Friday, February 25, 2011

Lesson 6

Hello again, and sorry for not posting anything the last few days, but my schedule was hectic. Hope you've been practicing in the meantime, and you're ready learn more. Today's lesson is going to be pretty easy again(compared to the writing systems, what isn't? - then again, just wait 'till the kanji). Anyway, today the spotlight falls on the possession indicator - "no"(not the Enligsh nou-, this is pronounced as the No in November).

Watashi no hon desu.
It's my book. (hon - book)

When you put no after I, you, he, she, etc. , as in watashi no, you get my/mine, your/yours, his, etc. Since "It's my book." sound weird, I'm going to give you the word for this as well.

Kore wa watashi no hon desu.
This is my book. (kore-this).

Now it sounds better. When you put This in the sentence it becomes its topic(you're talking about this, and not something else), and as such is is followed by a topic marker, wa.

No can be put not only after pronouns, but after inanimate obects as well:

Nihon-Ginkou no Tanaka desu.
I am Tanaka from the Bank of Japan.(Nihon-Japan; ginkou - bank)

Here the no shows that Tanaka "belongs" to the Bank of Japan, as an employee, which is English is translated as "from the Bank of Japan", instead of "the Bank of Japan's".

That pretty much sums up the use of  the possession indicator "no".

New vocabulary in today's lesson:
no - possesion indicator
hon - book
kore - this
Nihon - Japan
ginkou - bank

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lesson 5

Today's lesson is going to be pretty easy - how to ask yes/no questions in Japanese.

Let's take a sentence from the previous lesson:

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu.
Mr. Smith is an attorney.

Now how do we turn this sentence into a question? Pretty simple - just add "ka" .

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu ka?

Is Mr. Smith is an attorney?

To answer a yes/no question in Japanese, use hai (yes), or iie (no).

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu ka?
Hai, bengoshi desu.
Is Mr. Smith is an attorney?
Yes, he is.

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu ka?
Iie, bengoshi dewa arimasen.
Is Mr. Smith is an attorney?
No, he isn't.

In the second answer we see a new word - "dewa arimasen". This is the negative form of desu, meaning "is not".

That's all there is to asking a yes/no question in Japanese - as you can see not everything in this language is hard.

Even though there were no kana in the last couple of lessons, don't forget to practice them. In a few lessons, there will be a test ;)

New vocabulary in today's lesson:
hai - yes
iie - no
dewa arimasen - is not

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lesson 4

Here comes Lesson 4! As I promised, no kana in this one. Today we start with the grammar - compared to the writing systems, the basics of grammar might seem easy to you. Hopefully they will.

The structure of a basic Japanese senteces is:

X wa Y desu.

X is the subject - a noun.

wa in Japanese is called a topic marker  it is always put after the topic (subject) of the sentece to identify it. I've no idea what the Japanese were thinking when they decided this, but even though it is pronounced "wa", and written that way in Romaji, in kana it is awlays written as "ha" instead.

Y is either another noun, or an adjective.

desu is the Japanese verb for "to be". Unlike in English, though, it doesn't have different forms corresponding to "am", "are" or "is", it is always the same - desu. (Finally something in Japanese that is easier than in English, right?) The verb is read "des" - without the final "u". The "u" in the end is only pronounced by either women trying to sound cute, or little girls - either way unless you want to talk like a little girl, refrain from pronouncing it.

Examples of a sentence using the following pattern are:

Sumisu-san wa bengoshi desu.
Mr. Smith is an attorney.

Watashi wa Burandon desu.
I am Brandon.

Now you know how to introduce yourselves in Japanese - just put your name instead of Brandon, of course. Watashi is just one of the words in Japanese language meaning "I" - relatively neutral, so it is widely used. As a rule, however, Japanese people often omit words such as I, you, etc., so in an everyday conversation this sentence will more likely be just: Burandon desu. Which is just a name and the verb "to be", and if somebody asked you about someone else it would mean: "HE is Brandon" - so the meaning of things in Japanese pretty much depends on the context.

As this is the first Lesson in grammar, I think I will stop here and let things sink in.

