Colloquial Japanese, a possibility?

I came across someone on Twitter who said that LingQ could be a Japanese learner’s paradise if only there were more colloquial material, Japanese as it is spoken by young Japanese now.

I realise that it is a big step to start writing for the library, but I am sure we have enough young Japanese here who could do a good job.

Short texts and audios in the language you use with your friends!

I guess that my great Japanese students would be reluctant to write anything too colloquial, but if it were made clear that these texts were created on demand, by young writers for young learners, would that be acceptable?

As for me, I don’t like this kind of colloquial materials very much. Maybe I am an old man. That’s why on LingQ Japanese section, I created the contents including a little bit demode (=outdated) expressions.

But it is possible to record Colloquial Japanese and to create some materials on LingQ. If I have enough time, I will do it.

In so far as my own tastes go, I am with Shigeharu. I find that when learning a language I much prefer to learn standard speech. I find it more generally useful, and the best place to start. Once I have this base, I pick up the colloquial speech naturally.

However, that is just me, and we certainly want to cater to all kinds of interests. I know that the interest in colloquial language is strong, in all languages. I hope that there will be more of this kind of content at LingQ. There is some already, in fact. Just going from memory, the conversations between Hitomi and her husband were of this nature. I am sure there are more.

But thanks for bringing this up Sanne. We just need more people to record material of this nature, and then of course, to transcribe it (the big stumbling block).

i’ve been creating transcripts off youtube clips in german for some of my japanese friends who are learning german for a while now.

i asked them what they like. i want to provide transcripts for the stuff they watch in their mother tongue, something to compare, something familiar to them.
i don’t want them to “endure” the stuff or to “work through it”. i want them to stop thinking and let the words flow.

lately, this was german trailers for アニメ shows. i did transcripts for stuff like german trailers of death note, the girl who leapt through time, and so on.

the language you get to listen to is a broad mix of everything being used in german. there are more formal or stiff expressions, but also very colloquial, and even curses and exagerrated speech. this would be what you’d hear while walking along the road in germany anyways, right?

i love learning japanese. i’ve done that for a while (since september 2010), using several sources. i’m chatting with japanese people in japanese on twitter and facebook whenever i can, trying to pick up new stuff. what i miss is corresponding audio. i know i could get that here on LingQ, but, let’s face it, i am 36 years old and already feel like having to work through 爺の言葉, which severely turns me off.

stuff such as “who is she” could be rephrased to normal です、ます or だ、である. it would be a lot more natural like that. i’m not guessing here. i showed the material around, asked japanese friends what they think of the texts, and they ALL told me that “this is what we used to talk like 50 years ago”. i had that impression myself aswell, despite still being a clueless newbie with no skill whatsoever.

i know, this comes across very harshly. i am sorry, this is not my intention. what i’d like to have here is just natural flow of actually in-use-language, instead of “the basics” phrased in a way alien to even the natives.

i apologize for my unreasonable requests, just felt like providing some input…

These video clips that kaze is talking about, could they be used by our Japanese members to create shared material for LingQ, if the copyright would allow it? Now that it is possible to have a video attached to a lesson, this could be a good addition to the library.

there is A LOT of colloquial Japanese on LingQ:

Emiko and Emma
Yoshi and Hana
Hitomi and Sadayuki
And more…

it is of course advanced… I don’t see the need to teach colloquialisms until you have a good feel for the standard…

probably. but that’s not what i’m talking about, or rather, what i’m looking for.

and i don’t see the need to teach a lot of outdated expressions at the beginning. that’s not only not helpful (“i only have to work through 200 more of these boring things, yay!”), it’s counterproductive.


We welcome all kinds of content. If some of your friends want to create another version of Who is She, or something else, we would welcome it.

I believe there is no copyright problem with trailers. This is publicity.

