- “Elementary Japanese for College Students” is designed for use in beginning courses in Japanese reading and conversation. The seventy-five lessons of the text are a carefully graded reading series which, together with the vocabularies, grammar explanations and notes, introduce the student to the main outlines of the grammar of spoken and written Japanese and give him a basic vocabulary for either reading or conversation. The sixty series of Conversation Pattern Sentences are designed to serve as the starting point for conversational drill.
- The present book is a successor to the earlier work of the authors, “Elementary Japanese for University Students,” being in a sense the product of the experience the authors gained in compiling the earlier book and in using it in various types of classes. Actually, relatively few parts of the earlier work have been carried over into the new textbook, and the emphasis and approach in many regards are quite different because of the great change in the background, interests, and objectives of the average American student of Japanese since the outbreak of war with Japan.
- Characters are used from the very beginning of the reading materials, for experience has shown that in the long run the best and quickest way to learn to read normal Japanese is to see Japanese written in its normal form from the start. Prolonged use of materials in romanized form, in simplified kana spelling, or even in the style of the Japanese primers, in which characters are slipped into a kana text one by one, all tend to retard the mature Occidental student of Japanese in reaching his ultimate goal by introducing entirely un-necessary stages in his reading development. Such simplified reading materials also are often unfortunate for the student psychologically, for they tend to postpone the most difficult aspects of learning to read Japanese until after the student has lost his first flush of enthusiasm and energy. The result often is that students, faced for the first time with the problem of learning characters when well along in their course of study, give characters up as too difficult and too time-consuming.
- The authors realize that many individuals and groups may not be interested in acquiring a true reading knowledge of Japanese and are aiming primarily at proficiency in Japanese conversation. For these students a romanized text is necessary if any reading is to be done as supplementary practice to conversation. To meet this need the authors have prepared a romanized edition of the reading materials, which can be secured either in place of or else in addition to the normal character and kana volume of texts. This romanized edition of the text materials is printed in the Hepburn system, but a chart of the differences between the Hepburn and the Xipponsiki systems is included for the convenience of students who may later take up materials written in the Xipponsiki system. No special edition of the vocabularies, grammar explanations and notes has been prepared to accompany the romanized text; the regular vocabularies, grammar explanations and notes apply equally well to the romanized text and the regular text, with the exception of a very few comments on the use of kana and on the reading of certain character compounds.
- The first twenty-six lessons of the text present the basic grammar of colloquial Japanese, not in the form of an analytical grammar book but in a practical, more learnable manner, with a few new elements introduced in each lesson. The grammar explanations, although simple, are relatively full and include illustrative examples of the grammar elements under discussion, and the Japanese texts for each lesson have several examples of the various points of grammar and idiom introduced in the lesson. At the end of each of the first twenty-six lessons is a Translation Exercise containing a few English phrases or sentences to be translated into Japanese. These serve to underline still more in the student’s mind the major grammatical points in each lesson1.
- After lesson 26 the student begins reading a series of short simple stories and essays, in which new vocabulary is introduced but in which there are no new major grammatical elements. This gives the student a chance to master more thoroughly simple colloquial Japanese and to increase his speed in reading this type of material. For these lessons, therefore, no lengthy grammatical explanations are necessary, but there are occasional brief notes on minor grammatical problems and on other small points that need explanation.
- Lessons 60 to 65 introduce the student to the main outlines of the so-called classical style or classical grammar, used today in newspapers, official documents, and to a lesser degree in many books and magazines. This introduction has been included near the end of the book in order to give the student a general concept of this style in case he goes on from this primer to newspapers or official documents as his next reading material. Even if this were not contemplated, a slight introduction to the so-called classical grammar would be valuable, for almost any reading material the student might take up next would very probably have occasional grammatical forms which are considered classical and not strictly colloquial. To help the student to understand the differences between the inflected forms of classical and colloquial grammar, a short chart showing the major differences between the verbal and adjectival forms of colloquial and classical grammar has been included at the back of this volume.
- The last ten lessons of the textbook include two lessons written in so-called classical style (lessons 73 and 74) and eight lessons in colloquial style with only very occasional semi-classical elements.
- Among the stories and essays of the textbook some six have been taken, with only minor changes, from the Japanese primers prepared by the Government-General of Korea, and a few others have been adapted from materials written originally for “Elementary Japanese for University Students,” but the majority are either entirely new or else virtually new creations. The sentence lessons are almost all new, with only occasional sentences taken over from the earlier book.
