Konnichiwa, Sayonara

Tuesday 19th, July 2016 / 09:24 Written by
Konnichiwa, Sayonara

You know these two words if you are interested in Japan at all. Do you know what they originally mean? In Japanese?

Kon-nichi is a formal way of saying ‘today’. We use this for wedding speeches and formal writing. Wa is correctly written ‘ha’ in Japanese, and the word as a whole means “As for Today…” What used to follow would have been ‘how are you?’, ‘thank you for coming’, etc.

Sayo (o is pronounced long) means ‘that case’ and nara means ‘if.’ The whole phrase would have been “Well, if that’s the case, I excuse myself.”

In both phrases only the first part survived. We love short and sweet abbreviations.

When I taught Japanese to local kiwis, I always made a point of pronouncing both words in three syllables, not two. ♪Kon♪nichi♪wa. ♪Sa♪yo♪nara.  Another trick is not to put stress on kon and na. (Japanese accents are high-low, not strong-weak as in English.) Now your Japanese sounds much better!

The following YouTube video features a children’s song about clocks, but its lyrics are excellent for practicing these greetings.

Tokei no Uta

konnichiwa2If you have another ten minutes to spare, listen to the other two songs that say Konnichiwa a lot. One is the popular song that won 1963 Japan Record Award and the other the theme song for Japan World Expo held in Osaka in 1970.

Hello my baby

konnichiwa3Hello from the World

 

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