Vocabulary in today's lesson:
desu - to be 
watashi - I
bengoshi - attorney

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lesson 3 appendix

After a one day brake here comes the lesson 3 appendix, the lesson which will finish all of Hiragana and Katakana once and for all. And it's not gonna be all that hard either - you already know most of it. There are just a couple of points I'd like to make in order to finish with everything, and all of them are really simple.

1. Double consonants

Some words in Japanese, such as kekkon (marriage), have a double consonant in one or more places. In order to double a consonant in kana, all you have to do is add a little tsu (Hiragana - , Katakana - ) in place of the first consonant. So kekkon in Hiragana will be written like this - けっこん. The height of the little tsu is about half of that of the normal one.

2. Long Vowels

Long vowels in Japanese are about 1.5 times longer than that of normal ones.

Getting long vowels in Hiragana is simple - just put the same vowel one more time after a syllable ending with that vowel, or the vowel itself - ああ (aa), さあ (saa), いい (ii), うう (uu), etc. However,  (e) and (o) could be doubled by either using the same vowel, or by using  (i) or う (u). So both ええ(ee) and えい (ei) are read  "ee", and both おお (oo) and おう (ou) are read as "oo".

Getting long vowels in Katakana, however, is ..... even simpler. No need to remember anything here, all you have to do is add a line after the vowel to make it long.: アー (aa), イー (ii), ウー (uu), エー (ee), オー (oo).

3. Punctuation

Just a little remark about Japanese punctuation. The Japanese full stop is written as a little empty circle instread of a dot. It looks like that - "". Also, all the sentences in Japanese end with full stop, even the questions - there is no question mark in Japanese. Lastly, the comma in Japanese is inverted for some silly reason - instead of  written from right to left like in English and pretty much every other language ( , )  it is written from left to right ( ).

Congratulations! Now you know everything you need to know to start writing in Hiragana and Katakana. From the next lesson on, we'll be studying grammar!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lesson 3

Ah, it's this time of the day again. Here it comes - Lesson 3. Now we're sure to move on to vocabulary and grammar, right? Right? .... Nope. Guess what, today's lesson is STILL about Hiragana and Katakana! We're progressing like crazy, aren't we ;)  On a serious note though, this will be the last lesson on that topic and next tiem there really will be some grammar and vocabulary so we can finally start saying things in Japanese. On to the kana for now though.

Last time we learned how to change some of the sounds by adding dots and circles. Now we will learn how to combine some of the kana. Not all of them can be combined, though. In fact only the i-edning ones can. And then again, they can only be combined with three certain kana - ya, yu and yo. The combination is done by writing the i-ending kana normally, and then adding a small version of one of those three right next to it. This makes a total of 21 results, which I am going to list below (since they follow an easy and obvious pattern, I'm not really sure if I need to do all of them, but I'm going to do it anyway, just in case). Here goes:

きゃ - kya きゅ - kyu きょ - kyo
しゃ - sha  しゅ - shu  しょ - sho
ちゃ - cha ちゅ - chu ちょ - cho
にゃ - nya にゅ - nyu にょ - nyo
ひゃ - hya ひゅ - hyu ひょ - hyo
みゃ - mya みゅ - myu  みょ - myo
りゃ - rya   りゅ - ryu  りょ  - ryo

Of course, the can be modified with two dots and circles as well, resulting in this thing here (I'm too lazy to write them all myself):


Now that you know this, there are only two more small detail to tell you, but since I have to go now, I will have to write an appendix to Lesson 3 later and mention them in it. That's it for now folks. Good luck with you studies! And most importantly - have fun!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lesson 2

Now, for everyone who still hasn't given up, running scared of the difficulty of the Japanese language, here comes Lesson 2. And if you thought we're gonna start learning words or grammar now, you're wrong - we're still not done with the writing systems. No, we're not starting Kanji or anything, we're still at Hiragana and Katakana :) Is there anyone who's memorized them by any chance? Didn't think so. I'm kidding of course, feel free to boast about your accomiplishments in the comments. Today's lesson is going to be short and easy. Did I hear someone say "hurray"?

In today's lesson we're gonna  learn how to get some additional syllables that aren't in the tables. That's pretty simple - just add two little strokes (or just dots, as my Japanese teacher did) and the sounds change as follows:

K  becomes G,
S      --->     Z
T      --->     D
H      --->     B

This way the kana ka, ki, ku, ke, ko become ga, gi, gu, ge, go and so on. It looks like that.

