[aDoIJG] Special Topics […] #1-3 💮 A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar

Special Topics […] #1-3

A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar :white_flower: Home Thread

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Wow it’s getting really technical. But really enjoying to have some real texts to demonstrate the points instead of single sentences.


I found the “Inter-Sentential Reference” section a bit odd. It seemed like it was explaining in a very technical way something that only really needs explaining if you’re an alien who doesn’t know how human languages work. But then I tend to think about Japanese primarily from the perspective of reading, and I don’t think any of the examples would be confusing when you read them about “what is this これ referring to?” or “when it says 花 does it mean a flower in general or the one introduced in the previous sentence?”. I guess from the perspective of writing it’s a helpful reminder that you should be making the sentences in your paragraphs connect in these ways and not be a collection of freestanding sentences.


Oh no, these comments are making me think I should make a strong cup of coffee before tackling this section :joy:


It seemed like it was explaining in a very technical way something that only really needs explaining if you’re an alien who doesn’t know how human languages work.

@pm215 You said it well. As soon as I realized this was a very technical interpretation of something that feel is intuitive, it was much easier to process. I never thought about trying to conceptualize how and why I know which “subject” we’re talking about, or which part relating to the subject, etc etc. The example sentences were illustrative. It seems like something you naturally acquire through your native language, and therefore it’s not something you’d think about.

My engagement in Japanese has been primarily reading with some listening. Very little writing or speaking. I don’t know if I would have to go out of my way to make sure I specify どれケーキ?, for example, if talking about cake. I suppose that if something was unclear, I would hope the person I’m speaking or writing to would ask for clarification.

Still, it’s kind of interesting to see the concept broken into actual rules. I suppose that’s what grammar is, after all.

I particularly thought the section on tense switching was pretty cool. I wish I could take a college class on Japanese literature, or something. I bet there are some wild examples.


There’s a lot of technical terminology going on in this section that I’m willing to bet will never be used in the main body.

Though, the note on page 33 about how “the anaphoric noun often reappears with a relative clause which reiterates identifying information” might explain why the 白いワンピースを着ている女 in コーヒーが冷めないうちに is described as 白いワンピースを着ている女 in practically every single mention.


Mmm, it might have been more useful if they’d put more emphasis on the ways that Japanese does this cross sentence linking in ways that English doesn’t, rather than describing it from a neutral stance.


Quick housekeeping question: When I finish reading this section, should I change my answer in the poll to “I have finished this part”?
Or is that like if you read it at some point in the distant past?

Just finished reading Part 1 (about anaphoric expressions).

As others have said, this section was a bit of a lot. It feels like a weird way to start the book, but I guess that’s because we’re reading a reference book cover-to-cover.

Although I can’t really say that this section was eye-opening, I am glad to know that it exists; now I’ll know where to look if at some point in the future I ever go “Hey, what’s that thing where, like, you say a thing but it’s something you’ve already said?”

(I tried posing that exact question to ChatGPT, and it wasn’t very helpful at all. It also suggested that the sentence pair “I ate ramen. It was good.” was an example of tautology, so I guess now we know that ChatGPT considers ramen to begood by default.)

I quite liked the first example text. I tried translating it, but thought to myself “Clearly there’s something I’m not getting. Maybe they mean 瓢箪 in a figurative sense?”
But … no, it really was about a boy and his 瓢箪.

Looking into this, I found that 瓢箪 appears in a rather interesting expression

  • 瓢箪からこま(が出る)・something appearing from a place one wouldn’t expect; something said as a joke actually happening; a horse from a gourd

Apparently, the expression comes from the legend of Zhang Guolao, who could summon a 駒 from a 瓢箪.

I’m glad the romaji is being kept to a minimum in this book; even if I try not to “cheat” off of it, my eyes just naturally fall on whatever text is easiest to read.
The furigana also seems to be omitted when the word has already appeared a couple of times in a section … and it helps that it’s so small that it’s actually easier to rely on kanji most of the time.


Haha I’m glad you ask, I always wondered what other people do and if I do it wrong.
In my case, I only answer once, usually when the thread is up, so if I’m up to date it’s “I’m reading along” and then I don’t update my vote.


I tend to update my answer when I’ve read the section, but that’s partly because I like clicking on things…


You are making me curious and somewhat interested in joining now. Seems to be a very strange section. :thinking:

I did not intend to read along for the second book because I have not finished the basic book yet. (Yes, I know it is not obligatory, but I would prefer it.) I might try to catch up eventually now, we‘ll see. (Getting rid of the ローマ字 sounds great, too. :laughing:)


Parts 2 and 3 here (newspaper grammar and conversational strategies) were not new information to me, but seemed fairly well presented summaries of the topics. Next week’s section looks a lot meatier…

(I updated the table of contents in the home thread to add the link to this thread, by the way.)


I feel like in many ways the explanation made it more confusing, haha. I had to look up “anaphor” in able to understand it, and there’s currently a red squiggly line under it because my browser isn’t recognizing it as a real word… Just goes to show how uncommon these words are.

In the A. Pronouns section on page [31], it says “anaphoric personal pronouns are limited to third-person pronouns, including 彼 ‘he’, 彼女 ‘she’, and their plural forms.” Where does that leave 自分? It’s the one I really have trouble with, haha, because I often can’t tell if someone is referring to themself or to another person…

B. Formality Switching is a fun one! I see this all the time in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, haha! The wrestlers frequently switch between interacting with each other (often informal, sometimes formal if it’s a 先輩/後輩 interaction) and basically directing their comments at the press, where です・ます form is typically used. And some more informal interjections will often be mixed into the long chunk of speech where overall they’re speaking formally.

In 2. Newspaper Grammar, I thought it was interesting that particles don’t drop in imperative sentences, but I suppose the same is true in English headlines, where more opinion pieces tend to have more proper-sentence-esque headlines, compared to articles recounting objective events.

I laughed at W杯 being used for the World Cup in the special abbreviations section of F. Abbreviations.

Honestly, a lot of the newspaper grammar also applies to senryu poems!

3. Conversational Strategies has a lot of stuff I’ve sort of just learned the hard way from translating lots of speech haha. The main issue I have now is figuring out how to translate them so that they don’t sound wooden in English…

I laughed at example (7) in B. Fillers getting the full ??? Michelin question mark rating of wrongness.

I don’t really have specific comments on the rest, except to say that I’ve had a bit of trouble with E. Avoidance of Decisive Expressions when interacting (via text) with my Japanese friend, especially when we’re talking about hard subjects and our subjective experiences of them. It’s nice to know that this section exists, though! I might reference it next time I’m trying to compose one of those sentences. I think 99% of my attempts have been (20) a. or b. :joy_cat:.

Me too! I answer once and then leave my answer frozen in time for all eternity, haha (the only ones I actually will change are updating the polls showing progress within a section). I feel like it gives a better picture of who was actively caught up at any given time and how much of the audience for the club are late stragglers/early birds who are ahead of everyone else.