Sunday, August 23, 2009

Japanese Verbs Are Like LEGO Blocks

Now, after four posts on Japanese verbs I've got an idea that Japanese verbs are like a blocks of LEGO.
And, looking at my previous posts, I see that the plain (dictionary) form is not a single LEGO block but rather a combination of two blocks: a vowel or few that form a "stem" and following vowel(s) that ends with U. This U ending vowel gets lost every time you conjugate a verb.

From now on I'm going to use a stem as a verb conjugation building block, rather than build everything the "dictionary" form. Look how easy it becomes:

Group 1: ~ U ending verbs (godan)

to speak(話す) hanasu はな hanashimasu はなします hanasanai はなさない hanashimasen はなしません
to write(書く) kaku kakimasuきます kakanaiかない kakimasenきません
to listen (聞く) kiku kikimasuきます kikanaiかない kikimasenきません
to wait(待つ) matsu machimasuちます matanaiたない machimasenちません
to drink(飲む)momimasu のみま nomimashimasu のみまします nomimasanai のみまさない nomimashimasen のみましません

Notice that sometimes romaji LEGO is no 100% match to kana LEGO - you can't make stems "kak" or "kik" in kana. And, "shimasu" definitely looks much better in kana :)
Also the stems I figured out do not match to common definitions of stems sometimes.
Common definition of "matsu" stem is double definition "mat -" "mach-", not "ma-" like I used above. Same for "hana-" and for other "su" ending verbs.

My guess is that this minor trouble with stem digging is caused by the fact that the stem is actually a kanji part of the verb, and that kanji-stem changes it's phonetics on reading. Since I did not mastered kanji yet (my deepest apologies come here), I may need to pay attention to the dictionary form to manage verbs with "su" endings that transforms to "shi" and "chi" for now.

Let's continue to exercise this bloody vivisection...

Group 2: ~ Iru and ~ Eru ending verbs (yodan)

to wear (着る) kiru kimasuます kinaiない kimasenません
to see (見る) miru mimasuます minaiない mimasenません
to get up (起きる) okiru おき okimasu おきます okinai おきない okimasen おきません
to get off (降りる) oriru おり orimasu おります orinai おりない orimasen おりません
to believe(信じる) shinjiru しんじ shinjimasu しんじます shinjinai しんじない shinjimasen しんじません

Wow, some kanji stick to kana to form a stem, 起き for instance. And, as always yodan are a snap! Thanks to Yoda!

Group 3: Irregular Verbs くる (kuru) and ~する (~suru)

to come (来る) kiru kimasuます konaiない kimasenません
to do (来る) suru shimasuます shinaiない shimasenません
to study(勉強する)benkyou-suru べんきょうする benkyou-shimasu べんきょうします benkyou-shinai べんきょうしない benkyou-shimasen べんきょうしません

Kiru was weird, "to wear" sounds exactly like "to come" in 3 cases of 4. Suru is weird also. So they are an irregulars for real.

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