 か  =>  が 
  => ぎ 
く   =>  ぐ  
け   =>  げ 
こ  =>  ご 

There are a few exeptions however. When you put two dots on SHI, instead of ZI, it becomes JI, and both SU and TSU become ZU. Usually, the ZU sound is represented by SU with two dots.

Only for the kana starting with H there is another way you can change them, and that is by adding a small circle in the place of the two dots. Then H changes into P. (example: ha => pa)

 は  => ぱ

This way of changing the kana applies to both Hiragana and Katakana.

Since I said this lesson was going to be short, and it turned out a little longer, I'm going to stop here to make sure I don't overload your brains with new information. For everyone who still hasn't given up: 

Good job, see you again next time!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lesson 1 Appendix

Now that I've read through my previous post, I noticed there are still some things left to explain, which I've missed last time beacause I'm too used to them and kind of take them for granted by now. That being the pronunciation of the kana a, i, u, e and o, and all the other kana they are part of. Although not by much, their pronunciation differs from that in English.

The kana a is pronaunced like the A in After. 

The kana i is pronaunced like the I in Image.

The kana u is pronaunced like the OUGH in thrOUGH or the OO in mOO.

The kana e is pronaunced like the E in Ever.

And lastly, the kana o is pronaunced..... well, pretty much as it is in English, only little shorter - it isn't the English oh, but a shorter and clean O.

Well, that covers just about everything about the pronunciation. Another thing you might have been wondering about is how the Japanese spell words with consecutive consonants, since all their kana end with a vowel, and exept for the occasional n, all the words must be follow the pattern (vowel) -consonant - vowel - consonant -vowel and so on, with the possible addition of any number of vowels in betweem, since unlike consonats, single vowels do exits in Japanese. Well, they is no way to group a number of consonants together - the Japanese spell such words with a number of added vowels in between - for example the word Berserk; in Japanese that would be spelled beruseruku(that's the name of a nice manga, you can check it out if you're into fantasy/horror, be warned, though, it's pretty gory).

You might also have noticed that some letters are completely missing in the table, not even being present as part of syllables - such as v, b, l  and many others. Some of them might be obtained from the kana in the table (we're going to cover this in the next lesson),  but others simply don't exist - such as L.  The Japanese language simply doesn't have that sound. Japanese always use  R instead, which causes many funny mistakes when they try to write a word in English - their use of  L and R is pretty much random, so you can often see on Japanese signs words like erebator, toiret or lestroom - such spelling mistakes and silly translations in general are know as Engrish.

Since I've started babbling on about random stuff now I will end this post for now before I say something stupid ;) Next will be Lesson 2.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lesson 1

After a day of waiting, here comes the first post that actually contains some useful information, so we will call it Lesson 1. Not that much of a lesson, really,  but we need to lay down the ground first, before we move on to the more advanced stuff. And like learning every other language, learning Japanese start with the alphabet, although they don't really have one. As you've read in the intoduction, the Japanese use THREE different writing systems.


First is the Hiragana. That's the basic writing system, in which you can write almost everything in Japanese. There are things that are always written in Hiragana, but writing only in Hiragana will make you seem stupid. The more Kanji you learn and use instead of Hiragana, the more educated you will seem. This is the writing system everone should start with.


The next one is Katakana. As you can see what you can write using Katakana is exactly the same as what you can with Hiragana, the Japanese insist, however, that every word with foreign origin is written in Katakana. Katakana is used to spell all the loan words (and only them)*, so you won't be seeing it that much in everyday life (at least not as much as Kanji and Hiragana).


The last, and unarguably HARDEST writing system is Kanji. There will be no table posted here for them, simply because there is literally thousands of them. You shouldn't be worried about Kanji yet, it is far too early - besides everything in Japanese can be written using Hiragana and Katana only. Later I will start posting some Kanji after every lesson.

Anyway, that is all for now. I will leave you to learn the writing system - it takes a while, as some of them seem really similar. But if you think this is hard, just wait till you start learining Kanji.

P.S  As I don't expect you to memorize all of the kana (that's what Hiragana and Katakana are collectively called) I will be writing the beginner lessons in romaji (simply put using latin latters to write Japanese).

