte kudasai  "please come in"
 yokoso  "Welcome!"
 sumimasen ga, suwatte kudasai  "please, sit down"
 sumimasen ga, tatte kudasai  "please, stand up"
 gomen nasai  "sorry"
 sumimasen/shitsurei shimasu  "excuse me" or "I am being rude (literally, but also means excuse me--farewell)
 osakini  "pardon me but I am leaving now"
 wakarimasu  "I understand"
 nan desu ka?  "what is it?"
 zenzen  "not at all" (phrase of denial--if someone asks if they are bothering you, you would say, "zenzen" and shake your head)

Correspondence

In writing letters, there are preliminary greetings you may choose to add to your correspondence:

Ogenki de irasshaimasu ka. (very formal) 
お元気でいらっしゃいますか。 
Have you been doing well? 

Ogenki desu ka. 
お元気ですか。 
Have you been doing well? 

Ikaga osugoshi de irasshaimasu ka. (very formal) 
いかがお過ごしでいらっしゃいますか。 
How have you been? 

Ikaga osugoshi desu ka. 
いかがお過ごしですか。 
How have you been? 

Okagesama de genki ni shite orimasu. (very formal) 
おかげさまで元気にしております。 
Fortunately I'm doing well. 

Kazoku ichidou genki ni shite orimasu. 
家族一同元気にしております。 
The whole family is doing well. 

Otegami arigatou gozaimashita. 
お手紙ありがとうございました。 
Thank you for your letter. 

Nagai aida gobusata shite orimashite moushiwake gozaimasen. (very formal) 
長い間ご無沙汰しておりまして申し訳ございません。 
I apologize for neglecting to write for such a long time. 

Gobusata shite orimasu. 
ご無沙汰しております。 
I'm sorry I haven't written for a long time. 

These expressions or seasonal greetings can be combined in a variety of ways to form the preliminary greeting. The Japanese have long admired the seasonal changes, therefore it seems too abrupt to start a letter without the proper seasonal greeting. Here are some examples.
 
Gobusata shite orimasu ga, ogenki de irasshaimasu ka. 
ご無沙汰しておりますが、お元気でいらっしゃいますか。 
I'm sorry I haven't written for a long time, but have you been doing well? 

Sukkari aki rashiku natte mairimashita ga, ikaga osugoshi de irasshaimasu ka. 
すっかり秋らしくなってまいりましたが、いかがお過ごしでいらっしゃいますか。 
It has become very autumn like; how have you been? 

Samui hi ga tsuzuite orimasu ga, ikaga osugoshi desu ka. 
寒い日が続いておりますが、いかがお過ごしですか。 
Cold days continue; how have you been? 

Final Greetings

Douka yoroshiku onegai itashimasu. 
どうかよろしくお願いします。 
Kindly look after this matter for me. 

~ ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai. 
~によろしくお伝えください。 
Please give my regards to ~. 

Minasama ni douzo yoroshiku. 
皆様にどうぞよろしく。 
Please give my regards to everyone. 

Okarada o taisetsu ni. 
お体を大切に。 
Please take care of yourself. 

Douzo ogenki de. 
どうぞお元気で。 
Take care of yourself. 

Ohenji omachi shite orimasu. 
お返事お待ちしております。 
I look forward to hearing from you. 

Again, please remember my teaching of thinking of the "other", your audience. If they are primarily English-speaking and you try to impress them with your Japanese greetings without translating for them to English, you will only alienate and confuse them. Always add translation if you are chatting or using IM in SecondLife. 

Arts

 gakki  musical instrument
 doramu  drums
 furuto  flute
 gita  guitar
 koto  long, Japanese zither with 13 strings
 shamisen  3-stringed Japanese banjo
 shakuhachi  Japanese flute
 taiko  Japanese drums
 chokoku  sculpting/engraving
 kaiga  painting/drawing
 haiga  simple illustrations for haiku
 ikebana  flower arranging
 sado  tea ceremony

Serving

 dozo  "here you are" (when serving something to someone)
 itadakimasu  "I humbly receive this food"
 gochisosama  "It was a great feast"
...-san, nani ga suki desu ka?  "Name, what do you like?"
 watashi wa spaghetti daisuki desu  "I like spaghetti very much."
 nan to yu desu ka?  "what is this called?"
 enryo shinaide kudasai  "don't be shy" (say right after our guestsays, "no thank you", if you are host/hostess)
 oishiidesu  "delicious!"

 gomennasai, sumimasen 

sumimasen shitsureshimasu

 "Excuse me"

the second phrase is the most polite

Other Phrases

 yatta  "I did it!"
 oikutsu desuka?  "How old are you?"
 do demoikoto desu  "It's not important"
 totemo taisetsu desu  "It's very important"
 honto  "really?" or "yes, really!" (depends on the context)
 a, so desu ka  "Oh , I see"
 mochiron  "Of course"
 a, yokatta  "Oh, good - as in what a relief!"
 nani  "what?"
 doshiyo  "what shall i do?"
 sasuga " I am impressed by you as usual"
 gambatte  "try your best"
 gambari masho  "let's do our best"
 sugoi! "amazing!"
 kire!  "pretty!"
 daisuki desu  "I love it" or "I love you" (depending on context)
 suki desu  "I like it"
 i-i-desu  "is good"
 yo-ku arimasen  "isn't good"
 omedeto  "congratulations"
 dame desu!  "enough!"
 ototo  as in "this is my little brother"
 oneechan, oneesan  "older sister (you could say "name"-nee)
 imouchan  "younger sister"
   

Assignment

1. Use in conversation the words for "good morning", "good evening", "thank you" and good night"

2.   Acquire an instrument and dance HUD of your choice - appropriate for Second Life Geisha. You may want to ask other geisha what they like to use. Okaasan has enjoyed hers for many years. 

3.    Research a topic related to Japanese or Geisha culture, write it on a note card and present it to the okiya by sending to Okaasan or oneesan first - they will post to the okiya group. But even better, present your topic during an ozashiki or tea house night. 

 

 

 

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