Grammar / sentence construction (rudeness?) question and feedback

So a stranger online asked me this question in the context of talking about a JPN game:
“How fluent r u? ひらがなを読んだことができますか”

I replied (slightly edited):
絶対に流暢じゃないけど、学んでるんだ。中でも、このゲームのために。と言えば、下手な日本語を許してください。

One person said んだ came across as rude. Another said it wasn’t necessarily rude, but defensive. The first person also said they didn’t like 学ぶ and preferred 勉強する but didn’t say why, only that they thought it was weird. The first person then said they couldn’t understand “中でも、このゲームのために,” and that they didn’t think “と言えば” was appropriate.

Could I get some feedback on if/why these are correct, and what the proper way to correct them would be? And, if possible, reading sources to go with it. For example, I’d never heard of んだ being possibly rude until someone linked a Stack Overflow post discussion about it. The Stack Overflow post didn’t really provide much of a resource to continue reading about it though.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

んだ is an explanatory, so maybe it comes off as being defensive because you’re explaining that you are in fact studying, despite not being fluent. Like, you could just state it neutrally / matter-of-factly, but instead you’re explaining that you’re studying. I don’t know for sure, but I could see that being why.

I also have no idea what you intended by saying 中でも or と言えば. By 中でも did you mean like one reason you are studying Japanese is games? And と言えば is like “speaking of…”, so speaking of what exactly?

4 Likes

Among other (games), this game. So sort of, yeah.

と言えば is like “speaking of…”, so speaking of what exactly?

I intended it as “Speaking of not being fluent …” from the previous sentences.

jisho.org has 学ぶ as “to study (in depth)” and 勉強する as a more general-purpose “to study”, so I guess the first one just carries misleading connotations when used by a beginner / intermediate?

Just curious: are you sure that everyone/the vast majority of the players on the server are Japanese? Perhaps I’m spouting nonsense, but this sentence feels wrong to me. I’m pretty sure it should be 「…を*読む*ことが…」.

Don’t think it is intrinsically rude, but you responded to something written in 丁寧語 (polite language) with a sentence in タメ口 (casual language). I don’t think that’s appropriate. I could be wrong.

Yes, probably, because it’s both explanatory and adds emphasis. のだから, for example, can come across as insistent, and is often used to call the listener’s attention to a difference in opinion/awareness between the speaker and the listener, particularly when it seems the listener hasn’t grasped the importance or implications of something. Perhaps more importantly, there was no reason to add emphasis or an explanatory nuance following ‘I’m/it’s not absolutely fluent’. That’s why it seems defensive.

I think it’s just rarer. I doubt that it’s wrong. Perhaps the other reason 勉強する makes more sense is that one of its other meanings (which is closer to how it’s used in Mandarin) is ‘to make an effort’. If you said that you’re not yet fluent, it makes more sense to use an expression that suggests you’re making an effort to become fluent, as opposed to simply studying and acquiring knowledge.

Yes, it’s true that this doesn’t make much sense, even if the meaning could be guessed based on context, provided you know what a Japanese learner’s priorities might be.

You can’t drop an element that you haven’t mentioned earlier in the conversation. I personally thought this sentence might have meant ‘among other reasons, [I’m learning it] for this game’, but it seems I was wrong. If you wanted to say that you’re learning it in order to play games, including the one that you were playing, I think you could have said 「ゲームのために日本語を勉強しています。このゲームのためにも。」(‘I’m studying Japanese for games. For this game too.’)

EDIT: If you want a version with 中, then try this as a substitute for my second sentence: 「その中に、このゲームも」 (Any one of the following phrases is implied after も: あります OR 含まれて・入っています. They all imply that ‘this game’ is present/included among the games you’ve just mentioned.)

The problem with と言えば is that と what comes right before it, which would mean you’re referring to the previous sentence, which is irrelevant to what you say next. そういえば would probably work, in my opinion, because I’ve seen it used to mean ‘speaking of which’ in a fashion that suggests one has just remembered something.

2 Likes

Just curious: are you sure that everyone/the vast majority of the players on the server are Japanese? Perhaps I’m spouting nonsense, but this sentence feels wrong to me. I’m pretty sure it should be 「…を*読む*ことが…」.

No, I believe you’re correct as well. They’re also a Japanese learner. This wasn’t inside a game or playing a game. It was just talking about a game in general.

EDIT: If you want a version with 中, then try this as a substitute for my second sentence: 「その中に、このゲームも」 (Any one of the following phrases is implied after も: あります OR 含まれて・入っています. They all imply that ‘this game’ is present/included among the games you’ve just mentioned.)

I used 中でも to try to keep it in a single sentence. “Among other [things/games], I’m studying for this game.”

I understand, but the problem is that there’s no 中=content/context/set of things in what you said before, unless you’re talking about what you’re studying, in which case you wouldn’t use ために. You’d need to talk about something else you’re studying, like say… the words used in the game, or the game itself. You wouldn’t be able to talk the reason you’re studying, because that’s not ‘within’ or ‘among’ anything, and so wouldn’t work with 中. If you wanted to do it in one sentence, you could have tried something like 「勉強の理由の一つは、このゲームだ・です」=‘one of the reasons I’m studying is…’ It’s true that Japanese allows a lot of things to be covered by context, but what you say still needs to fit into the categories implied by what came before.

1 Like

this whole part "学んでるんだ” sounds very informal.

Firstly, 学んで is a te-form of the verb which you connect with いる(informal / 普通形)or います(polite)to form a progressive form of the verb. However, people while speaking often omit 「い」 in いる making it でる。The correct written form is 学んでいる.

Secondly, if you’re using the explanatory particle んだ or のだ you connect it with 普通形 like you did here, but ”だ” at the end of that sentence indicates that it’s informal. It would be totally fine if you said that to your best friend for example.

But if a stranger asking the question addressed you with "できますか” which is a polite 丁寧語 form of the verb できる, they’d expect that you address them back in a polite way as well. It’s not necessarily “rude” but it’s not polite in this situation. To make it more polite you’d use んです.
Generally, when speaking Japanese to anyone besides your close friends, family and such, it’s better to be safe and use polite forms of 〜ます 〜です. When you skim through japanese yt comments or twitter they would usually use those forms as well, even though you’d expect people to be informal on the Internet but nope.

This is kind of hard to grasp without a good context. In some situations it can sound defensive because the explanatory particle can be used in situations when someone expects the explanation from you e.g. a teacher asks you why you’re late and you say with a sorry face バスが遅れたんです。。。. I think here it sounds fine because you’re explaining why you’re not fluent. But you know, depends on the person. Any kind of explanation could be taken as being defensive when you think about it tbh.

same thing here. It’s not necessarily wrong but it’s out of place. It doesn’t sound natural. It’s like you wouldn’t say in English “in my free time I educate myself on the japanese language” unless it’s really what you mean or want to be fancy.

this is funny, I just realized that. Yeah they mixed up two different structures -た+ことがある and 辞書形 + ことができる

1 Like