*Actually there are some cases when katakana is used to write Japanese words, such as names of restaurants, but that is only because the Japanese think that Katakana is cooler than Hiragana, and by writing words that should be written in Hiragana in Katakanam, you are considered COOL. That, however, is like slang in English, and is not correct.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seriously now...

Don't get discouraged by the article in the introduction - it's only puropse is to be humorous ;)

If you are sure you're ready and want to do this, then you're at the right place - I'll soon start posting some Japanese lessons and exercises, starting with the most basic of stuff. As someone who has been down this road and understands your pain, I hope that I'll be able to help you a least a litlle bit in learning Japanese.


You've eaten at a few Japanese restaurants, seen some anime, hosted an exchange student, and had a Japanese girlfriend. And now, somewhere in the back of your tiny brain, you think that Japanese would be a good language to learn. Hey, you could translate video games! Or Manga! Or even Anime! Pick up Japanese girls, impress your friends! Maybe you'll even go to Japan and become an anime artist! Yeah! Sounds like a great idea! Everyone will think you are SO COOL! 

So you head down to the library, pick up some books with titles like "How To Teach Yourself Japanese In Just 5 Seconds A Day While Driving Your Car To And From The Post Office" and "Japanese For Complete And Total, Utter Fools!...Who Should Never Procreate". Hey, you already know a few words from your manga collection/girlfriend/anime. You already know how to say good morning! Excited and impressed with your new knowledge, you begin to think: "Hey. Maybe, just maybe, i could do this for a living! Or even major in Japanese! Great Idea, Right? 


I don't care how many anime tapes you've watched, how many Japanese girlfriends you've had or books you've read, You Don't Know Japanese. Not only that, majoring in the god-forsaken language is NOT fun or even remotely sensible. Iraqi war prisoners are often forced to major in Japanese. The term "Holocaust" comes from the Latin roots "Holi" and "Causm", meaning "to major in Japanese". You get the idea. And so, sick of seeing so many lambs run eagerly to the slaughter, I have created This Guide to REAL TIPS for Studying Japanese.

Or, as is actually the case, NOT studying it. 

This should be an obvious.

Despite what many language books, friends, or online tutorials may have told you, Japanese is NOT simple, easy, or rational (Japanese vocabulary is determined by throwing tiny pieces of sushi at a dart board with several random numbers attatched to it. The numbers are then fed into a machine. The machine is then destroyed). The Japanese spread these rumours to draw foolish Gaijin into their efficient clutches.

Not only is it not simple, it's probably one of the hardest language you could ever want to learn. With THREE completely different written languages (none of which make sense), a multitude of useless, confusing politeness levels, and an absolutely insane grammatical structure, Japanese has been crushing the souls of the pathetic Gaijin since the very first Jesuit priests washed ashore there on a raft made of bibles. Let's go over some of the elements mentioned above so you can get a better idea of what I mean.

The Japanese Writing System

The Japanese writing system is broken down into three separate, autonomous, insane parts: Hiragana ("those squiggily letters"), Katakana ("those boxy letters") and Kanji ("roughly 4 million embodiments of your worst nightmares").

Hiragana is used to spell out Japanese words using syllables. It consists of many letters, all of which look completely different and bear absolutely no resemblance to each other whatsoever. Hiragana were devloped by a group blind, deaf, and dumb Japanese people who scribbled things on pieces of paper while having no idea why they were doing so. The resulting designs were then called "hiaragana", and were used to predict the future. The prince who invented these characters, Yorimushi("stinking monkey-bush-donkey") was promptly bludgeoned to death. But don't worry, because as your teachers will tell you, you'll hardly use Hiragana in "real life". 

Katakana are used only to spell out foreign words in a thick, crippling japanese accent, so that you'll have no idea what you're saying even though it's in English. However, if you remember one simple rule for Katakana, you'll find reading Japanese much easier: Whenever something is written in Katakana, it's an English word! (note: Katakana is also used for non-english foreign words. And sound effects, and Japanese words). Katakana all look exactly the same, and it's impossible, even for Japanese people, to tell them apart. They kind of look like the number 9, except straighter. No need to worry though, because you'll hardly ever have to read Katakana in "real life".