- The first twenty-six lessons, which present the major outline of colloquial grammar, and lessons 61 to 63, which introduce much of the so-called classical grammar, consist of unrelated sentences in which grammatical points can be more easily emphasized. All the other lessons in the book are stories or essays, with the exception of lessons 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 70 and 75, which, like the basic grammar lessons, are also made up of unrelated sentences.
- The first ten lessons are followed by complete hiragana transcriptions to help the student in reading the character text and also to give him more practice in reading kana. Hiragana, the more widely used of the two types of kana, is used together with the characters in the majority of the lessons, but lessons 20 to 26 and lessons 31, 36, 41, 46, 51, 56, 61 and 62 are in katakana in place of hiragana. The use of hand-written characters for large sections of the Japanese text was deemed advisable in order to acquaint the student with simple hand-written forms of the characters and kana as well as the printed forms, because in some instances there are rather significant differences between the two.
- The vocabularies which parallel the seventy-five lessons of the text consist of approximately 1,750 words written with some 775 different characters. Besides the 1,750 words of the vocabulary, several scores of other words are used in the text, but these are not listed independently because they are either words explained fully in the grammar sections, Japanese forms of English words, obvious compounds of other known Japanese words, or else words made analogously to other words in the vocabularies. The vocabularies are carefully graded, beginning with comparatively simple characters and relatively few new words in each lesson and going on to somewhat more complicated characters and more words per lesson. With the exception of two lessons with thirteen new characters each, no lesson has more than twelve new characters. The vocabularies of the lessons range from thirteen new words for some of the early lessons to thirty-two or thirty-three words in a few lessons. In three special cases the vocabularies are of even greater length, notably in the last lesson, in which a vocabulary of almost double size is given in order to include several very valuable words.
- The characters and words have been chosen with the greatest of care as those most likely to be of use to the beginner in the early stages of his studies and also as a background for further work. It cannot be said that the characters and words chosen are necessarily the most essential 775 characters and the most valuable 1,750 words, but the great majority of them are certainly among the most essential 1,000 characters and most important 2,500 words. For the most part the words are of such general value that they must be learned by any student regardless of his particular field of interest or future specialty. No type of vocabulary has received greater emphasis than any other, with the possible exception of the military field and language study itself, which for obvious reasons have received slightly greater emphasis than some other fields.
- A very small number of characters and words of secondary importance have been included, because they could not be avoided in certain of the stories. A few other words are included not because of their own intrinsic importance but as useful examples of fairly large categories of words. For example, words like nyuin and akka are not very important in themselves, but they illustrate how certain types of words are made with the aid of elements like nyu- and -ka.
- Several words commonly written in characters have been used only in kana spelling in the text. This is because the characters used for these words are of very little importance, although the words themselves are valuable, particularly in conversation. For example, aisatsu is a very useful word in conversation, but it is written with characters even Japanese find difficult to remember. In a few other cases where one of two or more characters used in a word of primary importance is itself only of secondary importance, the character has been printed but beside it is included a kana transcription, so that the memorizing of that particular character will not be necessary. For instance, … and … used in the important words genkan and inaka, are definitely characters of secondary importance in Japanese, and therefore they have a kana transcription beside them wherever they appear in the text.
- Throughout the text the authors have attempted to make the vocabulary and the style that of an ordinary educated Japanese. Grammatical limitations in the early lessons and vocabulary limitations throughout have, of course, made it necessary to avoid many idioms and certain types of expressions. In a primer for a complicated and highly idiomatic language like Japanese, it is impossible to use an unfettered free literary style, particularly in early lessons, but every effort has been made within the limitations imposed by a restricted vocabulary to make each sentence not only grammatically correct but also perfectly idiomatic and normal, even though stylistic elegance often has to be sacrificed.
- In this volume which contains the vocabularies, grammar explanations and notes are two indices, one to the grammar and notes and the other to the vocabularies. The grammar index makes it possible for the student to locate quickly the explanation of any given grammatical point, and it also makes possible the use of this book as a simple reference work on Japanese grammar, even though it can lay no claim to being a systematic presentation of Japanese grammar as a whole. The vocabulary index is made by characters listed according to the “radical” (or classifier) system and by kana for the kana words. It does not include definitions but merely refers to the lessons in which the words are listed. The vocabulary index is meant to be primarily a memorizing aid. By listing together words written with the same initial character it groups words in such a way as to assist the memorizing process, and it also gives the various kun and on readings2 of a single character in quick succession, enabling the student to see at a glance what are the commonest readings for any given character. This is particularly valuable, because on readings are not listed independently in the vocabularies and appear only as they occur in specific words. Both in the vocabularies and in the index to them, on words are printed in capitals and kun words in italics.
