Japanese linguistics

I studied Japanese linguistics in college and was fascinated with it. Just to give a brief example: the sound (ts) in Japanese is called the voiceless alveolar affricate. An English word that contains this sound is rabbits. (ts) is an allophone of phoneme /t/. This gets rather complex but I thought maybe some of you may find this interesting. There is much more to it, of course, but this is just introductory material. Thanks for letting me share.


Was it just the phonetics you liked or did you enjoy other aspects?

I took a linguistics elective and have read a bit about it but can’t speak or hear properly and find phonology tough to relate to.

Japanese Linguistics sounds like a niche area of study. Such as something one would study in graduate school. If you have any papers you found interesting pertaining to this, please share the titles and authors!

It was given as an option during my undergrad, but I ended up passing on it for the sake of Politics/Literature papers. Do you find that it helps in actually speaking the language? I think that’s pretty much the limit of my interest in the topic

I may be biased, as a linguistics major, but linguistics is the most interesting thing in the world. Japanese linguistics is also fascinating.


I was more of a syntax guy. I didn’t study Japanese linguistics specifically but we used it to compare to English and show the universality of what we were learning.

I remember we were learning about complementizer phrases and comparing them to Japanese. We learned that in English, the object of the phrase appears outside the CP, and in Japanese it’s inside, i.e. “apple” in:

the apple [that Mary ate]
メアリーさんが食べたリンゴ (don’t remember how to bracket this but hopefully the point is clear)

I didn’t know any Japanese at the time so me (and my whole class) were like whaaaaaaaTF but now I see that and I’m like, WORD.


Japanese is my 4th language and honestly I think being fluent in a language is more than enough as it’s mainly a tool of communication.

Though I respect people who study more than the “communication” part, my brother does something similar but with English. Have fun!

I recommend The Structure of the Japanese Language to anyone interested in Japanese linguistics. It can be pretty dry and honestly I don’t think it’s super useful for just learning the language, but as a linguistics book it’s excellent.

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