Kanji are letters that were stolen from China. Every time the Japanese invaded China (which was very often) they'd just take a few more letters, so now they have an estimated 400 gazillion of them. Kanji each consist of several "strokes", which must be written in a specific order or Japanese people will laugh at you. Each character conveys a specific meaning, like "horse" (note that the character for horse could also mean "car". Or "police officer". Or "Didacticism").

Kanji can also be combined to form new words. For example, if you combine the Kanji for "small", and "woman", you get the word "carbeurator". Kanji also have different pronounciations depending on where they are in the word, how old you are, and what day it is. When European settlers first came upon Japan, Japanese scholars suggested that Europe adopt the Japanese written language as a "universal" language understood by all parties. This was the cause of World War 2 several years later. Don't worry, however, since you'll never have to use kanji in "real life", since most Japanese gave up on reading a long, long time ago, and now spend most of their time playing Pokemon. 

Politeness Levels

Politness Levels have their root in an ancient Japanese tradition of absolute obedience and conformity, a social caste system, and complete respect for arbitrary heirarchical authority, which many American companies believe will be very helpful when applied as managerial techniques. They're right, of course, but no one is very happy about it.

Depending on who you are speaking to, your politeness level will be very different. The correct level of politeness depends on the age of the speaker, age of the person being spoken to, time of day, astrological sign, blood type, sex, whether they are Grass or Rock Pokemon type, color of pants, and so on. For an example of Politness Levels in action, see the example below.

Japanese Teacher: Good morning, Harry.
Harry: Good Morning.
Japanese Classmates: (gasps of horror and shock)

The above would most likely be followed by violent retching. The bottom line is that Politeness Levels are completely beyond your understanding, so don't even try. Just resign yourself to talking like a little girl for the rest of your life and hope to God that no one beats you up.

Grammatical Structure

The Japanese have what could be called an "interesting" grammatical structure, but could also be called "confusing", "random", "bogus" or "evil". To truly understand this, let's examine the differences between Japanese and English grammar.

English Sentence:
Jane went to the school.

Same Sentence In Japanese:
School Jane To Went Monkey Apple Carbeurator.

Japanese grammer is not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. What's more, the Japanese also do not have any words for "me", "them", "him, or "her" that anyone could use without being incredibly insulting (the Japanese word for "you", for example, when written in kanji, translates to "I hope a monkey scratches your face off"). Because of this, the sentence "He just killed her!" and "I just killed her!" sound exactly the same, meaning that most people in Japan have no idea what is going on around them at any given moment. You are supposed to figure these things out from the "context", which is a German word meaning "you're screwed".

When most Americans think of Japanese people, they think: polite, respectful, accomadating. (They could also possibly think: Chinese. If you haven't noticed, Americans are idiots, and can't tell 3/4 of the globe apart from one another). However, it is important to learn where the truth ends and where our Western stereotyping begins.

Of course, it would be irresponsible of me to make any sweeping generalizations about such a large group of people, but ALL Japanese people have these three characteristics: they "speak" English, they dress very nicely, and they're short.

The Japanese school system is controlled by Japan's central government, which, of course, is not biased in any way (recent Japanese history textbook title: "White Demons Attempt To Take Away our Holy Motherland With No Proper Reason Whatsoever, But Great And Powerful Father-Emperor Deflects Them With Winds From God: The Story Of WW2"). Because of this, all Japanese have been taught the same English-language course, which consists of reading The Canterbury Tales, watching several episodes of M*A*S*H, and reading the English dictionary from cover to cover. Armed with this extensive language knowledge, the children of Japan emerge from school ready to take part in international business and affairs, uttering such remarkable and memorable sentences as "You have no chance to survive make your time", and adding to their own products by inscribing english slogans, such as "Just give this a Paul. It may be the Paul of your life" on the side of a slot machine.

Secondly, all Japanese people dress extremely well. This fits in with the larger Japanese attitude of neatness and order. Everything has to be in it's correct place with the Japanese, or a small section in the right lobe of their brain begins to have seizures and they exhibit erratic violent behavior until the messiness is eradicated. The Japanese even FOLD THEIR DIRTY CLOTHES (I swear). Sloppiness is not tolerated in Japanese society, and someone with a small wrinkle in their shirt, one that maybe they thought they could hide by wearing a hooded sweatshirt over it (possibly emblazoned with a catchy english phrase like "Spread Beaver, Violence Jack-Off!"), will be promptly beaten to death with tiny cellular phones with tons of crap hanging off them.

