I'm learning how to introduce myself and am trying to figure out the basic grammar. I know that in Japanese the subject is often left off if it's clear what is being spoken of. I'm not too sure, however, whether it's unambiguous in this instance - do I need the subject for '(Senkou wa) bungaku to kogaku desu'? Here is my passage:

わたし の なまえ は ハリエット です。二十 さい です。さんねんせい です。ぶんがく と こがく です。しゅっしん が オクランド です。

  1. Is 'bungaku' correct for an English major, or should I say 'eigo'? Does 'eigo' make it sound like I'm studying English linguistics / English as a second language?
  2. Can I say 'bungaku to kogaku sannensei desu', or do I need to have separate clauses for my year and major?
  3. Is 'shusshin ga okurando desu' correct? I've never encountered this phrase before now, when I was trying to find a translation for 'My hometown is Auckland'.
  • 1
    「しゅっしん が オークランドです」 should be しゅっしん は ….
    – user4092
    Apr 11, 2014 at 4:16

1 Answer 1


There's a lot of small questions in there. I will start with the easiest ones.

For how to get your place name right in Katakana, use wikipedia (go to English wikipedia, find word your know, switch to 日本語 = http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%82%AF%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89_(%E3%83%8B%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B8%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3%83%89) --> オークランド

I would probably say オークランド[出身]{しゅっしん}です but I think オークランドが出身 is grammatically fine.

Regarding "さんねんせい です。ぶんがく と こがく です", there are several questions / problems here. "English" if that means English literature is [英文学]{えいぶんがく} "こがく" would be archaeology [古学]{こがく} or do you mean engineering [工学]{こうがく}

As a note of caution from someone who did have two majors, that's not very normal in Japan and will probably just confuse people to the point where you will need to explain further.

In random speech, 英文学と工学です would be an exceptionally weird sentence meaning "English literature and Engineering". In the context of introductions at a university, the following modified version will accomplish something comprehensible:

[文学部]{ぶんがくぶ}[英文専攻]{えいぶんせんこう} の三年生です。

One problem is that Japanese undergraduates at most universities don't have majors per se, they belong to [学部]{がくぶ}'s. If you look that word up, your dictionary will tell you it means "department" but don't be fooled. It's closer in meaning to college (i.e. "college of liberal arts"), but its socially distinct from anything I experienced in the US. Basically, you can have a major inside of it, but your identity at the university centers on you being a part of a 学部. For students introductions, everyone tells you their 学部. You can ask later for the major -- but some students will just repeat their 学部.

Since 学部 are exclusive identities, having two is confusing for them. So if you present your majors, it's best to start with one and or say something like [専攻]{せんこう}はふたつ.英文と工学 (presuming you meant engineering?)

  • 2
    工学 じゃなくて 語学 linguistics では・・
    – user1016
    Apr 10, 2014 at 9:37
  • 1
    Wow, thanks! I've definitely learned a lot. Thanks for giving both the kanji and furigana too. And yes, I meant to say 'English (lit.) and engineering'. Sorry for those misspellings - I have the bad tendency to forget long vowels. Apr 10, 2014 at 9:41
  • @Chocolate 私がそれを大きなミッスしたが、運がよかった。
    – virmaior
    Apr 10, 2014 at 9:46
  • 1
    – user1016
    Apr 10, 2014 at 12:07
  • Good explanation about the double-majors issue, and the difference between 専攻 and 学部!
    – istrasci
    Apr 10, 2014 at 15:52

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