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My Mean Senpai!

Film posters can be good sources for a quick bite of Japanese without much effort. You have a large image to help you understand context and usually a catchy phrase that shows some of the more creative uses of the language.

This poster is clearly aimed for a younger audience, using very simple language, bold and evocative imagery. It’s a love comedy – and you don’t even need to understand a word of the language to know that! Fortunately, we are language students, so we can pick it apart a little more.

私の優しくない先輩。

わたしの やさしくない せんぱい。

My Mean Senpai

We had a whole host of new beginner members recently from the special Textfugu deal, so I imagine pretty much everyone on the site can understand this sentence! What’s interesting are the different ways you might translate it. My take is to ignore the negative 優しくない (unkind) and just outright use a positive synonym. Sounds better than ‘My unkind Senpai’, right? (Just in case you are wondering, the Japanese word 先輩 is the opposite to 後輩 (こうはい). They refer to a superior-subordinate relationship, like a senior and a junior, boss and employee, young and old. It’s an important Japanese cultural concept to grasp while learning the language, as the level of the relationship will determine your manner of speaking.

Senpai, then, would be the senior (student, in this case), and kouhai would be the junior. A junior would have to show more respect to a senior and generally use politer language and actions to show it. I left ‘senpai’ in the English translation because it’s one of those words that I feel has a special quality about it that is lost when translated to English. Other such words might include 元気 (げんき) and お疲れさまでした (おつかれさまでした).

大大大っきらいで、大大大スキです!

だいだいだいっきらいで、だいだいだいスキです!

I love him and hate him!

スキ?? You may be wondering why the word ‘like’ or ‘love’ is using Katakana. It’s for emphasis (as we looked at here). The opposite of love? Hate, of course – きらい. This also has a kanji (嫌い) but it is omitted here for simplicity.


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8 Responses to Gakuu. Studying with Real Japanese

  1. Sabrina September 29, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This is pretty cool! Right now I’m studying on Textfugu which is great! I belive Gakuu can be really helpul too. What I like most is that its for pre-intermediate to advanced level students. So you can’t say its the same thing over and over again… students can actually improve their knowledge here. Thank you very much for creating this site. Have a nice day :)
    -Sabrina

    • Gakuranman September 30, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      Hi Sabrina! Thank you for your comment :).

      That’s definitely our aim. I love Textfugu for beginners and really getting students a solid grounding in the language, but afterwards (and even while) studying the basics, it can really help to encounter raw Japanese material. You don’t have to understand everything at first, but feeling challenged and picking up little bits here and there that are extra to your learning the basics helps expand your mind. Let me know if you have any more questions! More demonstration material will be up soon! We are currently having a special launch sale price for early adopters, so check out the pricing page if interested :).

      • Sabrina September 30, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

        Thanks for your reply. :) Unfortunately I’m even still miles away from the intermediate level. But I’ll definetly return to Gakuu when I get to this point. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the extra demonstration material. :) Keep up the good work.

        • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 12:21 am #

          Sure thing :). Let me know if you have any other questions or suggestions for things you’d like to see on Gakuu!

  2. missingno15 October 1, 2010 at 7:31 pm #

    When I looked at this, I first thought to myself, “aw hell no, gakuranman is doing the same thing as koichi…even the website layout is similar”. But then I realized “it’s aimed at pre-intermediate to advanced level students” which is perfect for my situation right now because I now really want to excel way past beginner. So basically, Gakuu really complements Textfugu. Can’t wait for more lessons to see how this is gonna be like so I can decide if its worth getting.

    • Gakuranman October 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

      Hey there! Thanks for dropping by :). No way – Koichi and I are buds. I’ve always loved teaching the more advanced stuff so it worked out perfectly. I’ll be adding more stuff in the coming days, so please stay tuned!

  3. DumbOtaku (percent20) October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    This is really cool. I am glad to see more online content going beyond just teaching hirigana and katakana. That is what I try to do on my blog, but with to little consistency. Glad to see an expert do it, btw already a signed-up paid member now. :)

    • Gakuranman October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      Glad to have you man! Look forward to hearing any suggestions you have for the site and future lessons :)

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