Lastly, the Japanese are all short. Really, really short. Not ones to leave being tall to the Europeans or Africans, however, the Japanese have singlehandedly brought shoes with incredibly gigantic soles into style so that they can finally appear to be of actual human height, when in reality their height suggests that they may indeed be closer in relation to the race of dwarves or Hobbits. Then again, they make up for it with their crane-game technology, light-years beyond our own.

Japanese culture is also very "interesting", by which I mean "confusing", and in several cases, "dangerous". Their culture is based on the concept of "In Group/Out Group", in which all Japanese people are one big "In" group, and you are the "Out" group. Besides instilling this sense of alienation, Japan also produces cartoons and a wide variety of consumer products which are crammed into your face 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Japanese also like cock fighting monsters that live in your pants, taking baths with the elderly, and killing themselves in fancy ways.

Japanese food is what some people would call "exotic", but what most people call "disgusting", or perhaps, in some areas, "whack". Japanese food evolved from back in ancient days, when the main staple of the diet was rice. People got so sick and tired of eating rice, in fact, that they ate just about anything else they could find, from seaweed to other Japanese people. This led to the creation of such wonderful foods as "Natto", which I believe is a kind of bean but tastes like battery acid, and "Pocky", which is a stick with different frostings on it, the flavors of which include Sawdust and Strawberry. (There is Men's and Women's Pocky. Everyone knows there is no goddamned difference, but people still feel weird buying the "wrong" kind, anyway.)

Despite this variety of foods, however, the Japanese have succeeded in making every single thing they eat, from tea to plums, taste like smokey beef.

As if learning the language wasn't hard enough, Japanese classes in America tend to attract the kind of student who makes you wish that a large comet would strike the earth. There are a few basic type of students that you'll always find yourself running into. These include The Anime Freak, The Know It All, and the Deer Caught In Headlights.

The Anime Freak is probably the most common, and one of the most annoying. You can usually spot a few warning signs to let you identify them before you talk to them and it's too late: they wear the same exact Evangelion shirt every day, they have more than one anime key chain on their person (even one is pushing it), they wear glasses, they say phrases in Japanese that they obviously don't understand (such as "Yes! I will never forgive you!"), they refer to you as "-chan", make obscure Japanese culture references during class, and are usually failing. You have to be extremely careful not to let them smell pity or fear on you, because if they do they will immeadiately latch onto you and suck up both your time and patience, leaving only a lifeless husk incapable of human feeling. Desperate for companionship that doesn't give off a soft blue glow and have a Windows Logo, they will invite you to club meetings, anime showings, conventions, and all other sorts of gatherings you don't care about.

The Know It All typically has a Japanese girlfriend or boyfriend, and, due to this "inside source" on Japanese culture, has suddenly become an academic expert on all things Japanese without ever having read a single book on Japan in their entire lives. You can usually spot Know It All's by keeping an eye out for these warning signs: a cocky smile, answering more than their share of questions, getting most questions wrong, questioning the teacher on various subjects and then arguing about the answers (a typical exchange: Student: What does "ohayoo" mean? Teacher: It means "good morning. Student: That's not what my girlfriend said.), being wrong, talking alot about Japanese food and being wrong, giving long, unnecessarily detailed answers which are wrong, and failing class.

The Deer Caught In headlights are those students who took Japanese because a.) they thought it sounded like fun (!), b.) they thought it would be easy, or c.) they just needed a couple more credits to graduate. These students wear a mask of terror and panic from the moment they walk into class until the moment they leave, the high pitched scream of their future being flushed down the toilet echoing inside their heads. They are usually failing.

Although many of Japanese-language students are smart, funny, hard working people, none of them will be in your class.

If you can get past the difficulty, society, and classmates, you will probably find Japanese to be a fun, rewarding language to learn. We wouldn't know, however, since no one has ever gotten that far. But hey, I'm sure You're different.

Author's Note: Yes, I was a Japanese major. Yes, I enjoyed it. Yes, I finished. No, I don't want to go to an anime convention with you.

I think everyone should give Japanese a try. You should just be ready for a whole lot of pain.