All content welcome!! Thanks in advance.

dooo, your comment came in while I was composing my answer and the phone rang. I think different people have different tastes at different stages of their learning. If Kaze or his friends can give us colloquial Japanese for beginners, that would be great. I do not think there is a chapter 1 or a chapter 10 in language learning. There is just the language.

I do agree that this might cause some confusion so a significant amount of explanation in the notes page would be advisable.

I can provide German content, but my Japanese is sub-zero.

Alas, LingQ already has tons of well-made German lessons, the German tutors seem to try to provide interesting stuff. You are absolutely right about “taste”, while I don’t see where the “explanations needed” comes from.

In my experience, learning the dictionary forms of verbs (and others), then going to conjugations, much easier for the learner, than backtracing from standard-polite to dictionary/masu-stem, then readjusting to the conjugation they aimed for. (this is taking into account you learn via acquisition here)

Ah, I already said way too much. 失礼しました。

“probably. but that’s not what i’m talking about, or rather, what i’m looking for.”

Are you looking basically for anime transcripts? Emiko and Emma and the others are speaking a modern spoken style, and could not be called old fashioned. Here are some actual links:

While I say it is advanced, a learner could study it as a beginner… though they would be hard pressed to get some of the idioms from the usual online dictionary sources; and this would actually make it a very tedious process without extra resources in the lesson.

I actually find the Japanese “Who is She” a bit old fashioned… (but not overly so)

I think it is great to have access to material that includes different styles of speech. However, I am with dooo when he says that you should start out with the “standard language”. I guess it also depends on how you define “colloquialisms”. As I understand it, they form part of any naturally spoken language, so you are bound to come across them when you talk to native speakers or read magazines, books, watch movies etc.
There is a difference between colloquialisms and the various styles of speech used in different social settings. I think you ought to pay attention to which style of speech (and vocabulary for that matter) is appropriate in a certain situation. Just a few days ago I talked to a young guy from the Lebanon whose English is actually very good, but the first thing he said when we started our conversation via skype was: Hey dude, what’s up? :wink:
While this certainly is quite colloquial, I have to admit that I found it kind of funny and a bit out of place and by that I do not mean that I felt offended in any way, of course not, but it is just not the way you’d greet somebody in English if you have never met that person before. At least, I would not. (Some kids meeting for the first time at a soccer game etc. might actually do that and in that situation it might also be perfectly appropriate).
Another language exchange partner, a young guy from Taiwan, speaks excellent German but he has a hard time getting rid of his “gangster rap German”. He obviously listened to tons of these songs when he started learning German. I guess it was his major source of motivation. That’s great, but now he sometimes comes across like a pimp when he talks German to me :wink:
We are friends, so we joke about it and I try to tell him that it’s great to know that stuff but you really need to know when to use it.
So, the bottom line for me is that colloquialisms are great, but use them wisely;-)
And as for Japanese, I have met quite a lot of young people who told me that they think it is kind of funny when they hear foreigners talk like some anime character. Again, I guess it is all about when and who you use it with, especially in the case of Japanese where the honorific system offers hosts of traps for foreigners to fall into;-)

It occurs to me that if a person wants to learn to read manga, then they need a grasp of colloquial Japanese. I’ve just read a manga translated into English, and it was translated into such colloquial American English that I had trouble understanding it. I hope to do better with the original versions some day.

ad skyblueteapot: (…) and it was translated into such colloquial American English that I had trouble understanding it (…)

Interesting. So far, I’ve had no problem reading manga in German. Actually, they did not strike me as being particularly challenging when it comes to colloquialisms, but this may well have to do with the fact that translators do not always choose the same approach. Maybe the English versions are more colloquial than the German ones. Sometimes there are big differences in style between various translations.

I have to admit, though, that I have come across quite a few lyrics in German rap songs (not really my favourite type of music, I’m afraid;-) or hip hop where I had no idea what they were talking about. Some of the “colloquialisms” used there seem to be rather regional as well. Anyway, I guess enriching your vocabulary with a fair amount of colloquialisms can pep up your speech :wink: