How to translate this ilk?

Do people still try and explain Japanese in isolation? That seems pretty silly given the influence China/Chinese had, at least on the writing system. I feel like that also discounts all the indigenous languages that surely influenced the development of “standard” Japanese. I’m totally with you, I love comparing languages to see where they really differ, and it’s so cool when you find similarities in two languages you would never expect to


No, at least not in the way you mention. I think nobody is denying that Japanese as a language has been influenced by others. But among learners, I get the impression a lot of people feel they need to study Japanese separately from English, by forgetting all about English, “because they are so dissimilar”. I think that’s a shame.

Maybe they were told that all those verb endings and suffixes are a Japanese thing, that they express many different moods and judgements. But (as we were talking about above with @konekush ) English has plenty of modal auxiliaries: can, may, might, must, will, would, should, etc.

They might think particles are a totally foreign concept: attaching weird little things to nouns to mark whether they’re subject or object? Totally unlike case marking in German or Latin!

Even the whole は/が debate isn’t that alien to us; theme and rheme, old vs new, are things that have been discussed in the context of Western languages… in fact, how do people figure we magically have this whole arsenal of vocabulary and theory about topic-comment in English?

Again, I find it both a little funny and a little sad to see someone coming to you all starry-eyed telling you about this awesome unique theory about は/が that they read or saw somewhere, how it sits at a different level than grammatical case, how it contrasts old and new… and how it’s certainly a very Japanese thing that surely requires an entirely different mindset… :slight_smile:

P.S.: All examples taken from personal experience; I won’t be naming specific resources or people or things, as that’s not the purpose. I think it’s more of a general thing…

P.S.’: Also, just to be clear, for people jumping onto the conversation, I am not claiming that things are totally the same in English, just that I think it’s useful to look at the similarities and differences.


As a linguistics doctorate student that I took Ancient Greek with said, the more languages you know the easier it is to pick a new language up. And seeing as her specialty was Classical Arabic, she did not mean the vocabulary or the alphabet, but rather the transferrable ‘this has a name and it does X in language 1 this way and in language 2 that way’ manner.


I completely agree. As a latin minor, it was subject object verb like Japanese, and was similar in many ways, but latin could literally not leave a single word/ending/conjugation out for it to make sense (except for Virgil but he was stupid and left out things for rhetorical purposes). Learning japanese vocabulary/kanji is super easy though, just grammar is super funky in Japanese compared to English (though I am sure it is much harder to learn English “grammar” as a native Japanese speaker since we have so many exceptions to every rule.


Ahh I see what you’re saying, and yeah I think you’re right, it could definitely be helpful to try and draw parallels to English rather than try to totally separate it from Japanese. But I can also see from a teacher’s perspective how it could be easier to teach it as a totally unique grammar point rather than try and explain how they function syntactically similarly to things in other languages. I’m not sure I could have appreciated that kind of comparison when I started learning Japanese (even though I now find it fascinating)

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The reason it’s not done this well is because it’s really hard to do it, and also that the results that come from this type of learning are only visible much later into people’s studies than just learning it rote-wise. It also requires knowing a lot not only the target language, but also about the target language, and also about the instruction language.

All of that requires much more training and schooling than just a language teaching certificate. Because most people don’t really advance past beginner/intermediate in any language, they don’t really have the need to know how the language works past learning basic grammar as rote — and then all the long hard work of teaching how the language(s) work(s) is meaningless.

That said, even I get lost sometimes in linguistic jargon even though I studied undergrad linguistics for 2 years (never finished though), and sometimes I just want the bottom line. Still, it’s nice to know that I can look up things like this if I have more time or space of mind.


As for the car, I am washing it.



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