Basic Linguistics info for Japanese?


Hi all! I believe one of the biggest challenges people encounter when learning Japanese grammar, is trying to describe their grammar in terms of English grammar. This leads to a lot of confusion, given that it can be argued that Japanese doesn’t even have “true” adjectives (someone would argue it instead has descriptive verbs [い adjectives] and descriptive nouns [な adjectives], along with many other related discussions (Does Japanese truly have subjects? Desu/Da isn’t a verb, but a copula. Etc).

Every resource I have seen - including the beloved Genki - will just describe it terms of English and arbitrary rules, or will be written in such a technical manner that I feel like I’d need PhD in Linguistics to grok it at all. The one exception I’ve seen is this amazing article:

A secondary goal would be a greater understanding of phonemes so I can wrap my mind around the subtle pronunciation limitations of the Heburn system (such as tsu and ru being rough approximations). As language shadowing is probably a better way to nail this, I’m making it a secondary goal.

At any rate, I think I might have more luck if I learn a bit about linguistics, so I can describe things in linguistic terms instead of English terms; it will also hopefully make some of those denser articles more accessible. That being said, I don’t want to get too distracted by this rabbit hole, as learning Japanese is my primary goal. Do any of you know of a good book, course, or online course that would assist with this? I’ve been working my though “English Grammar for Students of Japanese” and it’s been a big help, but I’m looking to go a little more in-depth.

Also, as I imagine someone will address this - I get that I’m probably going into the nitty-gritty a bit too much, and a lot of this will just come through exposure. Part of my motivation in learning Japanese is that I find it fascinating that a language can have such a different set of linguistic primitives than English; this sort of stuff is a lot of fun to me, even if it isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to reach fluency :smiley: Thanks all!


I have an older edition of this one:

I bought it from my University bookshop while I was studying engineering. Since we’re based in Australia, we actually had quite a decent Japanese program, so if it was at the bookshop, it counts as some kind of endorsement, I guess. It’s an introductory level college textbook, so it’s at that price point/level?


Thanks, that looks great. I’ll give it a try!


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