Biggest Realizations / Mind Blows You've Experienced Learning Japanese: Emoji means what?!?!

Today for the first time I read something about 意志動詞 and 無意志動詞 (I guess in English, volitional verbs and non-volitional verbs). Basically, verbs that can be done with intention and verbs that can’t be done with intention.

The main issue with the two categories is that when a verb is non-volitional, it can’t do any of the conjugations that have anything to do with intention.

For instance, できる is a non-volitional verb, so you cannot say 日本語を話すことができたい.
A grammatical way to express this idea is 日本語を話すことができるようになりたい.

I think that’s easy enough to understand. There are certain things that we just can’t describe as being volitional.

The tricky thing is when verbs can either be volitional or non-volitional depending on the subject.


A bed cannot have volition, so it cannot take the potential form of 入る.

But humans can perform the action of 入る as well, and we have wills, so it’s okay for us.


So, it’s a simple concept in some ways, but I had never seen it spelled out. I wonder if I ever gave inanimate objects volition without realizing it.


Not much of a mind blow, but last night in my lessons I came across 大人しい and immediately recognised that it was probably read similarly to 大人.

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It’s kind of funny – appending the -しい suffix suggests that it’s an adjective deriving from the noun 大人.
What kind of adjective would describe an adult (大人)? According to Japanese, it’s quiet/obedient.
So, adults are obedient? Hmm, does that imply something about Japanese culture?

I also find it kinda cool that 大人しい (おとなしい) is pronounced nearly the same as 音無し (おとなし), meaning silent/without sound.


Yeah, that’s what the WK mnemonic suggests too. And that’s a very interesting find. When you learn little references like this, the word “obedient” in the Japanese language has an entirely new connotation.


I am doing a Japanese beginner class, my teacher knows I am learning kanji on my own so everytime she writes a kanji she asks me meaning and reading. The first time she did she wrote:

and I proudly answered “ゴ! it means language!” , she says “correct” and then takes two different color markers and does this

“left part is for meaning, something about talk, right part is for reading”

and thus my mind was blown.

Actually I am surprised WK doesn’t mention this at any time. It works for a lot of kanji and now it is helping me a lot.


There’s a script for that!



This doesn’t really count as a mind blow, but I didn’t feel like posting a new topic just for this.

If anyone has ever been interested in studying Japanese grammar the way it is taught in Japanese schools, I found a cool video series.

Here’s the first video.

It starts extremely simply, but that’s because all the building blocks need to be in place before you can start doing the more complicated analysis.

It’s a 50 part series, so get some snacks.

I’m on part 35, finally digging into particles.

One interesting thing is it gives some insight on what things are difficult for native speakers that are seemingly common knowledge among all non-native learners. I guess it’s because we start from a fairly analytical perspective, while they likely have never thought about grammar deeply before this stuff is taught.

Oh, and he makes a mistake now and then throughout the series (usually corrected with annotations) but see if you can spot them.


He speaks so fast, I can hardly understand a word!


Ah, I guess “It starts extremely simply” is a relative concept, didn’t mean to give the impression that it’s simple for non-native learners.


No worries. I know you were probably talking about grammar when you said that, but my listening comprehension is far below what it takes to absorb that information, it seems.

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Thanks Leebo. This is an interesting way to learn about grammar while doing listening practice. It is a neat resource. I think I might spend the rest of the day binging it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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That’s a bit overdoing it for me :sweat_smile: also I try to keep WK as basic as possible. My point is, this is probably basic kanji knowledge, but I didn’t know it.

Similarly, I just started watching his English tutorials.
The exact opposite to teaching Japanese to English speakers-- teaching English to Japanese speakers.

It’s kind of cool to see English from the opposite perspective. For example, in this video, he talks about how to use the word “can”.

As a translation of his whiteboard, he writes:

The meaning of “can” is できる, and it goes before the verb. Also, when you use “can”, the verb uses the 原形 [base/dictionary] form.


This channel is great. He also has videos on what looks like all of middle school math, science, social studies, history…

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I’ve had many of those moments. I think my first one was when I was looking at a packet or Maruchan ramen. I never thought about what it really meant and for the longest time, I thought Maruchan was a Mexican brand because it was soooo popular in Mexico (same with Yakult) and I thought that maruchan was just a random made-up Spanish word. then one day probably a year into my Japanese language studies I just so happen to be looking at a packet of Maruchan then I look at the logo and it’s a little round face and it hits me and I’m just like ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh MARU-CHAN!!! I GET IT NOW!!!


I know this post slightly died out but just wanted to add on to this Geeno. I studied abroad in Japan last year and during my spring quarter I took part in research being conducted by some of our Japanese Language Program faculty. The research, I believe, dealt with foreigners and effective methods to teach kanji and this exact thing was what they were testing. The left side almost always gives a clue as to what the word has to do with and the right side almost always (but not quite always) gives the reading. What they were trying to do was see if we could recognize the pattern by giving us kanji with equal right halves. I guess the reason nobody really mentions this is because it isn’t completely viable and there are definitely exceptions from my understanding of the study although I feel like it’s still really important information that makes the learning process faster and easier despite it not universal across all kanji. I walked out of that study so stoked because I got 2000 yen for participating (that’s like 4 beef bowls right there!) and also I was pretty excited to try out the method and so far it’s proven quite effective. Sometimes I throw pneumonics out the window when this rule applies.


You’re in luck, because there’s a script that reveals all these hidden reading clues to you!


My man, you are a hero!

I had a similar epiphany tonight. I always knew Maruchan was Japanese, but I never gave the name any thought–it was just a brand name to me. But tonight I was eating a cup of noodles and got to thinking…Maruchan, I recognize those syllables, Could it mean, “round boy”? Pretty much!

I can understand why you assumed it was a Mexican brand, though. Even the US packages have Spanish on them:

The color scheme matches the Genki books pretty well!