What are some unwritten rules about the Japanese Language?

As in the title. Are there any grammar particles/expressions which are insignificant enough that they don’t really get noticed, but are still there?

3 Likes
  1. The words you leave unsaid are usually more important than the ones you actually say.
  2. Permutations / formality levels of 敬語 are infinitely more complex than what is taught in textbooks, and the rules are frequently broken/disregarded.
  3. Dangling participles? Subject-verb agreement? What does that even mean??
    A は B は C はこの文の主語は何だろう???

(I guess what I’m trying to say is the “subject” vs “topic” of a sentence is often very arbitrary and their relationship with the verb often seems very fluid and vague. Someone with a more thorough knowledge of grammar might explain it better or just flat out disagree lol)

10 Likes

I completely agree with number 2. Even a tutor of mine complained about the varying degrees of 敬語 and how he often accidentally misuses certain ways of expressing himself or others with 謙譲語 or 尊敬語。

I didn’t realise how true number 1 was until you mentioned it lol

I was surprised to learn that “participles” is an actual word… but I think here you wanted to write “particles”, right?

“dangling participles” are a thing - Dangling modifier - Wikipedia. Never thought about it before but they must be common in Japanese

4 Likes

Yeah, I definitely meant participles. Prime example in this amazing clip: Grammar Nazis - YouTube :crazy_face:

What I meant to say is: this type of grammar error bothers me immensely in English but seems to be flat out ignored in Japanese. For example, you can just topic-mark something/someone with は and then turn around and make the rest of the sentence about someone / something entirely different (within the broader “topic” you’ve created). And nobody seems to care if the subject and verb agree as the subject is frequently completely omitted. What/who you are talking about from one clause to the next feels very fluid, arbitrary and heavily context-dependent.

4 Likes