We can start the ‘N’ column of the Japanese sound chart this week. The first sound is na, written in hiragana as な and katakana as ナ. The ‘n’ sound is pretty much like English and the ‘a’ part is, of course, the same as it was for a, ka, ga, sa, za, ta, and da in the previous columns. Today let’s just say, it is like when the doctor tells you to open your mouth and say, “ah.”
Like the other soundchecks, I will try to find words that start with na that don’t normally appear in textbooks, regardless of the fact that they are commonly useful.
Natoriumu (ナトリウム) means ‘sodium’ and comes from the Latin name ‘natrium’ from which we get the atomic symbol Na. Cooks, nutritionists, athletes, chemists, and engineers alike should be able to put this one to use.
Naisho (ないしょ・内緒・内証) means ‘secret’. Nuance here seems to be ‘personal’ or ‘on the sly’, this sort of thing comes up in Japan a lot, so this word gets used a lot.
Natsubate (なつばて・夏バテ) and nanohana (なのはな・菜の花) are bonus words for this week. Both of these are words I wrote about in the past… or at least I thought I had, but my search engine finds no reference to them. (Perhaps I’ll have to take care of that.) The former is a condition caused by hot, humid summer weather. Lack of sleep because of all the noise that comes into a house with all the windows open; and loss of weight caused by the loss of appetite from running hither and thither in the oppressive conditions. The latter is rape blossoms, a springtime delicacy. Drop by your favorite tempura shop in the spring and order up some rape blossoms. Then you’ll know if they are a good shop or not. Mmmm… haru no aji.