- At the back of the volume of texts printed in characters and kana3 is a series of writing charts designed to help the student to learn to write correctly hiragana, katakana and Chinese characters. The writing charts for the characters cover the new characters of the first twenty-six lessons. That was felt to be sufficient, since the vast majority of the other new characters of the text are made up of elements found in the characters of the first twenty-six lessons. On the right-hand side of the character writing charts are given the number of the “radical” of each character and the number of its additional strokes. This will help the student to familiarize himself with the “radical” system, which is so essential in learning to use Japanese and Chinese dictionaries.
- Included also in this volume are sixty series of Conversation Pattern Sentences. These are meant to be the starting point and basic drill material for conversational instruction, but they do not constitute an independent and complete conversation course in themselves. They are made up of approximately 600 sentences or groups of sentences, arranged under convenient but rather vague headings. They form a graded series of sentences, but they are on a somewhat different and decidedly looser pattern than the graded materials of the reading lessons4, for in conversation categories of ideas rather than grammatical structure are the better starting point. With the exception of a handful of words, notably a half dozen or so in the last series on Polite Phrases, the vocabulary of the Conversation Pattern Sentences is all contained in the vocabularies of the reading lessons, but it is not presented in the same order.
- Methods of instruction in conversation will of necessity vary from teacher to teacher, but experience has shown that the best starting point in teaching students to speak Japanese when there is little opportunity to speak it outside of class is the rote memorizing of pattern sentences. The student thus learns to reproduce the basic patterns of speech almost automatically, and the teacher can then guide him in introducing new words into these patterns and in making new combinations of them until he is speaking both idiomatically and fluently.
- Since the Conversation Pattern Sentences are not correlated with the reading lessons on a lesson-by-lesson basis, they can be used in conjunction with them in a variety of ways. If the emphasis in the class is primarily on reading, the conversational materials can be introduced after lesson 7 of the reading materials, for in that lesson many of the words and some of the grammar used in the first series of Conversation Pattern Sentences appear for the first time. If the emphasis on conversation and reading is equal, or even if the emphasis is primarily on reading, the reading lessons and the conversation materials can be started at the same time, for the pattern sentences and the reading matter then complement each other, even though they do not necessarily present the same grammatical point at the same time. If the emphasis in the class is primarily on conversation, it is advisable to start working on the conversation material slightly before the reading, so that the reading material and the grammar explanations which accompany it will serve to clarify and emphasize points in the grammar the student has already in a sense mastered through processes of mechanical repetition. The authors have tried all three of these approaches with different groups of students and have found them all successful.
- There is little said in this textbook about phonetics, for the practical reason that a description or analysis of pronunciation seems to mean little or nothing to the great majority of students of Japanese. To teach proper pronunciation a capable teacher or informant is absolutely necessary.
- The authors realize the infinite possibilities for errors and misprints5 in a textbook of this type, particularly when it has been compiled under great pressure of time. They would welcome having errors brought to their attention, so that if a revised edition of this work is ever brought out the necessary corrections can be made.
- In conclusion the authors wish to express their thanks to all those who have aided them in the preparation of this textbook. In particular, they wish to express their appreciation to Mr. Isamu Sato, who did many arduous tasks in connection with the preparation of the Japanese reading materials, to Mr. and Mrs. Y. L. Chou and Miss Elizabeth McKinnon, who prepared the hand-written portions of the Japanese text, and to Miss Fannie Chude, who saw the manuscript through the press.
→ Serge Elisseeff, Edwin O. Reischauer, Takehiko Yoshihashi; Cambridge, Mass.; March 1944
In-Page Footnotes ("Elisseeff (Serge), Reischauer (Edwin O.) & Yoshihashi (Takehiko) - Elementary Japanese for College Students: Part II - Vocabularies, Grammar and Notes")
- The “Japanese Key” for the specific translations called for in these Translation Exercises can be obtained by teachers from the Harvard-Yenching Institute, 17 Boylston Hall, Cambridge, Mass.
Taken from ThoughtCo Japanese: When to Use On-Reading and Kun-Reading for Kanji. Footnote 3: Footnote 4: Footnote 5:
- Simply put, on-reading (On-yomi) is the Chinese reading of a kanji character. It is based on the sound of the kanji character as pronounced by the Chinese at the time the character was introduced, and also from the area it was imported.
- So an on-reading of a given word might be quite different from modern standard Mandarin. The kun-reading (Kun-yomi) is the native Japanese reading associated with the meaning of a kanji.
- The editions in my possession have fairly brief Errata for Vols I & III, but this volume has an extensive – three full pages – set of Addenda and Corrigenda.
Harvard-Yenching Institute, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1944. Seventh printing, 1963.
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