Teacher: How many prefectures are there in Japan? (sennsei: nihonn niha kenn ga ikutsu ari masu ka.) Teacher: How many prefectures are there in Japan? (seito: yonnjuunana desu.) Teacher: Very good. Will the lesson in which we study “how many” be interesting? (sennsei: yoku deki mashita. “ikutsu” wo manabu ressunn ha omoshiroi desu ka. Student: It’s boring. (seito: taikutsu desu.) Teacher: Excellent! “ikutsu” is also used when you ask for someone’s age. (sennsei : umai desu ne! “ikutsu” ha nennrei wo kiku toki nimo tsukai masu.) Student: I also know a different way of asking for someone’s age. (seito: nennrei wo kiku chigau iikata mo shitte imasu.) Teacher: Then I’ll ask you. How old are you? (sennsei: sorede ha shitsumonn desu. anata ha nannsai desu ka.) Student: As you know, I’m a genius. (seito: gozonnji no toori, tennsai desu.) Scene 1. “ikutsu” is the word used to ask for how many things there are. In Japan there are 47 kenn (prefectures) and each bears the name of a region. In the case of Tokyo, it’s “to” instead of “kenn,” whereas Osaka and Kyoto are “fu.” Hokkaido is “do,” but as this is already part of its name, it is pronounced as is. Scene 2. “taikutsu” is a pun on “ikutsu.” Scene 3. Though “ikutsu” is used when you ask for someone’s age, to be polite, some people add an “o” so it becomes “oikutsu desu ka.” Scene 4. When saying your age “sai” is added after the numeral, as in “21 sai.” “Tennsai” (genius) is a pun on “sai” (age).
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