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

Just a note, those old sign boards (in the second picture) are often read from right to left, but I don’t know under what circumstances this happens.


Yep Tokyo Bandwagon introduced me to the right-to-left signboard style. :smiley:


i realized today that i am learning kanji instead of playing games or lurking in social media.
i am asocial af.


I was reading through some of the tofugu articles and came across an article about speed of japanese speech (Why Do Japanese People Talk So Fast?) and a link to:
which is an article that does a comparison of information density of different languages.

Anyway, the jist of it is that while japanese ppl speak with a high number of morae (or syllables depending on ones analysis) per second, due to the very limited number of morae available (and some other grammar factors), the information density (amount of info conveyed per unit time) is very low in japanese. Way lower than english or any of the other languages in the study.

So i started experimenting, listening to japanese with the expectation that I would only be “getting” a very slow amount of new info as ppl were talking (like “you are listening to a friend that had just gotten really high and they were trying to tell you a story” speed). All of a sudden, the anxiety that i’ve always had when I hear japanese (like i’m always missing so much of what is being said) completely disappeared and I felt like my level of comprehension went way up. So i’m wondering if maybe it has been the fact that I have been hearing japanese with the expectation that I am recieving information at the same pace as I would be in engligh, and when I don’t recieve/percieve that info (because it’s not there, not because I’m not hearing it) I was stressing out and was feeling like my listening comprehension was super terrible. But as I adjusted my expectation to the correct level, I was able to pick out the relavent info from the flow of speech.

I would be really interested if anyone else would have a similar experience…


The example sentence is “The culprit escaped in the confusion.”

Con ran!

(Appeals to the cryptic crossword side of my brain…)


I realized Fireworks in Japanese literally means Flower 花 Fire 火. I feel like such a doofus for not getting that right away and I also thing thats a perfect way to describe fireworks, it’s a pretty good description of what you see.


Bonus points for 火花 (the opposite arrangement) being spark.


Yes! My experience wasn’t that dramatic as it was a slow realization, but even in the early days, it was apparent that a lot of syllables were used to say simple things like “let’s eat” or “good morning,” etc… When I saw Tofugu’s article, I was like, “of course.” So instead of stressing over how much info I was missing, I focused on figuring out when one word ended and the next began, and began to realize “oh, I only missed one word out of seven in that sentence” not “five syllables just passed me by eeeeeeek!!!”

Then I could parrot or approximate the word I missed and ask about it. I still use this method. And if that doesn’t work, if I can it’s helpful sometimes to repeat the entire sentence, word included, then ask about the word. Even if I get the word wrong, the native speaker can often backtrack (oh yeah, the word that started with nn sound) and correct what I heard and teach me what I missed.


Well there goes my mind again.

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I learned the word for shining today and then realized that Pikachu literally translates as sparklesqueak.


I’ve just realized that 段々 a word i’ve known for years (but didn’t know the reading of) pretty much translates as step by step. Great when the pieces of the puzzle fall into place :slight_smile:


Oh wow. I just stared at my screen for a good few minutes as it dawned on me. Japanese really is an amazing language


Eh? だんだん has kanji?! I thought it was an onomatopoeia. Thanks for passing along the mind blow!

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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!